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  • Ford Focus RS – now, US version performance figures

    Ford Focus RS Geneva Live 19

    The performance figures for the European version of the C346 Ford Focus RS were revealed in Frankfurt last month, and now it’s the turn for some numbers from the North American-specification model.

    There’s really not much difference actually, and it’s probably a case of splitting hairs, but it looks like the USDM version may have a few more ponies if what’s being read in the fine print is right. The European Focus RS’s 2.3 litre EcoBoost four – derived from the EB 23 unit seen on the S550 Mustang – has 350 PS at 6,800 rpm, the pferdestarke rating translating to 345 hp.

    Output for the US version, meanwhile, is certified to a rounded-off 350 hp at 6,000 rpm (and on to the engine’s 6,800 rpm redline), which falls exactly on the spot suggested by earlier rumours about the car’s supposed final power output of 350 mechanical horses.

    Ford Focus RS Geneva Live 13

    Torque output is likewise similar – the Euro version of the third-gen RS has 440 Nm of twist between 2,000 and 4,500 rpm, but there’s 470 Nm available for up to 15 seconds on transient overboost during hard acceleration. The US car’s torque is listed as 475 Nm at 3,200 rpm. Peak turbocharger boost is listed as 23.2 psi.

    No performance numbers are mentioned aside from that above, but the American model’s sprint times and top whack shouldn’t veer very far from its Euro sibling, which does the 0-100 km/h run in 4.7 seconds and has a 266 km/h top speed, unless those five newtons and ponies that the breakdown suggests are from another galaxy.

    There’s highlighting of a novel feature that wasn’t mentioned on the Euro car, and it’s called stall recovery. In the event a driver stalls the engine, the feature means that there will be no need for drivers to manually restart the engine or move the gear selector to neutral; the tech allows the driver to simply push the clutch back in after a stall and the engine will restart.

  • Porsche 911 R in development, Geneva debut – 500 hp naturally-aspirated engine, manual gearbox?


    Miffed about the new Porsche 911 GT3 and GT3 RS only being available with a PDK dual-clutch transmission? Tearing your hair out at the news that the entire cooking range of the facelifted 911 is now turbocharged? Fret not, ardent Zuffenhausen purist, because apparently a Porsche 911 R is being built just for you, according to Car and Driver.

    The provisional specifications sound like a dream for the hardcore enthusiast – there’ll be a high-revving naturally-aspirated flat-six expected to produce around 500 hp, so it’s probably the same howling 4.0 litre engine as in the GT3 RS. What’s more, it’ll have a manual gearbox, and come with a clean, unassuming design – the R is said to be a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

    Porsche is set to unveil the 911 R at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show next March, and although it’s rumoured to feature a substantial price tag, we’re already salivating at the prospect of the return of the analogue rear-engined driving experience. Are you?

    GALLERY: 2016 Porsche 911 facelift

  • Volkswagen UK admits EU test results altered by “defeat devices” – 1.2 million diesel vehicles affected

    Volkswagen Polo Facelift 14

    More on the ongoing Volkswagen ‘Dieselgate’ scandalAutocar UK understands that Volkswagen UK chief, Paul Willis, has recently admitted that the “defeat devices” employed in numerous affected diesel cars did, in fact, alter the end result of several emission tests in Europe. The German carmaker has previously stated that only certain vehicles were equipped with said devices.

    Also, Volkswagen didn’t confirm whether or not the “defeat devices” were operational during the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) emission tests. However, when queried if said cheat software was employed during type approval for the UK, Willis stated, “It seems from what I understand – and I’m not an engineer – that the system of gas regulation in the engine influenced the NOx output in cars that we sell in the UK.”

    “These cars are type approved across all of Europe, of course, and they’re type approved in Germany, with separate people overlooking it,” he added. “That’s why we need to fix the cars, that’s why we need to get the customers in, and that’s why we need to put the cars right.”


