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  • W177 Mercedes-Benz A-Class launched in Malaysia – A200 Progressive Line, A250 AMG Line, from RM228k

    Eight months on from the unveiling of the new W177 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Stuttgart’s smallest model has been officially launched in Malaysia. The premium hatchback is being offered in A 200 Progressive Line and A 250 AMG Line variants, priced at RM227,888 and RM263,888 respectively, on-the-road with the sales and services tax (SST) and without insurance.

    This marks a significant step up in pricing, as the equivalent models in the previous W176 lineup were priced at RM208,888 and RM248,888 when the goods and services tax (GST) was still in effect, but the two cars now come with much higher levels of standard kit – which we’ll get to in a minute. A four-year, unlimited-mileage warranty is included in the purchase price.

    Built on the uprated Modular Front Architecture 2 (MFA2) platform, the W177 is now 4,419 mm long, 1,796 mm wide and 1,440 mm tall, making it a whopping 127 mm longer, 16 mm wider and 7 mm taller than before; its wheelbase is also 30 mm longer, at 2,729 mm. Mercedes claims that the car now offers greater head-, shoulder- and elbow room, easier rear-seat access and a boot that is 29 litres larger at 370 litres.

    On the outside, the new A-Class debuts a new version of Mercedes’ Sensual Purity design language. There’s a lower nose with tapered headlights flanking a trapezoidal grille, plus two-piece tail lights that make the car appear wider. The character lines along the side, which featured an upswept design on the outgoing model, have been smoothened to emphasise the car’s length.

    Both models come with LED High Performance headlights (not the top-spec Multibeam units) with auto high beam, along with visible twin exhaust exits and 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels. The AMG Line package on the A 250 adds aggressive bumpers, side skirts, larger cross-drilled front brake discs and AMG-badged alloys. The A 200 comes with run-flat tyres, while the A 250 rides on standard tyres and adds a tyre repair kit.

    Step inside and you’ll find an interior inspired by the W222 S-Class and W213 E-Class, with round turbine-inspired air vents and a large (and now completely freestanding) flatscreen display panel with twin 10.25-inch screens. The extended version of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system is fitted as standard, with a centre touchscreen and a new Linguatronic voice control system.

    Using the activation phrase “Hey Mercedes,” users can now control various vehicle functions such as the climate control, radio and navigation. The system recognises natural language and indirect speech (saying “I am cold,” for instance, will instruct the climate control to raise the temperature), and will also use machine learning to adapt to accents and inflections over time.

    In terms of interior accoutrements, the A 200 comes with black open pore linden wood trim and Artico faux leather upholstery, while the A 250 gains sports seats with integrated headrests, a Nappa leather-wrapped steering wheel, brushed aluminium decor and Artico and Dinamica microfibre seat trim.

    Long-awaited standard features, such as keyless entry and single-zone auto climate control (still no rear vents, mind), join an extensive equipment list that includes power-adjustable front seats with memory and lumbar adjustment, auto-dimming and auto-folding mirrors, cruise control, 64-colour ambient lighting, illuminated door sill plates, hard disk-based navigation and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.

    Under the bonnet, the A 200 now uses a smaller 1.33 litre M282 four-cylinder turbo engine, developed in conjunction with Renault. It makes 163 hp at 5,500 rpm and 250 Nm of torque from 1,620 to 4,000 rpm, and when paired to a new Getrag seven-speed wet dual clutch transmission, it results in a zero-to-100 km/h time of 8.0 seconds, a top speed of 225 km/h and a combined fuel consumption figure of 5.2 litres per 100 km.

    The A 250 gets a revised M260 version of existing 2.0 litre mill, churning out 224 hp at 5,500 rpm and 350 Nm between 1,800 to 4,000 rpm. It hits 100 km/h in just 6.2 seconds, reaches a top speed of 250 km/h and delivers fuel consumption rated at 6.2 litres per 100 km. This one gets a revised version of Mercedes’ own DCT, which is also a wet clutch unit.

    Both models ride on comfort suspension, with passive dampers and a 15 mm lower ride height than standard. The A 250 is the only one to come with multilink rear suspension, whereas the A 200 receives a new, simpler torsion beam setup. Safety-wise, all models get seven airbags, Active Brake Assist (autonomous emergency braking), a tyre pressure monitoring system and Active Parking Assist with a reverse camera.

    Mercedes-Benz Services Malaysia is adding a new Plan A financing option, which incorporates insurance and service packages. Various plans are offered, starting from RM1,988 with a three-year tenure and a 22% downpayment, and the company is also throwing in one-year tyre and wheel insurance until December 31. Also available is the A+ Package range of genuine accessories, including spoilers, side skirts and wheels.

