Latest Stories

  • SPIED: BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé seen, July 24 debut

    The expansion of BMW’s front-wheel drive offerings (I know, it still feels weird writing that) is continuing at a rapid pace, and right on the heels the recent unveiling of the F40 1 Series is the new F44 2 Series Gran Coupé. That’s right – as we reported earlier, the new four-dour coupé will be driven by the wrong wheels, even though the two-door version will remain resolutely rear-wheel drive.

    Our European spy photographers have caught the car undergoing final rounds of testing before its big reveal, and as you can see, much of the hard disguise has been peeled off, with only a funky pixelated camouflage wrap remaining. Munich seems to be conducting a guerrilla marketing campaign for this car – it released a teaser months in advance, and it has now printed a web address on the side of this prototype, leading to a site that says viewers will get a first glimpse of the car on July 24.

    Not that it matters because these images already give us a pretty good look of what the Mercedes CLA rival will look like. The low-slung roofline compared to the 1 Series Sedan is clear to see here, even though the truncated proportions mean that the 2er GC will share less of a resemblance with its larger 4 Series and 8 Series siblings than BMW would have liked.

    It’s still a pretty good looking car, however, what with its suitably angry front end dominated by the conjoined trapezoidal double kidney grille and the furrowed headlights. In a departure from BMW tradition, the lamps feature a step that makes the inner lamp cans appear larger, rather than the other way around.

    Meanwhile, the large U-shaped centre air intake on this M Sport model intersects the smaller corner inlets – a graphic first seen on M Sport versions of the new Z4. Along the side, the glasshouse has been stretched as far back as possibly to visually lengthen the car, leading to a short rear deck featuring the usual L-shaped tail lights, a low-mounted number plate recess and a sizeable rear diffuser with twin trapezoidal exhausts.

    The 2 Series Gran Coupé will ride on BMW’s new front-wheel drive architecture (FAAR) that is reportedly lighter and supports plug-in hybrid and full electric propulsion. It should come with the usual range of three- and four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, along with an expected M235i variant that will almost certainly utilise the X2 M35i and M135i‘s 306 hp/450 Nm 2.0 litre mill and all-wheel drive.

  • SPIED: 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLB45 drops more camo!

    Mercedes-Benz’s latest compact seven-seater SUV, the GLB, is about to get a whole lot hotter when the top AMG GLB 45 joins the line-up. It’s been spotted making rounds before, but the prototype version of the barnstorming model was seen once again with less camouflage, revealing lot more skin than before.

    Up front, the GLB 45 is expected to wear the Panamericana radiator grille with multiple vertical slats, which complements the deeper air intakes and more aggressive front bumper. The plastic body claddings remain masked, but the full-fat AMG model should get those in body colour, although it’s unclear if the fenders will be flared out to make way for bigger wheels.

    Speaking of wheels, the prototype unit here sits on 20-inch test wheels shod with 255/40 profile Michelin Pilot Sport 3 rubbers. There may not be larger hoops, considering the space left within the wheel wells. Elsewhere, the GLB 45 gets the customary AMG exterior treatment, including a more chiselled rear bumper with integrated dual exhausts.

    On the inside, expect minor changes on the whole, save for AMG-specific features such as sports seats with Alcantara upholstery, AMG graphics for the display and instrumentation, AMG badging, as well as additional drive modes and an exhaust flap toggle.

    And now we get to the meat and potatoes. It’s no secret that the GLB 45 will share the new M139 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the new A45 and CLA 45, perhaps right down to the tune of 387 PS and 480 Nm in base configuration, or 421 PS and 500 Nm in the hotter GLB 45 S 4Matic+ model. The hand-assembled engine will be mated to an eight-speed AMG Speedshift DCT 8G dual-clutch transmission and AMG Performance 4Matic+ fully-variable all-wheel drive system.

    Based on that recipe, the AMG GLB 45 should be quite the rocket, possibly sprinting from zero to 100 km/h in under 4.5 seconds while topping out at 250 km/h. Other upgrades include stuffer AMG suspension with bigger cross-drilled and ventilated brakes, as well as AMG exhaust system for the unmistakable Affalterbach soundtrack. Anyone eyeing this already?

