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  • Toyota C-HR – initial specifications for Japan revealed


    The rollout of the Toyota C-HR, which was unveiled in March, continues – following the reveal of general specifications for the UK and Australian market models, it’s now the turn of Japanese domestic market model. The automaker says that it will begin accepting advance orders online for the B-segment SUV in early November, with the market launch set for the end of the year.

    In Japan, the C-HR will be offered in four grades, and these are the G and S with a 1.8 litre hybrid system and G-T and S-T trim, which will feature a 1.2 litre turbo mill. No mention of output numbers for the domestic appicationsas yet, but they shouldn’t veer from other markets.

    In the case of the former, the 122 PS petrol-electric powerplant is from the new Prius, but tuned for this application. It consists of an engine that returns 40% thermal efficiency (world’s best for a petrol unit) and a CVT with lower gearing for improved off-the-line acceleration.

    As for the 8NR-FTS 1.2 litre turbo four-pot (which was introduced on the facelifted Auris), it’s good for 115 PS at 5,200-5,600 rpm and 185 Nm between 1,500-4,000 rpm. It looks like Japan will not be selling the 2.0 litre variant that will be available in certain markets.

    For the Japanese market, Toyota Safety Sense P will be offered as standard in all grades. The collision avoidance assist package includes a Pre-collision system, which detects has a pedestrian detection function, radar cruise control featuring all-speed tracking, Lane Departure Alert (with steering control), and Automatic High Beam (AHB). Also on, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

    Eight exterior colours will be available for the C-HR – which sits on 18-inch alloy wheels – in Japan, including Radiant Green Metallic and Metal Stream Metallic. As for the interior trim colours, buyers will be able to choose from black and licorice brown.

  • GALLERY: BMW M3 – four unique prototypes from the past help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the car


    Earlier in the year, BMW announced a special M3 version to celebrate the model’s 30th anniversary – the “30 Years M3” is a 500 example limited-edition run of the F80. Shod with a Competition Pack and dressed for the occasion, it’s quite the birthday candle, but it seems the M folk aren’t content with just that to trump up the jubilee.

    The company is bringing four unique M3 prototypes out of storage to help with the commemoration, vehicles which, for various reasons, never made it past the exploratory stage. The quartet are the M3 Pickup from 1986, the BMW M3 Compact from 1996, the M3 Touring from 2000 and the second version of the M3 Pickup, which came about in 2011.

    The first of these, the E30-based pickup from 1986, came about as a laugh – it was developed by BMW Motorsport engineers, who saw it as the perfect means of transporting work equipment and parts around what is now the M Division’s premises in Garching, Munich.

    A 3 Series Convertible was picked as a donor car, because one happened to be handy, and the open-top variant’s built-in bracing made it an ideal choice for a pick-up conversion, so it goes. The vehicle was initially powered by a 192 hp 2.0 litre engine fitted in the so-called “Italian M3,” before that was changed to the original 200 hp 2.3 litre four-pot.

    The M3 Pickup proved to be a hardy study – the one-off went about doing utility runs around the factory premises for over 26 years, before being retired four years ago.

    The second special is the M3 Compact from 1996, which was eyed for production. If the E36/5-based offering had gone into series build, the company says the engine’s power would in all likelihood have been lowered somewhat. In the prototype, it was allowed to unleash its full 321 hp, which made easy work of hustling the 1.3 tonne vehicle along. Hair-raisingly so, if you know what the compact’s handling was all about.

    Next, there’s the M3 Touring prototype from 2000. Like the E36/5 Compact, the monster E46 estate materialised because a production model was under consideration, though it was meant more of an in-house feasibility study, aimed at showing that, from a purely technical standpoint at least, it was possible to integrate an M3 Touring into the then ongoing production of the standard E46 3er Touring with very little difficulty.

    The fourth example, the second iteration of the M3 Pickup from 2011, was targeted as a successor for the original mule, which was starting to show the first serious signs of wear after a quarter of a century of service. Someone with a warped sense of humour came up with the idea of marketing the vehicle as an April Fools’ joke, and so the nonsense was born.

    To prime the public, spy shots of calibration runs on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit emerged in the run-up to the day, which served to fuel speculation about a production model. The press release on April 1, 2011 finally dispelled the thing as a hoax. A rather nice-looking one.

