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  • Karamjit Singh wins Malaysian Rally C’ship Rd2, Johor

    karamjit johor rally

    Karamjit Singh won Round 2 of the Malaysian Rally Championship in Johor last weekend. The victory was all the more special as his 2WD 1.6 litre Proton Satria Neo R3 Rally overcame 4WD turbocharged cars from Mitsubishi and Subaru. It was the first time a 2WD 1600 car has won the overall Malaysian Rally in the 10-year history of the MRC in Johor.

    The Flying Sikh dominated proceedings by winning nine of the 14 special stages of the rally, which ran over three days in Johor Bahru and Kota Tinggi. Known as one of the world’s toughest rally events, conditions were made worse by torrential rain turning the gravel trails into a slippery mudfest, causing many accidents.

    Karamjit won six out of eight stages in Leg 1, building a 1:45 lead over Chinese driver Fan Fan in an Evo X. 23-year old Proton R3 Team junior driver Kenneth Koh in the other Neo put in an inspired drive to climb up to fifth from last place after incurring a five minute penalty in the first stage. He later retired from fourth due to a broken driveshaft.

    Karamjit started where he left off by winning one of three stages in Leg 2. As the stages were drying out, Fan Fan clawed back three stage victories only to lose more time after a big spin. The leader went on to win two more stages to seal victory with a huge 2 minutes and 47 seconds lead.

    “I never drove so intense in a rally in a long time. It was very hard work. The Proton R3 team did a fantastic job and provided me with a car that was trouble-free and performed well even under challenging conditions,” he said. With a win each between Karamjit and Fan Fan, the championship is very open. The third round of the MRC will be held in Negeri Sembilan in October.

    The Malaysian Rally in Johor was also the fourth round of the 2014 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Indian driver Gaurav Gill won the APRC event in his Team MRF Skoda Fabia S2000. He beat Australian Mark Pedder (Evo) and China’s Jun Xu (Fabia S2000). With the win, Gill is back in the title race, and he now trails leader Jan Kopecky by just eight points.

    Watch Karamjit Singh in action in Driven Web Series, where he takes on our own (fake) Flying Sikh. Like in the rally, he took on, and beat, more powerful turbocharged machines handled by less skilled drivers :)

  • Mazda 2 MPS considered, to take on the Ford Fiesta ST


    Word has come that the folks over at Hiroshima are currently considering a hotter version of the new Mazda 2 Hatchback. The Mazda 2 MPS, as it would be called, could take on the recently-rejuvenated compact hot-hatch market, which is currently contested by the Ford Fiesta ST, Renault Clio RS 200, Peugeot 208 GTi and Volkswagen Polo GTI.

    Speaking to CarAdvice from Down Under, Mazda’s global sales and marketing general manager Yasuhiro Aoyama said more model variations could boost the 2’s competitiveness throughout its lifecycle, and that a sportier version (that is closer to the likes of the Fiesta ST than the Suzuki Swift Sport) is “definitely one of the considerations.”

    Looking at the stiff competition, the up-tuned Mazda 2 would need close to around 200 hp to have any chance to shine. That, then, brings up the question of what engine it could have. Mazda has so far gone against the force-inducted trend, focussing instead on lightweight high-compression, direct injection engines in recent models.

    Whatever the case, the thought of a hot-hatch-class Mazda 2 MPS (Mazda Hazumi Concept pictured above) should have all of us giddy with excitement. Let’s hope it happens sooner, rather than later.

    2015 Mazda 2 Hatchback

  • Chevrolet Malibu microsite up, register interest open


    Chevrolet Malaysia’s Malibu microsite is finally up, teasing the Korean-built D-segment sedan (along with its “Camaro-inspired tail lamps”). Registration of interest is now open. Could its Malaysian launch finally be around the corner?

    This has been a really long time coming – as early as January, a dealer flyer provided the first indication that the eighth-gen Chevrolet Malibu would be introduced in Malaysia, ahead of an ad in March promoting a 2.4 Ecotec with an indicative price of RM163k.

    Last month, we saw a black example at Naza Automall PJ, and a check with sales personnel yielded an estimated price of RM175k. Finally, earlier this month, Chevy Malaysia teased the car on Facebook.

    Underpinned by GM’s Epsilon II platform (Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, Buick Regal), our Malibu is likely to be powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.4 litre Ecotec four-cylinder engine that makes 165 hp and 225 Nm of torque. Drive should go to the front through a six-speed Shiftronic auto.

    The one we’re getting isn’t the latest version per se – the Malibu was facelifted in June 2013 with a more aggressive-looking front end; only two years after the eighth-gen car made its debut in Shanghai.

  • Skoda Fabia – official pics released ahead of debut

    Skoda Fabia-02

    Official images of the 2015 Skoda Fabia have surfaced ahead of its world debut at the Paris show. This comes after a teaser and our very revealing spyshots that left little to the imagination.

