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  • 2016 Fiat 500 revealed: major updates for retro city car

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    The covers have officially been pulled off the new 2016 Fiat 500, 58 years to the day the seminal original Cinquecento made its debut. The “new” bit is a slight misnomer, as it’s really a facelift of the outgoing eight-year-old model; still, there are no less than 1,800 changes, so Fiat hasn’t quite been resting on its laurels with its hugely successful retro city car.

    Updates to the exterior, we’ve seen before through spyshots of undisguised cars, but here we’ll run through them in detail. Although similar to what came before, both front and rear fascias have been completely revamped; at one end, there are new headlights with “polyelliptical” modules and LED daytime running lights, added chrome detailing and a reshaped lower air intake with chrome trim.

    At the other end, Fiat has fitted new ring-shaped tail lights with body-coloured centres, while the rear fog and reverse lights have been moved downwards to sit on either end of a reshaped black or chrome bar. Finishing touches include new 15- and 16-inch diamond-finished alloy wheel designs, as well as new Corallo Red and Opera Burgundy paint finishes.

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    In addition to the expanded colour palette, there are also new “Second Skin” customisation options – customers can choose between a “Small” version with a geometric ethnic pattern along the beltline, or a “Medium” one that uses the pillars and roof, along with the bonnet and tailgate in some cases. “Lord” tartan, pop deco “Comics,” “Navy” and “Camouflage” schemes are available for the latter.

    The interior is dominated by a new five-inch screen connected to a Uconnect infotainment system, flanked by vertical air vents; there’s also an optional seven-inch TFT LCD instrument cluster that replaces the eccentric concentric speedometer and rev counter arrangement fitted as standard. The three-spoke steering wheel has been redesigned as well, with new chrome detailing.

    Plus, the new seats get more ergonomic details and have been designed to ease rear seat entry and egress, while a passenger’s side cubbyhole receives a new lid. There’s also added soundproofing in the wheelhouses and firewall.

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    For now, there are just three trim levels – Pop, Pop Star and Lounge. Standard equipment includes seven airbags, stability control, Bluetooth connectivity, a six-speaker sound system, steering wheel audio controls and Chevron upholstery; moving up to Pop Star grants you chrome-plated door mirrors, manual climate control and vintage-style steel hubcaps.

    Top-spec Lounge models throw in a panoramic sunroof, 15-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, a chrome-plated front grille, Glen plaid upholstery with piping and a Uconnect 5″ Radio Live infotainment system with a touchscreen, access to TuneIn internet radio and Deezer music streaming as well as an eco:Drive app that provides fuel-saving driving tips.

    DAB digital radio and TomTom navigation are optional, as are three customisation packs. The latter include the Style package with 16-inch wheels, side mouldings and fog lights, the Cult package with Frau leather upholstery, a seven-inch TFT instrument cluster and gloss black wheels and wing mirrors, as well as a City package with dual-zone auto climate control, parking sensors and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

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    The range of engines are the same as before, albeit now Euro 6-compliant – at launch, there’s a 69 PS 1.2 litre four-pot petrol, a 0.9 litre TwinAir turbo two-cylinder petrol in 89 PS and 105 PS flavours (the former is capable of a fuel consumption figure of 3.8 litres per 100 km and sub-90 grams of CO2 emissions per kilometre) as well as a 69 PS 1.2 litre dual-fuel (CNG/petrol) EasyPower mill.

    Later on, there will be an Eco version of the 69 PS 1.2 litre inline-four petrol with a smart alternator, an aerodynamic pack and low rolling resistance, as well as a 95 PS 1.3 litre MultiJet turbodiesel. Naturally-aspirated 65 PS TwinAir and 100 PS 1.4 litre four-pot petrol will also be made available in certain markets.

    Five- and six-speed manual transmissions are fitted as standard; the oft-criticised Magneti Marelli-sourced five-speed DuoLogic automated manual is still available as an option. Under the skin, the MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension have been retuned for improved ride and handling.

