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  • Vehicle sales performance in Malaysia, 2020 vs 2019 – all the numbers, and how the brands fared last year

    The 2020 total industry volume (TIV) forecast of 607,000 units made by the Malaysia Automotive Association (MAA) last January may have sounded cautious, offering only modest growth from the 604,287 units achieved in 2019, but perfectly attainable.

    Of course, the arrival of a virus put paid to the best laid plans, although the eventual outcome was far from the massive setback that was projected in May, when the forecast was revised down by a third to 400,000 units.

    The introduction of the SST exemption on the sales of new CKD and CBU cars in June, which was to run until December, led the association to believe that the numbers would improve to the tune of 470,000 units. In the end, it surpassed that comfortably, with the TIV reported for the year finishing at 529,434 units.

    Nonetheless, the deficit of 74,853 units from the previous year meant that most brands inevitably failed to match the numbers they accomplished in 2019. Here’s a quick breakdown of how major brands performed in 2020.

    Perodua, which has been leading the market since 2006, continued to hold on to the top position despite a 8.4% drop in sales last year. The automaker managed to sell 220,163 units, which was 20,178 units fewer than the 240,341 cars it sold the previous year.

    While short of its initial 2020 forecast of 240,000 units, the eventual 2020 total exceeded the revised 210,000-unit projection it revealed in August. Impressively, despite the overall market shrinking, the national carmaker managed to increase its market share from 39.8% in 2019 to 41.6% last year.

    Finishing second again was Proton, which had plenty of reason to be pleased with how 2020 shaped up. It was one of the handful of passenger car brands that gained traction in terms of sales, the 108,524 units it shifted last year being a 8,341-unit improvement over the 100,183 units it managed in 2019.

    While the 8.3% improvement isn’t a big a jump as that accomplished in 2019, where the automaker recorded a 54.7% increase in sales compared to 2018, the fact that it managed to register higher numbers in a topsy-turvy year is testament to the fact that buyers are flocking back to the brand.

    The company also had the honour of being the highest gainer last year, its market share increasing to 20.5% from 16.6%. A bit of additional trivia for those into numbers and percentages – Perodua and Proton now command over a 60% combined share (62.1%, to be precise) of the market, the highest since 2003.

    Honda kept third place, its 60,468 units good enough to keep it ahead of Toyota (58,501 units), but the brand sold 24,950 units (or 29.2%) less than it did in 2019. Nissan sales also dropped to 14,160 units, down 33.3% from the previous year. Naturally, all three brands saw their market share contract.

    The few gainers included Mazda (12,141 units) and Mitsubishi (9,163 units), with those numbers representing a 4.2% and 12.6% increase, respectively. Elsewhere, Subaru (-57.3%), Peugeot (-45.4%) and Kia (-77.9%) suffered major drops, and brands such as Volkswagen (-39.2%) and Hyundai (-37.9%) also had a very soft year.

    As for the premium brands, Volvo was the only main player in the segment to record a green arrow – it managed to sell 1,950 cars last year, 3.6% more than the 1,883 units it sold in 2019. The table also finally shows complete BMW (and MINI) numbers for the year. The brand had said last year it had switched to a quarterly reporting, but the numbers had remained stuck going well past mid-year.

    Also, while the table shows very striking numbers in red for Mercedes-Benz, it is worth noting that the company stopped reporting its numbers after Q1 last year, and so its total remains as from then. The final number of cars sold by the brand remains undisclosed.

    How then will the market fare this year? Well, while there seems to be no end in sight to the pandemic at this juncture, the MAA is optimistic that the market will rebound in 2021. The association has confidently forecast that the TIV will rise this year by nearly 8% to 570,000 units, with the growth very much aided by the SST exemption that will run until June 30.

    Click to enlarge.

  • Bizzarrini 5300 GT – 1960s Italian sports car to be revived by former Aston Martin execs, 24 units only

    Once again, another sports car from the 1960s will be revived, this time by a company formed by ex-Aston Martin executives, including long-time CEO Dr Ulrich Bez himself. The car is a Bizzarrini 5300 GT, and only 24 hand-built examples will be made, thanks to backing from London-based dealer group Pegasus Brands.