    Skoda’s latest B-segment hatchback is very angular in shape, with plenty of straight lines and sharp edges. The VW-owned brand says that this is the first time that elements from the Skoda VisionC concept have been used in a production car, although the squared-up look have been experimented on recent products like the Rapid, Octavia and Yeti.

    The VW Polo’s sister from another mother is nine cm wider and three cm lower than the supermini it replaces. Skoda says that the Fabia offers a “completely new, versatile interior” with individual options for customisation. No pics of the cabin were released though, so we’ll have to wait for it.

    Rumours are that the new Fabia will stick to the existing VW Group PQ25 platform – shared with the current Volkswagen Polo – instead of jumping on the modular MQB bandwagon like the Golf-sized Octavia. As usual, the Fabia will feature a range of Volkswagen engines and transmission, at lower prices of course.

  • Driven Web Series 2014 #6: Genting RM10 challenge – Fiesta EcoBoost vs Jazz Hybrid vs Mitsubishi Attrage

    So which engine technology saves more fuel – modern downsized turbo, hybrid or just plain lightweight? That’s what we’ll find out in this episode of Driven Web Series, powered by the new Petronas Primax95, with Advanced Energy Formula. The goal? Get to the top of Genting Highlands with just RM10 worth of fuel.

    Championing the downsized, forced-induction route is the new Ford Fiesta Ecoboost. It has a tiny 1.0 litre engine – voted the International Engine of the Year for three years running now, no less – and yet it boasts the biggest outputs here at 125 PS and 170 Nm. It’s also a Ford, so it’s quite a car to drive too, of course.

    Next up is the Honda Jazz Hybrid. Part internal combustion engine, part electric motor, hybrid technology is widely seen as the magic formula to save fuel. The electrified Jazz pairs an 88 hp/121 Nm 1.3 litre engine with a 14 hp/78 Nm electric motor. Problem is, all the complicated hardware comes at a price – heavy weight.

    And that’s where the Mitsubishi Attrage comes in. Nothing fancy here, just the plain old lightweight route, with a small 1.2 litre three-pot with just 79 hp and 106 Nm of torque, through a CVT transmission. While the other two blow way past the 1,000 kg mark, the Mitsu comes in at a flyweight 905 kg. Can simplicity trump complexity?

    So, Ford Fiesta EcoBoost vs Jazz Hybrid vs Mitsubishi Attrage. Which will it be, then? Watch the episode to find out :)

  • Lexus RC F is more expensive than the BMW M4 in UK


    The tyre-scorching Lexus RC F has just been priced in the UK, and guess what? It’s more expensive than the model it’s gunning for, the BMW M4 Coupe. The super Lexus range starts at £59,995 in Britain – a good £3,360 more than the base M4 – and tops out at £67,995 for the RC F Carbon (before options, that is).

    In the UK, the RC F includes full LED headlights, Brembo brakes, Sachs monotube dampers, an active rear spoiler and 19-inch forged alloys as standard, while the up-specced Carbon model adds a carbon-fibre roof, bonnet and rear spoiler, a torque-vectoring differential, Alcantara seats and a Mark Levinson audio system.

    This is no ordinary Lexus, of course, with a high-tech 5.0 litre V8 engine that makes 450 hp and 520 Nm of torque, paired to an eight-speed Sports Direct Shift automatic transmission. It gets to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds, on to a top speed of 270 km/h. The BMW M4 on the other hand (available in Malaysia for RM748,800), has a 431 hp/550 Nm turbo straight-six, 0-100 km/h time of 4.1 seconds and 250 km/h top speed.

    Now readers, what do you think of this – is Lexus having delusions of grandeur, or is the RC F good enough to fight off the much-favoured BMW M4 even with a price disadvantage? Your opinions below, please.

  • DRIVEN: Perodua Axia, first impressions of the EEV


    Perodua doesn’t launch cars very often, but when it does, it’s a big deal. The car of the moment is the Perodua Axia, an A-segment five-door hatchback that effectively replaces the seven-year old Viva as Malaysia’s cheapest set of wheels, although the Viva 850 will still be made. With four variants available from RM24,900, the Axia is set to be a hot seller and a familiar face.

    Two significantly different faces are on offer, the standard face for the E and G and an aggressive mug for the SE and Advance – one friendly, the other angry. No 660 and 850 this time, all Axias are powered by a 1.0 litre three-cylinder engine with 66 hp and 90 Nm. The 1KR-DE2 is mated to a five-speed manual (21.6 km/l NEDC combined cycle) and a four-speed auto (20.1 km/l). View the full spec breakdown and more info.

    Thanks to a media preview session this afternoon, we’ve seen and sampled the Axia in full production spec. With an embargo in place, we can’t show you pics from today’s event, but can share with you our first impressions of Malaysia’s first energy efficient vehicle (EEV). Three opinions, one agreement – the Axia is pretty impressive.