  • Multi-lane free flow highways in three years – MAHCC

    The Malaysian Association of Highway Concession Companies (MAHCC) says that all highways across the country will make the transition to a multi-lane free flow system in the next three years when radio-frequency identification (RFID) electronic toll collection is implemented at all toll plazas nationwide.

    The association’s president, Datuk Azman Ismail, who is also the MD of PLUS, said the timeframe was workable, as Bernama reports.

    “I am confident we can (achieve it within three years). It is not something that we just started, it is work in progress. If you ask some of the concessionaires, most of the equipment is already installed at the lanes, at the pilot stage,” he said.

    “We certainly would like to understand more about what other technical issues we face at the pilot stage so that we can resolve (them) and get it launched and implemented as soon as possible. But we obviously cannot do this alone because the highways in Malaysia are so integrated,” he added.

    Azman said that because highways in Malaysia integrated with one another, the experience for a user has to be seamless. “As a road user, if you use one highway to get from one location to another, you will probably be using multiple highways before you get to your destination. (So) it has to be seamless. Issues faced must be resolved, not just for one highway but for all highways. That is the beauty about the highway network in Malaysia. We must work together,” he said.

    Works minister Baru Bian had earlier said that RFID would be completely up and running in the next couple of years, paving the way for a gateless gantry system to take over from the existing boom gate and toll plaza system.

  • VW Tiguan, Passat now get five-year free maintenance

    Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM) has announced that two of its best-selling models, the Tiguan and Passat, will be getting an additional two years free maintenance. With this promotion, both cars now come with a total of five years free maintenance (or 75,000 km, whichever comes first), as well as five years unlimited mileage warranty and five years roadside assistance.

    Combined with the low interest rate of 1.88% per annum, VPCM says customers will enjoy savings of up to RM13,800 for the Tiguan and up to RM15,100 for the Passat. The promotion is valid for new car buyers from July 1 to December 31, 2019, and it’s available for all variants of the Tiguan and Passat, including the Sound & Style and JOIN Editions.

    To recap, the Tiguan is powered by a 1.4 litre TSI engine that makes 150 PS and 250 Nm, and it’s paired to a six-speed wet-clutch DSG gearbox. The Passat 1.8 litre TSI meanwhile, makes 180 PS and 250 Nm of torque, whereas the most potent 2.0 litre TSI in the Passat Highline makes 220 PS and 350 Nm of torque.

  • SPYSHOTS: Next-gen Toyota Yaris for Europe spotted

    Unlike in our part of the world, Europe gets its own version of the Toyota Yaris, and the current third-generation model has been around since 2011. After almost nine years and two facelift cycles, an all-new Yaris appears to be on the way, as these spyshots suggest.

    These two development vehicles were recently sighted barrelling down the Nürburgring, and if you notice, each gets its own camouflage pattern applied onto its bodywork. According to our sources, the black and white example supposedly features a hybrid powertrain, as indicated by the yellow sticker on the rear window.

    Meanwhile, the other test vehicle wears a camouflage that is similar to what was applied on the latest A90 Supra prior to the sports car’s reveal. This is likely our first look at the next generation Yaris in “Sport” trim, and the sportier wheels seem to suggest this to be the case.

    Of the two cars, it’s the “sportier” version that better reveals the changes to the Yaris’ design, which includes a new front end that no longer has a large, gaping intake. Instead, the grille is now separated into two sections, with a thick bar acting as the divider and spot for the number plate.

    The smaller grille also sees a new front bumper, whereby the intake in the lower apron is now “pinched” at the bottom, with fog lamps tucked away within caved-in corners. Reshaped headlamps are also part of the new face, and they appear to be inverted versions of what is found on the current car.

    Along the sides, we notice the Yaris’ C-pillars are more fluid in shape, as they now gently curve downwards to meet the top of the protruding and more angular taillights. Much like the current car, the “lip” extending from the base of the rear windscreen is still here, although it’s less sloping to form part of the tailgate’s wedge design that is also aligned with the taillights clusters.