    The 5300 GT – also known as the Strada – is Bizzarrini’s most successful model, despite the brand itself being relatively lesser known. At the time, the two-door sports car was powered by Chevrolet’s 5.4 litre small block V8. Its engine was mounted in front, with drive sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual gearbox. With 365 hp and 385 Nm at hand and weighing under 1,200 kg, it would crack the century sprint in under seven seconds.

    According to an Autocar report, the revived model’s design will stay true to its original form, but the company said it will be a “superlative high-performance sports car” with a focus on tradition. Modifications will include a race-spec roll bar and safety fuel cell, but weight will be trimmed down to just 975 kg.

    This will result in “excellent power-to-weight,” the company claims, and most of the weight savings come from using composite body panels that wrap around a bespoke tubular steel frame. Other features include disc brakes fitted at all four corners. Bizzarrini will design individual cars to FIA specifications according to the owner’s needs.

    In terms of powertrain, the current pick is a twin carb 5.3 litre V8 engine developing between 400 hp to 480 hp. Yes, it won’t be coming back as an EV. The engine will remain front mounted, but other technical details remain undisclosed. So, what do you think of this car?


  • 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S – 160 hp, 138 Nm

    Now entering its third generation, the 2021 KTM 1290 Suer Adventure S is claimed by Austrian motorcycle maker to be its sportiest and most advanced adventure-tourer yet. This takes the form of a chassis overhaul that moves the steering head rearwards by 15 mm and relocating the front half of the KTM V-twin, along with a lengthened swingarm that increases stability under acceleration.

    A new 23-litre fuel tank with keyless access and accompanying bodywork redistributes weight and increases riding agility on the 1290 Super Adventure S. Adjustable in height by 20 mm, the two-tier seat is also lower to the ground, helped by a redesigned subframe with rider comfort further increased by a height adjustable windshield, with 55 mm of movement from high to low.

    A new 7-inch TFT-LCD display connects to the rider’s smartphone and the menu system is now easier to view and more intuitive to use, with the panel sited atop a storage compartment that now features a USB charging socket. Electronic riding aids are also revised to be less intrusive, with four ride modes – Rain, Street, Sport and Offroad – and a fifth Rally mode is an extra cost option with the installation of the KTM Rally Pack.

    Further electronic wizardry is found in the standard equipment Adaptive Cruise Control. Developed in collaboration with Bosch, the cruise control uses radar to automatically adjust separation distance to traffic in front, with five-degrees of separation set by switches on the handlebar pod.

    In the engine room, the Euro 5 compliant V-twin produces 160 hp and 138 Nm of torque from the 1,301 LC8 mill. The six-speed gearbox comes with a revised Pankl gear mechanism and an optional quickshifter is available from the KTM catalogue.

    Suspension is WP Apex semi-active with improved damping using new valves while the six-axis inertial measurement unit provides direct input into the suspension system for adaption to rider behaviour. For riders who need more from the 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, a Suspension Pro package gives individual adjustment for the fork and monoshock as well as automatic preload adjustment and switchable anti-dive.

    The earlier mentioned Rally Pack enables the Rally ride mode and MTC slip adjustment for rear wheel slides. Combining the Suspension and Rally pack gives the Tech pack which additional comes with quick shifter, motor slip regulation, hill hold and adaptive brake light.

  • Ford’s legendary design chief and Mustang man Moray Callum retires, replaced by Anthony Lo from Renault

    If you’ve been following the auto industry, the name Moray Callum will be a familiar one. Synonymous with Ford, Callum will cap his 38-year product development career – more than half of which was with the Blue Oval – as the company’s vice president (design) for Ford and Lincoln vehicles. He will retire this spring.

    One of the car industry’s most influential design leaders, Callum’s most recent body of work include the 2021 Ford F-150 truck, the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric car, and the reimagined Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport. A refined, modern design language for Lincoln has been essential to the premium brand’s resurgence.

    Looking further back, notable designs Callum steered across his career were the 1999 Ford Super Duty truck, 2011 Ford Explorer, 2005 Mazda MX-5 NC, 2007 Mazda CX-7, 2015 Ford Mustang and F-150, and the 2016 Ford GT. Fantastic looking cars, especially those modern takes on retro shapes.