     
  • SPAD approves 10% express bus surcharge for Raya

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    The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has approved a 10% surcharge for express bus fares this upcoming Raya season, from July 10-27, Bernama reports.

    In a statement, SPAD said that the move was to ensure that express bus services were not delayed, besides fulfilling higher demand during the festive season.

    “In addition, this approval takes into account various factors such as improving the level of handling the additional services, improving the supervision system for the express buses and maintaining the service quality of the express buses to ensure passenger comfort and safety during the festive season,” the statement said.

    The commision also announced that all the additional express buses for the festive season leaving and arriving at Kuala Lumpur will use the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) at Bandar Tasik Selatan.

    SPAD also advised consumers to purchase tickets at valid ticket counters to avoid being cheated, besides keeping ticket stubs as proof. “Valid tickets are computer printed, and will display the name of the company as well as the number plate of the bus which will be boarded by passengers. Consumers are requested to check the information printed on the ticket and verify it at the ticket purchasing counter.

    terminal-bersepadu-selatanAll additional Raya buses departing and arriving in KL will be using the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan

    “For passengers boarding the additional buses, they can check the license plate number of the bus as registered with the SPAD, through an attachment displayed at the ticketing counters,” it advised.

    Express bus passengers can make complaints to SPAD at 1-800-88SPAD (7723) if they encounter any issues with service, safety and comfort this festive season.

    Express bus operators have requested for a fare hike this Raya, citing driver shortage and higher costs during the festive period. Malaysia’s largest express bus company Konsortium Transnasional Bhd (KTB) said that it will not deploy extra buses if the regulators did not approve a fare hike.

    KTB MD Tan Sri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh explained that the company normally added over 100 express buses to meet demand, in addition to the usual 300 on normal days. Bus companies run at a loss during Raya as buses would leave KL every day full, but return near empty, he said. KTB needs 70% capacity to break even.

    Nadzmi also weighed in on the industry’s request for the government to deregulate express bus fares. “Government should not regulate fares. Let the market decide as it may lead to lower fares to attract passengers during non-peak period,” he said.

     
  • DRIVEN: Mercedes-AMG GT S at Laguna Seca

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    Within the space of two months, sports car buyers – or more aptly, higher-end sports car buyers – have seen two new faces added on for consideration. Both are from marques more commonly associated with grandeur at their very top end of the scale, so they are very much halo offerings making statement of intents, but in very different directions.

    The first is the BMW i8, which arrived in April, and the second is the Mercedes-AMG GT, which made its official debut in Sepang on June 24 in its initial GT S form. The former is revolution, a marvel of a technical showcase and suitably dressed to dazzle. The latter is evolution, offering a different allure, one presented in a more traditional – but not conservative – package.

    It’s inevitable that comparisons will be drawn and arguments for each mooted, but they really are different beasts, even if they do share the same segmentation space by virtue of type and price.

    For one, the GT S isn’t really aiming at the i8 per se – its sights are more level-planed and focused on the likes of the Porsche 911. The question is, how does the Merc shape up in the face of such sterling competition?

    Read the full review of the AMG GT S here.

     
  • DRIVEN: Subaru Outback 2.5i-S – a Legacy on stilts?

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    A good guy’s car. This is what the 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i-S is. Why? Put it this way, much like a certain Swedish marque that prides itself on offering family-friendly, safe, reliable vehicles, the Outback emits a sense of nice-ness that conjures up images of family picnics, cycling trails, camping trips and dogs.

    See, the Pleiades represents so much more than just a bright blue winged sedan with gold wheels and an anti-lag system. Quite the contrary, actually. While most would associate the Subaru name with performance, the brand has also established a reputation for producing tough-as-nails (if not slightly bland) vehicles.

    That is exactly where models like the Legacy, Forester and, in this case, the Outback, come into play. The latest iteration of the Outback takes over the reins from the Legacy wagon, leaving said model to soldier on in sedan form. So then, is the new Subaru Outback 2.5i-S a bona fide SUV, capable of tackling the type of terrain that its namesake is famous for, or is just a jacked-up Legacy wagon that’s trying to play Bear Grylls?

