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  • DRIVEN: BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in Milan

    BMW i8 Milan 1

    Ah, the allure of shape – how easy it is to be seduced by a fetching form and leave the considerations at that. With a pretty face, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the shortcomings down the line or even acknowledge they even exist. We do it with people, and we certainly do it with cars. For the latter, the rulebook of rational behaviour gets thrown out the window for that captivating thing called the sports car.

    The latest one to arrive in town did so a couple of days ago – the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid made its local debut at the media preview of the BMW World Malaysia 2015 exhibition, and its introduction has long been speculated despite the underlying thought saying otherwise; up to late last year, BMW Malaysia continued to state that there was no intention of bringing the car in.

    But, just like you can’t keep a good idea away or a fetching shape at bay, here it is finally on sale in Malaysia, and RM1,188,800 (on-the-road without insurance) takes one home. To reiterate the point about the allure of shape, all the fuss was definitely on the i8 at the preview, interest and photo opp-wise. And why not, really, given the way it looks. But what’s it like to drive?

    Just how does Munich’s first plug-in hybrid shape up? Find out here.

  • Hyundai Santa Fe Premium – 6 airbags, RM179k-191k

    Hyundai Santa Fe Premium 1

    The facelifted Mazda 6 wasn’t the only car that was quietly introduced today – another model that has made its way into showrooms in a hush-hush manner is the Hyundai Santa Fe Premium, a new range-topping variant that replaces the previous Executive Plus.

    Available in both 176 hp/226 Nm 2.4 litre petrol and 197 hp/436 Nm 2.2 litre diesel guise, the Premium gets almost exactly the same kit as before – automatic xenon headlights with LED positioning lights, 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, push button start, auto wipers, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone auto climate control, Supervision cluster, 12-way power-adjustable seats in brown Nappa leather and a reverse camera.

    The big news, however, concerns the safety kit – the new model finally receives side and curtain airbags to join the dual front airbags on the outgoing variant, bumping the count up to six airbags. As before, ABS with EBD and brake assist, ESP with Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Hill Start Assist and Downhill Brake Control (DBC) are fitted as standard.

    Other added kit include a power-operated tailgate (as seen on the updated 2015 US-market Santa Fe), as well as a new Android-based navigation system. The latter is a locally-sourced unit and looks to be slightly different from the one in the Sonata – the user interface differs slightly, and the “Navi” hard key opens Waze instead of the Sonata’s Papago navigation app.

    Pricing for the Hyundai Santa Fe Premium starts at RM178,821 (RM6,672 more expensive than the Executive Plus) for the 2.4 petrol model, rising up to RM190,545 (RM5,734 higher) for the 2.2 CRDi diesel. Both prices are on-the-road without insurance, inclusive of 6% GST.

  • Proton, Lotus Group and Goldstar sign JV agreement – to develop Lotus-branded passenger cars for China


    Proton Holdings Berhad has signed a joint venture (JV) agreement with the Lotus Group and China’s Goldstar Heavy Industrial to further expand the presence of the Lotus brand in the People’s Republic of China. Utilising incentives offered by the Fujian Provincial Government, the agreement will witness “an acceleration of the development of Lotus cars in the premium sports segment in China.”

    Under the joint venture agreement, a new company will be established with the aim of “undertaking research and development (R&D) activities in the use of efficient and advanced technology.” Said company will also then be tasked to manufacture and market Lotus-branded cars as well as provide after sales support.

    “The automotive market in China is the single largest in the world today, and is still growing, therefore it is only natural for an established iconic company like Lotus to embark upon the possibility of expansion, venture into the market and seek the available opportunities, in light of the keen interest shown by the many enquiries received thus far,” said Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah, CEO of Proton.


    Lotus has stated that it will continue to produce its line up of sports car exclusively at its Hethel plant in England. Earlier this year, Proton inked a three-way agreement between Goldstar and the authorities in the Fujian province to set up a production base for Lotus-badged vehicles.

    Partnerships between the Proton and Youngman names began years ago with the Youngman-Lotus joint venture. From that co-op, the Proton Gen 2 and Persona models were rebadged as the Youngman Lotus L3 hatch (Gen 2), L3 sedan (Persona), L5 (stretched Gen 2) and T5 (based on the Gen 2’s platform).

  • Mazda 6 facelift now here – 2.0 and 2.5, RM160k-199k

    Mazda 6 Facelift 1

    Local Mazda distributor Bermaz has quietly introduced the facelifted Mazda 6 – we popped by its 3S centre in Sungai Besi to obtain these pictures of the updated D-segment sedan in 2.0 litre guise.

