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  • Honda S660 kei-roadster on sale in Japan, from RM62k

    4150330-s660_001H

    You’ve seen the leaked shots and perused the brochure. Now, the Japanese automaker has officially dropped the bomb on its new Honda S660 kei-roadster. On sale in Japan from April 2, the petite open-top sports car will also be offered in a limited edition trim (660 units), dubbed the Honda S660 Concept Edition.

    Drawing inspiration from the Honda Beat of the 90s, the Honda S660 retains the same mid-engined, rear-wheel drive layout for a near-perfect 45:55 (front to rear) weight balance. In terms of its outlook, the Honda S660 is styled after the concept of what Honda calls an “energetic bullet” – and it shows.

    Much has been retained from the original concept that made its debut back in 2013. The broad front grille gets flanked by upswept head lamps while the wheels appear to have carried over the same design, as well – albeit wrapped in thinner tyres. At the rear, the most noticeable change would be that of the exhaust outlet – a single, centrally-mounted layout replaces the twin setup from the concept.

    4150330-s660_021H

    Power figures are just as modest – which, in an 830 kg car like this, is no bad thing. A 660 cc, turbocharged DOHC three-cylinder engine with 64 hp and 104 Nm of torque propels the S660 to an estimated top speed of 140 km/h. Transmission options include a six-speed manual (a world’s first for this segment according to Honda) and a CVT transmission with paddle shifters.

    Taking centre stage on the inside is a 350 mm steering wheel – the smallest in any of Honda’s production cars – coupled to a driving position “that gives the driver a feeling of driving a go-kart.” Going for the wind-in-your-hair experience is easy thanks to a “roll-top” that features a “lightweight and easy-to-operate” construction. A “mid-mode” system for the air-con channels air to the thighs and waists of both occupants.

    Elsewhere, a digital speedometer is framed by a conventional rev counter while atop the centre console sits a tablet-esque screen. In one of the two trim levels on offer, the a-spec car will have its driver’s seat (in light grey) trimmed in a combination of leather/Luxe Suede while the passenger seat comes in dark grey or black. The entry-level b-spec car will feature black seats trimmed in a combo of mesh and fabric.

    4150330-s660_008H

    Safety kit is aplenty of the Honda S660 with the inclusion of a highly-rigid frame with augmented front and centre pillars to help keep occupants safe in the event of a rollover. Four airbags are standard with the passenger’s system adopting what Honda calls an “internal pressure holding airbag system” that keeps the airbag inflated for longer periods. Elsewhere, Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist, Emergency Stop Signal are featured as standard while Honda’s City-Brake Active System is available as an option.

    New on the Honda S660 is the Agile Handing Assist electronic control system which uses brake torque to stabilise the vehicle mid-corner. On the limited edition Honda S660 Concept Edition, a Bordeaux red roll-top, two-tone side mirrors and a water-repellent “Ultra Glass Coating NEO” treatment is standard. Inside, red accents help mark it out along with an aluminium plate bearing the car’s production number.

    Prices for the entry-level b-spec car begin at 1,980,000 yen (RM61,592) regardless of transmission choice while the a-spec car carries a price tag of 2,180,000 yen (RM67,813). The S660 Concept Edition retails for 2,380,000 yen (RM74,035). Premium Star White Pearl, Premium Mystic Night Pearl, Admiral Grey Metallic, Premium Beach Blue Pearl, Carnival Yellow II and Flame Red make up the colour palette.

     
  • Next-generation Honda Jazz Shuttle leaked online

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    Preliminary patent images of the next-generation Honda Jazz Shuttle have been leaked online via jokeforblog. The stretched version of the Jazz (Honda Fit in Japan) first made its debut as a derivative of the standard second-generation hatchback for the Japanese domestic market (JDM) in 2011.

    Previous iterations of the lengthened Jazz were marketed as the Honda Airwave. With the third-generation Honda Jazz already on sale, it would appear the Japanese manufacturer will now be looking to resurrect the Shuttle nameplate once again, as evident by the shots you see pictured here.