    “Moray’s influence is seen on streets around the globe. He brought and sustained a design vision and leadership to studios – including Ghia in Italy and Mazda in Japan, in addition to Ford and Lincoln – that has elevated the beauty, meaning and function of cars, trucks and SUVs for millions of customers,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer.

    The Scotland native had two tenures with Ford totalling 20 years. His first stint was from 1995 till 2001, when he joined Mazda in Japan for five years to head that company’s design transformation. At the time, Ford had a stake in Mazda. Callum returned to Ford in 2006 as executive director (design) for the Americas, and was promoted to his current role in 2014.

    His first association with Ford dated to the late 80s as a consultant designer at Ghia in Italy. Callum guided development of dozens of concept vehicles, including the Ford Ghia Via and the Aston Martin Lagonda Vignale. He also worked for Chrysler in the UK and for PSA Peugeot Citroën in France.

    The man replacing Callum is Anthony Lo, who most recently was vice president, exterior design, for the Renault group. Lo will join Ford in the midst of an ambitious plan to turn around and grow its automotive business, with continued design of “must-have vehicles”.

    “Our industry is evolving more rapidly than ever, and Ford will win the trust of customers by staying on the leading edge of that curve. Anthony is a world-class design leader with an exemplary global track record. We’re excited to have him lead our design organisation as we accelerate the creation of connected, intelligent and increasingly electrified products,” said Thai-Tang, who Lo will report to.

    Born in Hong Kong, Lo got his initial break in the auto industry in 1987, when a professor at the Royal College of Art in London where he studied offered him a position at Lotus. There, Lo designed the Lotus Carlton, the super sedan that will be remembered for its unlikely speed.

    Lo says Ford models such as the Sierra RS Cosworth, “with its imposing floating rear spoiler and track-racing pedigree to match,” made a lasting impression on him. Of course, he went on to pen a crazy saloon.

    Bewinged sedans have ceased to be a thing for some time now, and at Renault in Paris for the past decade, Lo was instrumental in development of the company’s ‘Cycle of Life’ design strategy. Among production cars about which Lo is most proud are the second-generation Renault Captur and the Dacia Duster 2, which delivered on its low-cost objective without compromising attractiveness.

    Lo joined Saab in 2000. From 2004 to 2010, he was director of advanced design for GM Europe, overseeing Saab, Opel and Vauxhall projects. Earlier, he had stints with Mercedes-Benz in Japan and Audi in Germany. Thanks for the catalogue of good stuff, Mr Callum!

  • 2021 Kawasaki KLR 650 – the dual-purpose returns

    It seems the dual-purpose motorcycle market is seeing something of a resurgence with the launch of the 2021 Kawasaki KLR 650. Entering the Kawasaki catalogue in 1987, the KLR 650 went through several mode updates and upgrades before production ended in 2018.

    Now, a throughly updated KLR 650 has been released and will likely prove a favourite amongst riders who prefer their motorcycles simple yet heavy duty. In the current dual-purpose motorcycle market, there are few equivalents to the KLR 650 save the Yamaha Tenere 700, the rest of the manufacturers preferring to address the adventure-touring segment.

    This philosophy of simplicity is shown in the engine room, with the same 652 cc single-cylinder as before, but now fed by EFI. Kawasaki says the power output has increased but declined to disclose the figure but what is know is torque is now 54 Nm at 4,500 rpm, mated to a five-speed gearbox revised for smoother gear shifts.

    Other improvements to the 2021 KLR 650 include LED lighting, a taller windshield manually adjustable to two positions and a 23-litre fuel tank, useful for those rides to nowhere. New bodywork, a longer wheelbase with revised front geometry for improved ride stability and a stiffer sub-frame are among other improvements.

    Wheels are still spoked items on the KLR 650, as befits its dual-purpose duty, a 21-inch hoop in front and an 17-inch unit at the rear, both now strengthened for off-road use. Suspension is done with a 41 mm telescopic fork in front and a monoshock adjustable for preload and compression at the back.