    Browse full specifications and equipment of the new A-Class on Also stay tuned for the written and video reviews of the car – all the way from Croatia – which will be published tomorrow.

    GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz A 200 Progressive Line

    GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz A 250 AMG Line

  • SPYSHOTS: 2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT in Malaysia

    Spotted at the R&R area in the vicinity of the Hong Leong Malaysia factory in Sungai Buloh, Selangor were a trio of Yamaha Tracers, Yamaha’s offering to the adventure-touring market. In this series of photos sent in by a reader, one the bike bears the Tracer 900 GT and Yamaha badges, while the other two, despite the hidden branding, carry the matte blue paintwork of the new Tracer 700 GT.

    However, it was unable to be determined if the engines were the three-cylinder of the MT-09 or the two-cylinder of the MT-07. If we were to say the matte blue machines are the Tracer 700 GT, there are differences in the appearance of the engine and swingarm.

    This is because the Tracer 700 GT has a radiator hose leading from the water pump to the right side of the engine, which appears to be missing from the photos. The Tracer 900 GT was launched in Europe in November of last year and comes with riding conveniences like a quickshifter, cruise control full-adjustable suspension and an instrument panel taken from the YZF-R1.

    Carrying the three-cylinder mill from the MT-09, the Tracer GT produces 115 PS at 10,000 rpm and 87.5 Nm of torque at 8,500 rpm, with power getting to the ground via a six-speed gearbox. In Malaysia, the Yamaha MT-09 Tracer 900 retails for RM53,681.

  • No toll abolishment, but govt looking at lower rates, off-peak discounts, no increases – Works Minister

    If you’re still holding on to the unrealistic dream of toll-free highways, here’s another reminder. Works minister Baru Bian has reiterated that there will be no abolishment of tolled roads until the country’s finances have recovered. However, the government is looking at certain measures to ease the burden on motorists’ wallets, Malay Mail reports.

    “The government will not abolish tolls but we are discussing on finding alternatives. This includes lowering the toll rates, granting percentage discounts during off peak hours and maybe not raising the toll rates in the next two to three years.

    “We will not abolish tolled highways until we reach a stage where our nation’s fiscal position is stable and has recovered to a healthy position,” he said in reply to a question by Sungai Besar MP Muslimin Yahaya in parliament.

    When Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari asked if Malaysians should abandon their dream for toll-free highways, the minister replied: “Whether or not the public is dreaming (for a toll-free highway), it is up to them. The policy is clear. There is no abolishment of tolled roads until the nation’s finances have recovered.”

    Previously, Bian was quoted as saying the government would have to pay toll concessionaires an estimated RM400 billion in compensation if tolls were abolished. However, that big sum was disputed by Damansara MP Tony Pua, who is also special officer to finance minister Lim Guan Eng.

    Prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also come out to say that toll-free roads are not possible without a fuel price hike. “We made the manifesto thinking we would not be the government. Now we are the government, and this manifesto is a big burden. But, at that time, I was against it. I know to have a freeway… you cannot. The only way to have freeways and no toll is to raise the price of petrol,” the PM said.

    The price of RON 95 petrol has remained at RM2.20 per litre since May 30. Abolishing tolls was part of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto.

  • 2019 Benelli RFS150iLE limited edition – RM7,488

    If you feel the Yamaha Y15ZR and Honda RS150R supercubs are a little too mainstream, the 2019 Benelli RFS150iLE Limited Edition might suit the bill at RM7,488. Coming in a limited production run of 5,000 units, the RFS150iLE is clad in the Italian Tri-Colore, commemorating the birthplace of the Benelli brand.

    As part of the exclusivity – a certificate of ownership with the signature of Marco Bellucci, Chief Technical Director of Benelli, is provided – of the RFS150iLE, adjustable brake and clutch levers are standard. At the rear end a Kayaba monoshock is fitted with the front end propped up by non-adjustable upside-down forks and white pinstripes grace the front and rear wheels.

    Power for the RFS150iLE comes from a liquid-cooled, triple-spark, single cylinder 149 cc power plant that produces 15.5 hp at 8,500 rpm and 13 Nm of torque at 7,000 rpm. The gearbox is a six-speed, wet-clutch unit with chain final drive.

    The RFS150iLE’s unqiue three-spark plug cylinder head configuration – called B3SP – is designed to optimise fuel efficiency and produce optimum power, while reducing emissions. A single hydraulic disc is used, front and rear, for braking, the front carrying a 240 mm petal disc while the rear is a 220 mm unit.