    Read on to find out.

     
  • Chevrolet’s Active Phone Cooling for your smartphone

    Now here’s a unique solution to a common problem. Does it annoy and/or worry you when your smartphone heats up? Even if it does not blow up in your face, the overheating device could lag and spit out battery juice like phlegm-filled Chinaman. Not good considering how much we rely on the device these days.

    Chevrolet comes to the rescue with a new system called Active Phone Cooling, which will be available in the 2016 Chevy Impala and Malibu equipped with wireless charging.

    An air vent connected directly to the car’s AC system is directed to the charging bin where the phone rests for wireless charging, sending cool air to help lower the phone’s temperature. Active Phone Cooling operates only when the air con is turned on by the driver.

    Active Phone Cooling

    Yup, that’s it. No rocket science, but somehow no one has thought of it before. We now have Qi wireless charging and cupholder cooling vents – APC combines both ideas.

    While testing a smartphone wireless charging feature, Chevy engineers noticed some smartphones would suspend charging or shut off altogether after only a few minutes in high temperatures. Then something clicked. “Innovation doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. Sometimes simplicity offers the most elegant solution to a problem,” said Impala engineer Dan Lascu.

     
  • Porsche Boxster GTS and Cayman GTS launched in Malaysia – priced from RM660k and RM700k

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    The Porsche Boxster GTS has been unveiled for the Malaysian market alongside its coupe sibling, the Cayman GTS. As you would’ve known, the motoring world first got a glimpse of the duo back in early 2014 before hitting international markets. Well, now it’s our turn to get up close with the latest additions to Sime Darby Auto Performance‘s (SDAP) ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ range at its swanky new showroom in Sungai Besi.

    On the outside, the GTS models differ from their lesser counterparts by adopting subtle tweaks and add-ons here and there. Beginning at the front, both models receive a slightly reworked fascia with a more pronounced lip spoiler, painted in black for that added hint of menace. The aforementioned new nose adds another 30 mm to the car’s overall length.

    Elsewhere, smoked bi-xenon headlights with Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) come as standard, along with gloss black 20-inch alloy wheels, wrapped in 235/35 tyres in front and 265/35 at the rear. Moving on to the rear, both models sport smoked taillights and black-finish exhaust pipes, housed within a diffuser-like element that is also done up in a shade of black.

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    Both models share the same atmospheric 3.4 litre flat-six engine, albeit with different states of tune. The Boxster GTS is endowed with a total of 330 hp at 6,700 rpm and 370 Nm of torque at 5,800 rpm. Power, on both models, gets directed to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or seven-speed double-clutch PDK gearbox with paddle shifters.

    Coupled with the PDK gearbox and standard Sport Chrono package with Sport Plus selected, the Boxster GTS goes from 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds and soldiers on to its v-max of 279 km/h. With the six-speed manual, the century sprint is completed in five seconds while top speed is slightly higher at 281 km/h.

    In the Porsche Cayman GTS, the same mill pumps out a total of 340 hp at 7,400 rpm and 380 Nm of torque at 5,800 rpm. Paired with the six-speed manual, the Cayman GTS rockets from nought to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds and tops out at 285 km/h. The PDK dual-clutch transmission, along with Sport Plus, cuts that time by a two tenths of a second but drops the top speed to 283 km/h.

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    As mentioned earlier, both GTS models are equipped with the Sport Chrono package as standard. Said package adds on dynamic transmission mounts, allowing the system to alter its stiffness and damping according to the current driving condition. In terms of its handling, the GTS models are equipped with PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) adaptive damping system which also lowers the car by 10 mm.

    Other standard performance-related goodies on both models include an uprated sports exhaust system and a braking system comprised of 330 mm front discs and 299 mm rear discs, clamped by four-piston aluminium monobloc fixed calipers. Owners can add on the optional Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system that features six-piston calipers up front and four-pistons at the rear – painted in yellow as opposed to red.

    Also, owners who wish to pilot their GTS models with added doses of enthusiasm should opt for the fitment of the Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) system. PTV works by manipulating both the rear locking differential and targeted braking at each individual rear wheel for increased levels of traction. Said locking differential possesses a locking action of 22% in traction and 27% under acceleration.

