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  • PT TALKS: Proton X70 priced fairly? Perodua new SUV

    Proton has finally announced the official pricing for its first ever SUV, the Proton X70. As promised, the entry-level model is priced just under RM100k, with the range-topping Premium 2WD variant going for RM123,800. What’s more, all prices are fixed throughout Malaysia, and each purchase comes with a five-years unlimited mileage warranty.

    For the money, you’re essentially getting a proper five-seater C-segment SUV for the price of a B-segment SUV. At heart is an advanced 1.8 litre turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine makes 181 hp and 285 Nm of torque, easily making it one of the most powerful SUVs in its class. You can check out the full model breakdown in our detailed report here, as well as maintenance and running costs here.

    Also discussed is Perodua’s new seven-seater SUV, which is due to debut early next year. The Toyota Rush-based car boasts a range of interesting features such as six airbags (standard!) and Advanced Safety Assist 2.0 with Pedestrian Detection. More importantly, the Perodua D38L is tipped to be priced between RM10k to RM20k less than its Toyota counterpart, which would put it comfortably below RM80k.

    It’s unusual for both national automakers to field their trump cards around the same time, but that simply means consumers have more choices to choose from, and that’s hardly a bad thing at all. Are you happy with the Proton X70’s pricing, or are you veering towards the more affordable Perodua SUV? Let us know, below.

  • Next BMW M4 to retain manual, AWD likely – Fröhlich

    Commmonly deemed a defining feature of an enthusiast’s car, the manual transmission will remain in BMW’s line-up with the next-generation M4, said the automaker’s head of board of development Klaus Fröhlich to Road & Track.

    “Honestly, the pure engineering answer is, you’re much faster with paddles and an automatic transmission. They’re very precise and sporty. Especially on the Nurburgring, you are in much better control when you’re not taking one hand away (to shift gears),” he told the publication.

    “I think, in the overall portfolio, manuals will disappear, but I think the M4 should be the fortress of manual transmissions. So the last manual transmission which will die, it should die in an M4, as late as possible. That’s my view,” Fröhlich continued.

    Said fortress should survive in the next-generation M4, he said, adding that it will likely be produced until 2027 or 2028. The looming demise of the stick-shift is largely industry-driven, Fröhlich describes. “Because we have these turbocharged engines with 600 Nm of torque, to develop such a high-torque manual transmission for such a small volume isn’t profitable at all.

    “So, I tried to prolong the lifetime of the manuals, but we can’t invest in developing a new manual transmission. No transmission partner will do that with us. Therefore, we are evolving our existing manuals as long as possible,” he said.

    The attempt to strike a balance between technological progress and pleasing the traditionalists is a tough one. “People told me M cars can’t be turbo. They have always been high-revving naturally-aspirated engines. Honestly, this high-revving engine was a V10, or a V8 in the 3-series, and it was so many pounds on the front axle, the steering was awful,” Fröhlich said.

    “Honestly, I hate understeering all-wheel drive cars, and most cars, if you push them hard, or if you’re not such an experienced driver and you tear at the steering wheel, you get understeer. The fun is gone. So I told former M boss Frank Van Meel, whenever I drive the car, it should never, ever understeer,” Fröhlich noted.

    In that case, will the all-wheel-drive layout Fröhlich has worked on find its way into future M3s and M4s? “Yes, I think so. “(However), with the M3 and M4, I think there is still a big market for pure rear-wheel drive. M4 is our icon,” he said. “This car will be rear-wheel-drive, but we will have an all-wheel-drive derivative too.”

  • PLUS offers free solar EV charging at Ayer Keroh R&R

    Highway operator PLUS Malaysia has opened its first solar-powered electric vehicle charging station at the Ayer Keroh southbound R&R area on the North-South Expressway. Built in a collaboration with the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation (GreenTech Malaysia) and the United Nations Industry Development Organisation (UNIDO), the facility offers free, 100% renewable energy for charging EVs.

    The system’s solar panels are rated at 20 kWp and generate between 60 to 80 kWh per day, stored in a 50 kWh automotive-grade lithium-ion battery. The station features a 50 kW CHAdeMO DC charging port (like the kind used on the previous-generation Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV) as well as a 22 kW Type 2 AC port as used by plug-in hybrids sold here.

