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  • DRIVEN: Audi A3 Sedan 1.4 TFSI and 1.8 TFSI quattro – proof that the best things come in small packages?


    Here it is then, the new Audi A3 Sedan – an Audi for the masses. Well, not exactly for everyone, but it’s a proper Audi built to compete in the junior levels of the executive sedan ranks. That’s a first for Ingolstadt. This car is massively important in Malaysia, especially, where we don’t get the three- or five-door A3 hatchbacks, and the A1 is just too small to be of any relevance.

    We’d be hardly spoiling the rest of this review by pointing out the blindingly obvious, that the A3 Sedan pair (1.4 TFSI and 1.8 TFSI quattro) is very impressive (we’ve made that clear in our last episode of Driven Web Series, anyway). But so is the BMW 3 Series range. Niggling quality and warranty issues aside, the F30 is a cracking car, no matter what variant you choose. But perversely, the Bimmer’s ability is also its biggest weakness. After all, every half-successful bugger around seems to be driving one.

    Surely, given a choice, there are plenty of people looking for something a bit different. With the larger and fast ageing A4 missing the mark, this A3 Sedan looks set to shine. Happily, the new model is not just relying on the cachet of that Audi badge alone. Volkswagen Golf-base or not, these two can each hold its own in the premium class. Time to find out if they hold all the best cards, then.

    Click here for the full review and gallery.

  • 2015 Volvo XC90 coming to Malaysia in August 2015 – high local specs, 400 hp T8 plug-in hybrid considered

    Volvo XC90 First Edition 03

    Volvo Car Malaysia (VCM) held a special product presentation regarding the recently revealed 2015 Volvo XC90 earlier today, during which managing director Keith Schafer announced that the long-awaited second-generation seven-seater SUV is slated to arrive on Malaysian shores in August 2015.

    The company is aiming to bring in the new XC90 as a fully-imported model – production in Sweden is expected to begin in February – before starting local assembly. While VCM currently assembles the outgoing car at its Shah Alam plant, adapting the factory to build vehicles based on Volvo’s new and complex Scalable Product Architecture (on which the new XC90 is based) is expected to take some time, with the first CKD models expected only in 2016.


    VCM is also looking to provide high levels of equipment for local models, and all three 2.0 litre four-cylinder Drive-E petrol powertrains are being considered. These are the 254 hp, 350 Nm turbocharged T5, the 320 hp, 400 Nm supercharged and turbocharged T6 as well as the range-topping “Twin Engine” T8 supercharged and turbocharged plug-in hybrid that produces a combined output of 400 hp and 640 Nm.

    The hybrid is an interesting proposition, as there are currently duty exemptions for hybrids that are locally assembled. This policy will expire at the end of 2015, however, which is some time before CKD production of the new XC90 is set to begin. Perhaps the Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) incentives indicated in the 2014 National Automotive Policy (NAP) will help VCM price a CKD T8 hybrid attractively, as Mercedes-Benz has recently done with the S 400 L Hybrid.

  • Full-ETC at PLUS Batu Tiga, Sg Rasau tolls postponed


    Full-electronic toll collection (ETC) at PLUS Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau toll plazas, supposed to happen this Monday, September 1, is on hold until a later date, according to a statement by Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia (LLM).

    The postponement, instructed to PLUS by the Ministry of Works, is to give motorists passing through the two toll plazas more time to purchase SmartTAG, PLUSMiles or Touch ‘n Go cards before full electronic payment takes place, the statement said.

  • Test drive a Peugeot to win a Peugeot RCZ coupe!


    We’re pretty sure not many would mind a Peugeot RCZ in their porch. Nasim’s Drive 2 Win contest is offering a chance to win one in Rouge Red, and you don’t even need to buy anything to be in the running!

    To participate, visit a Peugeot showroom and test drive any Peugeot model. Once done, fill up the contest entry form and deposit it into the showroom’s contest box. One test drive, one entry. Those who register a new Peugeot will be given five entries for a bigger chance to win something.

