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  • Russell Carr to head Lotus design; Donato Coco out

    Group Lotus has just appointed Russell Carr as its new head of design, replacing the outbound Donato Coco (best known for designing the ill-fated five Lotus concepts). Carr isn’t new to the company, of course, as he had held the same position long ago before ex-CEO Dany Bahar brought in Coco, his old colleague from Ferrari.

    The main hand behind the Lotus Evora (pictured above), Carr has been in the Lotus family since 1990. Under the leadership of new CEO Jean-Marc Gales, the Briton will likely oversee a major update for the ageing Evora as well as the planned Lotus SUV and sedan, which could share tech with Proton.

    Recently, the Malaysian-owned company hired former Kia Europe executive Jean-Charles Lievens to develop the brand’s sales network in Europe and ex-Millbrook Proving Ground boss Miguel Fragoso as engineering director. The plan is to turn Lotus into a “leaner, more competitive organisation,” as part of its latest restructuring programme.

  • Petrol subsidy to be distributed via MyKad, ‘low income group’ to enjoy current price – Ahmad Maslan

    Fuel_station_ 002

    The days of subsidised petrol are coming to an end, for certain sections of society. The government’s ongoing petrol subsidy rationalisation programme is currently under study and the implementation will involve the MyKad, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan told reporters today.

    Those belonging to the ‘high-income group’ will have to pay the full market price for RON 95 petrol – RM2.58 per litre at current prices. However, individuals classified under the ‘low-income group’ will continue to fill their tanks at the current subsidised rate of RM2.30 per litre. This dual-pricing will start in June 2015.

    “For the middle class, some will still enjoy the subsidised rate,” the minister said, adding that it did not make sense for those driving luxury cars to enjoy 75 litres of subsidised petrol for each refill, versus 7.5 litres for the low-income group. He meant to draw comparison between the tank size of a big SUV/luxury sedan with a motorcycle, but did not elaborate what constitutes high-income, low-income or middle class.

    Petrol_Subsidy_Sept_ 001

    Since targeted subsidies will be directed to sections of the rakyat via MyKad, we can safely assume that our identity cards will in the future not just show who we are, where we live and how we look like, but will incorporate data from Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) showing how much we earn as well.

    Earlier this month, the price of RON 95 petrol went up by 20 sen to RM2.30 per litre. Diesel also saw the same quantum of increase, from RM2.00 to RM2.20 per litre. The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs said then (October 2) that the actual market price was RM2.58 per litre for RON 95 and RM2.52 for diesel. This means that the current subsidy rate is 28 sen per litre for petrol and 32 sen for diesel.

    In Budget 2015, tabled on October 10, PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that RON 95, diesel and LPG will be exempted from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that will come into effect in April 2015.

  • Hyundai Genesis gets highest score ever by ANCAP


    The Hyundai Genesis has achieved the highest score in the 21-year history of the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). The flagship sedan scored 36.88 points out of a possible 37, along with a maximum five-star safety rating.

    The demanding assessment includes a 64 km/h frontal offset test and a 50 km/h side impact test, along with a 29 km/h pole test, a whiplash test simulating a 32 km/h rear-end crash, and a 40 km/h pedestrian impact protection test. A minimum number of active safety assist technologies is also required.

    The Genesis’ tally of 36.88 points includes a frontal offset score of 15.88 out of 16 and a side impact protection score of 16 out of 16. The Hyundai also scored 2 out of 2 in the pole test and a whiplash protection test rating of ‘good’.

    The Genesis DH will be launched in Australia next month. It will include standard safety features such as adaptive cruise control, ABS + EBD, ESC, automatic emergency braking, emergency stop signal, lane support system, pre-safe systems, reversing collision avoidance, tyre pressure monitoring system, active lift (pop-up) bonnet and nine airbags.

    The big rear-wheel drive sedan was recently previewed in Malaysia, hinting at an intention by Hyundai-Sime Darby to bring it in. The car on show had a 3.8 litre V6 Lambda engine with 315 PS and 397 Nm of torque, paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Very richly equipped, too. What do you think of a Korean 5 Series/E-Class contender?

    Hyundai Genesis previewed in Malaysia, August 2014

  • Toyota 86 to live on as next-gen version is confirmed


    Fans of the Toyota 86 have another reason to celebrate as a company exec has confirmed in a recent interview with that the second-generation has been given the thumbs up – even if the car isn’t exactly flying off the shelves.

    “We are pretty serious about keeping the GT 86 pure and keeping a car like that in our line-up. Because in the past we dropped cars like the Celicas and fun cars, and we don’t want to lose that again,” said Karl Schlicht, executive vice president of Toyota Europe.


    The Toyota 86 was unveiled in 2011 and was launched locally in June the following year. Upon its initial release, the car garnered worldwide attention and positive feedback for being fun to drive – we got to try the car ourselves, as well as being priced decently.

