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  • DRIVEN: BMW X models revisited – X3, X4, X5 and X6

    BMW X Drive Chiang Rai 12

    Life is a party at this club, without a doubt the most happening place in the city right now. There were a few rooms in the club’s previous location, but today’s impressive building houses multiple venues for varying tastes, and there are no shortage of patrons swiping cards and throwing cash at the house every weekend. Queues are normal.

    No, I have not been to the new Zouk KL, but the talk of the town has similarities with the party that every motor industry player wants to be seen at – the SUV party.

    Certain types of vehicles are endemic to a region – Europeans are fond of wagons and small hatchbacks for instance, while Americans regard the Camry/Accord as mid-size; in ASEAN, trucks are big in Thailand but Indonesia is an MPV-dominated market. But there’s one type of car with universal appeal – the SUV.

    BMW played a big part in popularising the premium SUV genre. The original X5 fused the brand’s dynamics into a traditional 4X4 body in 1999, inspiring Porsche to diversify. Ten years later, the X1 brought down the premium SUV’s size and price to a new level, creating a sub-segment that till today, others are scrambling to get a piece of. The big-bottomed X6, much-derided by car enthusiasts and commentators, “coupefied” the SUV and is enough of a sales success for Mercedes-Benz to follow suit.

    It’s a crowded field today, and it’s easy to be distracted by the young and flashy. BMW knows this, and recently whisked us to Chiang Rai for a refresher drive of its X range of SAVs and SACs. Where do they stand?

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  • 2016 Renault Megane – the IV to debut in Frankfurt

    Spy-Shots of Cars

    Earlier in the week, we saw the latest 2016 Renault Megane IV spyshots, and not long more to go before the car is revealed in full – the automaker has formally announced that the fourth-gen will be premiering in Frankfurt next month.

    The Megane, which is underpinned by the Renault-Nissan CMF-CD platform, is set to feature the automaker’s new family face in line with that seen on the likes of the Clio and Captur – the most recent spy photos reveal a rather bold-looking front end, and the rest of the low-roofed, wide stance profile looks quite well fleshed out despite being clad by camo.

    Plenty of changes in the interior – the photos of the cabin offer a good intimation of reports saying that the Megane’s cabin will feature much higher-end materials and a sharper composition.

    As reported, higher-end versions will integrate controls into a large central touchscreen (said to be in the seven- to nine-inch region) in the same fashion as the Espace and Talisman. It’s been said too that a greater focus has been given to driver ergonomics.

    No associated powertrain details as yet, but it’s anticipated that the car will make its market debut with a 1.2 litre TCe 130 petrol and two diesel units, possibly the 1.5 litre dCi 110 and 1.6 litre dCi 130.

    The Megane IV, available in both five-door hatch and wagon bodystyles, is expected to move things upmarket for the brand, and it will come up against the likes of the Volkswagen Golf Mk7 and the Peugeot 308. Sales are slated to begin in 2016, including that of right-hand drive models.

     
  • GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz V-Class V220 CDI previewed, price to be confirmed soon

    mercedes-benz-v220-cdi-malaysia-0019

    The Mercedes-Benz V-Class is now in Malaysian showrooms in V220 CDI guise. It’s currently on preview while pricing is being finalised.

    And yes, we’re talking about Mercedes-Benz Passenger Car showrooms here as the previous generation passenger Vito is sold by the Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle dealer Nusa Otomobil.

    mercedes-benz-v220-cdi-malaysia-0034

    The V220 CDI is powered by a 2.1 litre turbodiesel four-cylinder engine, which in the line-up sits between the 200 CDI and the 250 BlueTec. In this particular 220 CDI tune, it produces 163 horsepower and 380 Nm of torque. Power goes to the rear wheels via a seven-speed auto.

    Mercedes-Benz Malaysia is treating the V-Class as an indent order car so you can order it in whatever specs you want, as long as you take the V220 CDI because that’s the engine variant that’s homologated.


    Left: three-seater third row, Right: two-seater third row.

    The black and white units you see here have different specs. The white is a six-seater (three rows of two seats) without power doors but has a 360 view camera. The black unit has three seats for the third row, has no 360 view camera but has power doors. Second and third row seats use manual adjustment.

