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  • Subaru Forester tS by STI unveiled for JDM market


    Now this is what we would call a proper performance SUV. Subaru, or rather Subaru Tecnica International (STI), has just unveiled the Forester tS. Now before we can announce we have a legitimate reason to buy a SUV, let it be known that the Subaru Forester tS is only available for the Japanese domestic market (JDM).

    Set to go on sale at Subaru dealerships in Nippon-land on November 25, the limited edition Forester tS will only be available in a total production run of 300 units. Looking very much like a Forester on steroids, it features a bold, blackened grille complete with STI badging and signature cherry red striping.


    Further aesthetic enhancements include silver highlights around the fog light surrounds and a redesigned rear bumper. A black roof spoiler, door mirrors and window frames further provide a tasteful contrast. Wheels are BBS-sourced, 19-inch forged aluminium wheels wrapped in 245/45 Bridgestone Turanza ER33 tyres.

    A turbocharged, 2.0 litre flat-four with a custom engine control unit (ECU) by STI ensures a healthy output of 280 hp and 350 Nm of torque. Transferring all that power is a Lineartronic CVT transmission with an exclusively-tuned transmission control unit (TCU) to Subaru’s trademark all-wheel drive system.

    Retardation comes courtesy of STI-badged four-pot calipers in front and two-pot calipers at the rear, clamping on ventilated discs at all four corners. The suspension layout is an inverted-strut format with a 15 mm reduction in height. A tower bar and draw stiffeners – front and back – increases chassis rigidity.

    Stepping inside, one is greeted by a set of sport seats which feature a combination of leather and Ultrasuede. A new instrument cluster along with a redesigned multifunction display and STI-themed gear knob are presented. An STI-specific steering wheel, ignition button and side sills complete the upgrades inside.

    Additional safety measures include Subaru’s EyeSight technology which packs adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and an autonomous braking system via cameras mounted in the rear-view mirror. A retuned vehicle dynamics control (VDC) system further expands the Forester’s safety net.

    The Subaru Forester tS is available in four colours – WR Blue Mica, Crystal White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic and Crystal Black Silica. It costs 4,350,000 yen (RM123,792.67) and is available for order up until April 5 2015 for all colours except WR Blue Mica, which has to be ordered prior to February 8 2015.

  • Chevrolet Volt second-gen teased ahead of Detroit


    The second-gen Chevrolet Volt has been officially teased on Twitter ahead of its Detroit show debut in January. Garang face, isn’t it? Just like the original Volt, the front grilles are covered to improve aerodynamics – although you can see small openings at the bottom of each intake.

    Great things are expected of the new Volt – a higher electric range, a lighter Voltec powertrain and a new interior. A 13 kg-lighter and more efficient battery pack, developed with LG Chem, should yield a 20% jump in storage capacity. The number of cells have been cut from 288 to 192, and they’re positioned lower in the pack for a better centre of gravity.

    The four-cylinder petrol engine now displaces 1.5 litres instead of 1.4 litres, and features direct injection, a 12.5 compression ratio, cooled exhaust gas recirculation and a variable displacement oil pump.

    GM has always called it the range extender (meaning it is just used to charge the batteries) but according to some reports, in very specific situations, the original Volt’s petrol engine can mechanically assist the electric motor at high speeds.

    Although the likelihood of this happening is very low (80% of all trips are completed without the range extender starting up, Chevy says), in the strictest sense, this makes the first-gen Volt a plug-in hybrid and not a range-extended electric vehicle.

    Does it dampen our excitement for the full unveiling of the sequel, though? Not one bit.

  • The Great Nissan Buy 1 Win 1 campaign – Round 2

    ETCM Nissan Range

    The first round of Edaran Tan Chong Motor’s (ETCM) ‘The Great Nissan Buy 1 Win 1’ campaign concluded recently with the announcement of six customers winning Nissan cars worth more than RM888,888. The campaign was held in conjunction with Tan Chong’s 57th anniversary and the nation’s 57th year of independence.