    Stop rubbing your eyes, because you’re not seeing things – this car looks exactly like the current 2.0 litre model on the outside. The facelift’s supposed reshaped headlights, slatted grille with thicker chrome surround, reshaped front bumper, LED fog lights with chrome accents and updated tail light graphics are nowhere to be found here.

    We’re told that the 2.5 litre model, which will be in showrooms by the end of the month, will feature the exterior tweaks – it seems the changes only come with the optional new LED headlights, which are fitted on the high-end variant; spec the regular halogens and you’ll receive the old front fascia instead.

    Mazda 6 Facelift 2

    Thankfully, the massively-revamped dashboard and centre console is present and correct – there’s a more refined design with classier looking air vents and climate controls, new dials for the instrument cluster gauges, swathes of leather trim (including along the transmission tunnel), neater switchgear layout, a space-saving electronic parking brake and new roll-top cupholders.

    With the facelift, the 6 also finally receives Mazda’s latest MZD Connect system as seen on the new Mazda 2 and 3, with a freestanding display and BMW iDrive-like Commander Control knob. As before, navigation, keyless entry, sunroof, paddle shifters and 11-speaker Bose sound system are reserved for the 2.5 litre model, but the range-topper now also receives a new head-up display.

    Otherwise, eight-way power-adjustable leather front seats (with driver’s side memory), push-button start, a reverse camera, auto lights and wipers and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror are all shared between both variants, as they were previously.

    Mazda 6 Facelift 7

    Engine choices remain unchanged as well – the 2.0 litre direct-injected SkyActiv-G four-pot makes 153 hp at 6,000 rpm and 200 Nm at 4,000 rpm, while the 2.5 litre variant delivers 185 hp at 5,700 rpm and 250 Nm at 3,250 rpm. The six-speed SkyActiv-Drive has been retained, too, but gets a rocker switch to select the new, faster-reacting Sport mode. Cruising cabin noise is also said to have been decreased by as much as 25%.

    Safety kit is the same as before – both models get six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist as well as Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), with the 2.5 litre model also receiving the i-ActivSense suite of active safety systems.

    All that’s left now is the price – as revealed in the GST-inclusive price list at the beginning of the month, the facelifted 2.0 litre sedan retails at RM159,158 on-the-road without insurance (RM4,000 more than before), the 2.5 litre sedan costs RM194,647 and the 2.5 litre Touring estate is priced at RM198,647 (both 2.5 sedan and estate cost RM9,999 more than before).

    UPDATE: We managed to find pictures of the 2.5 litre sedan variant on the Mazda Zoom-Zoom page – the top-of-the-range model gets all the exterior changes mentioned, as well as gunmetal 19-inch wheels as opposed to the 2.0’s silver 17-inch rollers.

    Mazda 6 2.0L Sedan facelift

    Mazda 6 2.5L Sedan facelift

  • 2015 Volkswagen Scirocco GTS facelift revealed


    VW will be bringing the facelifted Volkswagen Scirocco GTS to the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show. The dressed-up Scirocco GTS was first seen in 2012 and went on sale the following year in Europe. This new model follows the facelift given to the rest of the Scirocco range last year.

    What facelift? Well, it’s a very mild one and exterior changes to the Scirocco range are limited to new bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, a new grille with a larger opening, reprofiled bumpers and tailgate and new LED tail lights.

    Sportier looks is the GTS’ reason to exist and the new one gets 18-inch “Norwich” alloys, with the popular 19-inch “Lugano” rollers on the options list. Red brake calipers can be seen through the spokes. GTS logos sit in the radiator grille and on the tailgate.

    Volkswagen Scirocco GTS

    In addition, the GTS comes with the R-Line “Exterieur” package as standard, which includes distinctive R-style bumpers (with integrated fog lamps and gloss black grilles), side sill extensions, R-style roof spoiler and a diffuser. The wing mirror caps are in black, too. It’s standard in China, but buyers in other markets can opt for decals that include two central stripes that run the length of the car.

    Inside, the black/red themed cabin gets “Piano Black Lacquer” trim; GTS badges on the sill panel mouldings; steering wheel with red seams and the lower spoke finished in piano black with GTS logo; stainless steel pedals; golf ball gear knob for the manual and red seams for the safety belts, handbrake lever, gear lever gaiter, central armrest and floor mats. The seats get centre panels in a new material and GTS logos.

    VW adds that its “Composition Colour” infotainment system is available for the first time in the Scirocco. The GTS is powered by a 220 PS 2.0 TSI from the Mk7 Golf GTI. Paired to either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG, it does 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 244 km/h.