    Fuel for the RFS150iLE is carried in a 4.8-litre tank under the seat, and weight is claimed to be 126 kg. Seat height is set at 787 mm, and top speed for this supercub is claimed to be 100 km/h.

  • SEAT Tarraco SUV production starts in Wolfsburg

    For the first time in about 20 years, Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant is producing a model of another group brand – the SEAT Tarraco. The Spanish brand’s flagship SUV uses a long version of the VW Group’s modular MQB platform and rolls off the production line together with the Volkswagen Tiguan SUV and Touran MPV.

    The step towards multi-brand production will boost the capacity deployment of Volkswagen’s main plant. The SEAT Tarraco production is part of the “Pact for the Future” concluded by the company and the Works Council at the end of 2016. The pact is a far-reaching timetable for improving the economic viability of the Volkswagen brand and placing the company on a firm footing for the future.

    “A competent, globally leading production network across the group is one of the biggest levers for efficiency enhancement. The SEAT Tarraco is an example of the way more plants within the group-wide production network will produce vehicles for several group brands at the same time in the future,” said Dr Andreas Tostmann, Volkswagen member of the board for production and logistics.

    Designed in Barcelona by SEAT, the Tarraco – named after the Spanish port city Tarragona – sits above the Ateca and Arona SUVs, and is available in five- or seven-seat form. It hints at the company’s forthcoming design language, with a larger, more prominent six-sided grille. The angular surfacing and upswept D-pillar kink are as on the Ateca, while the rear features full-width LED tail lights.

    Measuring 4,735 mm long and 1,658 mm tall, the big SEAT is nearly 40 mm longer and over 20 mm lower than a Honda CR-V. It will be offered with two petrol engines at launch – a 1.5 litre TSI unit with 150 PS, a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive; and a 190 PS 2.0 TSI paired to a seven-speed DSG and 4Drive all-wheel drive.

    This is the fifth time that VW’s main plant has produced a model for another brand. The SEAT Arosa was made here from the end of 1996 until 1998. Wolfsburg also made the Audi 50 from 1974 to 1978, the Audi 80 from 1994 to 1998 and the Audi 100 from 1993 to 1997. The Audi 50 was largely identical to the Polo of the time; both were the first German small cars with transverse engines and front-wheel drive.

  • Skoda Kodiaq GT – China-only SUV coupe debuts

    Such is the pull of the Chinese market that the country’s SUV “coupé” craze has piqued the interest of any carmaker worth its salt. Even the eminently practical Skoda has been sucked into this aesthetics-led trend with the introduction of the Kodiaq GT specifically for the Middle Kingdom – joining the also China-only Kamiq, the Karoq and the regular Kodiaq.

    Unveiled ahead of its world premiere at the Guangzhou Motor Show, the GT gets the usual low-slung roofline that slopes at the rear towards the raked rear windscreen. The rest is as per the standard Kodiaq, aside from the redesigned front air inlet, body-coloured side sills, reshaped tail lights and a new rear diffuser with a full-width reflector strip and twin round tailpipes.

    The GT is also the first Skoda to get the brand name spelt out in individual letters across the tailgate, instead of the usual roundel. No photos of the interior were provided, but expect the usual Kodiaq interior with features such as the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display (standard here); there are also plenty of connectivity features such as WiFi access, MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Baidu CarLife.

    Under the bonnet sits Volkswagen’s venerable 2.0 litre turbocharged TSI engine in 186 hp and 220 hp flavours, mated to a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive as standard. Safety features include Blind Spot Detect, Front Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with stop-and-go.

    GALLERY: Skoda Kodiaq RS

  • AD: The holiday promotion continues at Auto Bavaria – exceptional deals on a new BMW this weekend!

    We may have entered the last three months of the year, but it is never too late to own a brand new BMW. Make your way to Auto Bavaria this weekend to discover exceptional deals on limited units across the BMW lineup at holiday prices!

    Enjoy exclusive offers on the latest range of BMW plug-in hybrid models, including the new BMW 530e and BMW 330e. These models feature efficient powertrains and electrifying performance, and are each designed to fit your lifestyle perfectly. Electrify your drive with interest rates starting from 0.00% or extend your driving pleasure with a complimentary BMW i Wallbox Plus and BMW i AC Fast Charging Cable**.

    Every BMW model comes with five years’ unlimited mileage warranty and free scheduled service, plus a two-year BMW Tyre Warranty* for complete peace of mind. Also, treat yourself to new apparel, BMW scale models, stylish bags and even toys from our wide range of BMW lifestyle collection.

