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  • Chevrolet unveils life-size Lego Batmobile at Detroit Auto Show – 344,187 bricks, RM214 mil, 60.2L V100

    With The Lego Batman Movie set to hit theatres soon, Chevrolet unveiled a life-size Batmobile made entirely out of Lego at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit recently.

    Built together with with students from Detroit’s Cody Rouge community, A World in Motion and First Lego League, the vehicle is a replica of Batman’s Speedwagon from the film, which will hit silver screens here on February 9, 2017.

    Measuring 5,181 mm long, 2,819 mm wide and 2,108 mm tall, the Lego Batmobile weighs 769 kg, and Chevrolet is quick to point out that each wheel tips the scales at just over 45 kg. In total, 344,187 Lego bricks (17 colours) were used to build the vehicle, which took 222 hours to design and 1,833 hours to build.

    Chevrolet also took the time to set up an entire product page on its official website, where you can find additional details about the Batmobile. For instance, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is USD48 million (RM214,344,000) and under the hood, there’s a 60.2 litre V100 engine with 20,000 hp.

    Plenty of equipment available on the vehicle that is touted as being “perfect for a night out saving the town,” with stud shooters, a flaming rocket booster, fully-articulating wheels and sextuple exhausts being standard.

    There are even practical features such as Parallel Park Mode, built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as Teen Driver Technology, the latter of which helps new drivers (like Robin) by automatically turning on advanced safety technologies like Automatic Nerd Alert, Side Batwing Conversion and X-Ray Vision Camera.

     
  • Merc-AMG to adopt new grille as face of sub-brand

    If you’ve been a fan of current Mercedes-Benz design language, here’s hoping you like the latest, vertical-grilled look as seen on the Mercedes-AMG GT R and the GT C roadster; it’s set to literally become the face of the AMG sub-brand for its future cars.

    The move is aimed at further distinguishing the full-fat, Affalterbach-engineered beasts from dressed up regular models and the AMG-Line variants of standard models, according to Mercedes-Benz chief design officer, Gorden Wagener as told to Car Advice.

    The new grille treatment which harks back to the earlier years of the brand’s racing history will be a dominant aspect of the AMG range’s styling from this point forward, Wagener said. “If we’re talking differentiation, the big differentiation we’re doing is with AMG to really make that not an own brand, but an own sub-brand,” the design chief said.

    The facelifted GT range is set to debut at the 2017 Detroit Motor Show, and with it arrives the aforementioned new face. “This is our traditional racing grille, and so the GT, and GT R and GT3 brought that back from the racing history, and that will be a new signature for AMG, and it will give this brand a very unique profile.”

    Mercedes-AMG sold just under 100,000 vehicles in 2016, while in the Australian market the full-fledged AMG range accounted for 14% of a total 41,226 Mercedes-Benz units sold in Australia last year; the mainstream models also account for a strong showing of AMG-kitted variants.

    “If you look at the remainder – exclude the actual AMG model sales – about 40 per cent of buyers opt for AMG styling when choosing a new Mercedes-Benz car,” said David McCarthy, senior manager of corporate communications for Mercedes-Benz Australia.

     
  • Perodua anticipates a challenging 2017 – no price increase for now, will continue to absorb forex impact

    Last year was quite an eventful one for Perodua. The Malaysian market leader (top for 11 consecutive years now) launched its first ever sedan – the Bezza – but saw fellow national carmaker Proton roll out four new models in the Perdana, Persona, Saga and Ertiga. Despite that, the Rawang-based carmaker still ended 2016 with an all-time high market share of 35.7%, up from around 32% in 2015.

    “Despite 2016 being a challenging year, we are pleased to announce that all our models – from the Bezza to the Alza – are number one in their respective categories. Despite being launched in July, we’re happy to announce that the Bezza sold over 36,000 units in 2016, making it the number one sedan in the A-segment,” said Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh.

    Perodua is no stranger to defying odds, but even the company isn’t anticipating a rosy year ahead, for both the economy and consumer sentiment, as well as auto sales. Aminar expects this year to be as tough as 2016 or worse, with intensifying competition. “Everyone wants a piece of the pie,” he said.

    Perodua’s sales target for this year reflects this – at 202,000 units, it’s 5,000 units or 2% less than the 2016 total. On a projected 2017 total industry volume of 590k, that would be around 34% market share. Lower than 2016’s, but last year’s record gain was an unexpected one as rivals’ share of the pie shrunk in a competitive market. Production volume for this year will also be lower to match the reduced sales target – 197,000 vs 213,000 units for 2016.

    The Axia facelift – now in showrooms – and the Bezza will make up the bulk of Perodua’s 2017 sales

    Another issue, not just for Perodua but all car manufacturers and importers, is the decline of the ringgit against major trading currencies. At around 4.45 against the US dollar, the ringgit has weakened considerably since late 2015, when Perodua first hinted at a price increase and the RM was at 4.2 against the greenback.

