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  • 2015 Subaru Outback – jacked-up Legacy debuts in NY

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    The 2015 Subaru Outback has made its debut at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), using the latest Legacy as its base. Set to appear in US dealerships in the summer, the new Outback is claimed to feature the most cabin space, the most capable chassis and the highest fuel efficiency in the model’s 20-year history.

    The new car is only slightly larger than the outgoing model, being just 15 mm longer and 18 mm wider, with the wheelbase grown by 5 mm. Yet Subaru claims that cabin space has grown by as much as 76 litres to 3,061 litres, with boot space now at 1,005 litres (up 34 litres), or 2,076 litres (up 57 litres) with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down.

    As expected, the Outback follows the new Legacy’s styling, with the hawk-eye headlights, trapezoidal grille and the more steeply-raked windscreen. In typical Outback fashion, black plastic moulding goes around the car, punctuated by large fog lights at the front corners, while large roof rails with integrated retractable crossbars line the roof. Step-style doorsills enable one to stand firmly whilst securing cargo to the roof.

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    The rear of the Outback should prove to be an accurate preview of the yet-to-be-launched Legacy Wagon, and it will be available with a power-retractable tailgate (standard on the Limited trim) for the first time.

    The interior has also been lifted from the new Legacy, with better materials than before. As with the Legacy, the Outback comes in three trim levels – Standard, Premium and Limited. Premium features a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, an All-Weather Package (heated seats and exterior mirrors as well as a wiper de-icer) as well as a six-speaker infotainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen, among others.

    Limited trim throws in 18-inch alloy wheels, perforated leather upholstery, a memory function for the driver’s seat, a four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated rear seats, keyless entry and start and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

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    Also shared with the Legacy are its pair of available powertrains – a 2.5 litre flat-four producing 175 hp at 5,800 rpm and 235 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, and a 3.6 litre flat-six (only available in Limited trim) developing 256 hp at 6,000 rpm and 334 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. Better aerodynamics and the Active Grille Shutter enable the 2.5 to achieve a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.4 litres per 100 km – which is claimed to beat some front-wheel drive versions of competitor crossovers – while the 3.6 attains 10.7 litres per 100 km.

    Both engines are mated as standard to a Lineartronic CVT with six virtual ratios and paddle shifters, as well as Symmetrical AWD with Active Torque Vectoring and X-Mode lifted from the Forester, which provides enhanced off-roading capabilities along with Hill Descent Control.

    Another page lifted from the Legacy’s spec sheet concerns the safety features, which includes new front seat cushion airbags that keep occupants in place in a collision, as well as the Rear Vehicle Detection System and EyeSight. The former (standard on Limited, optional on Premium) provides Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, while the latter (optional on Premium and Limited trims) enables Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning.

     
     
  • VIDEO: Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG sounds like thunder

    OK, perhaps “thunder” is taking a bit of poetic liberty where this spy video is concerned; still, we don’t doubt the upcoming four-door W205 Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG has quite a soundtrack on offer.

    I mean, despite the camera’s distance from the car, you can still hear the carnal V8 rumble from its quad tailpipes. Not to mention the chirp of the tyres as the hot sedan navigates the ‘Ring at considerable speed.

    No more 487 hp/600 Nm 6.3 litre V8, but we should be looking at a 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 that develops between 450 and 500 hp. Torque should be monumental, too.

    This new V8 (M117 engine code) shares a modular architecture with the 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine found in the ’45 AMG’ cars (A, CLA and GLA), so it could be two of those joined in a V.

    Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG sedan spyshots

    Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG estate spyshots

     
     
  • 2014 Honda City – 10,000 bookings within first month

    2014 Honda City 4

    The 2014 Honda City has collected 10,000 bookings within a month of its official launch on March 20, well surpassing the previous record of 3,000 bookings within a month of launch for the fourth-gen CR-V.

    Honda Malaysia says it will be able to complete deliveries for all 10,000 bookings by end-June, thanks to the new No. 2 Line in Pegoh, which has doubled production capacity as well as enabled flexible production scheduling to speed up output.

    In addition, sales are up 30% in Q1 2014 over the same period last year. Honda Malaysia aims to sell 76,000 Honda vehicles this year. Revisit our tireless coverage of the 2014 Honda City here: Launch, test drive, old car, new car, grade-by-grade comparison, walk-around video.