    Braking has also seen an upgrade, with a 300 mm diameter single disc on the front with dual-piston calliper and a 240 mm disc and single-piston calliper at the back. The customer has a choice between ABS and non-ABS equipped KLR 650s, bearing in mind the ABS system is optimised for off-road use but unable to be completely deactivated.

    Also new is the instrument panel, a digital LCD display replacing the previous KLR 650’s analogue setup while a USB charging port and heated grips are an extra-cost option. In the US, there are four variants of the KLR 650 on sale – the base model KLR 650, base model with ABS, the Traveller with left and right panniers and the fully equipped KLR 650 Adventure, with pricing ranging between USD 6,699 (RM27,090 to USD 7,999 (RM32,347).

  • 2021 Lamborghini Sian – hot new pair lands in London

    Two units of the exclusive Lamborghini Sián have landed in the UK, an occasion that blessed the motoring world with the world’s first twin-Sián photoshoot. Only 63 units of the hybrid supercar will be made, and just three will find their way to the UK market.

    Each and every Lamborghini Sián is made to order (via Lamborghini Ad Personam), and the two you see here cannot be any more different. The lighter model is finished in Grigio Nimbus with exposed carbon weave roof, complete with Rosso Mars accents. The cabin gets a Nero Ade theme with Rosso Alala contrasts.

    The darker Sián features a Nero Helene bodywork, which gets an exposed carbon-fibre bonnet with the number 63 (denoting its limited production), CF headlight surrounds, fenders and engine cover. This is complimented with Oro Electrum accents that can be seen within the alloy wheels (shod with bespoke Pirelli tyres). Inside, the Nero Ade leather interior gets Oro Electrum contrast stitching and highlights.

    Powering the Sián is the automaker’s famed 6.5 litre V12 engine that has been augmented with a 48-volt electric motor. This system delivers a total of 819 hp, allowing it to sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 2.8 seconds. The top speed is said to be in excess of 350 km/h.

    Unlike a typical hybrid, the Sián’s electric motor is juiced by a supercapacitor, which Lamborghini says is able to store 10 times the power while weighing three times less – the hybrid system weighs a grand total of 34 kg. The supercapacitor is located in the bulkhead between the cockpit and engine for optimal weight distribution.

    The stored energy allows instant power boost on demand, enabling the driver accelerate with increased torque at speeds of up to 130 km/h. After that, the electric motor automatically disconnects, improving elasticity and making it over 10% faster than a car without this system. This is also the reason for the Sián’s rocketing century sprint time. Pure electric mode is available, but only briefly for low speed driving or parking.

    It’s safe to say that all 63 units of the Sián have been snapped up. But if you really want to add one to the collection, consider the Lego Technic version. Now’s probably a good reason to get one to pass time.

  • Nissan aims to be carbon neutral by 2050, plans to electrify all new models in key markets by early 2030s

    Building electric cars is all well and good, but the real holy grail of sustainable vehicle manufacturing is to be carbon neutral, essentially eliminating the industry’s burden on the environment. Nissan is the latest to commit to the cause, promising carbon neutrality across its entire operation and product lifecycles by 2050, in line with the Japanese government’s own target.

    Twenty-nine years may seem like a long way to go, but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to reduce the company’s carbon footprint to zero. For a start, Nissan is planning to electrify every all-new model sold in key markets – which include Japan, China, Europe and the United States – by the early 2030s.

    It also intends to further develop its e-Power range-extended electric powertrains, as well as pursuing new electric vehicle technologies like solid-state batteries in order to build cheaper and more efficient EVs. But greener cars are only part of the story – the energy used to build the cars also need to be clean, so Nissan is developing a battery ecosystem to support decentralised onsite power generation using renewable energy sources. The company expects to work with the energy sector to make power grids less polluting.

    Last on the list is the Nissan Intelligent Factory initiative, a stepping stone towards increasing productivity in the vehicle assembly process. Long term, the company will strive for greater energy and material efficiencies to support its carbon neutrality ambitions.

    “We’re determined to help create a carbon neutral society and accelerate the global effort against climate change,” said CEO Makoto Uchida. “Our offering in electrified vehicles will continue to expand around the world, and this will make a major contribution to Nissan becoming carbon neutral. We will continue to drive innovation that enriches people’s lives as we pursue a sustainable future for all.”