    “For the time being, we’ll continue to monitor (the forex effect) and we’ll continue to absorb (the higher cost). We will hold prices for as long as we can, hoping that it will weaken (USD vs RM) in the later part of the year,” Aminar said, adding that while Perodua’s localisation rate is high (previously revealed to be over 90% for all its models), it does import “precision” parts such as ECUs, electronics and metallic paints, and that most trading is conducted in USD.

    That’s for existing models. The Axia facelift – which is in showrooms today and will be officially launched this Friday – has seen prices climb by up to RM2,773, but the refreshed hatch does come with an improved engine and fuel consumption, plus new features across the board to compensate. Click here for full details, pricing and live galleries of the 2017 Perodua Axia facelift.


    GALLERY: Perodua Axia 1.0 Advance facelift
    GALLERY: Perodua Axia 1.0 Standard G facelift with GearUp bodykit

     
  • Madrid mayor plans to ban all cars from city by 2019

    While our ministers are busy deliberating on whether kapchais should be banned from entering Kuala Lumpur, over in Madrid, the city’s mayor – Manuela Carmena – intends to have all private cars banned from Spain’s capital by the time she leaves office in May 2019.

    According to a report by Business Insider, Carmena confirmed on Spanish radio station Cadena SSER that she’s looking to pass a legislation where Madrid’s main avenue, the six-lane Gran Vía, will only allow access to bikes, buses, and taxis

    The effort is part of a plan to fight Madrid’s ever-rising pollution, which also includes a ban of all diesel cars in Madrid by 2025. Currently, the city is enforcing temporary driving restrictions should smog levels reach harmful peaks, and had previously banned car with license plate ending with an even number from entering the centre.

    More recently, Madrid blocked personal cars from the Gran Vía for nine days in December around the holiday shopping period. Should Carmena’s permanent ban come into fruition, Madrid would be the first major European city to do so.

     
  • VIDEOS: The BMW 5 Series – the early years

    With the latest G30-generation BMW 5 Series set to make its debut next month, BMW has released these videos charting the early history of its executive sedan, from the E12 generation which made its debut in 1972, which was also the first to use the current naming convention of a single-digit model series, followed by a representation of the engine’s capacity; though in recent times, that representation has become more symbolic than literal.

    When the G30 5 Series makes its debut, the interim range-topper will be the 462 hp, 650 Nm M550i xDrive, before the full-force M5 arrives later on. As with earlier generations of the BMW 5 Series, the G30 model will also spawn a Touring (station wagon) model.

    With the E12 running from 1972 to 1981 and the E28 spanning the years 1981 to 1988, the videos here even seem to feature period-correct back

     
  • 2017 Yamaha Ego Solariz Malaysian launch – RM5,548

    Expanding its scooter range for 2017, Hong Leong Yamaha Malaysia (HLYM) has launched the 2017 Yamaha Ego Solariz scooter at a price of RM5,548. Touted as a “lifestyle-utility” transport solution, the Ego Solariz joins Yamaha’s Malaysian “Ego” range of scooters – the Avantiz, Ego S and Ego LC – as well as the 150 cc Yamaha NMax.

    Carrying a 125 cc, air-cooled, SOHC, single-cylinder power plant, the new Solariz puts out 9.38 hp at 8,000 rpm and 9.6 Nm of torque at 5,500 rpm. The engine drives a CVT gearbox with V-belt final drive and starting is with either electric push-button or kick.

    With a wet weight of 94 kg, fuel for this scooter is carried in a 4.2-litre tank, and there is a 10-litre underseat storage compartment. Seat height is set at a low 750 mm, with ground clearance at 135 mm, making the Solariz suitable for all riders.

    Braking at the front is with a single disc brake, with telescopic front forks, while the rear uses a drum, with monoshock suspension on the integrated engine/swing-arm assembly.

    The Ego Solariz is targetted towards the young urban commuter or student, and comes in four colour choices – Popular Red, Iconic Blue, Classic-Sport Brown and Trendy Magenta.

    Priced at RM5,548, including GST, the 2017 Yamaha Ego Solariz will be available at Yamaha dealers from January.

     
  • Mercedes-AMG confirms Valtteri Bottas for ’17 F1 seat

    It’s official: Valtteri Bottas will take 2016 F1 Drivers Champion, Nico Rosberg‘s seat in the Mercedes-AMG F1 team’s now-vacant seat for the 2017 season. The 27-year-old Finn joins the 2014, 2015 and 2016 F1 Constructors’ champion with nine podium finishes under his belt, though he is still on the hunt for his first F1 race win.

    “It is going to be mega to drive a Silver Arrow. I’m prepared to work as long as it takes to get everything out of the car. I’m still missing my first win so that’s going to be my first mission,” said Bottas during the announcement at Mercedes’ Brackley factory.

    “With Lewis we’ll be a strong pairing. I’m sure we are going to be very close and be pushing each other forward. I’m sure we can work together and have a good experience to race flat out and fair together,” Bottas added.

