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  • TechArt GTStreet R Cabriolet – 340 km/h wind in hair

    The Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet is the fastest way to travel in a soft-top 911, at least as far as factory models are concerned. The range-topping, 3.8 litre twin-turbo, flat-six cranks out 580 hp and 750 Nm of torque. German tuner TechArt adds considerably more from the same engine architecture, and manages to squeeze 720 hp and 920 Nm of torque from the powerplant.

    Changes made to the engine include an ECU kit, sport air intake filter, TechArt turbochargers with variable turbine geometry and a sports exhaust system with stepless valve adjustment. Additionally, the transmission also gets TechArt gearbox management calibration.

    On the chassis side, the GTStreet R rolls on a choice of either 20-inch or 21-inch wheels and tyres. TechArt also offers its VarioPlus coilver suspension kit for pairing with Porsche’s PDDC damper control setup, or the TechArt Noselift front axle lift kit for an additional 60 mm of ground clearance at the front.

    The GTStreet R exterior is more aggressive all around, with a deeper front bumper and active front spoiler lip reshaping the airflow around the car. Wheelarch extensions further broaden the already wide 911 variant – with front wheelarch vents fashioned after those on the 911 GT3 RS – while large air scoops reside just ahead of the rear wheels.

    Around the back, a huge rear wing sits atop the decklid, while a new bumper sports deeper sculpting, with cut-outs for the more centrally-located exhausts. These culminate in performance figures of 0-100 km/h in 2.7 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 8.5 seconds, 0-300 km/h in 23.3 seconds, onwards to a top speed of 340 km/h.

  • Lexus LC gains TRD exterior upgrades – wheels, aero

    The Lexus LC is already a looker, but those eyeing an even more aggressive look can turn to Toyota Racing Development (TRD) for their needs. The in-house tuner has released a new line of exterior upgrades for the Japanese luxury coupé, and they look surprisingly subtle and refined compared to their other offerings.

    At the front, there are small spoilers at each corner that help clean up the flow of air, while a rubber lip spoiler under the grille adds a minimal amount of downforce. There are also additional side skirts that improve straight line stability.

    Moving to the rear, a bootlid lip spoiler provides aerodynamic balance to aid stability, while the rear side spoilers and diffuser also increase downforce. The front and rear side spoilers, side skirts and bootlid lip spoiler come in black, and on cars painted in White Nova, Black and Graphite Black are also available in body colour, painted at the dealer.

    Last but not least is a set of 21-inch lightweight forged aluminium alloy wheels measuring 21×8.5J at the front and 21×9.5J at the rear, requiring the use of 245/40RF21 front and 275/35RF21 rear run-flat tyres. The wheels also come with locking nuts.

    The parts are compatible with both the LC 500 and LC 500h. The former is powered by a 5.0 naturally-aspirated, direct-injected Atkinson-cycle VVT-i V8 that produces 471 hp at 7,100 rpm and 540 Nm at 4,800 rpm, sent to the rear wheels via a Direct Shift 10-speed automatic transmission.

    Meanwhile, the LC 500h hybrid uses a 299 PS/356 Nm 3.5 litre direct-injected Dual VVT-i V6 coupled with a 180 PS/300 Nm electric motor, a lithium-ion battery and a four-speed automatic transmission that works with the electric motor to simulate a 10-speed auto. Total system output stands at 354 hp.

  • Hum Rider – extreme lift-kit to “drive through” traffic

    Push a button, and get set to clear the gridlocked traffic ahead of you. It sounds like something that happens in cartoons, but this is a real, functioning Jeep Grand Cherokee that can drive over stopped traffic. It is however, a gimmick for a marketing campaign.

    US telecommunications service provider Verizon commissioned Thinkmodo, a marketing agency to come up with the concept. The extra-tall riding Jeep was built by A2Zfx, a company specialising in the custom fabrication and manufacture of promotional vehicles.

    It’s powered by a single Honda generator in the engine bay, which delivers electricity to the hydraulic pumps that power the steering, braking, drive, and of course, elevation.

    Said to weigh a little under twice as much as the standard Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Hum Rider rolls on truck tyres in place of the standard set in order to support the added weight. At its full extension, the Hum Rider is nine feet tall with its track widths also extended, and in the video it appears to just clear a Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio sedan, and a Mazda 3 sedan.

    The footage cuts away as the Hum Rider approaches the pick-up truck ahead – conveniently, perhaps? According to Mashable, Thinkmodo deployed assistants to stop bystanders from recording their own footage of the Hum Rider’s abilities.

    Dear readers, what do you think of the Hum Rider’s concept?