    The 2050 goal builds on decades-long programmes to improve the environment and society by reducing emissions and providing electric vehicles. It supports the aims of the Paris Agreement on climate change and global progress towards carbon neutrality, also by 2050. The ambition also expands upon past initiatives under the Nissan Green Programme and the company’s ongoing work to minimise its carbon footprint.

    Some of those initiatives include the introduction of the world’s first mass-market electric car, the Leaf, as well as collaborations with industry coalitions and authorities to develop charging infrastructure and raise public awareness on electric vehicles.

    Nissan isn’t the only company pledging to be carbon neutral – Mercedes-Benz also wants to eliminate its carbon footprint by 2039, a full 11 years ahead of the Japanese carmaker.

  • Brabus B45 debuts – tuned Mercedes-AMG A45S with 450 PS and 550 Nm; 0-100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds

    The W177 Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4Matic+ is the company’s latest and greatest hot hatch that made its debut back in July 2019. Powered by the world’s most powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine, it packs 421 PS (416 hp) and 500 Nm of torque, which allows for a zero to 100 km/h time of just 3.9 seconds.

    Those are some healthy figures, but Brabus thinks it can do better, so say hello to the new B45. No, this isn’t a high-performance take on the B-Class – as funny as such a thing might sound – but Brabus’ attempt at squeezing more power out of the A 45 S’ M139 2.0 litre turbo-four powerplant.

    The B45 features the company’s 450 performance upgrade, which includes a new mapping for the engine management system, a special duct for the airbox, along with its proprietary PowerXtra CPC auxiliary control unit and BoostXtra adapter.

    With these parts installed, the B45 makes 450 PS (444 hp) and 550 Nm, which represent a gain of 29 PS (28 hp) and 50 Nm. These gains help to reduce the century sprint time from 3.9 seconds to 3.7 seconds, although the top speed remains electronically capped at 270 km/h.

    To go along with the added grunt, Brabus also fitted its Monoblock Z 20-inch wheels, which are an inch larger than stock. Featuring a ten-spoke design with polished surfaces to contrast the primarily black finish, the wheels are paired Continental SportContact 6 tyres in a 245/30 profile.

    For a more aggressive stance, the B45 also gets sport springs that are height-adjustable, allowing owners to lower the ride height by as much as 30 mm. Unlike other Brabus creations, the bodywork remains unchanged, although the interior can be specified with a variety of items like illuminated scuff plates, Brabus-branded aluminium pedals and velour mats, as well as a range of leather upholsteries.

    If you’re interested but have some concerns about getting the 450 performance upgrade, Brabus provides a three-year/100,000-km tuning warranty. It adds that the upgrade has undergone extensive testing on test benches, the Autobahn and race tracks, with type approval from Germany’s strict TÜV (Technical Inspection Association).

  • 2022 Indian Motorcycle FTR – flat tracker performance

    Powering on with its 2022 Indian Motorcycle FTR range of flat tracker naked sports bikes, a new model has been added to the catalogue, the Indian FTR Rally. Being released in 2021 for the 2022 model year, the FTR series of motorcycles is a blend of American flat tracker styling and streetfighter performance, coming together an attractive whole that works.

    Comprising of the base model FTR, the FTR S, the top-of-the-range FTR R Carbon and now the FTR Rally, motive power comes from a 1.203 cc liquid-cooled V-twin. Said to be the most powerful American made two-cylinder mill in a motorcycle, the FTR puts out 123 hp and 120 Nm of torque, numbers comparable to its closest rivals available in the Malaysia market, the BMW Motorrad R nineT (seven models, from RM84,900 to RM104,500) and the Ducati Scrambler 1100 (two variants priced at RM75,900 and RM80,900).

    In keeping with its street performance intentions, the FTR range comes fitted with ZF Sachs fully-adjustable upside-down forks giving 120 mm of travel at the front wheel and ZF Sachs IFP shock absorber, fully-adjustable with 120 mm of travel. Braking is done with radial-mount Brembo callipers grabbing twin 320 mm diameter brake discs and a Brembo two-piston calliper clamps a 260 mm disc at the rear wheel.