    So what are you waiting for? Come on over to Auto Bavaria Glenmarie or Penang from 19 – 21 October, from 9 am to 6 pm and experience all there is to offer. To those down South, these exclusive offers await you at Paradigm Mall Johor Bahru from October 18 to 21, from 10 am to 10 pm. For more information, visit the official Auto Bavaria Facebook page.

    * Terms and conditions apply. Offers may vary across BMW models.
    ** Complimentary BMW i Wallbox Plus and/or BMW i AC Fast Charging Cable applicable for selected BMW iPerformance models.
    *** Free scheduled service is provided in accordance with the Condition Based Service (CBS) system in your BMW vehicle.

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  • 2018 Toyota Rush launched in Malaysia – new 1.5L engine, Pre-Collision System, est from RM93k

    UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) today launched the all-new Toyota Rush, which is available in two locally-assembled (CKD) variants – 1.5G and 1.5S – with prices estimated to start from RM93,000 for the former and RM98,000 for the latter.

    Visually, the seven-seater has been completely redesigned and now sports an MPV-SUV crossover look that isn’t unlike the Honda BR-V. Styling cues at the front appear to be influenced by the larger Fortuner, and include a tapered, four-slat grille that is flanked by slim LED headlamps with notched indicators on the 1.5S (the 1.5G gets halogen units instead).

    The lower apron is segmented into the sections, with those in the corners being dedicated to the circular fog lamps (1.5S only) and faux inlets, and the middle one an actual intake. Viewed as a whole, the combination of blacked-out and body-coloured areas create a prominent ‘X design’ on the Rush’s face, which plays well with Toyota’s dynamic design language approach.

    On either sides of the Rush, a rising crease from the front wheel arch culminates at the tip of the rear taillight, while body cladding fits the MPV-SUV persona being portrayed. Both variants come with 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 215/60 profile tyres by default, along with an ‘R-Blade’ bodykit that adds on silver touches on all sides.

    Moving towards the rear, wraparound LED taillights meet with the black window trims that form part of the roof spoiler, while a scalloped section of the large tailgate is dedicated to the accommodate the number plate. More body cladding is present in the lower apron, joined by a skid plate in black (also found at the front).

    If the new Rush looks larger than its rounder predecessor, your eyes aren’t fooling you. Dimension-wise, the new model is 4,435 mm long, 1,695 mm wide, 1,705 mm tall and has a 2,685 mm wheelbase, with most of those figures being more than the previous model’s 4,055 mm length, 1,695 mm width, 1,690 mm height and 2,580 mm.

    Meanwhile, the BR-V, which is the Rush’s closest rival, measures 4,456 mm long (+21 mm), 1,735 mm wide (+40 mm), 1,666 mm tall (-39 mm) and comes with a 2,662 mm wheelbase (-23 mm). To those who may concern, the BR-V’s ground clearance of 201 mm is also less than the new Rush’s 220 mm.

    The interior also receives a overhaul, and now sports a more contemporary and rather symmetrical design compared to before. Highlights include a silver and chrome accents that contrast with the primarily black interior, while leather upholstery is applicable to the 1.5S (fabric for 1.5G).

    As before, the Rush offers seating for seven, distributed according to a 2-3-2 layout, with the second row following a 60:40 split; third row is 50:50. With the third row backrest folded down, there’s 217 litres of storage space, which is expanded to 514 litres when tumbled up.

    Regardless of variant choice, you’ll get single-zone air-conditioning with rear blower vents, 6.8-inch DVD-AVX head unit with screen mirroring function, multi-info display, Panoramic View Monitor with four cameras, Toyota AutoTag built-in SmartTAG, four electrical outlets, keyless entry and start, digital video recorder (DVR) and no less than 13 cupholders.

    In terms of the safety kit, the Rush impresses with its ‘Safe-T Plus’ package that includes six airbags, a blind spot monitor with rear-cross traffic alert, vehicle stability control and Pre-Collision System. The last item is exclusive to the 1.5S and operates like most autonomous emergency braking systems by first alerting the driver at speeds of 4-100 km/h (vehicles)/4-50 km/h (pedestrians) when an imminent collision is ahead.

    Should no action be taken, the system will apply the brakes (operational speed between 4-80 km/h) to attempt to prevent or mitigate a crash. Also part of the Pre-Collision System are front departure alert that alerts when you the car moves ahead by three metres, and Pedal Misoperation Control. These safety systems, along with traction control, hill start assist, ABS with EBD and brake assist, and pedal misoperation control contribute to the Rush’s five-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating.