    Pre-facelift Volkswagen Scirocco GTS

  • Audi Prologue Allroad concept revealed with 734 hp!

    Audi prologue allroad

    We think Audi is on to something here. Late last year, the marque revealed the Prologue concept which was then superseded by the unveiling of the Audi Prologue Avant concept earlier this year. Now, Audi looks set to introduce a third addition in the guise of the Audi Prologue Allroad concept.

    Revealed in full before its official debut at the upcoming 2015 Auto Shanghai showcase, the five-doored concept stays true to its namesake by echoing the aesthetic cues of its predecessors, presenting them on a raised body that is said to preview the next-generation Audi A6 Allroad.

    Measuring in at 5,130 mm, the Audi Prologue Allroad features a swooping silhouette with 22-inch wheels providing more than adequate visual impact. Up front, the trademark Singleframe front grille gets flanked by “wedge-shaped” matrix laser headlights. Moving to the rear, things get suitably futuristic with a thin strip of lights bridging the LED taillights, housed inside “3D” glass for a more “sculpted” effect.

    Under its sculptured bonnet, the Audi Prologue Allroad concept features a combination of a TFSI biturbo 4.0 litre V8 engine and an electric motor integrated into the eight-speed tiptronic transmission. All in all, power output is rated at 734 hp and 900 Nm of torque which, when coupled to quattro all-wheel drive, is capable of sending the show car from rest to 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds.

    Audi prologue allroad

    Fuel consumption is rated at just 41.6 km/l while CO2 emissions stand at 56 g/km. Powering the electric motor is a 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery tucked away in the boot – an all-electric range of 54 km is touted. Also featured on the concept is Audi wireless charging (AWC) technology which allows for inductive charging.

    Stepping inside reveals an interior that, fortunately, looks almost production-ready. A minimalistic layout ensures maximum practicality while the horizontal centre stack appears to run the entire length of the dash from the driver’s seat to the front passenger’s.

    A total of three touchscreen displays are integrated into the dash, enabling the front passenger to toggle selections on the infotainment system and then display it to the driver by means of “swiping” it across the dash. Ahead of the gear selector sits an additional screen that displays climate control settings, infotainment data along with text input capabilities. Said screens feature organic LED (OLED) technology.

    Twin, individual seats at the back are present with said occupants given the option to adjust the climate control and infotainment system via an OLED display screen located between the seats. Additional rear seat entertainment is available with the inclusion of two Audi tablets mounted on the back of the front seats.

  • Next-generation Honda Jazz Shuttle revealed in Japan


    Just last month, we got our hands on leaked patent images pertaining to the next-generation Honda Jazz Shuttle. Now, the elongated Honda Jazz has been revealed for the Japanese domestic market (JDM).

    The Jazz Shuttle was first presented for JDM consumption back in 2011, having been based on the second-generation Jazz (Fit) hatchback. Earlier versions adopted the Honda Airwave name instead. Styling wise, the new Honda Jazz Shuttle appears to feature the marque’s “solid wing face” front grille.

    A closer look will reveal lots of aesthetic similarities with the Jazz including the bold crease of a line that begins just aft of the front wheels and continue all the way into the taillight assembly.


    While more technical specifications are en route, we know that the Jazz Shuttle will be available with a choice of either an AWD hybrid setup or a regular, petrol-powered version. The hybrid sports a 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine which is paired to an electric motor and a dual-clutch gearbox. On the other hand, the petrol version is motivated by a 1.5 litre engine with power going to the front wheels.

    As for equipment, the range-topping hybrid variant receives 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, navigation, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and Honda’s smart key system. Heated front seats, roof rails, fog lamps and a smattering of wood in the interior is also featured.

    With the Honda Jazz commanding such a presence in the Malaysian market, will we be able to see the Honda Jazz Shuttle alongside its hatchback siblings in the near future? Only time will tell…

  • Renault Fluence facelift teased on official FB page

    Looks like we’ll be getting the Renault Fluence facelift next week, as revealed by the official Renault Malaysia Facebook page. The teaser above is clearly of the updated C-segment sedan, while the second picture (below) mentions the April 23, 2015 launch date.

    The facelifted Fluence (full gallery embedded below) features a heavily updated face – one that matches the newer Clio and Koleos models. It’s quite a looker, isn’t it?

    Renault Malaysia introduced the Fluence in May last year, priced at RM115,000. The figure has since dropped to RM113,888 after GST. The locally-assembled 2.0 litre sedan is one of the better-equipped models in its class, with standard-fit 17-inch wheels, keyless entry, navigation, six airbags and ESP.