    Despite all this going on, things are looking rather drab over at camp Subaru – who co-developed the 86, and its BRZ model. The Toyota 86 has managed to outsell its Subaru BRZ cousin worldwide and there is no confirmation that the new car will be built with Subaru’s involvement.

    Toyota 86

    Subaru BRZ

  • Nissan teases mystery compact SUV, Brazilian debut


    Nissan has teased the public with shots of a mystery compact SUV, which is set for a public debut at the 2014 Sao Paulo motor show. The mystery shot serves as a precursor to the production model, which should see the light of day sometime in the near future – possibly 2015.

    No technical details are available but we brightened up the shots, and from what we can gather, the images show a vehicle with dimensions more or less comparable to those of B-segment SUVs such as the Ford EcoSport and Peugeot 2008.


    A rather dominant front grille is also shown, along with a contrasting colour for the roof, which appears ‘floating’ thanks to blacked-out pillars. The shoulder line kicks up rather abruptly at the rear, and LED headlamps appear to feature, too.

    Whatever it may turn out to be, the mystery compact SUV will be revealed by the end of the month. Fingers are firmly crossed for a competitor to the EcoSport, 2008 and perhaps even Honda’s soon to be launched HR-V/Vezel.

  • Takata to be prosecuted in the US over exploding airbags, owners urged to fix affected cars immediately

    Public prosecutors in the United States are targeting Japanese automotive parts supplier Takata Corp, which is suspected to have misled US regulators regarding its airbags. The company’s defective safety components have been a centre of series of massive worldwide recalls over the past few years, and Takata has been accused of hiding the true number of cars affected.

    These recalls are all related to a single part – the passenger airbag inflator, which has been improperly manufactured. In a crash, the inflator could rupture, which, in extreme cases, can even cause metal shards from the airbag casing to be sprayed at the occupants, potentially maiming or killing them.

    The ongoing saga reached new heights this month after it emerged that Hien Tran from Orlando, Florida was killed when the airbag in her Honda Accord exploded in an accident, sending shrapnel into her neck. Tran is at least the third person to have died from the defective airbag inflator implicated in the recalls, which has also caused several injuries.

    Following the incident, Toyota expanded its recall on Monday to include 247,000 units of the Corolla, Matrix, Tundra and Sequoia as well as the Lexus SC in humid regions in the US, while the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued an urgent alert for the 7.8 million owners of cars involved in the recalls in the US, urging them to get their cars fixed immediately. In all, around 14 million cars have been recalled worldwide so far by Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, BMW, Chrysler and General Motors.

    Closer to home, UMW Toyota has recalled 18,700 units of the 2000-2003 Camry and Corolla Altis, Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) recalled four units of the CBU first-generation Nissan X-Trail, while Honda Malaysia recalled the 2001-2003 Stream, 2002-2003 Jazz, 2003 City and 2003 Accord. If you own any of the cars affected, it is imperative to send them in to be repaired as soon as possible, and to stay away from the front passenger seat until the issue has been resolved.

  • Hyundai Santa Fe gets updated for 2015 in the US – improved steering and suspension, power tailgate


    The immensely-practical Hyundai Santa Fe has gained a few enhancements for 2015 in the US, chief among which is the addition of a new 32-bit microprocessor to the electric power steering system that claims to offer more feel.

    Suspension improvements as well – the front suspension features stiffer wheel bearings and lower control arm bushings, while the rear gets revised geometry and bushings. The result is an increase in overall lateral stiffness, improving handling.

    Daytime running lights, a driver’s blind spot mirror and an auto front passenger power window now come as standard, and optional is a Hands-Free Smart Liftgate with Auto Open – with the key in your pocket, wait within a few feet of the rear bumper and the tailgate opens automatically.

    New also are two colours – Sparkling Silver and Platinum Graphite – and the Santa Fe Sport (that’s the standard-wheelbase five-seater) gets a two-tone grille that “emphasises its sportier personality,” as well as mildly-restyled fog lamps.


    No powertrain changes – the standard-wheelbase Santa Fe Sport is powered by a 190 hp 2.4 litre four-cylinder or a 264 hp 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo. The long-wheelbase Santa Fe hides a 290 hp 3.3 litre V6 under its bonnet. A six-speed auto is standard fare.

    The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe continues to be offered in front- or all-wheel drive, standard- or long-wheelbase and five-, six- or seven-seat versions. Prices start from US$24,950 (RM81,560), excluding US$875 (RM2,860) freight charge.

    Our trusty Euro spies have spotted the Santa Fe facelift undergoing testing – we’re expecting that to surface next year. The current third-gen DM has served us well – read our review of the 2.2 litre turbodiesel-engined car, or turn back the clock with our comprehensive local launch report.

  • Asia Klasika Motor Festival – classics take centrestage


    The Asia Klasika show is back for the fifth time to showcase the finest of vintage, classic and contemporary supercars from the region. This year’s event will be held at Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel from October 31 to November 2.