    Details surrounding the car remain murky, obviously. However, we can expect the new Honda Jazz Shuttle to come powered by the same engine options currently employed in the Japanese-market Fit. Hybrid versions will likely feature a 1.5 litre, Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder mill paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

    2013-honda-fit-shuttle-facelift-08

    On the local front, the Honda Jazz was launched in the middle of last year and is offered in three different trim specifications, powered by a sole engine option – a 1.5 litre, SOHC i-VTEC engine with 120 PS and 145 Nm of torque mated to a CVT gearbox.

    Considering how popular the hatch is here, will a stretched version catch on in Malaysia? Have your say.

    GALLERY: 2011 Honda Fit Shuttle

     
  • RM12.6 mil Lykan HyperSport to feature in Furious 7!

    This is hyper on so many levels. We’re talking about the world’s third-most expensive car, starting at US$3.4 million (RM12.6 million). We’re talking about a car with white gold, diamonds and blue sapphire in its headlamps. We’re also talking about a car of which only seven will exist. And you’ll see it in the seventh instalment of the massively-successful The Fast and the Furious film series: Furious 7!

    Built by Beirut, Lebanon-based firm W Motors, the Lykan HyperSport is the first supercar to be produced in the Middle East, having launched at the 2013 Dubai International Motor Show. Forget for a minute about its 751 PS/960 Nm Porsche 3.7 litre twin-turbo flat-six, its 385 km/h top speed or its 2.8 second century sprint time – those headlamps feature titanium LED blades with 420 precious stones of the buyer’s choice!

    The above featurette shows the Lykan behind the scenes – you’ll see some wheelspin, some drifting, and Dominic Toretto (played by Vin Diesel) driving it through a wall and… through the glass of a skyscraper into another skyscraper.

    And you’re not going to believe this – the Lykan HyperSport is on oto.my! The ad lists a contact number for “interesting” buyers – if that’s not a typo, are you interesting enough to place an order for one? Just don’t try any skyscraper-jumping.

     
  • Proton Iriz planned to be sold in India, CKD possible

    Proton_Iriz_ 001

    With more and more countries slated to receive the Proton Iriz, it appears the “global car” is finally about to see the world. The latest nation added to the list is India, which may even assemble the B-segment hatch, according to a report by Autocar Professional.

    Proton chief technical officer of group engineering Abdul Rashid Musa told the Indian industry journal that the company is in the midst of undergoing a feasibility study into understanding the Indian market and building the right product for it. He adds that Proton is looking into a local partnership to either distribute or assemble its cars as an option.

    “There are some specific, not trade barriers, but I would say specifications like reduction of tariffs if the car is below 4 metres in length,” Rashid said. “Market to market, there are different priorities that may or may not pose a challenge. We have a sub-4-metre car – the Iriz – but the challenge is the diesel price in India.

    Proton_Iriz_ 002

    “In a market which favours diesel, and the diesel price is lower than petrol, it is a challenge as we have a stronger petrol portfolio in Malaysia where diesel is used mostly for commercial vehicles.”

    As a matter of fact, Rashid has alluded to a diesel-powered Iriz before – during the press drive event last October, he said that Proton was considering acquiring diesel engines from other manufacturers for export markets. If that’s the case, the company will already have an oil-burning small hatchback ready for the world’s second fastest growing automotive market.

    Proton’s entry into the Indian market has been long forthcoming – it was originally aiming for a 2011 introduction and (as it is doing now) was looking to source diesel engines from other OEMs. That project, however, seems to have been put on the backburner until now.

     
  • COMOS EV car-sharing service to begin operating in May, at five LRT stations and five public spots

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    An update on the Cohesive Mobility Solution (COMOS) EV car-sharing programme, which was due to be officially launched last November. According to a report, the project is now slated to kick off in May, with vehicles set to be available at 10 locations in the Klang Valley.

    Rentals can be made at five LRT stations and five public spots, these being Asia Jaya, Bangsar, Pasar Seni and Ampang Park LRT stations as well as locations in Medan Tuanku, Lorong Bunus, Lorong P. Ramlee, UTM Jalan Semarak and Universiti Malaya. The initial fleet will consist of sixteen Renault Zoes, which is down from the 50 cars initially bandied for the programme last year.

    A slight revision to the usage rate, which last year was expected to be priced at RM20-25 per hour – the service will now see hourly rates of RM25-30, with billing blocks split every 15 minutes.