    Both specs on the showroom floor have the sportier Avantgarde exterior look, a power boot and ride on 18 inch alloy wheels wrapped with 245/45R18 tyres. We also noticed front seat heating has been specced.

    mercedes-benz-v220-cdi-malaysia-0040

    Families will be glad that ISOFIX child seat points are available on all second and third row seats for the six-seater variant, and on two of the third row seats (driver side and middle seats) for the seven-seater. The two middle row seats can be independently turned around to face rear-wards for a living room feel.

    We’re expecting confirmed pricing to be released next week so stay tuned. In the meanwhile take a closer look at the V220 CDI in our gallery below.

     
  • VIDEO: Tengku Djan drives the Iriz R3 around Sepang

    Feast your eyes on the Proton Iriz R3 Malaysian Touring Car, and boy does it sound insane! The video above shows Proton Motorsports head Tengku Djan at the wheel of the new race car, lapping the Sepang International Circuit.

    To recap, at the heart of the souped-up Iriz R3 MTC is a race-prepared, naturally-aspirated 1.6 litre engine (a de-turboed Campro CFE block) that churns about 190 hp, matched to a five-speed manual transmission. The stripped-out racer features Recaro Pole Position race bucket seats, Alcon racing brake calipers and Ohlins adjustable coilovers.

    The test lap was done in a practice session in preparation for Round 4 of the Malaysia Championship Series. The Iriz R3 will also be partaking in the Sepang 1,000 km race in November to defend the team’s crown.


     
  • 2015 Honda CR-Z facelift spruced up with Modulo gear

    2015-honda-cr-z-facelift-modulo

    Yes, folks – more news on the 2015 Honda CR-Z facelift. Barely a week has passed since the hybrid hatch was revealed and already we’re looking at the full lineup of Modulo accessories dedicated to the car. For those who need a quick recap, the CR-Z now sports a raft of exterior modifications which include full LED headlamps and new wheel designs while the interior features a revamped architecture.

    No changes under the bonnet, with the same 1.5 litre i-VTEC with IMA motor setup putting out a total of 136 PS at 6,600 rpm and 172 Nm from 1,000 to 3,000 rpm. The rear track has now been widened by 10 mm while the brake discs themselves have been upsized along with the caliper piston diameter.

    2015-honda-cr-z-facelift-modulo-2

    All in all, the changes add up to a rather decent breath of fresh air for the petite Honda. With that said, there are those who would prefer to spice up the looks of their respective cars both inside and out – which is exactly what we’re talking about here. Dubbed the S-Style range, add-ons include front bumper ornaments with a chin spoiler as well as a fog light garnish.

    Elsewhere, one can option out door mirror covers, more pronounced side sills and a stylised fuel filler cap along with twin five-spoke 17-inch aluminium wheels. At the rear, the centre of attention is the massive tailgate spoiler that should appeal to one’s touring car fantasies. Owners can also spec a sports suspension setup that lowers the car by 10 mm and features a five-stage adjustment for damper firmness.

    2015-honda-cr-z-facelift-modulo-4

    Moving on to the interior, optional Recaro bucket seats lead the way in terms of upgrades. The list is further augmented with sports pedals and a steel shift knob. For an even sportier (and flashier) ambience, owners can have the instrument cluster cowl trimmed in carbon while LED rings around the speakers and side sills can be included. Also, a plethora of key covers are made available.

    Driver conveniences arrive in the form of a optional dash cam as well as reverse parking sensors. The infotainment system can also be customised from a selection of three Gathers Concept platforms – dubbed Standard Internavi, Basic Internavi and Premium Internavi.

    GALLERY: 2015 Honda CR-Z facelift

     
  • VIDEOS: Toyota Auris Hybrid ads dispel hybrid myths

    Hybrid vehicles are becoming more and more common recently, and with its popularity, comes adversity. So, since the naysayers will always have a field day with hybrids, Toyota UK has taken the bold step to dispel the myths of the ‘boring hybrid’ with a series of hilarious commercials featuring the facelifted Auris Hybrid.

    “Hybrids are only good in the city. The batteries need replacing. Hybrids need to be plugged in,” they say. All not true, as the series explains.

    It’s great viewing, and there are six videos in total, so be sure to watch them all. In a world where performance is always seen as the ultimate barometer of a vehicle’s true value, it is great to take a drive down the least beaten path and revel in a driving experience that fuses practicality, environmental responsibility and fun all in one.