     
     
  • Ford Fiesta ST – new range-topping ST-3 trim for UK

    Ford Fiesta ST KLIMS 21

    Ford has launched a new flagship version of its Ford Fiesta ST. Appearing one year after the hot hatch’s debut, the range-topping ST-3 trim level builds on the specification of the ST-2 by adding more kit.

    New to the Fiesta ST are equipment such as keyless entry, Sony DAB radio/CD with navigation system, cruise control, automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirror, power-fold door mirrors with puddle lamps and electronic automatic temperature control. Rear parking sensors are introduced as an optional extra on the ST-3 and ST-2.

    Priced at £19,250 (RM105,472) in the UK, the ST-3 responds to demand for a higher series model in addition to the previous two specification line-up, with the ST-2 accounting for over 90% of sales. In total, over 6,250 units of the hot Fiesta have been sold – 20% more than forecast.

    Powered by a 1.6 litre EcoBoost engine with 182 PS/240 Nm, mated to a six-speed manual, the Fiesta ST sprints from 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds. Top speed is 220 km/h. Ford has confirmed that the Fiesta ST will reach Malaysia in the second half of this year to battle the Renault Clio RS and Peugeot 208 GTI – will we get the ST-2 or ST-3 spec, and for how much?

     
     
  • SPYSHOTS: Production Mercedes-Benz ML Coupe

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    Just days after the Mercedes-Benz Coupe SUV Concept was showcased at Auto China 2014, Stuttgart’s engineers have begun testing a prototype of the production car on public roads.

    We’ll call this one the ML Coupe for now, as we don’t know what the production car will be called. Current Mercedes-Benz naming schemes are a bit mixed up – it could be a CLM – a four door coupe version of the M-Class, like how the CLA is to the A, or the M-Class Coupe, a coupe version of the M-Class, just like the E-Class Coupe to the E-Class. Or it could be something else altogether!

    MLC-8

    Although still heavily disguised, we can see that the rear end of this new BMW X6 competitor will have the S-Class Coupe-style design, which will differentiate it further from the ML.

    Mercedes-Benz is late to the game with this one – we’re about to see the launch of the second generation of the hugely popular BMW X6 and they’re just testing the first generation of their competitor now. Let the battle of the coupe SUVs begin!

     
     
  • Lotus opens 4S centre in Beijing, its first in the capital

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    Lotus has opened its first 4S Centre in Beijing in an event officiated by Proton advisor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The national car architect was accompanied by Tan Sri Mohd Khamil Jamil, executive chairman of Proton and chairman of Group Lotus, as well as Aslam Farikullah, COO of Group Lotus.

    The 4S centre has a footprint of approximately 1,000 square metres over four floors at the capital’s Golden Port Motor Park. It houses a showroom, comprehensive service centre, administrative office, merchandise retail corner, customers lounge and a training centre. There’s also a club house for Lotus owners. The service centre is equipped with three hoists, an engine repair room, plus diagnostic and special tools for Lotus cars.

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    “China’s growth has not only opened the eyes of the international business community, but it has also inspired us to open this new Lotus 4S Centre,” Farikullah said, adding that the opening is a form of acknowledgment for a market that has been receptive of the brand since its first venture there towards the end of 2011.

    Lotus currently has eight dealerships in China, including in Shanghai, Chengdu and Dalian. Models currently sold in the Middle Kingdom include the Evora S IPS, the Exige S240/S260 and the Elise CR.

    In Malaysia, Lotus launched the Exige S Roadster last month. The 345 hp sports car is priced from RM457k.

     
     
  • DRIVEN: Nissan Almera Nismo Performance Package

    Nissan Almera NISMO Performance Package 10

    It’s a peculiar place, the local B-segment sedan market. The heartland of the automotive scene in Malaysia, these small, ungainly-looking booted hatches regularly stirs the emotions of the buying public in a way no supercar can ever hope to match. It’s a highly competitive segment, with no margin for error, and your lead in the marketplace only lasts until the next time your competitors are refreshed.

    That’s the situation in which the Nissan Almera currently finds itself. Once providing unbeatable value – prices start at just RM66,827 for the base E manual variant, topping off at RM79,837 for the VL – at a time when its rivals pushed for greater sophistication at premium prices, it has suddenly seen its share in the market eaten up, with both the new Toyota Vios and Honda City now featuring stripped-out, bargain-basement variants of their own.