    As before, users will first need to register themselves with COMOS, following which an account -linked to the user’s credit card – will be activated. Vehicle bookings can be made online, and the user will get a special RFID access card, which unlocks the vehicle via a scanner located behind the bottom-right of the car’s windscreen.

    The pick-up locations double as charging stations – users simply unplug the car before each journey, and upon the return, plug the charging cable back into the car, at which point billing stops. Not doing so continues the billing, so users will have to be mindful of that.

    The company said that more pick-up points will be launched each month after the introduction in May, and added that it would be expanding the service to Penang, Malacca and Johor Baru in the future, with over 1,000 carsharing vehicles expected to be deployed in the programme by 2020.

     
  • Sepang to host F1 till 2018, 3-year contract extension

    2015 malaysian gp podium

    There will be F1 in Malaysia till 2018. Sepang International Circuit (SIC) announced yesterday that the contract to host the Formula 1 Malaysia Grand Prix has been extended for another three years until 2018, following successful negotiations between SIC and Formula One Management.

    Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak revealed the news after the conclusion of the 2015 F1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix at SIC yesterday. It was also confirmed that national oil company Petronas will continue to be the title sponsor of the event till 2018. Petronas has been supporting the Malaysian GP since it was first held here in 1999.

    “Other agencies and ministries including Tourism Malaysia must work together to make this an important event in the tourism calendar. We need to create more excitement and buzz to lure more spectators,” Najib urged.

    The 17th edition of the Malaysian GP was won by Sebastian Vettel, winning a race in only his second race for Ferrari after jumping from Red Bull. The two-stopping German beat Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to the finish line. Both Silver Arrows pitted three times but didn’t have the speed and tyre life to catch the SF15-T. Vettel’s unexpected victory is the Scuderia’s first since the 2013 Spanish GP. Looks like they’ve found their new Schumacher…

     
  • Cadillac CT6 to feature 34-speaker Bose audio system

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    Never mind that the Cadillac CT6 flagship sedan has yet to be revealed in full – information regarding its segment-defining audio system has made its way online with Bose revealing that the new car will arrive with the firm’s most advanced and “highest-performing automotive sound system” ever.

    Specially-developed for the Cadillac CT6, the Bose Panaray system will be the first product to debut as part of the firm’s latest range of “Advanced Technology Series” audio systems. It is said to feature technology carried over from Bose’s home entertainment platform “to deliver unprecedented performance in a car.”

    The Bose Panaray system features a total of 34(!) speakers – nearly all measuring in at less than 100 mm – that are strategically located around the cabin.

    As a result, occupants of the Cadillac CT6 “will be elated by what they hear and feel when they switch on the Bose Panaray system,” says executive chief engineer of the CT6, Travis Hester. The Cadillac CT6 will debut at the 2015 New York International Auto Show this April.

     
  • Last unit of limited Lotus Exige LF1 sold to Malaysian

    lotus-exige-lf1-last-unit-malaysia 997

    Earlier today, Lotus Cars Malaysia held a hand-over ceremony for the very last unit of the Lotus Exige LF1 – of which only 81 have been made – in Pavilion KL. The event saw Proton CEO Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah and Lotus Cars Malaysia head (also Proton R3 boss) Tengku Djan Ley present the keys to owner Datuk Nik Hamdan and his daughter.

    Why 81? Well, Lotus has had 81 Grand Prix wins, and each of the numbered Exige LF1s celebrate the victories in chronological order – for example, car #1 commemorates the first victory at Monaco in 1960, while #81 marks Kimi Raikkonen’s 2013 Australian GP win. Nik’s is car #52, which represents the 1973 Austrian GP win by Ronnie Peterson. Nik is in fact one of two Malaysian buyers of the car, we’re told.

    Lotus Exige LF1 owners are treated to factory tours for two at Lotus Cars’ Hethel, Norfolk, UK facility and the Lotus F1 Team‘s Enstone headquarters. Also thrown in is a Collector’s Edition Owner’s Pack which includes an Exige LF1 Membership Card that entitles bearers to discounts on Lotus merchandise. Finally, owners get a half-scale replica of Romain Grosjean‘s helmet, a Lotus F1 key fob and a Lotus F1 USB stick.