  • Kia Grand Carnival launched in Malaysia – 2.2 CRDI, three variants, priced from RM154k to RM186k

    Naza Kia has officially launched the Kia Grand Carnival in the country. Previewed last year, the eight-seater MPV – known as the Grand Sedona in other markets – makes its local debut in three variant forms, a 2,2 CRDI KX, 2.2 CRDI EX and a base, low-spec 2.2D.

    All versions of the Grand Carnival – which measures in at 5,115 mm long, 1,985 mm wide and 1,740 mm tall, with a 3,060 mm-long wheelbase – use the same engine, a R 2.2 litre CRDi turbodiesel four-cylinder unit providing 190 hp at 3,800 rpm and 440 Nm of torque at 1,750 to 2,750 rpm. The mill is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

    Exterior features common to all models are projector halogen headlamps (with LED DRLs), front and rear fog lamps, LED-type rear combination lamps, electric-folding side mirrors (with LED indicators) and a shark fin antenna.

    The highest-spec 2.2 CRDI EX adds on a roof rack, and gets a black radiator grill with chrome accents (on the KX and 2.2D, plain black). All variants also come dressed with 18-inch alloy wheels, shod with 235/60 profile tyres – the 2.2D and KX’s units are finished in silver, while the EX’s are machined finished.

    The base 2.2D is equipped with manually-operated sliding rear doors and a standard key fob, while the 2.2 CRDI KX brings power sliding doors, keyless operation (entry with push-start) into the equation. The 2.2 CRDI EX adds a smart power tailgate on top of that.

    Inside, standard fit items include a 3.5-inch Supervision TFT-mono OLED instrument cluster, 4.3-inch TFT colour touchscreen entertainment system and a six-speaker audio system with USB and AUX-in connectivity, though Bluetooth isn’t included.

    Other features include a tilt/telescopic steering wheel (leather on the EX), foot parking brake and auto cruise control, and there are manual sunshade blinds for the second and third row windows. Also, the KX and EX get a rear-view camera.

    The 2.2 CRDI KX gets grey two-tone fabric seats, while the 2.2 CRDI EX ups these to beige two-tone leather units. Both the 2.2D and 2.2 CRDI KX come with manual air-conditioning, while the 2.2 CRDI EX gets a triple-zone automatic climate control with cluster ioniser. All three seat rows have their own set of ceiling-mounted air-conditioning vents.

    Space is the selling point with this one – the second-row seats are foldable in a 40:20:40 split, and can be slid forwards for easier access to the third row. The rearmost seats, meanwhile, can be folded flat in a 50:50 split to accommodate bags and other cargo. Boot luggage space with seats up is 359 litres, going up to 2,718 litres with seats folded.

    As for the front seats, the 2.2 CRDI KX (and 2.2D) are of the manual adjustment variety, with powered lumbar support being available for the driver side seat. Meanwhile, the 2.2 CRDI EX gets a powered 12-way front driver’s seat, with the passenger side being a manual unit.

    Safety-wise, all variants of the Grand Carnival come equipped with six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), front and rear parking sensors, electronic stability control, ABS and hill assist control as standard.

    Also fitted are Isofix child seat mounts, with two located at the second row (outer seats) and one more at the third row (driver’s side). A quick note about the grand Carnival’s seat belt configuration – the 2.2D features two lap belts (centre seats on both second and third row), but both the 2.2 CRDI KX and EX have the full raft of three-point seatbelts.

    Three colours are available for the Grand Carnival – Snow White Pearl, Aurora Black Pearl and Titanium Brown.

    Finally, pricing. The Kia Grand Carnival is priced at RM153,888 for the entry-level 2.2D, while the 2.2 CRDI KX goes for RM169,888 and the range-topping 2.2 CRDI EX is priced at RM185,888. All prices mentioned here are on-the-road with insurance, and come inclusive of a five-year/unlimited mileage manufacturer’s warranty and Naza Kia’s ‘Value 5’ smart financing package.

    GALLERY: Kia Grand Carnival 2.2 CRDI EX

    GALLERY: Kia Grand Carnival 2.2 CRDI KX

    GALLERY: Kia Grand Carnival 2.2D

  • South Australia starts motorcycle lane-filtering rules

    Motorcycle lane-filtering is to be allowed on roads in the state of South Australia, beginning April 15, 2017. This change in road rules is implemented by the South Australia Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) on safety grounds, in order to reduce a rider’s “risk of being hit from behind by an inattentive driver.”

    The move is to improve safety for motorcycle riders as it will allow greater control over exposure to traffic, particularly from vehicles following behind. From the DPTI website, “South Australia is aligning our laws with similar laws interstate. Lane filtering is currently allowed in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, and is being trialled in the ACT.”