    The interior of both the Porsche Boxster GTS and Cayman GTS gets trimmed in black leather upholstery with Alcantara accents scattered on the armrest, the rim of the standard-fit Sport Design steering wheel, the gear shifter, portions of the door card and the dashboard – in the Cayman GTS, Alcantara is to be found on the A-pillar and roof lining. Two interior colour packages are offered as options – Rhodium Silver and Carmine Red.

    Prices for the Porsche Boxster GTS begin at RM660,000 while the Cayman GTS goes for RM700,000, excluding on-the-road costs. As is the case with Sime Darby Auto Performance (SDAP), a four-year warranty and a four-year complimentary service maintenance package is part of the deal.

    Porsche Boxster GTS

    Porsche Cayman GTS

     
  • LDP to face 400-metre road closure at KM24 on July 4

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    Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP) users, take note. Prasarana has announced that that there will be a one-night road closure with traffic diversions at the Kilometre 24 stretch of the LDP on July 4, which is tomorrow.

    A 400-metre long stretch along the highway adjacent to Bank Rakyat and the Kompleks Rakan Muda will be closed from 11 pm until 6 am (Sunday morning).

    The road closure is to facilitate launching works for the pedestrian bridge at Station 8 of the Ampang LRT Line extension project, and is necessary to safeguard all motorists travelling within the area where the use of heavy machinery and lifting of materials will take place.

    To help ease traffic congestion, two alternative routes for road users will be introduced to guide those who are heading towards Putrajaya, Shah Alam and Bandar Sunway.

    Alternative route for motorists from Bandar Sunway heading towards Putrajaya/Shah Alam

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    Motorists travelling on LDP from Bandar Sunway heading towards Putrajaya/Shah Alam will be redirected to travel along Lebuh Puteri, Jalan Industri PBP1 and converge back on to the LDP near Tractor Malaysia at Jalan Puchong.

    Alternative route for motorists from Shah Alam/Putrajaya heading towards Bandar Sunway

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    Motorists travelling on the LDP from the direction of Shah Alam/Putrajaya will be redirected to travel along Jalan Industri PBP1 (near DHL) before converging back on to the LDP after Lebuh Puteri.

    Road barriers, flagmen and warning signals will be put in place to redirect traffic and to warn motorists of the road closure and diversions.

     
  • BMW 2 Series Active Tourer eDrive – plug-in hybrid unveiled as prototype, series production in 2016

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    It’s all starting to come along quickly now for BMW and its plug-in hybrids – series production of the X5 xDrive 40e kicks off next month, and now Munich has unveiled its next plug-in hybrid in the form of the 2 Series Active Tourer eDrive.

    The new F45 derivative was presented in prototype form at Miramar, France, at the automaker’s Innovation Days 2015 event. The third iteration to feature eDrive plies a slightly different tack, going the front/transverse-mounted combustion engine route for the first time.

    It’s kitted out with the familiar 136 hp and 220 Nm three-cylinder B38 1.5 litre BMW TwinPower Turbo petrol unit (as seen in the F45 218i Active Tourer), which drives the front wheels via a six-speed auto transmission, and this is partnered with a high-voltage generator mounted in the front structure and an 87 hp (65 kW) and 136 Nm electric motor powering the rear wheels via a two-speed transmission.

    The result is road-linked all-wheel drive similar to that of the BMW i8 sports car, but arranged here in a mirror image. Three drive modes are present – Auto eDrive, Max eDrive (electric-only) and Save Battery.

    As expected, the eDrive version is heavier than a regular 2AT – BMW says the plug-in weighs around 150 kg more than a corresponding 225i xDrive variant. Performance specifications include an all-electric operation range of up to 38 km, a 0-100 km/h time of 6.5 seconds and a 205 km/h top whack.

    Fuel consumption is claimed to be approximately two litres per 100 km – which equates to CO2 emissions of under 50 g/km – in the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles. According to the grapevine, series production of the 2AT eDrive is set for 2016.