    At the moment, a total of 1,189,906 diesel vehicles (spread across different VW Group brands) in the UK are believed to have been affected. Of the total, around 400,000 cars equipped with Volkswagen’s 1.6 litre EA189 diesel engine would require more than just a software recalibration. The suggested fitment of new fuel injectors would “take a longer period of time” to fix, according to Willis.

    On the other hand, the remaining 700,000 plus units comprised of 2.0 litre diesels and another 30,000 plus cars with 1.2 litre diesel engines can be rectified via software patches alone. Details into how the repairs will be conducted remain relatively unknown but Willis has assured UK customers that there will be no difference in fuel economy. “Our engineers are working to the brief that there cannot be any change in miles per gallon.”

    Willis has also confirmed that the VW Group will hold talks with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) should the need to compensate the treasury on revenue lost because of the “defeat devices” arise. “The British taxpayer should not be out of pocket and if necessary, we will have a meeting with HMRC,” Willis said.

    VW jetta TDI US-spec

    Additionally, the NEDC cycle itself has come under criticism from several quarters, including Willis and the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Mike Hawes. “The test cycle dates back to the early 1980s and the industry recognises it isn’t fit for purpose,” said Hawes.

    “When you put a vehicle on the test cycle, for instance, all of the electronic devices that you would turn on in the real world – air-conditioning, heating, sat-nav, Bluetooth – all of that has to be switched off, by law, because when the regulation was created that sort of technology wasn’t available,” he added. Hawes himself is convinced that a more contemporary and realistic test cycle will be introduced in 2017.

    “We need completely independent tests that look at all sorts of detail, like Euro NCAP, which uses real-world testing. We need to look at that,” added Willis. On a global scale, newly-appointed Volkswagen CEO, Matthias Mueller, has stated that all affected vehicles will be rectified by the end of 2016.

  • Dieselgate – Volkswagen scandal to become a movie


    Talk about fast, and not even a complete month in at that. The dust that is Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal may still be hanging thickly in the air, but already there’s a book about the topic on the way and, get this, a movie somewhere down the line too.

    Entertainment Weekly reports that film rights to a book proposal have already been acquired by Paramount Pictures and Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way. The as-yet-unnamed book will be written by Jack Ewing, an European economics correspondent who has been reporting on the Dieselgate subject for the New York Times since the fiasco came to light last month.

    The report adds that the novel, which was sold to US publishing house Norton for a six-figure sum, will delve into the workings of the corporate culture at the German automaker and how it was caught out for having installed illegal “defeat devices” in its diesel-powered cars to help it comply with emissions tests in the US.

    Despite stating rectification plans and attempting a swift and relentless resolution to the scandal, the fall-out isn’t expected to abate anytime soon, and the journey towards recovering the brand’s image and reputability in the eyes of consumers is going to be a very long and arduous one. The movie probably won’t help the cause, but such is life.

  • Uber and GrabCar unimpressed by intimidation from taxi drivers, hope authorities will take action

    Taxi Drivers Protest Against GrabCar 6

    Despite rogue taxi drivers taking matters into their own hands by conducting “arrests” of Uber and GrabCar drivers, Uber has stated its stand – it remains unintimidated. The company says that vigilantism by these drivers will not see the ride-sharing app pulling its drivers off the streets, The Malay Mail reports. Meanwhile, GrabCar has also expressed its disappointment over the incident.

    “We strongly condemn the use of intimidation and violence against our driver partners, including holding our driver partners to ransom by assaulting them and damaging their cars and even intimidating and threatening riders,” Leon Foong, general manager of Uber’s Malaysian chapter said.

    “We are confident that the local authorities and judicial system will take note of these incidents and take immediate action against those indulging in violent and unlawful activities,” he added. Foong assured however that the company will carry on providing its services regardless of the setbacks.

    Meanwhile, GrabCar released a statement on the matter, saying that, “we are disappointed by the recent incidents of taxi drivers taking unilateral action against GrabCar drivers. We are concerned about the safety of our GrabCar drivers and passengers, and urge the authorities to ensure that crimes like assault, harassment and vandalism and any organisation that supports such disorderly behaviour, are not tolerated.”