    The charging station, part of its effort to preserve the environment, has been operational since May 2018, and the company says it has received positive response from EV owners. There are discussions already underway to build more of these stations at other rest stops such as in Pagoh (southbound), Tapah (southbound), Dengkil (southbound), Gunung Semanggol (northbound) and Seremban (northbound).

    “Each day, approximately 1.7 million vehicles utilise the PLUS highway. We believe that the EV charging station will offer convenience to the EV public, especially frequent highway users plying the KL-Ayer Keroh or Johor Bahru-Ayer Keroh stretch daily or during weekend or school holidays,” said PLUS managing director Datuk Azman Ismail.

    GreenTech Malaysia acting CEO Tuan Syed Ahmad Syed Mustafa added, “GreenTech Malaysia is very proud with our collaboration with PLUS on the installation of the first solar powered EV charger on the PLUS highway which is a key step in further promoting the Low Carbon Mobility blueprint. With the availability of EV chargers along the highway, EV/PHEV owners can now perform interstate travel in their vehicles.”

    Other green initiatives implemented by PLUS include the usage of biodegradable products at its R&R areas, including plastic bags, straws, hot and cold cups, food boxes and other utensils.

  • SPYSHOTS: Porsche 992 Turbo Cabrio seen testing

    With the 992-generation Porsche 911 having made its debut in Carrera S and 4S forms, more potent versions are still in the works, and here we can see a Turbo Cabriolet undergoing cold-weather road trials. Don’t mind the light bar on its nose, for a ‘Safari’ version of the 992 is unlikely to make production…

    What certainly will, is an update of the venerable horizontally-opposed six-cylinder biturbo engine. We can expect this to be a development of the 3.8 litre unit that powered the 991-generation 911 Turbo, producing 580 hp in the higher-rung Turbo S trim, and 607 hp in the limited-run Exclusive. To that end, the 992 Turbo should be able to comfortably manage outputs in excess of 600 hp and 750 Nm, likely mated to a version of the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic in the 992 Carrera.

    True to Turbo tradition, the 992-generation car sports wider rear wheelarches which also house an air intake on each side. The high-mounted rear license plate denotes that this rear bumper is still a work in progress, as is the front end where the bumper also wears camouflage.

    As before, the Turbo should continue to channel its prodigious outputs to an all-wheel-drive system via the aforementioned eight-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox. Alongside the Turbo, a string of 992-model 911s are still yet to come, namely the GTS, GT3/GT3 RS and Carrera Cabriolet versions. For now, the 992 Turbo is expected to make its debut at next year’s Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

  • BMW installs chargers at Ramada Plaza Melaka hotel

    BMW Malaysia and its dealer and Seong Hoe Premium Motors have introduced two new BMW i charging facilities at the Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Melaka hotel, adding to chargers already available at the city’s Holiday Inn and Hotel Equatorial.

    The new chargers join BMW’s growing network of charging infrastructure in the country, the most recent being the facilities at the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat in Ipoh, and Penang’s Iconic Hotel. Earlier this year, Ipoh’s WEIL Hotel welcomed BMW i chargers.

    “As the leading provider of premium electro-mobility in the country, we are committed to elevating the Sheer Driving Pleasure of our customers by ensuring state-of-the-art facilities are accessible at key strategic locations. We are excited to see how much our network of charging facilities has expanded, as we continue to drive e-mobility forward through innovation, awareness on new and clean technology for the automotive industry, as well as changing the infrastructure for premium electric vehicles in the country,” said Sashi Ambi, head of corporate communications at BMW Group Malaysia.

    Plug-in hybrids form a significant portion of BMW Group Malaysia’s sales – 57% of total BMW and MINI deliveries from January to November 2018, to be exact. In this period, the number of electrified vehicles delivered also saw a 34% year-on-year rise from over 5,100 to over 6,900 units.

    BMW Group Malaysia’s PHEVs are also supported by the ChargEV platform through its partnership with the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation. The BMW ChargeNow service, which is offered as part of the BMW 360° Electric programme, also grants straightforward access to partner charging facilities like ChargEV, where customers can enjoy 24/7 support and access to all charging locations in ChargEV’s growing nationwide network.

  • BMW, Porsche present 450 kW FastCharge prototype – 100 km range in three minutes, 15 mins for full charge!