    The F1-inspired black and gold paint scheme with red accents do make it look good. Peeking through those gold alloys (17s front, 18s rear), wrapped with Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R tyres, are AP Racing four-piston callipers and two-piece ventilated and cross-drilled 332 mm discs.

    Other features include an aero package comprising an unmissable front splitter, rear diffuser and rear spoiler, a free-flowing exhaust system with bypass valve, Lotus Dynamic Performance Management (Touring, Sport and DPM off modes) and track-tuned four-channel ABS.

    Inside, the trim is in leather and “technical fabric” with plenty of gold contrast piping and stitching. ‘LF1′ logos are embroidered on the headrests; ‘Lotus F1 Team’ logos on the seat backs. Completing the package are an individually-numbered carbon fibre build plate and CF engine plate.

    The limited-edition is based on the Exige S, so a 3.5 litre DOHC VVT-i V6, fortified with a Harrop HTV 1320 supercharger utilising Eaton TVS technology (how exciting does that sound?), feeds 350 PS at 7,000 rpm and 400 Nm of torque at 4,500 rpm to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual ‘box. The car reaches 100 km/h from rest in four seconds before maxing out at 274 km/h.

    Of course, for Malaysia, the Lotus Exige LF1 was offered on a special-order basis. We’re told the starting price was RM438,777, before taxes. In comparison, the regular Exige S Coupe, which is officially part of Lotus Cars Malaysia’s range, will set you back RM405,777, nett before OTR costs.

     
  • Petronas in Formula One – powering Mercedes AMG Petronas to two world championships in 2014

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    The Mercedes AMG Petronas team dominated the 2014 Formula One season, sweeping up both drivers’ and constructors’ championships. With the 2015 F1 circus making its next stop in Malaysia this week after the first race in Australia (where the team made a strong start to the championship by scoring a 1-2 finish), Petronas recently arranged a press conference with the team – including its drivers, reigning champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – to discuss the national oil company’s contribution to the team’s success.

    Firstly, executive director of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Toto Wolff, dispelled any myths that the partnership between Petronas and Mercedes-AMG was a simple marketing collaboration, insisting that it brought real benefits to the team.

    “Petronas’ role was hugely important to the success of the team,” Wolff said. “The whole technical and engineering team at Petronas understood what the needs of the new power unit regulations were. I can tell you that from last season onwards, the fuels and oils provided by Petronas provided a real competitive advantage for our team.”

    Petronas Media Forum 2

    With new F1 regulations cutting the number of power units allocated per season to just four, Petronas’ Fluid Technical Solutions (FTS) initiative – providing tailor-made fluids and services to the F1 team – is starting to reveal its benefits. The national oil company has a trackside laboratory that follows the team at every race, and the team elaborated on how the support enabled it to score a near-perfect reliability record last year.

    “We are particularly proud about that lab, because it’s one of a kind,” Wolff said. “The more the rules tighten, and the more complicated things become, the more essential it is to find out early on if you’re running into trouble. These guys play a crucial role in identifying possible reliability issues – in the oils, for example, you can see debris at a very early stage. It enables us to make sure that we finish races and win.”

    “What our lab support does is function like doctors,” added Petronas Lubricants International (PLI) COO Eric Holthusen. “The lubricant in the engine is like the blood in our bodies. When we take samples, we can tell if the engine is healthy or if something is coming. It’s even more important these days with the new regulations – where only four engines per season are allowed – that we can make sure that the engine stays healthy.”

    Petronas Media Forum 5

    With F1 cars being so fast these days, it’s easy to write Formula One off as an irrelevant “rich boys’ sport” that provides little in the way of benefits to the actual consumer. The team was quick to dismiss these claims.

    “This is a proving ground for us and for Petronas,” Wolff said. “It is the fastest mobile lab, and the fuels and oils that we’re using in the Formula One car – and the technologies derived from them – we use in our road cars. We’re very proud to have taken Petronas and Mercedes from a marketing cooperation into such a high-tech development relationship, not only on the race track but also on the road.”