    The new Yaris will likely be underpinned by the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, with 1.0 litre three-cylinder, 1.5 litre four-cylinder and 1.5 litre hybrid powertrains available.

  • Volkswagen unveils new MQ281 manual gearbox – handles up to 340 Nm, standard fit for all models

    Volkswagen has developed a new state-of-the-art manual gearbox known as the MQ281, and the company claims that it helps save up to five grammes of CO2 per kilometre depending on the engine-gearbox combination. The new Passat will be the first to be fitted with the gearbox, followed by almost all vehicle classes within the Volkswagen Group.

    The company said no one really took much notice of manual gearboxes until now, and added that only slight modifications were sufficient to improve efficiency and fuel consumption of the good old stick shifter. Despite widespread claims of its imminent doom, manual gearboxes have a significant share of the global gearbox market due to high installation rate.

    This is especially trendy for SUVs with large-diameter wheels, Volkswagen said in a statement. Company head of manual gearbox and four-wheel drive development, Helmut Göbbels said: “With the MQ281, we have developed a highly efficient manual gearbox that reliably meets these demands – and is soon to be introduced into a number of vehicle classes in the volume segment.”

    On the technical side of things, the MQ281 has a torque spectrum of 200 Nm to 340 Nm, which means it completely or partially supersedes the current Volkswagen gearbox designs with the internal designations MQ250 and MQ350 respectively.

    The older MQ250 and MQ350 manual gearboxes will soon be replaced by the MQ281 unit

    It is based on a 2.5 shaft concept and boasts a high gear spread (maximum of 7.89). On the one hand, this guarantees good off-road driving performance, even for heavy vehicles with large wheels. It also facilitates ‘downspeeding’, which helps save fuel when driving in high gears with low engine speed.

    Further developments of the manual gearbox will primarily be focused on improving efficiency. “Here we employed virtual development methods. This enabled us to design a completely new oil conduction system. Using a variety of oil conduction measures, we are able to achieve a uniform and optimum lubrication of gear wheels and bearings, reducing the amount of lifetime oil required to just 1.5 litres,” Göbbels added.

    Additionally, a set of friction-reducing bearings with low contact seals have been installed, and the materials used for the gearbox housing has also been optimised. The latter was developed using a virtual development tool, and functionally it helps reduce undesirable noise and vibration from intruding the cabin, thus improving driving comfort. The MQ281 is developed in-house and production is currently underway in the factories in Barcelona and Córdoba, Argentina.

  • SPIED: Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI seen – to get 300 hp?

    The Mk8 Volkswagen Golf, which has been spied several times prior, is set to make its world debut later this year in October. However, the hotter Golf GTI variant has proven to be quite an elusive species, that is until now.

    Seen here in full camouflage cladding is the Mk8 Golf GTI, complete with what appears to be production LED headlights, front bumper, and LED tail lights. Details on the front bumper can still be distinguished despite the heavy camo – the lower intake features a wide mesh type grille, and the edges of the apron looks set to get air curtains that guide air flow for better aerodynamics.

    Round the side, this particular GTI sits on 19-inch wheels derived from the outgoing Golf R, although expect factory items to start from 18-inch units (19s should still be optional). Behind, the Golf GTI retains the familiar dual exhaust look, and it should get a more chiselled bumper. In short, the exterior is shaping up to be quite a looker, and we’re liking what we see.

    There are no pictures of the Mk8 Golf GTI’s cabin for now, but official sketches released by Volkswagen show that the hatch will get a dual-screen setup much like that seen on the W177 Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Based on the photo above, the instrument cluster features brand new graphics, so expect GTI-specific dials and highlights to be featured as well.

    The adjoining central infotainment display is clearly angled towards the driver, and it also features an all-new user interface that looks more sophisticated than those found in the automaker’s current crop of cars. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto should be standard, too. Interestingly, the bottom section of the bezel seem to feature two touch-sensitive panels for direct control of the climate control. Neat!