    GALLERY: 1986 BMW M3 Pickup (E30)

    GALLERY: 1996 BMW M3 Compact (E36/5)

    GALLERY: 2000 BMW M3 Touring (E46)

    GALLERY: 2011 BMW M3 Pickup (E92)

  • From Le Mans to London – Mark Webber drives the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 in the British capital


    Surreal isn’t it, seeing a Le Mans prototype roaming the streets of London? That’s what happened yesterday morning in the British capital, where Mark Webber piloted the Le Mans-winning Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 race car alongside Zuffenhausen’s new Panamera 4 E-Hybrid.

    The ex-F1 man and Porsche factory race driver drove his work machine through the city from Park Lane to the South Bank of the River Thames. The Aussie navigated the capital’s streets via Hyde Park Corner, Regents Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and Parliament Square to arrive at the distinctive London County Hall Hotel, adjacent to the London Eye. Amazing scenes, which you can see in detail below.

    The stunt was a demonstration of how Porsche is translating its race-winning hybrid technology from the track to the road, the company says. The debuting Panamera 4 E-Hybrid – seen in the metal for the first time here – is a plug-in hybrid powered by a combustion engine plus an electric motor charged by lithium-ion batteries, the same recipe used by the LMP1, on a smaller scale.

    The latest Panamera PHEV has more performance over its Panamera S E-Hybrid predecessor, yet is more efficient. The new 2.9 litre V6 ditches the old supercharger for twin turbos, and while power is down by a negligible 3 hp at 330 hp, there’s now an extra 10 Nm at 450 Nm.

    Coupled to that is a more powerful electric motor that produces 136 hp (+41 hp) and 400 Nm (+90 Nm), bringing total system output to 462 hp at 6,000 rpm and 700 Nm between 1,100 and 4,500 rpm – 46 hp and 111 Nm more than the previous car. A seven-speed PDK replaces the Panamera S E-Hybrid’s eight-speed Tiptronic auto.

    With the extra grunt and 4WD, the new car blows the old one into the weeds. 0 to 100 km/h is done nearly a second quicker at 4.6 seconds, while top speed is slightly higher at 278 km/h versus 270 km/h. Despite this, FC is now at 2.5 litres per 100 km, 0.6 litres better than before. A larger 14.1 kWh battery (same weight as before) means that the zero-emissions EV range has been bumped up from 36 km to 50 km, with the maximum speed in this mode now capped at 140 km/h (up 5 km/h).

    GALLERY: Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid

  • Here’s Open Location Platform to “vehicle source” data from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi cars


    Ensuring that drivers receive up-to-date information while behind the wheel is essential to improving safety and the driving experience. Ahead of the Paris Motor Show, digital mapping and location service provider, Here has revealed that its platform will adopt a “vehicle-source” approach to obtain information.

    Here’s Open Location Platform currently uses the company’s own vehicles to build a database, but in the future, cars from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz will be able to submit, in real-time, data collected anonymously from the vehicles’ various on-board sensors and systems.

    These include the car’s GPS location, speed, direction, traffic sign information, loss of tyre traction, fog light usage, brake pressure, ultrasonic parking sensor and many more. Here says that the “vehicle-sourced data” provides drivers with a better picture of what’s happening around them.

    The platform taps into four services – Here Real-Time Traffic, Here Hazard Warnings, Here Road Signs, and Here On-Street Parking – providing up-to-date information on everything from potential road hazards, to traffic updates and parking. The services will be available to any automaker, municipality, road authority, smartphone maker or app developer to license.


    “Here believes that industry collaboration is essential to address the major challenges faced by road users everywhere. What we are seeing today is the technology and automotive industries coming together to create services that will elevate the driving experience,” said Here CEO, Edzard Overbeek.

    The company was acquired by German’s Big Three (Mercedes, Audi and BMW) back in December last year, with the aim of developing intelligent real-time maps crucial to their autonomous driving technology.

    Here has plans for other carmakers to be able to contribute their vehicle data as well. From the first half of 2017, these features will be commercially available to any customer within and outside the automotive industry.

  • BMW seals partnership with Andretti Formula E team

    BMW i8 Formula E Safety Car 19

    Aside from its re-entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, BMW’s strategic realignment of its motorsport programme will involve a partnership with the Andretti Formula E team on a long-term basis.

    The partnership will see BMW Motorsport cooperate closely with the Formula E team, in order to familiarise itself with processes in the racing series, and to check on the possibility of a works involvement in the future.