    Taxi Drivers Protest Against GrabCar 1

    Both Uber and GrabCar said that they are offering Malaysians in general, an alternative option to get around. “All transport operators, whether GrabCar, taxi operators or other public transport operators, should similarly strive to provide safe rides, trusted drivers and cars in good conditions for the benefit of commuters in Malaysia,” GrabCar said in an e-mail statement.

    Meanwhile, Karun Arya, Uber’s head of communications for Southeast Asia and India said that there is an emergency helpline in place. Should Uber drivers face harassment or hostility of any kind, a distress call can be made. Upon response, a security team will be sent to the driver’s precise location. This was set up a few months ago, and the company is exploring other safety solutions, according to Arya.

    Both apps are facing hard times – from local protests which saw taxi drivers ambush a GrabCar driver to requests for both apps to be disabled and more recently, rogue “arrests” of Uber and GrabCar drivers around KLCC by taxi drivers. The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has urged that taxi drivers improve their services and image instead of going on protests.

    Today, the police has come out to warn taxi drivers not to take the law into their own hands. So folks, what’s your take on this issue?

  • Fiat revives Tipo name for global C-segment sedan


    Fiat has revived the Tipo name last used in the early 90s for its new global C-segment sedan. If it looks familiar, that’s because the car was previously shown as the Fiat Aegea at the Istanbul Motor Show in May.

    The Fiat-Chrysler Centro Stile-designed sedan was previously billed as a B-segment car, but its dimensions are nearer to the C-segment and it’s promoted as such now. The sedan measures 4.5m in length and is 1.78m wide, while the wheelbase is pretty long at 2,640 mm. Boot volume is a generous 510 litres.

    Within the Fiat brand, the Tipo is a member of the “Functional Family”, with an emphasis on value for money and practical features, as well as a straightforward model range and pricing structure.


    Fiat says that four engines will be available – two petrols, two MultiJet II turbodiesels – with power outputs ranging from 95 hp to 120 hp. Both manual and automatic transmissions are offered.

    Also available are FCA’s touchscreen Uconnect infotainment system with hands-free Bluetooth calling and audio streaming, a reverse camera and TomTom navigation.

    Developed in Turkey together with Tofas R&D, one of FCA’s largest R&D centres, the Tipo will be manufactured at the Bursa plant and go on sale in Europe, Asia and the Middle East from December. The sedan will retain the Fiat Aegea name for the Turkish market, and hatchback and wagon versions will surface later.

  • Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team wins constructors title, becomes ninth team to win back-to-back crowns


    Despite poleman Nico Rosberg not finishing the Russian Grand Prix last weekend, Lewis Hamilton’s victory at Sochi provided enough points for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team to secure the 2015 Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship title.

    Ferrari was the only team left within striking distance of the crown, and with Hamilton the only finisher for the Mercedes team in Russia, it initially looked like the championship would have to be decided at the following race in the United States.

    After the race, however, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was penalised for a bold overtaking move on Valtteri Bottas that saw the Williams driver crash out of a potential third place finish, and Raikkonen limp to the chequered flag in fifth. Kimi was given a post-race 30-second time penalty for the incident, and subsequently fell down the pecking order to eighth place.


    The stewards’ post-race decision meant that Hamilton’s maximum 25 points scored was enough to land his team its second successive Constructors’ Championship title, with 531 points scored thus far, with four races remaining in the season.

    Scuderia Ferrari trails behind with 359 points, while the Williams F1 team holds the third spot with 220 points.

    In the Drivers’ Championship, Mercedes’ Hamilton (302 points) has stretched his lead to 66 points, leading newly-promoted second-place man Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari (236 points), while Rosberg’s (229 points) DNF at Sochi saw him demoted to third place in the championship.

    Formula 1 takes its usual break this weekend, but will be back on October 25 for the United States GP. Will Hamilton be able to claim his third World Drivers’ Championship title?