    BMW Group has revealed that its FastCharge charging station prototype is now capable of providing an unprecedented ultra-fast charging capacity of 450 kW. The ultra-fast DC charging station – located in Jettingen-Scheppach, Bavaria – is said to provide a range of 100 kilometres in under three minutes, or 15 minutes for a full charge (10-80% State of Charge).

    This was demonstrated via a BMW i3 research vehicle, one that’s fitted with a specially-developed 57 kWh 400-volt battery. Together with an intelligent charging logic (which includes precise temperature management before and during the charging operation), a single 10-80% SOC charge only took 15 minutes.

    Similarly, the Porsche research vehicle with a net battery capacity of approximately 90 kWh achieved a charging capacity of more than 400 kW, thereby allowing charging times of less than three minutes for the first 100 km of range.

    The charging process works via a multi-voltage network on the vehicle side using a high-voltage DC/DC (HV-DC/DC) converter, transforming the required 800 V input voltage of the charging station to the lower 400 V system voltage of the BMW i3 research vehicle.

    The HV-DC/DC system also gives the vehicle reverse compatibility, allowing it to be charged at both old and future charging stations. Researchers are currently investigating the interoperability of this system (a key factor in ensuring reliable operation is secure communication between car and charging system), and have submitted proposals to standardisation bodies.

    FastCharge can be used free of charge right away and is suitable for electric cars with the Type 2 Combined Charging System (CCS) interface, which is commonly used in Europe. The project is led by BMW Group, with other participating industry members including Allego, Phoenix Contact E-Mobility, Porsche and Siemens.

    Now, the energy supply system provided by Siemens can already handle up to 920 volts, which is the level anticipated in future electrically-powered vehicles. The system integrates both the high-power electronics for the charging connections, as well as the communication interface to the electric vehicles.

    This charge controller ensures the output is automatically adapted so that different electric cars can be charged using a single infrastructure. The system’s flexible, modular architecture permits several vehicles to be charged at the same time, and the high-current, high-voltage system is suitable for many different applications, including fleet charging solutions and quick charging along highways (goodbye range anxiety!).

    Linking the energy supply system to the public power grid in Jettingen-Scheppach requires a charging container with two charging connections: one provides a charging capacity of 450 kW, while the second delivers up to 175 kW. Of course, both are available and free to use for all CCS-compatible cars.

    Of course, the byproduct of fast-charging is heat. For cooling, the High Power Charging (HPC) cables made by Phoenix Contact (fully CCS-compatible) are used, complete with an environmentally-friendly cooling fluid made from water and glycol. This allows the cooling circuit to be half-open, making maintenance comparatively straightforward compared to hermetically sealed systems that use oil as a coolant.

    The cables also feature specially developed wall duct and tension relief system to prevent the internal cooling hoses from being squeezed, as would usually happen with a conventional cable gland.

    Depending on the model, the new ultra-fast charging station (by Allego) is suitable for vehicles fitted with both 400 volt and 800 volt battery systems. Charge capacity is said to adapt automatically, and is subject to the maximum permitted charging capacity on the vehicle.

    Comparatively, BMW Group’s FastCharge system is nearly four times quicker than Tesla’s 120 kW Supercharger system, and improves on GM’s 400 kW Extreme Fast Charger (XFC) system. The latter is a solid-state transformer-based system that offers 96.5% grid-to-car efficiency and 290 km of range with 10 minutes of charge time. However, GM says XFC will only be deployed in 20 electric cars by 2023.

  • First A90 Toyota Supra will be auctioned off for charity

    Toyota USA is giving one lucky individual the chance to own the very first retail example of the all-new 2020 Toyota Supra by bidding for it at Barrett-Jackson’s annual auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Saturday, January 19, 2019.

    The company says the one-of-a-kind Supra will be the first new Supra available in the country in more than 20 years and will carry VIN number 20201. The car will sport a matte grey exterior colour with red mirror caps, the latter being teased in this official photo. If you want to see more of the actual car, a leaked frontal shot recently surfaced on the internet, which you can check out, here.

    Other highlights of A90 Supra #1 include matte black wheels and a red leather interior. The buyer will also get a carbon-fibre badge inside the cabin that indicates the car’s status as the first 2020 Supra in the United States, as well as additional exclusive experiences. Proceeds of the sale will be shared by the American Heart Association and the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

    The fifth-generation Supra is set to make its global debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 14, 2019, bringing an end to a 12-year wait.