    Find out what we think here.

  • MRT Corp CEO resigns over RRI site incident

    mrt stesen

    Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRT Corp) has announced that its CEO Datuk Wira Azhar Abdul Hamid has resigned over the incident that occurred last night at the MRT worksite within the former Rubber Research Institute near Kota Damansara.

    “As the head of MRT Corp, I am taking personal responsibility for the incident and this is the correct thing to do. I have informed the chairman Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa of my decision,” he said. He added that MRT Corp and relevant authorities will investigate and identify the cause of the incident.

    A span of the MRT guideway had dislodged from its piers and fallen on the ground below at around 8:30pm yesterday. The span, which was made up of 14 units of segmented box girders, was 38m in length and weighed 300 tons.

    The bodies of three workers of Bangladesh nationality that was trapped underneath have been recovered. The recovery operation involved cutting eight tendons to loosen the 14 segmented box girders (SBGs) that are stressed together to form the fallen span.

    The project delivery partner MMC Gamuda KVMRT (PDP) have commenced investigations to find out the cause of the incident. All work along Package V1 where the incident occurred has been suspended until further notice.

    “Initial investigations revealed the work method approved for the installation of parapets were not adhered to. We will investigate why this happened, and no stone will be left unturned so that we can get to the bottom of this tragic incident. We will also not spare anyone whose actions are found to have caused or contributed to this accident,” Azhar added.

    Azhar also assured the public that the MRT structures along the 51km alignment were built to specifications and the public should be assured they are safe.

    “Immediate checks carried out have revealed that there is no reason for the public to worry about the other spans which have been built along the alignment. There is absolutely no issue with structural integrity along our alignment,” he says.

  • Perodua Axia – 3,500 bookings recorded to date


    The upcoming Perodua Axia has received around 3,500 bookings since the order books opened up till this morning, Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid has revealed to the media, adding that the car will be launched tentatively sometime next month.

    Of the 3,500 bookings, Aminar said the base variant (Standard G) accounted for around 13% and the middle variant (Standard E) made up 60-70%, with the range-topping variants (SE and Advance) making up the remainder. View the full spec breakdown and more info.

    The P2 boss reiterated that the Axia is not a replacement for the Viva, being a “completely new model.”

    “We will continue producing the Viva as long as there is demand for it. At the moment we are still exporting the Viva,” he said, adding that the variant that would most likely continue production for now is the 850.

    lagi axia 1

    As such, the 660 and 1.0 litre variants are expected to cease production at Perodua’s existing Sungai Choh, Rawang plant (not the new Perodua Global Manufacturing plant, which is where the Axia is built).

    The PGM plant, located adjacent to the existing plant, is Malaysia’s first certified Energy Efficient Vehicle manufacturing facility, Perodua says.

    Aminar also revealed that component-wise, the Axia is made up of 95% local content, with the remainder sourced from Japan and Indonesia.

    Perodua aims to sell 30,000 units of the Axia this year alone. Assuming that deliveries will start right after its launch in September, that’s a sales target of around 10,000 units per month.

  • Jaguar XE to get new 8-inch InControl touch-screen

    jaguar xe s

    Jaguar has released some information on the in-car tech that will debut on its new XE, ahead of the compact exec’s scheduled world premiere in London on September 8.

    Dubbed InControl, the new eight-inch touch-screen infotainment system touts quick and easy access to all features and functions, plus voice control. There’s also an “industry-first” laser head-up display that projects sharp, high-contrast colour images on to the windscreen.

    Also, InControl Remote allows iOS and Android users to connect their phones to the car from wherever they are, allowing control of a range of vehicle functions, including seven-day timed pre-setting of the climate control system, locking or unlocking the doors, starting the engine or even locating the car in a parking lot.

    Through InControl Apps, smartphone apps can be seamlessly accessed through the touch-screen, so you can do things like make a conference call, find a parking space or book a hotel room. The XE also functions as a WiFi hotspot, enabling multiple devices to connect to the internet.


    The Jaguar XE is slated to be powered by the new Ingenium family of engines, which will also be shared with Land Rover. The modular mills – in V8, V6 and four-cylinder forms – will share the same bore, stroke, cylinder spacing, 500 cc capacity per cylinder and many common internal components as well as feature turbocharging.

    Thanks to a body that’s over three quarters aluminium, expect the XE to be one of the lightest cars in its segment. As a result, the carmaker targets a fuel economy of under four litres per 100 km on the combined EU cycle for the most frugal model.

    Along with a new ‘Integral Link’ rear suspension, an F-Type-derived front suspension and enhanced electric power steering, the young Coventry cat should handle as well as it looks. Designed and engineered in the UK, the XE will be the first Jag manufactured at a new purpose-built facility at the company’s Solihull plant.


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