  • SPYSHOTS: BMW X2 test mule makes first appearance


    Confirmed to take shape for some time now, here are the first spyshots of the new BMW X2 compact SUV coupe prototype undergoing a public road test. If you haven’t been clued in yet, a BMW X2 would essentially be a ‘coupe’ version of the X1, just like the X4 and 6 are to the X3 and X5.

    Underpinned by the same UKL platform as the X1 and 2 Series Active Tourer and 2 Series Gran Tourer duo before it, the X2 will be BMW’s fourth front-wheel driven model, albeit with the option of going all-wheel drive with X2 xDrive variants.

    It’s very early days for the test mule you see here, which wears a heavy coat of camouflage to mask nearly everything but its own silhouette. Still, there are a few things worth examining closer.

    The X2 prototype here appears to be similarly sized as the X1, is equipped with four doors, but features a sportier, sloping roofline instead. The tailgate is also significantly more curved than the X1 it is based on.

    What really catches our attention is how low and wide the X2 prototype’s stance is – it’s either that these photos are playing tricks on our eyes, or that the car is significantly more aggressive than its X1 sibling.

    At the front end of the car, BMW’s signature kidney grille design is apparent and shows its black fins, while the brand’s twin-circular headlamps also peak through the camo.

    On to the rear, and twin exhaust tips are noticeable, but as was the case with the BMW X3 prototype we just showed you, don’t be fooled by the apparent circular taillights – we reckon they’re purely a clever way to mask the new L-shape design rear lamps the BMW brand has been fond of in recent times.

    As with the drivetrain, it’s also expected that a similar line-up of three- and four-cylinder BMW TwinPower petrol and diesel engines available to the X1 will be at the new X2’s disposal.

    The BMW X2 Sports Activity Coupe (as the brand prefers to coin it) will make a global debut sometime in 2017, while pre-production concepts of it may appear throughout 2016.

  • VIDEO: Mercedes-Benz makes uncrashable (toy) cars

    Give most kids a couple of toy cars, and before you know it, the little objects are being smashed against each other. But what happens when it’s not possible to do so, no matter how hard you try?

    That’s the premise of this Mercedes-Benz video, which isn’t really about getting the kids angry, crying and even a bit loony at the end, despite the drama, but rather about showcasing the automaker’s tech through ‘uncrashable’ toy cars.

    The video sees a number of kids attempting to crash toy Merc models, and failing miserably at that – unbeknownst to the kids, the toy cars that have been presented to them have magnets with a high level of flux, each with like magnetic poles so they repel each other. The result is frustration.

    Crafted by German ad agency Jung von Matt, the clip is actually meant to promote the automaker’s Brake Assist System PLUS in a novel way to families. The radar-based system monitors vehicles ahead and optimises the applied brake power as soon as the driver steps on the brakes, helping drivers not only to avoid rear-end collisions, but also collisions with crossing traffic at junctions.

  • 2016 Toyota Prius specs revealed – 40 km/l target FC


    When the 2016 Toyota Prius was unveiled last month, we saw in full the bold, avant-garde styling, but little in the way of actual specifications regarding the revamped powertrain. That time has come, with Japan’s largest carmaker posting more details about what moves the fourth generation of its iconic hybrid.

    Firstly, there’s the internal combustion engine (ICE) – the current 2ZR-FXE 1.8 litre Atkinson-cycle VVT-i petrol four-pot has been retained, but is now completely reengineered. Power and torque remain near-identical – the former is actually a horsepower down, so the figures stand at 97 hp and 142 Nm. However, peak torque is now made 400 rpm lower in the rev range, at 3,600 rpm.

    But the main improvements come in terms of thermal efficiency. As previously reported, the engine is now the world’s most efficient mass-produced ICE – with a maximum figure of 40% – thanks to a large-volume exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system, a redesigned air intake port that improve combustion chamber airflow, revised coolant passages to optimise internal engine temperature and improvements in combustion efficiency. Internal friction has also been reduced, thanks to, among others, the use of low-viscosity oil.

