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  • Updated BMW Concept X5 eDrive to be shown in NY

    BMW’s world premiere at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) isn’t quite a world premiere – the BMW Concept X5 eDrive was shown in Frankfurt last year, but the company has now provided more details of the plug-in hybrid version of the original Munich SUV (SAV in BMW-speak).

    What we now know is the output of the petrol engine – the TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder (still of unknown capacity, but we believe it is BMW’s current 2.0 litre mill) produces 245 hp and 350 Nm, the same as other models fitted with the “28i” suffix such as the 328i and the 528i. The engine is mated to a 70 kW (95 hp)/250 Nm electric motor to create a combined power output of 302 hp.

    Claimed performance and efficiency figures are unchanged – 0-100 km/h in under 7.0 seconds, an average fuel consumption of under 3.8 litres per 100 km, carbon dioxide emissions of under 90 g per km and a maximum range of 30 km in electric-only mode, operable at speeds under 120 km/h. There is a Save Battery mode that maintains the current battery charge level for later use such as in city traffic.


    We also now have a look at the interior of the eDrive, complete in Ivory White leather upholstery with light blue stitching, Piano Finish Black trim with blue accent strips, blue ambient lighting, an eDrive button as well as eDrive logos debossed into the headrests. A window built into the boot floor showcases the lithium-ion battery pack underneath, also illuminated in blue.

    That is a lot of blue, and for good reason – blue is the signature colour of the BMW i brand, and the company obviously wants to display the link between its regular hybrids and its dedicated electric vehicles as much as possible. The colour also shows up on the outside on the kidney grille bars, the inserts in the front air intakes, the charging port surround on the front fender as well as the rear bumper insert.

  • Volkswagen New Midsize Coupe concept is a junior CC


    Meet the Volkswagen New Midsize Coupe concept, or the NMC in short, which has just made its world debut at Auto China 2014 in Beijing. In essence, it previews a coupe-like sedan positioned between the Jetta and Passat models. A junior CC, if you like.

    At 4,597 mm long and 1,838 mm wide, the NMC is shorter than the C-segment Jetta, yet wider than the D-segment Passat. Its 1,422 mm height is lower than both the standard sedans too, giving it a low visual centre of gravity.

    The NMC sits on Volkswagen Group’s modular MQB platform. It introduces the VW design boss, Klaus Bischoff’s new vision of front end design, with a complex grille, 3D-effect LED headlights and a large but closely detailed lower air intake. The show wheels are huge 22-inchers with body matching ‘Dragon Red’ highlights.


    Its side profile is said to retain a coupe’s cab-backwards design, using a long bonnet, sweeping C-pillar and a short boot lid to create the effect. Moving back, the strong character lines that run across the sides merge into a neatly integrated boot lid spoiler. Fancy LED rear lights and dual tailpipes in matching shapes enhance the visual width of the NMC.

    Connected to the exhausts is the Golf GTI’s 2.0 litre turbocharged TSI engine. This time paired to a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox, it can get to 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and up to 244 km/h. A promising cD value of 0.299 gives an impressive fuel consumption of just 6.4 litres per 100 km (15.6 km per litre).

    The interior is only shown in design sketches so far, but Volkswagen claims that it’s as practical as it is sporty, with ample space for five and a generous 500 litre boot. A production version should be well under way, so anyone smitten just yet?

  • GALLERY: Toyota Levin for the Chinese market

    toyota-corolla-levin-china 102

    Auto China 2014 begins today, but ahead of that our team on the ground in Beijing has served up these shots of the latest-gen Chinese-market Toyota Corolla, which we now know is called the Toyota Levin (Australia uses the same name for its Corolla hatch). The car is apparently being displayed at several spots around China; this location is the Kerry Hotel in Beijing.

    Reports out of China suggest that there will be two distinct versions of the Corolla on sale in the Middle Kingdom – the Levin you see here comes from Guangqi-Toyota, while FAW-Toyota (the other Toyota joint-venture in China) will sell a Corolla that’s similar to our Corolla Altis (ASEAN and Europe). It could be that the former will be targeted at younger buyers while the latter will aim for the more conservative set.

    toyota-corolla-levin-china 099

    This Guangqi-Toyota Levin has a different face from the US Corolla and our ASEAN Corolla Altis. There’s a slim front grille with a huge chrome slab that continues over the top of the new-shape headlamps (they appear to be a cross between the US Corolla’s hawk eyes and the ASEAN Corolla Altis’ wide wrap-around units). The lower intake is trapezoidal-shaped like the non-S-grade US Corolla, but features a chrome surround.