    Grand prize aside, the contest is broken into six series’ lasting two weeks each. There will be three winners for each series. Bi-weekly series winners stand to take home a Sony Xperia Z2, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2, Macbook Air and shopping vouchers worth RM500.

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    In addition, Peugeot Cruisers will handing out freebies across the country. Hotspots include TTDI, Ara Damansara, Desa Parkcity, Setia Alam, Subang Jaya, PJ State and Jaya One. Outside the Klang Valley, they will head to Bandar Baru Uda and South City Mall, Setia Tropika in JB and Georgetown and Batu Feringghi in Penang. Follow Peugeot Malaysia’s Facebook page for locations.

    The Peugeot Drive 2 Win contest started on August 15 and will end on October 31. Read our review of the Peugeot RCZ to whet your appetite. Good luck!

  • Aston Martin Lagonda first pics: from Oman with love


    Oman Air has announced its partnership with Aston Martin to transport the British carmaker’s yet-to-be-launched Lagonda super-luxury saloon to Muscat for hot-weather testing – and revealed pictures of the pre-production car in the process.

    Like William Towns’ controversial 1976 car, the new Aston Martin Lagonda features slim headlamps that are ‘connected’ to the front grille – although obviously interpreted in a much less angular way here. The thick C-pillars and sweep-up lower rear overhang are also clear nods to the old car.

    The new Aston Martin Lagonda is set to begin series production in very limited numbers next year – exclusively for the Middle East. It’ll be offered for sale by invitation only, and the asking price will be commensurate with the model’s exclusivity, quality and luxury.

    The work of Aston’s special ‘Q’ division (which also gave us the CC100 Speedster, V12 Zagato and One-77), the Lagonda is based on the VH platform that’s used by the Rapide saloon. Power is speculated to come from the Rapide S’ 6.0 litre V12, which develops 558 PS and 620 Nm of torque.

  • 2015 Kia Sorento unveiled in South Korea – more pics!


    The third-gen 2015 Kia Sorento, official photos of which surfaced recently, has been unveiled in South Korea, ahead of a scheduled global premiere in Paris in October. Lots of pics to go along with it, revealing the new SUV’s interior and equipment.

    UPDATE: More technical information from European release added.

    Standing 4,780 mm long (+95 from before), 1,890 mm wide (+5) and 1,685 mm tall (-15), with a 2,780 mm wheelbase (+80), the “Man on the Road” has a huge ‘Tiger Nose’ grille with a 3D diamond pattern up front that flows neatly into xenon projector headlamps with LED DRL ‘eyebrows’.

    Repositioned seat cushions result in more headroom, despite the lower roofline, while boot volume is up by a significant 90 litres to 605 litres. There’s now also an underfloor storage compartment.


    Inside, there’s a three-spoke steering wheel (like the one on the Optima facelift, minus the flat bottom) trimmed in wood and leather, quite a bit of chrome and side air vents that ‘poke out‘ from the dashboard. Manual single-zone and auto dual-zone air-con are available.

    Five- and seven-seat versions will be available worldwide; the seven-seater gets ‘remote folding’ second-row seats (you can fold the second row using levers in the boot area). The second row is split 40:20:40.

    Torsional rigidity is up 14%, thanks to more ultra-high tensile steel in the body. There’s also more soundproofing in the transmission tunnel and dashboard, and larger engine and transmission mounts. Plus, diesel engines get a new particulate filter cover and an acoustic shield integrated into the timing chain cover. The result? Three to six percent lower cabin noise, says Kia.

    Also, a new electric motor-driven power steering system (R-MDPS) is mounted on the rack instead of the column where it was before. Kia claims greater steering feel and quicker response.

    We see two distinct instrument panel layouts here: rev counter/TFT screen/speedo, and rev counter/speedo with integrated TFT (looks bigger here, and in colour too)/fuel gauge and engine temperature.

    Options include ventilated (front only) and heated seats, a heated steering wheel, JBL sound, GPS infotainment and a panoramic sunroof. We also see three alloy designs (one 18, two 19s), two-memory-setting seats with adjustable lumbar, an electronic centre diff lock, a powered tailgate, Drive Mode, Around View Monitor with four cameras and rear air-con with eight selectable fan speeds.