    Earlier this year, the Fluence Black Edition was announced, which included a full exterior and interior makeover. The price asked is RM118,888, post-GST. We’ll have more on the Renault Fluence facelift soon.

  • Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro debuts in Shanghai

    Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro (Angebot im chinesischen Markt)

    Making its debut alongside the A6 L e-tron plug-in hybrid in Shanghai is the Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro. The marque’s first TFSI plug-in hybrid with quattro all-wheel drive has been developed specifically for Asian markets with countries such as China, Japan and Singapore in mind.

    On the aesthetic front, the Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro (let’s just call it Q7 e-tron for now) mirrors most of the design elements found on its European sibling, the Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro. A massive Singleframe front grille is flanked by “three-dimensional” LED headlights while additional stylised LED lights are embedded into the air intake assembly.

    Moving further back, 19-inch wheels are standard while 20-inch designs are an option. At the rear, LED taillights are featured alongside a streamlined rear diffuser that help to conceal the exhaust outlets.

    Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro (Angebot im chinesischen Markt)

    As you might have noticed, under the bonnet are where matters differ from the e-tron TDI. Employing a parallel hybrid setup, the Q7 e-tron sports a petrol-powered 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine with 252 hp/370 Nm. Augmenting the engine is a disc-shaped electric motor, itself integrated into the eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission, which produces 126 hp/350 Nm – total system output is 367 hp and 700 Nm.

    Providing power to the electric motor is a liquid-cooled 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery which takes around two and a half hours to charge via an industrial outlet and high-performance charging cable. A distance of up to 53 km on pure electric power is possible while full operational range is touted at 1,020 km.

    Performance numbers include a 0-100 km/h time of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 220 km/h, plenty fast for a gargantuan SUV with a drag coefficient figure of 0.34. Official fuel consumption is rated at 40 km/l.

    Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro (Angebot im chinesischen Markt)

    On the inside, drivers are presented with a choice of four driving modes – EV, hybrid, battery hold and battery charge. Naturally, the car starts off in fully-electric mode while selecting hybrid mode prompt the system to juggle between both power sources. Battery hold mode conserves whatever energy there is left while battery charge scavenges for more.

    Further interior goodies includes customised displays in electric mode, Audi virtual cockpit, MMI navigation plus and automatic air-conditioning system and a thermal management system that draws excess heat from the electrical components to warm the interior. Optional equipment include adaptive air suspension, a head-up display and panoramic glass sunroof.

    A plethora of safety features are available on the Q7 e-tron with collision avoidance assist, turn assist, cross-traffic assist and trailer assist systems. Additional driver aids include a tilt angle display, hill descent control and an off-road map for the car’s Electronic Stabilisation Control (ESC) system.

  • GST: Hyundai prices up to RM400 down, RM4.6k up

    hyundai-sonata-lf-driven 725

    Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) has updated its prices to include the 6% Goods and Services Tax (GST) implemented at the beginning of the month. The new stickers buck the general downward trend of other carmakers, as some models are now considerably more expensive than before.

    First up, though, the price drops – the cheapest i10 Colourz 1.1 has seen a sub-RM100 price drop, while the base Elantra 1.6 Elegance receives the biggest decrease of RM400, now sitting at RM85,928. Elsewhere – barring the 1.25 litre i10 (RM101 less) – the i30, Veloster 1.6 MPI, Sonata Elegance and Executive as well as the base Tucson Elegance and Santa Fe 2.4 Elegance models are all cheaper by between RM200-RM257.

    The rest of the range, however, is now more expensive than before, starting from a measly RM2 increase for the range-topping Elantra 1.8 Premium as well as RM28 for the base Sonata Elegance B. The mid-spec Elantra 1.6 Executive and Premium are pricier to the tune of RM709 and RM569 respectively, while the top-of-the-line Tucson Sport is dearer by RM1,894. The diesel Santa Fe 2.2 Elegance is also RM684 costlier.

    Hyundai GST price list

    The biggest loser post-GST is the Grand Starex, with all models registering price increases of over RM4.5k. The base Royale model includes the biggest difference of them all, with a hike of RM4,606, 3.02% higher than before.

    Do note that the range-topping Santa Fe Executive Plus models are no more – taking their place are the Premium variants (with six airbags, a powered tailgate and a new Android-based navigation system); priced at RM178,821 for the 2.4 petrol and RM190,545 for the 2.2 diesel, they’re RM6,672 and RM5,734 more expensive than their predecessors, respectively.

    Both i40 Sedan and Tourer models have also disappeared from the price list – all allocated cars have been sold out, and no decision has been reached on importing new units – while the Veloster Turbo introduced earlier today was launched after the implementation of GST.


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