    There are several restrictions in place for motorcycle lane-filtering in Australia, foremost amongst which is only full motorcycle license holders are allowed to do so. Other restrictions include filtering only when traffic is at 30 km/h or less, and no filtering at school zones and pedestrian crossings, or between parked or moving cars and a kerb.

    Learner riders and P-permit holders are not allowed to lane-filter, and riders are forbidden from using bicycle, bus or tram lanes to filter. Failure to abide by these lane-filtering rules will attract an AUSD 363 (RM1,232) fine, and three demerit points on the rider’s license.

    In Malaysia, and a lot of other ASEAN countries, motorcycles splitting lanes in traffic has been accepted practice for decades. However, with the increase in traffic density on urban roads, the margin for error has diminished, with the resulting increase in collisions and broken wing mirrors.

    Kapchai riders are notorious for this, weaving in between cars at unsafe speeds. On the other hand, as an experiment, the author tried riding Kuala Lumpur city roads the same way he would in, say, Europe or US states, excluding California, where lane-splitting is legal.

    What was found is that Malaysian drivers are unused to this, and the fear factor of being rear-ended by an inattentive driver playing with the mobile phone increased tremendously.

    What do you think? Is the attitude of both Malaysian drivers and riders in need of improvement? Should lane-filtering continue to be accepted traffic practice locally? Leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions below.

  • Petrol subsidies not on the cards, says KPDNKK

    Despite the continual rise in petrol prices, the government has no plans to subsidise fuels, as doing so would only place even more burden on its expenditure.

    According to The Sun, domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said that it would cost RM100 million to subsidise petrol by just 5 sen per litre, putting the total cost of a 40 sen subsidy at RM800 million.

    Hamzah was replying a question from member of parliament Datuk Seri Hasan Arifin, who asked if the government was considering a ceiling price for RON 95 petrol of RM2.50 per litre. Hamzah said that it was not able to determine the right formula to stabilise the price at that level, adding that fuel prices in Malaysia had once touched RM2.90 per litre.

    “if we want to set a ceiling price at RM2.50, we will have to pay a big subsidy if the price of petrol increased to RM2.90 and maintains for a long time,” he said. Hamzah also noted that a government subsidy should only be targeted to specific groups, and added that a petrol subsidy would not be fair to rural consumers based on their fuel consumption.

    He also warned petrol station operators against hoarding fuel, saying that it is an offence under the law, and action would be taken against any such practice.

    Hamzah told Bernama on March 4 that a weekly fuel price ceiling would be implemented on April 1; however, prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also finance minister, replied in parliament that the policy is still being reviewed.

    This prompted a response from MP Tony Pua, who said that that contradictory statements from two ministries determining the fuel price ceiling would confuse consumers. However, Pua said he was supportive of a weekly ceiling, as it would benefit consumers affected by the increase in fuel prices and essential goods.

  • UMW Toyota announces sales target of 70,000 units for 2017, four new models to be launched this year

    At its media appreciation event tonight, UMW Toyota announced that it plans to sell a total of 70,000 vehicles this year, including both Toyota and Lexus models. As is usual, Toyota will almost certainly make up the lion’s share of that figure, with Lexus only being a bit part player in the grand scheme of things.

    Assuming that Lexus’ 2017 sales are a repeat of last year’s performance of 1,353 units, that would put Toyota’s projected sales at around 68,600 units, about 5,000 units higher than the 63,757 vehicles the company managed to sell in 2016.

    Part of UMW Toyota’s charge for 2017 are four new cars that it is set to launch this year, with the most important one being the facelifted Vios. The popular B-segment sedan will gain new front and rear fascias and a number of other new features to go with the new Dual VVT-i and continuously variable transmission (CVT) that it received last year.

    The rest of the anticipated new models are unclear, but their silhouettes – which appear to be the Innova, Fortuner and Hilux – hint at what’s to come. The Innova will likely get the 149 PS/359 Nm 2.4 litre turbodiesel from the Hilux, in order to complement the existing 139 PS/183 Nm 2.0 litre Dual VVT-i petrol mill. The company announced during the MPV’s launch last year that the diesel mill was already being considered.

    Meanwhile, the Fortuner could finally receive the oft-requested high-spec diesel model. Currently, the range-topping SRZ is powered exclusively by a 166 PS/245 Nm 2.7 litre Dual VVT-i petrol engine; the 2.4 litre turbodiesel can only be found on the base VRZ variant.