    The lucky winners are Raziff Suhairi bin Shabaan (bought a Teana 2.5XV, won a Serena S-Hybrid), Kelvin Ong Wei Chong (bought an Almera, won a Sylphy 1.8E), Aidasuzana bt Md Arshad (Grand Livina 1.6L, Serena S-Hybrid), Arnizah bt Kasbulah (Sylphy 1.8VL, Teana 2.0XE), On Keur Li (Serena S-Hybrid, Teana 2.5XV) and Luhat Jok, who bought a Navara and won a Sylphy 1.8E.


    ETCM says that due to overwhelming response, there will be a Round 2 of the campaign. It’s already underway and will go on till December 31. Five customers who buy a new Nissan car will drive home with two of them, with prizes worth over RM600k up for grabs. Eligible models and the offered prizes are listed above. Good luck!

  • MITI to provide details on energy efficient vehicle firms

    Datuk_Mustapa 001

    The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is set to provide details of an upcoming review of the 2014 National Automotive Policy, along with information on a number of companies who have established facilities for energy efficient vehicles (EEV) in Malaysia, come January next year, The Star reports.

    “Next mid-January, I am going to have a stock take on the NAP. The NAP is one year old and there has been some progress and we will share more details of what has been happening in the next briefing,” the English-language daily quoted MITI minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed as saying. He was signing five memoranda of understanding (MoU) with corporations for the vendor development programme.

    Mustapa also voiced his concerns regarding the drop in performance where the export of locally-made vehicles is concerned. Talking to The Star, he commented that the local auto and parts manufacturers “have not done well at all” compared to firms that have pursued business cases abroad.

    Citing export numbers as an indicator for the industry’s performance, Mustapa noted that Malaysian auto makers and its affiliates face stiff competition from more established international players, along with China. “One day we have to face competition coming from China. China will be an important player in the next few years,” he added.

    Carmakers that have either established EEV facilities in Malaysia, have been given an EEV manufacturing licence or produce vehicles that have been granted EEV status so far include Perodua (for the Axia), Great Wall (for the M4 and H6) and Mazda (for SkyActiv cars).

    The W222 Mercedes-Benz S 400 L Hybrid‘s case is unrelated to the EEV programme. Being a locally-assembled (CKD) hybrid, that gets full duty exemptions. NAP 2014 stipulates that as long as a hybrid is produced in Malaysia (like the Honda Jazz Hybrid and Nissan Serena S-Hybrid), it is eligible for full import and excise duty exemption until the end of 2015 – regardless of the size of its internal combustion engine (or its fuel efficiency!).


    Under NAP 2014’s EEV programme, “customised incentives” – including lower taxes, grants and others – are given to carmakers who are interested to participate. In its simplest form, the EEV is defined as a vehicle that meets a set fuel consumption figure for its kerb weight, regardless of its method of propulsion or engine displacement (see table here).

    If a carmaker builds its EEV(s) locally and wishes to take advantage of the incentives, it has to apply for EEV certification from the government, much like Thailand’s Eco Car programme.

    However, unlike our northern neighbours’ scheme, we have no minimum investment or minimum annual production pre-requisites – but we also don’t know exactly how much carmakers get here in terms of incentives. Perhaps MITI will reveal more in January.

  • 2014 Super GT clean sweep for the Motul Autech GT-R

    2014 motul autech gtr

    Nismo’s factory-backed Motul Autech team secured the 2014 Super GT Championship at the series’ final race at Twin Ring Motegi recently, coming out tops in a one-point photo finish with Lexus Team KeePer Tom’s. Starting from pole, the driver pairing of Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli won the race and took home the GT500 Drivers Championship as well, making it a clean sweep for the red GT-R.

    It is Matsuda’s first Super GT title and it comes in his first year back with Nismo following an absence of seven years. For Italian Quintarelli, it’s his second taste of the championship. A sweet and impressive feat for both drivers and team, as they competed in 2014 with an all-new Nismo GT500 car.