    The Williams F1 seat left vacant by Bottas’ departure from the team will be filled by Felipe Massa, who will be coming out of retirement for the 2017 season, following the Brazilian’s leave after his 250th race and the end of last year. Massa will be paired with 18-year-old Canadian Lance Stroll at Williams, following Bottas’ unexpected departure to Mercedes-AMG.

    With Mercedes-AMG’s new signing comes another departure, this time that of their executive technical director, Paddy Lowe. Having led Mercedes-AMG F1’s technical division from June 2013, Lowe was key to the development of the team’s 2014 season hybrid F1 cars, which bore fruit in the thrice-on-the-trot Constructors titles for Mercedes.

     
  • GALLERY: Kuhl Racing at the 2017 Tokyo Auto Salon

    Kuhl Racing, the tuning house responsible for supplying styling kits for the Toyota C-HR, Mazda MX-5 and Toyota Prius, came out in full force at the 2017 Tokyo Auto Salon (TAS) event with quite a number of displays.

    Among the “interesting” ones of the lot is a Toyota Vellfire that features the same detailed engraving all over its body similar to that seen on a gilded Nissan GT-R, another of Kuhl’s projects. Joining the MPV on stage is a similarly-modified Subaru WRX STI, although the engraving has been dialled down a little for the boxer-powered sedan.

    Kuhl also showcased the various body kit and styling options available for cars such as the Nissan GT-R, Skyline GT-R (R34), Toyota 86 and Prius. As you’d expect, each car gets an outlandish paintjob and plenty of negative camber to ensure maximum visual impact. Also on display was a collection of concave rims that should appeal to “stance and fitment” fans.

    While we’re not sure if Kuhl’s work will appeal to everyone, but there’s no denying that the company’s creations feature some pretty intricate handiwork. Love/hate what you see? Share your thoughts on Kuhl’s TAS exhibits in the comments section below.

     
  • Minister: KL kapchai ban requires proper research

    After an announcement by Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor that small, underbone motorcycles, or kapchais, were to be banned from entering Kuala Lumpur to reduce pollution, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has come out to refute the statement.

    Speaking at a press conference in Menara Kuala Lumpur, Wan Junaidi said the greatest emitter of pollution is not from motorcycles. “The small ones don’t emit that much. It’s the big ones that do. Why are we stopping the small ones? We should be stopping the big ones,” he said in a The Star report.

    A meeting between ministries will be held to further discuss this issue. “We need to know who the biggest emitters are. Are they lorries, buses, cars or motorcycles? For motorcycles, I don’t know because to me, it should be the big lorries that shouldn’t be allowed in,” said Wan Junaidi.

    Saying that a complete ban is unfeasible, Wan Junaidi held the city of London up as an example, where residents were encouraged to utilise public transport by making it difficult to drive cars in the city. While agreeing in principle that cutting carbon emissions by reducing dependance on private transport is the way forward, proper research is required before implementing such a move.

    The Transport ministry has also come out against Tengku Adnan’s suggestion to ban kapchais, with Deputy Transport minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi saying most kapchai riders are low-income earners, and such a ban would only be feasible if there are convenient alternate transport options.

     
  • Renault Driving Experience 2017 – safety and thrills

    TC Euro Cars (TCEC) recently held its Renault Driving Experience event at the Sepang International Circuit, an extension of the Renault Track Day, which is geared towards promoting road safety while providing an enhanced ownership experience.

    “We wanted to better equip our customers with some key defensive driving skills, as many traffic collisions can be avoided if drivers are better prepared to react to various scenarios and conditions on the road,” said Kuan Kim Luen, CEO of TC Euro Cars.

    Participants were first provided with theory lessons in several areas, including the importance of observing the road ahead, understanding the principles of oversteer and understeer, using indicators, proper seat and driving positioning, as well as tips on highway driving.

    Later on, the 30 Renault owners took part in a practical sessions that allowed them to experience first-hand some of the safety systems found on Renault vehicles like Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS). They were also able to practise various defensive driving techniques such as quick obstacle avoidance in a safe, controlled environment.

    “Road safety is a very serious matter and highly relevant to our business. The aim of the defensive driving course is to help raise awareness of safe driving practices and techniques, especially among the increasing number of young drivers in the country, to help reduce fatalities and injuries caused by traffic accidents,” said Kuan.

    Meanwhile, 25 owners of Renault Sport vehicles got the chance to put their track driving skills to the test during the Renault Track Day event, with instructors on hand to coach first timers on how to wring out the most performance from their RS vehicles.

    By the end of the event, the best recorded lap time around the circut among the owners was 2:33.527, a testament to Renault Sport’s racing DNA. As for those looking to dive into RS ownership, taxi rides around the circuit were also available, with professional drivers behind the wheel.

    “The Track Day sessions have been well received by Renault Sport owners. Now with an expanding line-up of mainstream Renault vehicles, we wanted to engage with customers of these models as well and enhance their ownership experience,” he added.

    TCEC intends to organise the Renault Driving Experience on a yearly basis to offer track day sessions as well as defensive driving courses for Renault Sport and Renault owners in Malaysia.

     
 

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