    Safety? There’s Adaptive Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Front Collision Warning, Blind-Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Speed Limit Information Function and Around View Monitor with four cameras.

    In South Korea, the 2015 Kia Sorento will be powered by 186 PS/402 Nm 2.0 litre and 202 PS/441 Nm 2.2 litre engines, both four-cylinder diesels. Other announced engines are a 2.4 litre GDI petrol, a 2.4 litre MPI petrol and a 3.3 litre MPI petrol. Europe will get the 2.2 diesel and 2.4 GDI petrol. All outputs range from 172 to 270 PS.

  • Lexus Ipoh – 7th outlet opens on Jalan Kuala Kangsar

    lexus ipoh 1

    Lexus Malaysia recently opened its seventh outlet in Malaysia. Lexus Ipoh is located along Jalan Kuala Kangsar in Perak’s capital city. It comes after outlets in Mutiara Damansara, KL, Sungai Besi, Penang, Johor and Kuching. Lexus Malacca will join the network in the final quarter of 2014.

    Lexus Ipoh is operated by Telagamas Motors, a successful Toyota/Lexus dealer with Lexus Penang and two Toyota dealerships in Kulim and Tanjung Malim under its stable. The company invested over RM15 million into the setting up of this new facility.

    Lexus Ipoh is a double-story building built on a 30,000 sq ft land. The showroom can display four cars and the service centre has four service bays, all handled by 16 personnel. There’s also a roof top stockyard.

    “The Lexus Customer Experience is legendary and incorporates the art of Japanese hospitality. It starts when you visit the Lexus showroom for the first time, and continues at every step of the way after you purchase your first Lexus. To us, it’s more than meeting your needs and desires – it’s anticipating them. That way, you are always at the center of the experience, just like you would be, as a guest in our home,” said Datuk Ismet Suki, president of UMW Toyota Motor.

    Lexus Malaysia has sold more than 6,500 cars in Malaysia and aims to shift over 1,400 units this year. With the termination of tax incentives for CBU hybrid cars, the Lexus ES is set to take over from the CT 200h as the biggest seller here. We’re expecting the new Lexus NX SUV to join the local stable next year.

  • 2015 Skoda Fabia dash revealed ahead of Paris debut


    A week after unveiling the exterior of the 2015 Skoda Fabia, the Czech manufacturer has now released a dashboard image of the new B-segment hatchback ahead of its debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.

    As with the exterior, the interior looks very much like newer Skoda models such as the Octavia and the Rapid, with sharp creases and a very sober control layout. Despite an 8 mm decrease in overall length, the company is touting an interior that is now 8 mm longer at 1,674 mm. There’s also 21 mm more elbow room at the front (1,401 mm) and 2 mm more at the back (1,386 mm).

    There’s more room for your luggage too – the boot has swelled by 15 litres to 330 litres – putting it firmly near the top of the class – while folding the rear seats increases that space to 1,150 litres. The rear access width is 1,098 mm, the loading area is 960 mm wide (20 mm wider than before) and the tailgate swings open to 1,915 mm, while a low sill height should make loading and unloading cargo that little bit easier.

    140828 New SKODA Fabia - Start of Production 001

    The new Fabia will also be the first Skoda to come with MirrorLink smartphone interoperability technology that allows you to control your phone’s media and apps such as navigation through the car’s Bolero infotainment system. Another feature, SmartGate, enables the transfer of vehicle information such as fuel consumption, average speed and journey costs to selected smartphone apps through WiFi.

    In addition, Skoda claims the Fabia contains up to 17 “Simply Clever” features depending on the specs. These include an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap, a dedicated cradle for a smartphone, multiple new storage compartments (including one for a high-visibility vest in the driver’s door, a dustbin, a parking ticket holder in the A-pillar, 500 ml bottle holders in the rear doors and a glovebox that can fit a one litre bottle.

    Production has already begun at the Mladá Boleslav factory in the Czech Republic – the first unit being the Race Blue example seen above – before reaching showrooms starting from November.