    Motul has been a loyal partner of Nismo since 2003 and works closely with Nissan’s racing and tuning arm to constantly upgrade and improve the lubricant technology. The “Nismo Competition Oil by Motul” series, used by the Nissan GT-R in racing, is a result of this collaboration. The range is also available for GT-R owners via the Nismo parts catalogue.

    No Godzillas in the house, but we recently sampled Motul’s 300V Motorsport Line engine lubricant and found a positive difference – read more here.


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  • JPJ’s computerised systems go offline – all counter services suspended nationwide for the time being

    jpj system down

    The Road Transport Department (JPJ) has announced that its computerised systems have gone offline due to a technical disruption brought about by building works at and around its data centre located in Cyberjaya.

    The department – through a notice – said that as of 4.30 pm yesterday all counter services at all its offices and branches nationwide have been suspended because of this interruption.

    It added that applications through its online portal are also affected by this service disruption. No timeframe has been given as to when full services will resume.

  • Alfa Romeo to debut new compact exec in June 2015


    The long-awaited replacement for the Alfa Romeo 159 (pictured) is set to make its world debut next June, Automotive News Europe understands. Known internally as “Tipo 952″, the replacement was initially touted to receive the Giulia nameplate but is now expected to come with a different name.

    It is understood that the now defunct 159 was positioned against the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. With that said, the new car will be a tad bigger and is believed to slot in between the BMW 3 Series and the 5 Series. A Maserati-developed platform, dubbed Giorgio, will likely underpin Alfa Romeo’s new model.


    Said platform possesses a rear-wheel drive layout with optional AWD capability. Nothing solid has been mentioned in terms of engine options but it is presumed the new car will be offered with a range of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. A flagship GTA variant with added firepower is also likely.

    Along with the 159 replacement, the company is also bent on introducing a total of eight new models by 2018 as part of CEO Sergio Marchionne’s annual sales target of 400,000 units in 2018. Apart from the 159 replacement, Alfa Romeo is also set to introduce another flagship sedan along with an Audi Q5-rivaling SUV.

  • Infiniti Q60 concept to debut in January – “very, very close” to production model, says design director

    Q60 theo render 1

    Infiniti is all set to present the Q60 concept at the 2015 Detroit motor show in January. According to Infiniti’s design director, Alfonso Albaisa, the design exercise will be “very, very close to the next Q60.” The current Infiniti Q60 is essentially the old Infiniti G37 coupe in all but name.

    With a lack of teaser images concerning the car itself, questions are now being asked as to whether the new Infiniti Q60 will look like a radically different model from its sedan counterpart – the Q50 – or end up being presented as a Q50 with two fewer doors. Either way, expect the current design cue to take priority.

    Speaking to Motor Trend, Alfonso also confirmed that the initial design was not met with hostility from former Infiniti chief Johan de Nysschen, instead saying that the design process went smoothly between the team and de Nysschen.

    “When you have a transparent relationship with the big boss, nothing gets sent back because he’s never too far from the process – that was the benefit of working with him,” added Alfonso. With that said, it appears the Infiniti Q60 concept has gotten the thumbs up for production prior to de Nysschen’s departure.

    The new Infiniti Q60 will most likely arrive with the same drivetrain options as the Q50 sedan, including its rather controversial steer-by-wire system. If our prayers are answered, we could even be looking at a future BMW M4 competitor in the guise of a Q60 with the Eau Rouge-style treatment from the Q50.

    GALLERY: Infiniti Q50S 3.5 Hybrid

  • Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake unveiled

    Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 4MATIC Shooting Brake (X117) 2014

    Those who want a slinky, lithe Tristar but with a lot more practicality thrown in, here’s the ride you’ve been looking for. This is the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake, which tacks on a roof extension to the four-door “coupé” to offer more load-lugging capacity for the style-conscious.

    The little sibling to the CLS Shooting Brake appears pretty much as expected from the outside, with the curved, low-slung roofline and banana-shaped side glass area losing nothing of the regular CLA’s sex appeal. The CLA 45 AMG looks particularly delicious, with the usual hardened exterior addenda accentuated with a subtle roof spoiler. The drag coefficient figure is kept to an impressively low 0.26 Cd.