    To try to make up some of that ground, the company is pushing in the other direction with, ahem, the Nissan Almera Nismo Performance Package, aiming to inject some fun and sporting pedigree to its best-selling model, as well as to maintain its considerable foothold in the market. Is this the perfect shot in the arm for the Almera, or is it just a bridge too far for Nissan’s fledgling performance brand?

    See the full report and photo gallery on the Almera Nismo Performance Package here

     
     
  • VIDEO: Beijing 2014 highlights – new concept cars

    Yesterday, it was production sedans, and today, our Auto China 2014 team, led by Moy Yew Meng, continues their video coverage with a trio of new concepts that made their debuts in Beijing.

    Aerilynn walks us through the Nissan Lannia, the sedan version of the Friend-ME concept from last year, as well as the Honda Concept B, which previews a five-door model developed exclusively for the Chinese market.

    Lastly, there’s the stunning Peugeot Exalt Concept, all 340 hp of sleek hybrid muscle. Enjoy!

     
     
  • Suzuki Concept Alivio – the SX4 Sedan grows up

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    We’ve seen the Suzuki Authentics concept at Shanghai 2013 and its identical twin, the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, in Delhi earlier this year. Now the company has returned to China to showcase the Suzuki Concept Alivio – which previews a new SX4-based sedan – at Auto China 2014 in Beijing.

    Measuring 4,545 mm long, 1,730 mm wide and 1,475 mm tall, the Alivio has grown to a full C-segment sedan competitor to take on the likes of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, being 45 mm longer and 85 than the old segment-straddling SX4 Sedan (width remains the same). This leaves the Swift-based Dzire as the company’s sole B-segment entry.

    Looking a lot more production-ready than the earlier concepts, the Alivio is expected to remain much the same when it reaches the market, losing only the large wheels and some of the chrome trim. It certainly looks more conventional and balanced than the rather ungainly SX4 Sedan, that’s for sure.

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    Powering the Alivio is a 1.6 litre DOHC VVT inline-four engine (likely the SX4′s M16A engine) which Suzuki claims has increased performance and fuel efficiency due to a reduction of weight and frictional resistance. Currently, the engine in the SX4 produces 120 PS at 6,000 rpm and 156 Nm at 4,400 rpm. The engine is mated to a new lightweight and compact six-speed automatic that promises improved efficiency.

    The production version of the Suzuki Concept Alivio is set to be unveiled for the Chinese and Indian market sometime later this year. What do you think – should it be brought over here to take on Malaysia’s competitive market?

     
     
  • BMW 420i Coupe launched in Malaysia – from RM300k

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    Following last week’s local launch of the BMW 428i Convertible, it’s now the turn of the BMW 420i Coupe to hit our shores. The entry-level 4 Series is available here in standard and Sport Line forms.

    The 420i Coupe is powered by a 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that develops 184 hp from 5,000-6,250 rpm and 270 Nm of torque from 1,250-4,500 rpm. With the help of an eight-speed auto, the vehicle gets to 100 km/h from rest in 7.3 seconds before hitting a 236 km/h top speed.

    Of course, there’s stop/start as well as the Driving Experience Control with Eco Pro mode. Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.0 litres per 100 km.

    The standard car gets 225/50 R17 star-spoke alloys, xenon headlamps, fog lamps and front and rear parking sensors. Inside, you’ll find auto dual-zone air-con, auto headlamps and wipers, six speakers, Dakota black leather upholstery, 6.5-inch BMW Radio Professional (so no touch-sensitive iDrive), cruise control with braking function, satin silver matt dashboard trim and a sports leather steering wheel.

    Upgrade to the Sport Line and you get 225/45 R18 double-spoke alloys, M Sport suspension, an eight-speed sports auto with shift paddles and Launch Control, high-gloss black exterior trim and additional front and rear bumper trim.

    Interior additions comprise high-gloss black dashboard trim with Coral Red matt accents, a nine-speaker 205W sound system, sports seats and Anthracite headlining.

    Dual frontal and side airbags, plus head airbags front to rear, DSC, ASC, CBC and DTC are standard. Body colours comprise Alpine White, Midnight Blue, Mineral Grey, Black Sapphire (base car only) and Melbourne Red (Sport Line only).

    The fully-imported (CBU) BMW 420i Coupe costs RM299,800, OTR without insurance, while the Sport Line package (pictured here, taken at Quill Automobiles PJ) is a RM20k upgrade.

    The BMW 4 Series range in Malaysia is now thus:

    BMW 420i Coupe Sport

     
     
 

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