    The Levin’s rear is quite similar to the US Corolla’s – boot and rear bumper are the same, down to the shut lines. However, the Toyota logo here has been moved up to make way for the huge chrome slab that bridges the tail lamps, themselves of a very slightly different shape from the US Corolla’s, and with different graphics too. Also, the US Corolla’s tailpipe pokes straight out of the rear bumper; the Levin’s tailpipe curves downwards.

    Length, width, height and wheelbase are respectively 4,630, 1,775, 1,480 and 2,700 mm – 20 mm shorter (horizontally) and 25 mm taller (vertically) than the US Corolla, and 10 mm longer (horizontally) and 20 mm taller (vertically) than our Altis. Interior? Pretty much status quo, although the digital clock sits on the right of the air vents, instead of dead centre as in our Altis, and the car features a twin instrument dial layout like our 2.0 V (two layouts) are available globally).

    According to Chinese reports, the Guangqi-Toyota Levin will come with a choice of 1.6 and 1.8 litre engines, plus five-speed manual and CVT gearboxes. The car’s expected to turn up at the show in Beijing, which is just about to open its doors to the press, so sit tight for more details!

    Toyota Corollas around the globe (clockwise from top-left): Chinese Guangqi-Toyota Levin, European/ASEAN Toyota Corolla/Altis, US Toyota Corolla S, US Toyota Corolla LE Eco

    Which Corolla front do you like the best? Answer in our poll below.

  • Auto China 2014 – extended coverage from Beijing

    BJIAS 1

    The 2014 Beijing International Auto Show kicks off with the press day tomorrow, and is set to cover the show with the help of a Beijing-based team of Malaysian contributors.

    Moy Yew Meng, Kwek Chai Li, J.J. Chin and a mystery video host known as Miss Red (that’s her in the poster shot) will be our team on the ground for Auto China 2014. So, expect live pix and video clips from Beijing in the coming days ahead.

    The show will have plenty of world premieres – the list of debutants includes the Citroen DS 6WR, production Lexus NX crossover, Hyundai ix25, next-generation Chevrolet Cruze and Peugeot 2008 DKR, among others. Also expected are the Chinese-market Toyota Corolla, Ford Escort and new Peugeot 408.

    No shortage of concepts too, with the likes of the BMW 9 Series concept, Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe SUV, Peugeot Exalt Concept, Volkswagen Golf R 400 and a Nissan sedan concept among the headliners.

  • Toyota Corolla gets unique face for Chinese market


    UPDATE: This is the Toyota Levin for the China market. Full details and live gallery from Beijing here.

    This is how the latest-generation Toyota Corolla will look like for the Chinese market. This image was published by Chinese website – will it go public at Auto China 2014 in a few days time?

    The car seen here has got a unique front end with lots of chrome, and a slimmer grille which makes way for a larger, more prominent bumper intake.

    So the Corolla now has three different front end designs compared to the version we get (left image) and the US-market Corolla (right image). Which Corolla front do you like the best? Answer in our poll below.

  • VIDEO: Exclusive early look at the new Nissan Sylphy

    The new Nissan Sylphy is now open for booking (estimated prices are RM115,300 for the 1.8 E, and RM125,500 for the 1.8 VL, CBU Thailand), but its official Malaysian launch is more than a week away. But fret not, as we’re giving you an exclusive early walk-around tour of the new C-segment contender.

    This new Sylphy is quite a bit different than the old one you’re familiar with. The original G11 was launched way back in 2008 after all. So it’s time you get cozy with the new version, starting with our video tour that explains all the changes, both inside and outside.

    You can read our full and exclusive review of the new B17 Sylphy to know more about the car’s intricacies and how it is to drive and live with. But even us writers know that words can only do so much, so go ahead and watch the clip above. There will be more videos coming of course, so do subscribe to our YouTube channel when you’re done. Thanks for watching :)

  • Audi A3 – third-gen is 2014 World Car of the Year


    The Audi A3 has been declared the 2014 World Car of the Year at the ongoing NYIAS. The premium small car was chosen from an initial entry list of 24 vehicles, then a short list of 12, then three finalists, the other two being the BMW 4 Series and Mazda 3.

    The other 2014 World Car Awards winners are the Mercedes S-Class (World Luxury Car), Porsche 911 GT3 (World Performance Car), BMW i3 (World Car Design and World Green Car).

    Of the Audi A3, the jurors said: “It might borrow styling hints from its bigger brothers, but the A3 still offers classic, chiseled contours and even better interior trim levels. With a superb choice of engines and four body styles, the A3 range packs a hefty premium punch in the small luxury segment.

    “Audi should be complimented for making this A3 ride like no other A3. All the old shimmer over rough surfaces has gone, replaced by a silky smooth ride that approaches limousine quality.”