    “If you look at what path engines have taken in Formula One and also on the road, they have been downsized, they have become turbocharged,” Holthusen added. “All that puts heat stress on the lubricant. By working in Formula One, we were already familiar with those conditions, and have developed Petronas Syntium for Formula One with technology that we call CoolTech. Now, the new Petronas Syntium with CoolTech is the lubricant that is in each and every Mercedes-AMG model that comes off the production line.”

    Petronas Media Forum 3

    This synergy also extends to the fuels – both the one that powers the F1 car as well as the one that is available to the regular consumer – explains Petronas fuel expert Chan Ming Yau. “The team that works on fuel technology isn’t limited to Formula One fuel, it also works on all our Petronas Primax range of fuels as well as our Dynamic Diesel.”

    “This season, we launched our new Petronas Primax race fuel that enhances protection on the high-pressure injector system used in Formula One, as well as providing better combustion and drivability. In our Petronas Primax 95 with Advanced Energy Formula, you’ll see the same attributes – it cleans the engine for superior fuel delivery, creates a finer fuel spray for better combustion and energy release, and reduces friction for better drivability.”

    Chan also explained that race and commercial fuels are not as dissimilar as many think. “The FIA already requires that the chemistries we use are compounds normally found in commercial road petrol – it prohibits the use of specific power boosting chemicals, for example. So they have the same chemistries, the same components, just different proportions, different compositions.”

    Petronas Media Forum 6

    Last year, Petronas announced that Lewis Hamilton would take on a role as its technical performance consultant – 12 months on, the 30-year-old Brit gave his insight as to how the arrangement has worked to benefit both sides.

    “It’s been a real privilege to work with a group of people who are so goal-driven, so enthusiastic and determined to be the best – it’s a great thing that we have that in common as a team,” he said. “The engineers rely on the two drivers to give as much input and feedback, as our job is to go out there and push the car to the limit, which ultimately means putting the fuel and lubricants to the limit. We’re always pushing them to extract more, as we always want more power and we always want to go further.

    “And now we’re under pressure as we have only 100 kg of fuel to finish the race, and we can’t always make that. So we’re really pushing them to exceed expectations and bring out new fuel that can go further for the same amount. Hence my job is to lean on them and extract the best out of them.”

    Petronas Media Forum 7

    All throughout the event, the team made one thing clear – Petronas makes the best fuel and lubricants in F1 today. “That helped us so much in winning races and being world champions last year,” said Nico Rosberg. “I’m very grateful for the quality of the products that Petronas has created and are delivering to us.”

    The Mercedes AMG Petronas team will be hoping to do very well at this weekend’s 2015 Malaysia Grand Prix, this being one of its home races. It certainly would be unwise to figure it as a shoe-in for winning the race, but given its incredible form at the start of the season, there’s little doubt it’ll be the team to beat.

     
  • 2015 Bangkok Motor Show – Part 1 of the lady gallery

    Sawasdee krub! We’re back from Thailand, where the 2015 Bangkok International Motor Show is now happening at its usual Impact Muang Thong Thani home. The cars are relevant to Malaysia, which is why we’re here every year for the sole reason (really!) of bringing you live reports and images from the “Detroit of the East”.

    This year, Bangkok saw the world debut of the facelifted Ford Ranger, which carries more than just a nose job. Along with the fresh bold grille is an all-new dashboard, revised powertrains and chassis, plus a raft of new tech. If you’re into pick-up trucks, this one looks like it’s worth waiting for. Reaching Malaysia this year, along with the new Everest SUV, which made its Thai debut at the show.

    Away from the blue corner, Toyota launched the new Alphard in Thailand and also showed at Nurburgring special edition of the Corolla Altis. Next to it was Mazda, which unveiled a 1.3 litre variant of the Mazda 2 Hatchback and Sedan. We also showed you the Thai-assembled Suzuki Ciaz 1.25L sedan (surely the biggest sized Thai eco car) and the MINI Clubman Concept.

    Sole reason the cars may be, but we just couldn’t pass the opportunity to further delight you, dear reader, by bringing home some souvenir snaps. We’ll let the pictures do the talking now, so click away. If you need a point of reference, here’s the Bangkok Motor Show Class of 2014 and Thai Motor Expo Class of 2014. Enjoy!

     
 

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