  • SPYSHOTS: Next-generation BMW 7 Series prototype gives us a peek at its new headlamp design


    We’ve seen prototypes of BMW’s next-generation flagship 7 Series sedan on test for a few months now, and sightings have increased in frequency. But today’s spyshots of the 7 Series prototype reveals something new – it’s now wearing the headlamps that will be used on the production car.

    A look at the design of the headlamp under the disguise reveals something interesting – the design of BMW’s signature ‘corona ring’ daytime running lights aren’t the typical U-shaped design. On these headlamps, we see that the inner “U” extends further towards the grille, giving it the appearance like a question mark lying on its side. The outline of the headlamps themselves look slimmer compared to the F01/F02 7 Series design.

    This is not the first time we’ve seen this headlamp design. BMW has been using this design on the past few concept cars that its been showcasing. Below you’ll see the same design featured on the BMW Vision Future Luxury concept, the BMW Concept X4 and the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe.

    Word is that the new 7 Series has undergone big weight reductions, with BMW focusing on integrating key learnings from the BMW i project to its regular series cars.

    The chassis – said to be codenamed ’5up’, is supposed to allow the 7 Series to compete with lighter cars like the Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ when it comes to kerb weight.

    Thanks to the use of aluminium, magnesium and carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), the new 7 Series is said to be up to 200 kg lighter than its predecessor. But of course, we can’t see any of that in these spyshots.

  • ETC to begin at PLUS Batu Tiga, Sg Rasau tolls Sept 1

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    As earlier reported, all-electronic toll collection (ETC) is set to begin at PLUS Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau toll plazas (on Federal Highway Route 2) from September 1 at 6.00 am. Only SmartTAG, PLUSMiles card and Touch ‘n Go card transactions will be accepted – no cash.

    At a media briefing held recently, PLUS MD Datuk Noorizah Abdul Hamid explained that should motorists require printed receipts (for claims purposes), they will be provided on the spot at the two leftmost booths at both toll plazas, in both directions. Transaction statements may also be printed out through e-Penyata.

    PLUS has opened up drive-through counters at the two toll plazas. Open 24 hours beginning September 1, motorists may purchase and reload PLUSMiles and Touch ‘n Go cards at these counters, without getting out of their cars.

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    Also, Customer Service Centres (Pusat Khidmat Pelanggan) at the two locations will be open daily between 7 am and 10 pm.

    As incentives to migrate to cards, PLUS is offering RM5 preloaded PLUSMiles cards at a promotional rate of RM5 (so essentially the card itself is free) until November 30. Also, SmartTAGs will be offered at a promotional price of RM99 (provided you top-up RM30) until September 30.

    That’s not all – a 30% toll rebate will be offered to Class 1 users who pay electronically during off-peak hours (10 am-4 pm, 10pm-6 am) at both toll plazas between September 1 and December 31.

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    The rationale behind the move to all-ETC is quite clear – the objective is to reduce toll plaza congestion by quickening the process of paying toll, thereby bypassing land constraints where toll plaza widening is concerned. It will also, of course, save a bit of fuel for motorists in the long run, since you don’t have to slow down, stop, and move off again.

    The long-term aim is to increase the number of electronic transactions from 44 per capita in 2010 to 200 by 2020. The switch to electronic transaction will also, PLUS says, save 1% on the country’s gross domestic product.

    Additionally, for 2020, PLUS is targeting 100% ETC at all its toll plazas nationwide, with a possible gateless gantry toll collection system (like Singapore’s overhead Electronic Road Pricing gantries) where cars may simply drive through and be charged electronically, without the need for slowing down.

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    Why Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau? Well, apart from being heavily congested, over 70% of transactions at the two toll plazas already are through SmartTAG, PLUSMiles or Touch ‘n Go cards, says PLUS.

    All-ETC systems are already in place at Perling on the Secondlink Highway (January 2014), Kempas on the NSE (January 2014), Lima Kedai on Linkedua (July 2010), Tanjung Kupang on Linkedua (September 2009) and the Sultan Iskandar Building, CIQ (December 2008).


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