    For the upcoming 2016/17 season, BMW works driver Antonio Felix da Costa will be in action behind the wheel of one of the Andretti Formula E race cars. BMW hopes that with the knowledge gained from the partnership, it will formally enter the all-electric race series by its fifth season.

    Another carmaker that has stepped up its involvement in Formula E is Audi, who plans to introduce a factory-backed team for the following 2017/18 season (fourth series). However, Jaguar has already marked its entry into Formula E, with the I-Type 1 set to make its debut at the 2016/17 season opener in Hong Kong on October 9.

    2016-2017 Formula E race car 1

    “Electric mobility will continue to grow in importance. In the last ten years, we have established a leading position in the automobile industry in this field with BMW i,” said Klaus Frohlich, member of the board of management of BMW AG.

    “Through our partnership with Andretti Formula E in the Formula E Championship, we will now additionally see a close interaction between motor racing and production development in our company, from which both departments will benefit,” he added.

    Prior to this announcement, BMW’s involvement in Formula E involves bringing a fleet of its fully-electric and hybrid vehicles to every race. The BMW i8 is used as the safety car and an all-electric BMW i3 is utilised as the official medical car.

  • 2017 Nissan Note facelift leaked, new hybrid variant


    The new Nissan Note has been leaked thanks to livedoor, revealing significant updates to the model’s styling. Aside from that, the Note (known as the Versa in the United States) looks set to receive a hybrid powertrain in Japan as well.

    At the front, the Note features the prominent Nissan V-motion grille, which meet up more seamlessly with the reshaped headlamps. Meanwhile, the lower apron now has new rectangular fog lamp enclosures, and a wider intake.

    Elsewhere, the side mirrors have small protrusions on the bottom, which could either be for cameras or sensors to support a blind spot monitoring system. Though we don’t get a view of the facelifted Note’s rear, the taillights appear to clear now, rather than red on the current model.

    There are changes under the hood as well, where one of the images reveal a hybrid setup. The accompanying charts show that the internal combustion engine acts as a range extender for the electric motor, operating as a generator for recharging the battery. Unlike conventional hybrids, the Nissan Note Hybrid is driven only using electric power, and could be marketed as the Note e-Power.

    With these leaked images, a domestic (Japanese) launch of the new Note looks to be imminent, with reports claiming an October reveal. It will likely make its way to international markets after that, although it remains to be seen if the new Note will be destined for Malaysia. If it arrives, the Note will compete against the Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2.

    Back in 2013, Tan Chong Motor revealed at the KL International Motor Show that the second-gen Nissan Note will be launched locally within two years. In fact, we’ve even sighted the model (as a barely-disguised hatchback) on Malaysian roads shortly after. However, the model has yet to go on sale here, but with the new one on its way, will you still be interested?

  • JPJ aiming to introduce new, standardised vehicle number plate system by third quarter of 2017

    licence plate

    The Road Transport Department (JPJ) is aiming to get a standardised vehicle number plate system in place by the third quarter of next year. If it goes through, the introduction of the new number plate design will be enforced gradually, starting with new vehicles (including motorcycles), followed by all other vehicles within a three-year period, The Sun reports.

    At a special workshop dedicated to the topic yesterday, the department obtained input and suggestions from stakeholders. Deputy transport minister Datuk Aziz Kaprawi said that one of the matters discussed during the event was the loophole in the production of number plates nationwide, which had led to widespread use of illegal plate specifications.

    He said that the new system must be able to allow the authorities the ability to monitor the parties that will produce number plates, in accordance with the Motor Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Rules 1959.

    “We want traders to register with the JPJ and from there on, we, together with the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry, can take action when necessary. We are also looking on how the number plates can be standardised and produced as a standard form across the country,” he told the publication.

    rm-number-plate 1060

    He added that the new system will look at utilising more durable and robust materials for the plates, such as having them metal stamped. “The current material, such as plastic, does not last long and can be replaced and manipulated by irresponsible parties,” he stated.

    The new plates will have to also be cost effective. “We want to find ways that won’t incur high cost and cause a burden to the rakyat. We also want to ensure there is no monopoly for this purpose,” he said.

    A standardised number plate system will also aid in combating crimes and aspects of road safety enforcement, Aziz said. “Over the years, the authorities and the public have had to deal with the difficulty of identifying fancy or unclear number plates of vehicles,” he explained.

  • Mercedes-Benz bringing electric SUV concept to Paris

    Mercedes-Benz will be bringing an electric SUV concept to the 2016 Paris Motor Show, and has released the teaser video above to give us a glimpse of it. The show car “embodies a concrete vision of a totally new generation of vehicles with battery-electric drive,” the company says.