    GALLERY: A90 Toyota Supra teaser

    GALLERY: Toyota FT-1 concept at KLIMS 18

  • MidValley Perodua showroom moves to Menara MBMR

    Those who visit Mid Valley often would have noticed that the corner Perodua showroom is no more. The dealership, run by DMM Sales Sdn Bhd, has relocated to the nearby Menara MBMR. Fronting Jalan Syed Putra, it’s above the famous Volvo showroom.

    Perodua says that the move will double its sales capacity here while at the same time placing greater emphasis on customer satisfaction. “This new sales showroom, which has a built-up area of 6,900 sq ft, is more than twice the size compared to our previous location, allowing an airier and more spacious showroom floor,” said Daihatsu (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd chairman Aqil Tan Sri Ahmad Azizuddin.

    Established in January 1995, DMM Sales is one of Daihatsu Malaysia’s subsidiaries. It is currently the largest Perodua dealership holder with 17 sales, 13 service and two body and paint outlets across Malaysia. DMM Sales has contributed an average of 10.6% to Perodua’s annual sales over the past five years.

    The Menara MBMR office tower is of course home to MBM Resources Berhad, which owns a significant direct stake in Perodua, as well as majority share in Daihatsu (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. The latter owns a 5% stake in Perodua. Federal Auto, the dealership synonymous with Volvo, is also in MBMR’s portfolio.

    According to Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) figures, Perodua sold 187,731 vehicles in the first 10 months of 2018, an 11% increase from the same period last year. Based on a January-October 2018 total industry volume of 502,244 units, Perodua’s market share stands at 37.4%.

  • SPIED: Ford compact pick-up spotted – new Courier?

    The Ford Ranger has been a strong seller for the Blue Oval in the pick-up truck segment, and it appears that the American automaker is looking to bolster its line-up with a smaller model to slot in beneath the Ranger. Our spy photographer source says that this will be a pick-up truck, despite the exterior bodywork which appears to be van-like.

    This has been tipped to be based on Ford’s new scalable front-wheel-drive platform for the latest Focus, meaning it will be underpinned by that car’s transverse-engine layout chassis (instead of a ladder frame like with the Ranger). Two bodystyles are slated for this model; a two-door and a four-door cabin, according to our sources.

    Powertrain is expected to come courtesy of a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine driving the front wheels, likely via an automatic gearbox. Given that the Focus also includes diesel powerplants in its line-up, those will be a likely addition to the forthcoming compact pick-up as well.

    For reference, the fourth-generation Ford Focus employs two EcoBoost petrol and two EcoBlue diesel engines, paired with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes. Two rear suspension layouts are used in the Focus; a double-wishbone and a torsion-beam setup, respectively, though it remains to be seen which will be used for the pick-up model seen here.

    Currently, the most rugged Focus offering is the Active variant, and a Focus-based SUV offshoot is planned as well. That model underlines the company’s direction in North America, which has seen it discontinue sedans dues to falling demand for the conventional three-box shape.

    GALLERY: Ford Ranger 2.0L Wildtrak 4×4 Automatic

  • SPYSHOTS: Renault Espace facelift spotted testing

    The Renault Espace has been on the market in its current iteration for just a year and a half, and now there appears to be a new update for the French MPV-turned-crossover. Caught by our spy photographers in northern Sweden, the forthcoming iteration of the Espace will gain a more noticeable facelift compared to the last outing.

    Revisions to the Espace include visual changes to its front and rear, though that may be the extent of the changes to the forthcoming update as the powertrain line-up has recently been updated to comprise the 1.8 litre turbocharged mill which also powers the Alpine A110, along with pair of diesels.

    In its most potent guise, the 1.8 litre turbo petrol-engined Espace does the 0-100 km/h run in 7.6 seconds, one second quicker compared to the 1.6 litre turbo it replaced. The trade-off is a slight hike in fuel consumption to 6.8 l/100 km, up from 6.2 l/100 km previously.

    We haven’t got close-up images of the development vehicle’s interior here, though changes may be minimal here as it, too had recently been updated. There may be a development of the R-Link 2 infotainment setup, and mobile device support via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are expected to continue here as well. We can expect to know more about the French automaker’s forthcoming model in due course.

    GALLERY: Renault Espace


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