     
  • Melaka electric buses to start operating early August

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    Electric buses will start operating in Melaka early August. Two units of the electric buses will serve the UNESCO world heritage site area around Banda Hilir, said State Transportation and Project Rehabilitation committee chairman Datuk Lim Ban Hong.

    The ‘hop on hop off’ buses will ease traffic flow in the tourist belt. Ticket prices have yet to be finalised, reports Bernama.

    “This electric bus is being used for the first time in Malaysia on public roads, and we believe that it will help reduce traffic congestion as well as air and sound pollution. For now, the bus route will be around the UNESCO world heritage site area, and riders can use the service using a day pass ticket at a fixed price,” he told reporters today.

    “We will receive 38 more of these electric buses in stages starting from early next year, and the new buses will help Panorama (the operator) open more routes and ensure that public transport, especially buses, are of the best standard,” Lim added.

    The Klebang MP revealed that the buses, made by China’s Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), have a range of 180 km per full charge, which takes 100 minutes. A charging station has been set up at the Melaka Sentral bus terminal.

    The coaches are fitted with 33 seats including one for the disabled, as well as nine CCTVs. Top speed is 76 km/h, but that’s the least important stat considering its area of service.

     
  • Watch out, car thieves posing as bank repossessors – know your rights, demand to see authorisation cards

    For whatever reason, carjackers in Malaysia are getting more and more daring recently. It wasn’t too long ago that a car theft case involving a perpetrator acting as a car buyer was reported, and now, a different modus operandi has come to light – car thieves posing as bank repossessors.

    A case such as this went viral on social media a week ago, where a car was asked to pull over to the side of the road by men who claim to be repossessors from a bank. The men went on to claim that the vehicle owner did not pay the car instalment, and that the bank wanted to tow it away.

    Things escalated quickly after. The men blocked the vehicle with their own car, and continued to pressure the victims to step out to talk things through, even threatening to break the windows if they didn’t. Luckily enough, three DBKL officers appeared at the scene to ask what was happening, and the three men quickly backtracked on their claims and left.

    The victims then lodged a police report on the incident, handing over the perpetrators’ car number plate. According to the police, there had been a few reported car theft cases involving the very same number plate (which is originally registered to a motorbike).

    So, while the carjacking attempt failed, apparently it had been successful a few times before, using the very same tactic. We should all be aware that such cases are happening around us, and under broad daylight too! You can read the original Facebook post embedded here, and find out what you need to know to avoid such incidents below.



    Things to be aware of to avoid this happening to you

    To minimise the risk of falling into such traps, there are a few vital information that you need to know.

    First of all, you should be well aware if your vehicle is indeed up for repossession by the bank. A pre-repossession notice from the bank (to inform you that it intends to repossess the vehicle) should have been served on you and your guarantor (if applicable) 21 days ahead of the actual process. A second notice will be issued 14 days after that.

    So if your car is due to be repossessed, the next step is to know who exactly can or are authorised to repossess a car in Malaysia?

    In Malaysia, repossessions of motor vehicles are generally carried out by registered members of the Association of Hire Purchase Companies Malaysia (AHPCM). All legit repossessors have a very specific code of conduct.

    They must first show the car owner an original Repossession Order by the bank, as well as his authority card that is issued by the Kuala Lumpur Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK).

    Authorisation cards issued by KPDNKK have a watermark, which will not be seen if printed. Also, the person named on the card must be the same as that on the Repossession Order issued by the bank. If these terms are not met, they have no right to repossess your vehicle.

    Following that, they will then need to obtain the permission of the owner to enter his or her premises to carry out the repossession process. These “repo-men” are required to appear and act in a professional manner, and not use strong arm tactics to carry out the job. Car owners will also be given enough time to clear out personal belongings that are inside the vehicle in question.

    Lastly, the repossessors are immediately required to make a police report after taking possession of the vehicle, and then bring it to the place indicated by the particular bank. A notice in writing informing you that the bank has taken possession of the vehicle will be sent to you shortly after.

     
 

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