    Differentiating the FTR S from the base model FTR is a 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen display, with Bluetooth and USB connectivity to the rider’s smartphone. Also standard is an Akrapovic exhaust, three ride modes, wheelie control, traction control and stability control, along with cornering ABS.

    Meanwhile, the FTR R Carbon comes with everything on the FTR S, adding carbon-fibre tank covers, front fender and headlight nacelle, fully adjustable Öhlins gold front forks and gold piggyback shock. A black Akrapovic exhaust, premium seat cover and numbered badge on the console completes the FTR Carbon’s standard equipment.

    For the FTR Rally, wheel sizing is a 19-inch front and 18-inch rear, compared to the 17-inch wheels on the rest of the FTR series. Standard are ProTaper handlebars set 50 mm taller than stock and the LCD panel of the FTR S and FTR Carbon is replaced with the analogue unit from the base FTR.

    In terms of colour options, the base model Indian FTR comes only in Black Smoke, while the FTR S is available in White Smoke and Maroon Metallic. The FTR R Carbon comes win Carbon-Fibre while the FTR Rally has one colour option, Titanium Smoke.

    There is no longer representation for Indian Motorcycles in Malaysia, after its distribution agreement with Naza lapsed and was not renewed for 2021. It remains to be seen if a new distributor will pick up the reins for this American brand, after distributorship for Harley-Davidson in Malaysia also slipped through Naza’s grasp.

  • 2021 Mazda CX-5 launched in the UK – petrol mills with cylinder deactivation, 10.25″ display; new Kuro Edition

    The 2021 Mazda CX-5 has officially landed in the UK. Its arrival marks the first time the 2.5 litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine is being offered, and the refreshed line-up also sees the addition of the CX-5 Kuro special edition model.

    All 18 variants of the CX-5 now feature the sleeker 10.25-inch widescreen infotainment display. This is the same unit that made its debut last August when the CX-5 was updated for the US market. It has a faster processor, allowing for a snappier experience. The head unit also has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionalities, plus other connected services and a more intuitive Mazda Connect Commander operation.

    The upgraded display also enables owners to peruse the MyMazda App. This offers features such as remote door locking, vehicle finder, remote pre-programming of GPS navigation, service booking request and security alert.

    Like before, the range of petrol and diesel engines continue to be offered, along with options for both a six-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions. But new here is the 194 PS 2.5L SkyActiv-G mill which was introduced with the Mazda 6 last year. This four-cylinder engine features cylinder deactivation, a technology that is also available for manual variants with the 2.0L SkyActiv-G.

    The throttle pedal calibration has been optimised for all engines. Mazda says this improves better response and control, further enhancing the responsiveness of the six-speed automatic transmission.

    Now, let’s talk about the Kuro Edition. Production of this special model is only limited to 750 units, and it’s available in either Soul Red Crystal or Polymetal Grey metallic paints. Whichever colour you go with, a set of blacked out 19-inch alloys with black mirror caps come as standard. The Kuro Edition is only available with the 2.0 SkyActiv-G engine.

    Inside, it features power adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and sportier black leatherette/suede upholstery as standard. It also gets a black dashboard, with red contrast stitching used on the seats, steering wheel, knee pads, gearshift surround, as well as armrest and door surrounds.

    Mazda Motors UK managing director, Jeremy Thomson said: “Since the launch of the first-generation CX-5 in 2012, this SUV has been a crucial car in the UK market. It has always been a hugely popular car that’s loved for its style, practicality and dynamic appeal, the second-generation car only enhanced that further and thanks to successive updates and refinements, it has remained right at the top of the class.”

    “To date, 490,849 units have been sold in Europe and more than 3.1 million globally, making it Mazda’s best-selling model. Here in the UK, the CX-5 accounts for 26% of our new car sales and it’s a car that performs consistently strongly in the used market as well,” he added.

    GALLERY: 2021 Mazda CX-5 Kuro Edition

    GALLERY: 2021 Mazda CX-5


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Last Updated 23 Jan 2021


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