    Further down, the sketch shows a tiny gear stick (similar in size to that of the 992 Porsche 911) positioned along a sloping centre console, above which is a covered compartment that presumably conceals a wireless smartphone charging tray.

    In terms of powertrain, sources reveal that the Mk8 Golf GTI will stick to the recipe that made the Mk7 model successful. That means the Audi-developed EA888 2.0 litre TSI engine should continue propulsion duties, with outputs ranging from around 255 hp to 290 hp for the hotter TCR-badged version. That makes it even more powerful than the Golf GTI Clubsport S which made 261 hp.

    For the 290-hp model, the 0-100 km/h sprint time is said to be done in under six seconds, while the top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. Transmission options include a revised six-speed manual gearbox and the much-lauded seven-speed dual-clutch DSG unit. It’s been said that earlier plans to electrify the Golf GTI have been put on hold, following direct instructions from VW Group chairman Herbert Diess.

    Besides that, the engineers are also said to put heavy emphasis on steering feel and accuracy. The Mk8 GTI will still get an electro-mechanical setup, albeit tweaked to provide higher levels of feedback and a more direct gearing ratio. Well then, this begs the question: how much more hardcore will the Mk8 Golf R be?

  • Mazda CX-30 SUV – European specifications detailed

    The Mazda CX-30 is slated to be launched in Europe very soon, with test drives having already been conducted for the local media. To go with the press drive, the company released preliminary specifications and a full gallery of this compact SUV, which slots between the CX-3 and CX-5 in Hiroshima’s lineup.

    Essentially a crossover version of the 3 hatchback, the CX-30 will be offered with the same engines, including a low tune of Mazda’s ubiquitous 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine. It makes 122 PS at 6,000 rpm and 213 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm and delivers a fuel consumption figure of between 6.2 and 7.3 litres per 100 km on the combined WLTP cycle.

    That’s thanks to features like cylinder deactivation and the new Mazda M Hybrid, a 24-volt mild hybrid system. There’s also a 1.8 litre SkyActiv-D turbodiesel that churns out 116 PS at 4,000 rpm and 270 Nm from 1,600 to 2,600 rpm, whilst being capable of fuel consumption of 5.1 and 6.6 litres per 100 km.

    As with the 3, the CX-30 will also be available with the novel SkyActiv-X petrol engine, utilising Spark Plug Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI). No specifications have been released just yet, but the mill in the 3 makes 180 PS at 6,000 rpm and 224 Nm at 3,000 rpm. It too benefits from the Mazda M Hybrid system.

    All engines are paired to a choice of six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes, along with the option of an improved i-Activ all-wheel drive system that is more efficient and works better with the G-Vectoring Control (GVC) system. Speaking of which, the GVC Plus adds braking intervention on the outside wheels to reduce yaw, helping to stabilise the vehicle as it comes out of the corner.

    The CX-30 is built on the company’s SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture, and features a body that uses a straight framework and continuous ring structures. This, along with the use of ultra-high-tensile steel rated at up to 1,310 MPa, allows for a lightweight, high-rigidity body design. The suspension uses MacPherson struts in the front and a torsion beam setup in the rear, which combine with the extensive insulation to improve refinement.

    Measuring 4,395 mm long, 1,795 mm wide, 1,540 mm tall, with a 2,655 mm wheelbase, the CX-30 slots neatly between the CX-3 (4,275 mm long, 1,765 mm wide, 1,535 mm tall, 2,570 mm wheelbase) and CX-5 (4,550 mm long, 1,840 mm wide, 1,675 mm tall, 2,700 mm wheelbase), just as Mazda claims.

    Exterior-wise, the CX-30 is more than just a 3 with a raised ride height and added body cladding. The sharp headlights (now with sequential indicators) and wing-shaped grille surround remain, but there’s now a narrower C-pillar, a less upswept window line, reshaped tail lights and dramatic side surfacing – inspired by Japanese brushwork, apparently – that forms an “S” shape depending on the lighting and reflections.