    Now called Asia Klasika Motor Festival to reflect the “transformation of the show from a historic-car based festival to a full-fledged motor festival,” the event includes the Malaysia International Vintage & Classic Concours and aims to be South-East Asia’s version of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (California, USA) and Salon Privé London.

    “Malaysia proves to be one of the most conducive locations in Asia for an internationally-styled car show as the country is rich in its motoring culture, transportation infrastructure and people friendly tropical climate. It is our desire to place Malaysia on the world map of exotic motor events,” said Andrew Suresh, curator of Asia Klasika.

    Suresh was a nominee and the only Asian shortlisted for the Personal Achievement of the Year Award at the inaugural International Historic Motoring Awards in the UK in 2011, for his efforts in pioneering heritage based motoring events in Asia.

    As usual, a major highlight of the show will be the showcase of fine automobiles from the “Royal Johor Automobile Collection” courtesy of the event’s royal patron, HRH Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar. The Sultan of Johor will also personally present the Sultan Ibrahim Cup to the cream of the crop of the region’s historic cars.


    Additional components making their debut this year are Rally Klasika – a Tour d’ Elegance of Putrajaya, Super Marques Asia – a supercar “show and shine” competition and the self-explanatory Retro Japan.

    Another feature is “The Pullman Sale”, a private treaty sales-show brought to you by Kuala Lumpur & Temasek Classic Automobiles. Here, collector car shoppers can feast their eyes on a range of newly imported classic cars from UK, Australia and Japan valued at an estimated RM5 million collectively.

    If you love cars and haven’t been to Asia Klasika before, this is your chance to catch a glimpse of achingly gorgeous classics and rare specimens of fabled cars. Check out the beauties from 2012 and 2013 for an idea of what to expect.

    Asia Klasika 2013

  • RENDERED: Proton Exora facelift with Iriz-like styling

    Proton_Exora_Facelift_rendered_1Click to enlarge.

    Design whiz Theophilus Chin has rendered his take on a Proton Exora facelift, using elements of the local carmaker’s latest Iriz hatchback. Yes, Proton has already facelifted its MPV once – the Exora Bold – but it’s likely that the seven-seater will be updated again in the future to keep it looking fresh while a proper second-generation model is being developed. This is what the new facelift could look like.

    Up front, Theo has planted an Iriz-like face to the Exora. The new projector headlamps, while keeping a similar general shape as before, features a protrusion into the grille to match the latest “Proton Wings” design. The downturned lower intake is taken straight from the Iriz too, while the lip garnish and NEXLIDE electroluminescent light strips mirror those on the Iriz Active concept.

    Proton_Exora_Facelift_rendered_2Click to enlarge.

    Changes to the back are more liberal, with a set of horizontally-mounted taillights replacing the original car’s vertical units. The rear windows now wrap around the D-pillars, and the entire tailgate is swapped for one with a nice connecting element to match the existing swage lines on the sides of the car. Quite a nice touch, don’t you think?

    Interestingly enough, the renders have ditched the Exora Bold’s sporty side skirts. In its place are black plastic strips that run all around the vehicle, including the wheelarches, to give it a pseudo-crossover look. Much-needed improvements to its interior build quality aside, what do you think of this new look for the Proton Exora?

    Proton Exora Bold

  • Ducati Testastretta DVT – first motorcycle engine with VVT thanks to Volkswagen technology

    Ducati Testastretta DVT

    It seems we are starting to see the fruits of Audi’s purchase of Ducati, both for the Italian motorcycle company and for the Volkswagen Group as a whole. Last month, the Volkswagen XL Sport was shown, featuring a 200 hp V-twin engine off the Ducati 1199 Superleggera. Now Ducati has released details of its new engine, the Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing) that borrows technology from the German manufacturer.

    We’re all familiar with variable valve timing in cars, but Ducati’s system is claimed to be the first for a bike engine. DVT utilises dual continuous cam phasing, using hydraulically-operated pulleys to alter the angle of both intake and exhaust camshafts. This shifts the opening and closing of the desmodromic valves back and forth, rather than the actual duration of the valve opening as with a “true” VVT system.

    Ducati says the benefit of DVT is to allow the variation of valve overlap (i.e. when both valves are open at the same time) – zero overlap will ensure that the engine runs as smoothly as possible at lower revs, while maximum overlap gives the mill greater power and an aggressive character when fully extended.

    The result is a 1.2 litre two-cylinder engine that produces 158 hp at 9,600 rpm and 136 Nm at 7,500 rpm, 10 hp and 11 Nm more than the regular Testastretta engine in the current Multistrada 1200 touring bike, while using around 8% less fuel. The engine also meets Euro 4 emissions regulations, a step up from the older mill’s Euro 3 specification.

    The Testastretta DVT will be making its debut at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan next month, and is rumoured to make its way onto the next Ducati Multistrada, expected to go on sale next year.


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