    We can see the front end of the crossover, and it’s dominated by a mask-like grille that joins with the headlamps. The grille slats are illuminated on this showcar, and there’s plenty of fancy lighting in the cabin as well. Inside, we get a glimpse of the electric Merc’s steering, centre console and the brand’s signature chair-shaped seat controls.

    Mercedes’ electric-powered range will be called EQ, and Stuttgart recently trademarked the EQA, EQC, EQE, EQG and EQS names along with EQ Inside, EQ Boost and Generation EQ. Of the pick, this should be the EQG – we’ll see.

    A 2019 launch is being talked about. With the EQ range, Mercedes definitely has Tesla in its sights, and this arena could see the traditional premium carmakers (BMW has i, Audi has e-tron) battling it out in the coming years.

  • VW Group stops development of Audi’s 420 PS EA888

    Audi TT quattro sport concept

    According to Autoblog, the Volkswagen Group has stopped all development of Audi’s potent 420 PS, four-cylinder engine. Back in 2014, the German carmaker wheeled out the TT quattro sport concept, which packed a heavily-modified version of the 2.0 litre TFSI EA888 engine.

    At the time, it was suggested that the four-pot will enter production alongside Audi’s existing 2.5 litre five-cylinder engine. However, Audi Quattro GmbH engineering boss Stephan Reil confirmed with Autoblog that “the 400-horsepower EA888 engine is dead.”

    The concept EA888 engine was the work of Freidrich Eichler, who also saw the development of the 2.0 litre turbo found in Mercedes-AMG’s models like the A45, CLA45 and GLA45 models. It was also hinted that the Audi’s EA888 could be adapted easily to the MQB platform of its smaller models, allowing them to be brought to market quickly.

    Audi TT quattro sport concept

    In the end, Audi’s five-cylinder was preferred to the four-cylinder, which Reil says was the smarter choice from a cost standpoint. Furthermore, he suggested that the five-cylinder had more character compared to the four, and that “people love the sound of the five-cylinder engine.”

    However, the four-cylinder engine has left its mark despite not entering production. Reil admitted that the new TT RS’ 2.5 litre five-cylinder shares several significant ideas from the concept car’s mill. “The bore and the stroke are the same as the old engine, but everything else in the five-cylinder is new. They don’t share a single bolt. The parts (in the five-cylinder motor) are different to the EA888 from that car, but a lot of the geometry is similar,” he said.

    GALLERY: Audi TT quattro sport concept

  • 2017 Yamaha YZF-R1M opens for online order in Oct


    As Yamaha’s top-of-the-line superbike, the YZF-R1M seems to have flown under the radar of late, shown up by offerings from other manufacturers such as the 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R. This is set to change in October, when online applications for the purchase of a 2017 Yamaha YZF-R1M will be opened.

    Applications for the purchase of the limited edition YZF-R1M – said to be the most exclusive production motorcycle ever made by Yamaha – will begin on October 11. The 2017 YZF-R1M is inspired by the current MotoGP race bikes ridden by Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, and features trickle-down racing technology as used by the Yamaha MotoGP race team.

    Targetted towards individual race teams, privateer racers and experienced track day riders, the online application process is designed to ensure that only the best candidates obtain one of the very limited supply of R1Ms. As part of the process, applicants will be required to fill in a comprehensive survey, in order to determine a purchaser’s suitability.

    Carrying a four-cylinder 998 cc Crossplane engine that is claimed to put out 200 PS, the carbon-fibre bodied 2017 Yamaha YZF-R1M comes with a whole suite of electronic rider aids. Weighing in at 200 kg wet, the R1M comes with Ohlins electronic racing suspension (ERS), six-axis inertial motion sensor, traction and slide control, as well as lift and launch control.

    As part of the ownership of the 2017 Yamaha YZF-R1M, the Yamaha Riding Experience will be provided during the summer of 2017 at certain European race circuits. Planned to allow riders and teams to get the best out of their R1M, these two-day events will include machine set-up workshops and track sessions with current and former racing stars.

    Coming only in silver-blue livery, with updated graphics, Yamaha has not released any details on pricing for the 2017 YZF-R1M, but we assume such exclusivity does not come cheap. As a rough comparison, the 197 hp 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R – which is road legal – retails in Malaysia for RM104,859 with GST.


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