    A plusher diesel Fortuner will likely gain a more powerful 177 PS/450 Nm 2.8 litre turbodiesel, also from the Hilux. As for the Hilux itself, we’re not quite sure what updates are in store, but expect it to come with new variants or minor equipment upgrades.

    GALLERY: Toyota Vios facelift

  • Motul named official 2018 Dakar Rally lube partner

    Automotive lubricants manufacturer Motul has been named the official lubricants partner for the 2018 edition of the annual Dakar Rally. Its partnerships with factory teams in 2017 saw success with Toyota Auto Body and Polaris Xtremeplus, in the T2 and SSV categories respectively. Motul continued to support the Honda Factory Racing team in January, that won the 1989 Dakar Rally in the bikes category.

    The 2018 edition of the Dakar Rally will be its 40th edition, and will see Motul roll out its plan for the rally, where competitors will benefit from the Motorsport Line and Factory Line product ranges for cars and motorcycles respectively, including the 300V engine lubricant which has been developed specifically for motorsport use.

    During the rally itself, competitors will have access to the expertise of the Motul Motorsport Technical Team, which usually supports racers at MotoGP, WSBK and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and who will be present at every bivouac (overnight camp), Motul says.

    “Performance is paramount on the Dakar. On the mechanical side, every component and accessory plays its part and, of course, this is the case for Motul’s lubricants which are used by several of the competitors,” said Etienne Lavigne, director of the Dakar Rally. The Dakar Rally spans 9,000 km of racing over 13 days, and is known as one of the world’s toughest motorsport events.

  • Geely pulls out of its bid for a partnership with Proton

    Looks like it’s down to one. According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely has withdrawn from its bid to acquire a controlling stake in Proton. Geely president An Conghui told the publication earlier today that it had pulled out of negotiations with the national automaker to become its foreign strategic partner (FSP).

    The report said that An did not elaborate on the reasons for the decision, but earlier this month, the Chinese carmaker’s chairman Li Shufu had indicated that Geely – which was considered by many to be the favourite to seal the deal – was planning to pull its bid due to DRB-Hicom’s indecision regarding the partnership.

    The announcement of Geely’s withdrawal from the chase means that Groupe PSA remains as the sole contender to become Proton’s partner. The French company confirmed it submitted a bid for a partnership with Proton, announcing last month it was in talks with the Malaysian carmaker for a deal.

    Securing a partnership with Proton would allow the French automaker access to Proton’s underutilised facilities as a production and export base, expanding the company’s presence in the South East Asian region.

    A Proton-Geely deal would have offered the Chinese carmaker the same, as well as the ability to break into right-hand-drive (RHD) markets, tapping that route via Proton. Sources had indicated that Geely promised DRB-Hicom some of the latest vehicle technologies it has developed with Volvo’s input as part of the deal.

    Earlier today, it was announced that there would be the possibility that Proton might follow Perodua’s path by allowing its FSP to have a 51% equity stake in the company.

  • Weekly fuel price announcements to begin March 29

    The new fuel ceiling price mechanism, in which fuel prices will be announced on a weekly basis instead of monthly, will begin on March 29, the New Straits Times reports.

    Minister of domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism (KPDNKK) Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said the announcements will be made every Wednesday, with the new weekly prices coming into effect at midnight the following day.

    “Following recent discussions with petrol companies, the government has agreed to announce the new prices for petrol and diesel on a weekly basis, every Wednesday,” he said. The prices will be based on global oil market rates.

    When the new system was first announced earlier this month, it was reported that fuel retailers will be able to follow the ceiling prices or set them lower. This was reiterated by Hamzah in his announcement of the kickoff date today. “Private companies and petrol station retailers who wish to offer discounts from the fixed prices can do so by getting the approval from the ministry,” he told reporters.

    In the earlier report, Hamzah had said that the government is determining the fuel price to avoid it exceeding the correct market price. “In reality, what second finance minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani and I are doing, is to ensure the people know what had been determined by the Petroleum Dealers Association of Malaysia,” he stated.

    The idea of setting a fuel ceiling price was first announced in February, with Johari suggesting it as a means to tackle the issue of escalating fuel prices. At that point, the price of RON 95 had been raised two months in a row, effectively up 40 sen compared to December 2016 (RM2.30 vs RM1.90 per litre).

    The Petrol Dealers Association of Malaysia (PDAM) was initially unhappy about the move, but later said it welcomed the implementation of the weekly price revisions. It had in the past mooted the idea of a weekly system, saying that the current monthly system could cause fuel retailers to incur heavy losses and that weekly price updates (of smaller fluctuations) would not be “too noticeable” for motorists.


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