    Click to enlarge

    The two all-new electric motors are, strangely enough, also less powerful than the ones that came before. Power is now at 53 kW (71 hp) instead of 60 kW (80 hp) previously, while torque has decreased from 207 Nm to 163 Nm. It’s no wonder that Toyota has yet to release the total system power output figure, as it’s bound to be lower than the current 134 hp.

    Despite the reduced output, both motors actually boast higher output densities, being smaller and lighter than before and incorporating a rolling-coil structure. The size and weight of other key components, such as the transaxle, power control unit and batteries, have also been reduced – improving fuel and space efficiency.

    The power control unit, in particular, has been upgraded – including the use of low-loss components – to deliver 20% lower electrical losses, with a more compact design enabling it to sit directly above the transaxle. Speaking of which, the latter also possesses 20% fewer losses thanks to the motors’ multi-shaft positioning, as well as the relocation of the final drive reduction gear onto the same axis as the drive motor.


    Depending on where you live, the Prius will be offered with either nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion batteries, both positioned under the rear seats. The relocation of the auxiliary battery to the engine bay from the boot floor increases cargo space by 52 litres to 502 litres, despite the rear deck now 55 mm lower than before. For the first time, the Prius will also be offered in E-Four guise, with a high-output rear electric motor providing four-wheel drive – without compromising boot capacity.

    Fuel efficiency is improved further through the use of an automatic grille shutter (drag coefficient now down to 0.24 Cd), an improved and more compact exhaust heat recirculation system, an engine coolant selector valve and a new system that accelerates engine heating. Altogether, the Prius is targeted to achieve a fuel consumption figure of 40 km per litre on the JC08 cycle, up from 32.6 km per litre of its predecessor.

    Under the skin, the Prius is the first car to ride on the modular Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), designed to lower the centre of gravity. Torsional rigidity is up 60% due to the use of laser screw welding, structural body adhesives and ring-shaped frame structures. High-tensile-strength steel content, utilising hot-stamped materials, has also been increased from 3% on the previous model to 19%

    In conjunction with the new double wishbone rear suspension (which replaces the previous torsion beam setup), the increased rigidity not only improves handling, but is also claimed to deliver a firm, stable ride, as well as lower NVH – this can be felt, Toyota says, from the windows and doors down to less obvious areas such as the floor and ceiling.

    Elsewhere, there are revisions to the hybrid system software to improve acceleration feel, an adaptive system in Power mode that engages a sportier acceleration and deceleration setting during enthusiastic driving, as well as a new active hydraulic booster for regenerative braking to improve brake feel and reduce noise.

    Other measures to improve comfort include lighter and more space-efficient front seats with upgraded frames and cushioning to provide a snug fit and chiropractic control, repositioned back springs for improved posture as well as a 59 mm lower hip point that provide a more natural and comfortable seating position. At the back, there’s improved cushioning and a wider seating area, and while the roofline is lower than before, Toyota claims headroom has actually increased over the old car.

    More improvements abound inside – the digital instrument cluster has been redesigned with two 4.2 inch full-colour TFT LCD screens – multi-info display on the left, basic vehicle data on the right. There’s also a Toyota-first full-colour head-up display (HUD) projected directly to the windscreen, a temperature-regulating synthetic leather steering wheel, as well as an S-flow air-conditioning system that focuses airflow only at where the occupants are seated, to maximise comfort and fuel economy.

    Active safety features include the Toyota Safety Sense P suite with Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam and Radar Cruise Control, an Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) that prevents collisions resulting from low-speed pedal misapplication, Simple Intelligent Parking Assist, a Blind Spot Monitor as well as the new Japan-only ITS Connect vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication service, first fitted to the facelifted Crown range.

    Oh, and remember the lurid green heat-reflective paint we reported a few weeks ago? Toyota has finally revealed what it is – a Thermo-Tec Lime Green paint option exclusive for the Japanese market, that helps “mitigate increases in exterior surface temperature.”

    Watch more in-depth videos of the new 2016 Toyota Prius here.


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