    Inside, it’s much the same as the 3, with a minimalist driver-oriented dashboard featuring twin air vents clustered around the instrument cluster, plus a linear design and plenty of soft-touch materials. The only difference is that the wing-shaped upper panel now incorporates the freestanding 8.8-inch display, which continues to be linked to the revised Mazda Connect infotainment system.

    Mounted high up and away from the driver in their field of view, the screen can no longer be operated by touch, only the Commander knob aft of the gearlever. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are fitted as standard, with audio piped through either an eight-speaker setup or an optional Bose 12-speaker sound system. A head-up Active Driving Display, which projects onto the windscreen, is also available.

    Mazda says that the increased dimensions over the CX-3 provide as much couple distance (space between the two front passengers) as a CX-5 and ample knee- and headroom, aided by a low rear seat hip point. The seats have been designed to improve the occupants’ posture and the rear seat shape and B-pillar placement have been optimised for entry and egress. Boot space measures 430 litres.

    Safety-wise, the CX-30 is fitted as standard with seven airbags and, in Europe, driver assists such as autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, automatic high beam, traffic sign recognition and a driver attention alert.

    The options list expands the AEB system to protect against collisions while reversing and rear cross traffic, and adds adaptive LED headlights, front cross traffic alert, a driver monitoring system, a 360-degree camera system and Cruising and Traffic Support that provides semi-autonomous driving.

  • Mazda reiterates it has no plans to introduce a MPS 3

    We’ve been waiting a long time for a new Mazda 3 MPS, but it appears the Japanese carmaker has absolutely no desire to pursue such a model at the moment. So, if you’ve been holding your breath for a Mazda rival to the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Honda Civic Type R and Hyundai i30 N, among many others, sorry to disappoint.

    Speaking to Mazda’s head of vehicle development and product planning Hiroyuki Matsumoto, CarsGuide reports that while Mazda 3 programme manager Kota Beppu has expressed interest in a hotter version of the C-segment model, Matsumoto has other thoughts.

    “We are capable of creating an engine to answer such demands for more power, but at the moment, we have no plan to do it,” he explained. As Matsumoto did not end his sentence with the word “ever,” there’s still a glimmer of hope for those who are still grasping at straws.

    Of course, it’s hard to fault Mazda on this, as the carmaker is busy preparing a bevy of new technologies and models as part of its ‘Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030’ long-term vision. The new Mazda 3 and CX-30 are the first two models to form its next-generation product line-up, and there’s plenty more in store.

    Referring to the company’s briefing in 2018, the rollout of its SkyActiv-X compression ignition engine has already begun in selected markets. Following this, there’s the push to deliver battery electric vehicles and autonomous driving systems, with the former said to be offered with a rotary engine acting as a range extender.

  • F57 MINI Convertible LCI teased, July 19 M’sia launch

    MINI Malaysia has announced the upcoming introduction of a new model, which from the teaser images that have been provided reveal it to be the F57 MINI Convertible facelift. The car, which premiered alongside the hatch in Detroit last year, arrives here a year after the hatchback made its local debut.

    Based on that gleaned from the image set, it looks like the Convertible – which will be officially unveiled on July 19 – should be of a similar specification to the F56 3 Door in its Cooper S form, with no JCW bodykit on. As shown in the photo set, the car will sit on 17-inch Rail spoke alloy wheels.

    As with the 3 Door, motive power is provided by a new 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine, which in its Cooper S guise offers the same 192 hp and 280 Nm of torque as before, but with much improved fuel efficiency. The mill is paired with a seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission, which is claimed to provide smoother, faster shifts with zero interruption compared to the six-speed automatic it replaces.

    Along with the teaser, MINI Malaysia also highlighted how it recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the brand with a vehicle-shaped formation outlining ‘MINI 60’. The company gathered a number of MINIacs and Friends of MINI folk to get them to form the number 60 with their MINI vehicles on a tarmac canvas, set against the backdrop of the Kuala Lumpur skyline.

    The facelifted MINI Convertible won’t be the only model launched during the celebrations, as the company also confirmed there will be one more car presented during the festivities. The also-facelifted MINI Clubman, perhaps?


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Last Updated 06 Jul 2019


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