     
  • Meals on Wheels with the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo

    Mercedes-Benz has engineered yet another great series, entitled ‘Meals On Wheels‘. It’s basically a cooking show on board the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo! Louis Tikaram, a 29-year-old top chef, who works in his own E.P. & L.P. Restaurant in Los Angeles is the star here – other than the V-Class-based camper van, that is.

    “It’s more spacious than I had thought!” exclaims Louis of the interior of the Marco Polo while finely chopping chillies, onions and garlic. “I would never have thought that the Marco Polo has so much space for cooking”, declares guest Verena Niepoort, surprised.

    “The workmanship is high quality and the equipment is practical. In addition to the gas stove, the tap and the fridge are a real help when cooking fresh meals. And combined with the delicious aroma of food coming from a camper van and not from a big kitchen, it is almost a little surreal. A brilliant experience,” Louis adds.

    Be warned, watching this video can definitely make you work up an appetite! Bon appetit!

     
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia QV beats BMW M4 on Nurburgring

    150624_Alfa_Romeo_Giulia_HP1

    It appears as though the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV has accomplished its mission of beating the BMW M4/M3 duo on the fabled Nurburgring circuit. According to Italian automotive portal, BlogDiMotori, the range-topping four-door from Alfa Romeo has managed to lap the 20.8 km-long track in seven minutes and 43 seconds.

    Revealed in June 2015, the Giulia QV is motivated by a 3.0 litre turbocharged aluminium six-cylinder engine with 510 PS. Said power gets transmitted to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual – allowing for a 0-100 km/h time of just 3.9 seconds. Of course, standard versions of the Giulia are slated to be introduced in the near future – spyshots of the vanilla variants are already in circulation.

    150624_Alfa_Romeo_Giulia_HP3

    The BMW M4, on the other hand, has only managed to clock a 7:52 lap time around the Green Hell – do note that the M3/M4 duo only possess a mere 431 hp from a 3.0 litre straight-six turbocharged engine. Still, the fact that the latter has the added advantage of a quicker-shifting double-clutch gearbox could mean that the Italian carmaker has finally found its long lost mojo.

    However, a single morsel of information gathered from said report could indicate that this specific Giulia deployed isn’t exactly stock – sources claim that this unit was pumping out at least 540 PS instead of the factory-claimed 510 PS. Whether or not said info is legit is another story – we’ll continue rooting for the underdog in the meantime.

     
  • DUKE and AKLEH announce 20% discount on toll rate

    Toll

    Some updates on toll rebates which have been announced for the upcoming National Day celebrations, all linked to electronic toll collection (ETC).

    The first is from Konsortium Lebuhraya Utara-Timur (Kesturi), which has announced a 20% discount for ETC users on the DUKE Highway during the festive period. The highway concessionaire also said that it would be giving a promotional 5% discount for users using ETC for a period of three months from September 9.

    The next announcement is from Projek Lintasan Kota Holdings (Prolintas), which said that Class One highway users using ETC will also enjoy a 20% discount at three toll plazas around Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam on Monday. The three routes are the Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (Akleh), Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE) and Kemuning-Shah Alam Expressway (LKSA).

    TnG SmartTag

    The discount will be given to users paying toll via the Touch ‘n go and Smart Tag lanes from 6 am on Monday and ending at 6 am on Tuesday at all the three highways. The Sun reports that the effectively reducing the rate on Akleh from RM1.50 to RM1.20 and on the GCE from RM1.40 to RM1.10. Rates on the LKSA, meanwhile, will be brought down from RM1.20 to RM1 at Seri Muda and from RM0.60 to RM0.50 at Alam Impian toll plazas.

    Meanwhile, it was also announced that 1,000 Touch ‘n Go cards will be distributed at the cash lanes of every toll plaza on the Kuala Lumpur-Kuala Selangor Expressway (Latar Expressway) on National Day. The concessionaire said that distribution of the cards will begin on Monday from 12.01 am until stocks run out.

    It had been announced earlier that a number of toll plazas on highways were set to go fully cashless from September 9 onwards, with the switch to the ETC system requiring the use of SmartTAG, Touch ‘n Go or PLUSMiles card.

     
 

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