    Under the bonnet, you’ll find a 2NR-VE 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine with start/stop. Unlike the previous 3SZ-VE powerplant, the new mill comes with Dual VVT-i for better efficiency and is the same unit found in the latest Avanza as well as the Perodua Myvi.

    Output figures are 105 PS at 6,000 rpm and 136 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm, with drive going to the rear wheels via a four-speed torque converter automatic. The company claims a fuel consumption of 15.6 km/l, which qualifies the Rush to be an Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV).

    Customers will get to choose from five exterior colours – White, Silver Metallic, Dark Grey Metallic, Blue Metallic and Dark Green Metallic. Each purchase also comes with a five-year/unlimited mileage warranty.

    GALLERY: 2018 Toyota Rush 1.5S

    GALLERY: 2018 Toyota Rush 1.5G

  • Malaysian vehicle sales data for Sept 2018 by brand

    It’s to no one’s surprise that car sales plunged in September, following the end of the tax holiday. However, it’s not so much because prices are up (vs 0% GST), but because the unprecedented tax holiday has depleted the stocks of most car companies, who weren’t prepared for the frenzy.

    Data from the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) showed that a total of 31,241 vehicles were delivered in September, which is 52% lower than the 65,551 units recorded in August. Year-on-year, September sales were 23% or 9,715 units lower than the corresponding month in 2017.

    Meanwhile, total industry volume as of September 2018 is 454,971 units, 7% more than the 425,678 units from the first nine months of last year.

    As you can see from the breakdown by brand chart below, it’s a sea or red, and every brand of note recorded declines in September. Nothing much to look at, just a massive hangover from the sales frenzy and a quiet month with not many cars to shift. Certain brands have maintained sticker prices in the sales tax era to further clear stocks.

    Will we be seeing a recovery to end the year strong or will auto sales stagger its way to 2019? Upcoming new model launches include the debut of the Toyota Rush seven-seater, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Proton X70.

  • J.D. Power 2018 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index – Nissan takes top spot ahead of Isuzu, Honda, Toyota

    J.D. Power has announced its 2018 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, which is a comprehensive analysis of the new-vehicle purchase and delivery experience based on responses from 2,477 car buyers who bought their cars between September 2017 and May 2018.

    For the 16th year of the study, J.D. Power redesigned the six weighted factors that affected overall customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience. These include dealer sales consultant (26%); dealership facility (25%); delivery process (19%); working out the deal (14%); paperwork completion (14%); and dealership website (2%).

    Based on the results, Nissan managed to leap last year’s leaders, Isuzu and Toyota, to take its place at the very top with a score of 812 points (following a 1,000-point scale). Coming in second place is Isuzu with 797 points, while third place Honda (795 points) improved upon its position from last year to overtake Toyota, which is now in fourth place with 791 points.

    Another gainer here is Mitsubishi with 787 points, which places the brand just above the mass market average of 784 points. Beyond that, Proton improved from last year with a higher position and a score of 782 points, while Volkswagen appears on the list with 779 points. Mazda found itself placed further down the rankings with 781 points, and Perodua is at the bottom with 774 points.

    According to J.D. Power, car buyers were more satisfied when engaging with experienced sales consultants that used digital devices. Unsurprisingly, many also expected a thorough explanation of available features when the vehicle is delivered, and welcomed follow-up clarification efforts. Customers also prefer when sales consultants have the autonomy to quickly secure a deal rather than having to wait for the thumbs up from their supervisor.

    Aside from these key findings, the study also revealed that a growing number of buyers (59%) researched online for information such as the price, features and specifications of a vehicle. Those who do access information online were also more inclined to contact the dealership prior to a physical visit to cross-check details as well as compare pricing across different dealerships.

    It is also discovered that financial considerations are the most influential reason for purchasing a vehicle (46% of respondents), primarily affecting those aged 29 years and younger. Curiously, younger buyers are also found to be less style-driven than older buyers when purchasing their vehicle.

    “Car buyers in Malaysia, especially younger buyers, are increasingly concerned about the cost of owning a vehicle and are turning to online channels to aid in their research on the best available deals,” said Muhammad Asyraf Bin Mustafar, country head of Malaysia at J.D. Power.

    “Brands that can offer a competitive pricing model through flexible financing options, better fuel economy, customized maintenance packages and higher residual values are likely to attract more customers. Similarly, it is important that brands can match their product offerings with their customers’ purchase reasons,” he added.


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Last Updated 01 Oct 2018


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