    Audi is no stranger to the World Car Awards, having in its bag the inaugural 2005 World Car of the Year title (Audi A6), three World Performance Car titles in 2007 (Audi RS 4), 2008 (Audi R8) and 2010 (Audi R8 V10), plus two World Car Design of the Year titles in 2007 (Audi TT) and 2008 (Audi R8).

    The Audi A3 Sedan is expected to hit the Malaysian scene sometime in June.

  • Volkswagen Golf R 400 concept teased, Beijing-bound


    Volkswagen is set to unveil a more hardcore version of the already-hot Golf R Mk7 at the upcoming Beijing motor show. The Golf R 400, as it will be called, will be shown as a concept at first, but there’s a small possibility that it may see light as a production model in the future. It would be a good model to lust after, after all.

    As you’d probably have guessed, the Volkswagen Golf R 400 concept will feature an uptuned 400 PS engine, which is a significant bump from the standard Golf R’s 300 PS 2.0 litre turbocharged motor. The four-wheel drive machine promises a 3.9 second 0-100 km/h time and a 278 km/h top speed, compared to the standard R’s 4.9 seconds and 255 km/h.

    Click to enlarge.

    A visual makeover will accompany the newfound performance too. The teasers suggest more aggressive bumpers, bigger wheels and flared wheelarches, the last of which is modelled after those on the 1988 Rallye Golf G60. The front grille/headlamp signature highlight – red on the GTI, chrome on the R – will be presented in ‘Lemon Yellow’ this time round.

    The exterior will be finished in what Volkswagen calls ‘Silver Flake’ metallic, which is played against the contrasting carbon-fibre wing mirror caps and gloss black roof. The latter could possibly be a subtle teaser for a lightweight carbon-fibre roof option for future go-faster Golf models.

  • Honda HR-V – official pics of US-market Vezel shown

    Honda HR-V US-01

    Reports from earlier this month pointed to the HR-V name being used for the US-market Honda Vezel, and it is now confirmed with the first official photos of the US-market Honda HR-V, released at NYIAS 2014.

    A faithful reproduction of the Urban SUV Concept from Detroit 2013, the HR-V is built on the same global compact platform that underpins the Honda Jazz (Fit in USA).

    The HR-V will feature a versatile and spacious interior thanks to a unique centre tank layout. Honda is second to none in packaging, and the HR-V will come with the Jazz’s famous folding Magic Seats. To sit under the CR-V in Honda’s SUV lineup, the HR-V will be launched this winter in the US. No mention of powertrains yet.

    Click to enlarge

    In Japan, the Vezel can be had with the new 1.5 litre Sport Hybrid i-DCD system that combines a normally-aspirated 1.5 litre direct-injection DOHC engine with a 29.5 PS/160 Nm lithium-ion-powered electric motor, matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. There’s also a regular 131 PS/155 Nm 1.5L CVT combo.

    We’ve covered the Honda Vezel extensively since the Jazz-based crossover made its debut at Tokyo 2013. Since then, sporty and hardcore versions of the B-segment SUV have been rolled out by usual suspects Modulo and Mugen.

    The Honda Vezel/HR-V will be coming to Malaysia in the near future, and we’re putting our money on the HR-V name being used here. Which do you prefer? By the way, THIS was the original Hi-rider Revolutionary Vehicle, a tall box that existed in the noughties.

    Honda Vezel world debut at Tokyo 2013

  • Hyundai Tucson facelift 2.0 manual spotted at JPJ!


    We couldn’t really believe our eyes when we saw this. Anol Alias has sent in these shots of a facelifted Hyundai Tucson 2.0 with a six-speed manual gearbox sitting in the JPJ car park.

    As it doesn’t have MS Design front and rear skid plates nor LED tail lamps (2.4 Executive Plus only), this should be an Elegance-spec car. The wheels look smaller than the 17s we currently get, and there’s no AWD badge on the tailgate.

    A peek inside reveals manual air-con, no keyless start and the basic audio system (AVN system for Executive Plus variants only) – consistent with the Elegance trim. Except the seats here are fabric.


    The row of driver’s side buttons (ESP off, hill descent, centre diff lock, instrument panel brightness) are blank. And of course, who could miss the do-it-yourself gear lever and clutch pedal?

    Our current 2.0 Elegance six-speed auto doesn’t come with VSM or ESP, and has only two airbags. With a blank ‘ESP button row‘, we have little hope in that field, but would it be too much to wish for more than a pair of airbags in this manual variant?

    The golden question is this: is Hyundai-Sime Darby seriously thinking of bringing this manual SUV to market? And if jadi, how much cheaper would it be than the RM133k asked for the 2.0 Elegance auto?


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