    To add an extra edge, buyers of AMG Line models with the Night package can also opt for the “OrangeArt Edition,” which adds orange accents to the lower air intake, rings around the bi-xenon headlight projectors, wheels, rear diffuser, seat upholstery and interior stitching. A bit retina-searing, if you ask us, but it certainly gives the car a polarising look that suits its extrovert persona.

    Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 Shooting Brake (X 117) 2014

    The interior also closely resembles that of the sedan, but with the inclusion of the newer C-Class-style steering wheel design and reworked fascia buttons taken from the recently-facelifted B-Class. While the Shooting Brake is only three millimetres taller than the regular CLA at 1,435 mm, rear headroom has actually been increased by four centimetres to 94.7 cm.

    Boot capacity has been upped from the standard car’s already-decent 470 litres to 495 litres, while putting the rear seats into the more upright “cargo” position boosts space to 595 litres. With those seats folded, the Shooting Brake can swallow 1,395 litres, loaded to the roof. Boot width is a class-leading 1,328 mm.

    Longer items like skis to be slotted in through a magnetic load-through flap in the rear seat backrest. A power-operated Easy-Pack tailgate is available as an option, as is a Load Compartment package that includes a collapsible box, a 12-volt power socket and an extra stowage net on the side of the load bay. The boot floor can also be lined with aluminium strips with anti-slip inlays.

    Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 4MATIC Shooting Brake (X117) 2014

    The same turbocharged engine choices remain – a 1.6 litre petrol in both 122 hp/200 Nm CLA 180 and 156 hp/250 Nm CLA 200 guises, a 2.0 litre petrol in the 211 hp/350 Nm CLA 250 (also available with 4Matic all-wheel drive), as well as a 2.2 litre diesel in 136 hp/300 Nm CLA 200 CDI and 177 hp/350 Nm CLA 220 CDI forms. A choice between a six-speed manual or a seven-speed 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission is available.

    Of course, there’s also the CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake, powered by a 2.0 litre turbo four that churns out 360 hp and 450 Nm, mated to a seven-speed AMG Speedshift DCT dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive. The 0-100 km/h sprint is done in 4.7 seconds, just 0.1 seconds slower than on the four-door, while top speed remains limited to 250 km/h.

    The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake will go on sale beginning in January next year, with deliveries scheduled to start in March. The CLA 45 AMG, on the other hand, will make its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, before sales begin that month itself.

    Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake

  • Mitsubishi Pajero facelift now in Malaysia – RM291,178


    Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia has introduced the Mitsubishi Pajero facelift in the country. This is the second time the fourth-gen SUV has been updated since its introduction in 2006, never mind that the car itself is a heavily-revised version of the third-gen model, which had been around since 1999.

    The updated seven-seater features a new full-length grille bordered by two large vertical chrome bars. The front bumper has also been reshaped and feature LED positioning lights. At the back, the spare tyre cover and rear number plate garnish have been redesigned.

    Enter the vehicle (via a redesigned key fob) and you are greeted by metallic trim on the central air vents and woodgrain on the passenger-side dashboard and steering wheel. New central touch-screen, too.

    A rear-seat entertainment system comprising a nine-inch display with two wireless headphones is now fitted as standard, along with leather seats, a powered driver’s seat and auto single-zone front air-con. Second- and third-row passengers get their own roof air vents, with independent control.

    Mechanicals? Status quo – a 3.8 litre MIVEC V6 sends 250 PS and 329 Nm of torque to all four wheels through Super Select 4WD and an INVECS-II five-speed auto with Sport Mode.

    The 4WD system features four selectable modes. The safety arsenal comprises six airbags and Mitsubishi Active Stability and Traction Control (M-ASTC).

    Fully-imported (CBU) from Japan, the Mitsubishi Pajero facelift is priced at RM291,178, OTR without insurance (no price change from the pre-facelift). A three-year/100,000 km warranty is offered, and Warm White Mica, Eiger Grey Metallic and Cool Silver Metallic colours are available.


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