30 May 2012

Second version of Toyota Corolla leaked - the Auris

First it was the Corolla Axio/Fielder duo, now the European version of the compact Toyota has been revealed, or more appropriately, leaked. From current generation onwards, Toyota has dropped the Corolla nameplate from its European mid-size hatchback, instead renamed it simply to Auris. Toyota Auris is also available in Japan since 2006 as a replacement for Corolla Runx. True to Toyota habit of re-skinning their car to create multiple version, Toyota Blade is the product of this philosophy. Larger externally, and featuring bigger 2.4L powertrain, it is the highest end among all the Corolla family traits.

The current Toyota Auris sits on the same platform as the Corolla Altis/Corolla Axio siblings. The wheelbase measured an identical 2,600mm, while overall length is shorter due to hatchback body style. It measures 4,245mm in length, against the 4.5m of the sedan version. Width and height are 1,760mm and 1,515mm respectively.

For the new generation Toyota Auris, Toyota has lengthened the car to 4,270mm while the wheelbase has been retained. While width also retained at 1,760mm, the overall height has been reduced to 1,460mm. The new Auris also bears a lot styling cues from the current crops of Toyota cars. The slim headlight and radiator grille opening is a reminiscent of the current Toyota Wish, while the front bumper is heavily Aqua/Prius C look alike, more so the side profile. The rear end however has gone distinctive, unlike the weedy looking Aqua/Prius C. The hatch is truncated in almost vertical fashion, while the flashy tail lamps and tail gate garnish complete the attractive look.

The interior adopts the latest theme pioneered by the new Toyota Yaris and Toyota Aqua/Prius C. Sticking true to the current Auris interior concept, the whole cabin is entirely different from the more conservative Asian flavored Corolla sedan. However, the towering gear console like the current Auris has been relegated to history  as the new layout is more conventional with the seat-level floor console. Toyota claimed an improved accommodation due to the repositioning of seats and dashboard.

The car is due to be out to the Japanese market in July. The powertrain line-up mirrors those on the current car, namely comes in 1.5L and 1.8L. While both engine are paired to CVT, the sportier 1.8L will also be available with 6 speed manual. This higher displacement model also will be fitted with double wishbones rear suspension, instead of a torsion beam setup of the lower powered version. This fitments is consistent with the current Toyota Auris. Some more photos after the jump.

29 May 2012

It is official good bye - Syed Zainal resigned from Proton

Proton has released an official statement, confirming the resignation of Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin from the national car maker. It has been rumoured since the aftermath of DRB-Hicom takeover that the Proton supremo is going to pursue another interest. This is also broadcasted in TV3's Buletin Utama minutes ago.

Proton official statement also mentioned the resignation of Chief Financial Officer, En. Azhar Othman. No news yet on where Syed Zainal is going to land next, but rest assured, this kind of people are clearly in the 'talent pool' of capable Malaysian, and surely will be continuously in the frame as far as Malaysia progression is concerned.

Syed Zainal has been with Proton for six years, or from January 2006 to be precise. I still remember vividly sometimes in 2005 when I went for some job interview to quit Proton, when the interviewer asked me if I want to wait for a while for Syed Zainal to take reign of Proton, to wait if it will bring a positive mood to Proton whole operational activity. Indeed I stayed, and indeed it was a correct decision. Syed Zainal was the best leader ever exist in Proton. No point to elaborate this anymore, as many of post before were clearly signalling my respect to him. But I left anyway some years later. But, for me, Syed Zainal is of the most charismatic MD ever. Just go google to find the video of his speech during the launch of Proton Exora, and you won't find many MD that possesses the same aural presence!

So DSZ, thanks for giving us the booted Gen2, thanks for giving us the rakyat's car new Saga BLM, thanks for bringing down the entry price to the MPV class, and finally thanks for bringing Italdesign Giugiaro in Malaysian car design landscape.

27 May 2012

Peugeot 408 - specification & gallery

Peugeot 408 is a C Segment sedan designed for the emerging market such as China, Russia and Malaysia. It sits on a lengthened Peugeot 308 platfrom, which was lengthened by 98mm. It is available in wide range of engine, covering both gasoline and diesel. However in Malaysia, the locally-assembled Peugeot 408 comes in two flavour, 2.0L NA and 1.6L THP. The 2.0L is the cheaper of the two despite the engine capacity, and is tuned for more sedate driving. Meanwhile, the 1.6L THP gets the powerful 240Nm lump, higher specified and carries higher price tag too. The 2.0L is priced at RM109,888, while the 1.6L THP is priced at RM125,888, which is bang on the Honda Civic 2.0S territory.

The 2.0L version is powered by the DOHC 16V unit with VVT displacing 1,997cc. The unit kicks out 145bhp@6,000rpm and 200Nm@4,000rpm. The powertrain is mated to archaic-sound 4 speed automatic, but equipped with Tiptronic and Sport courtesy.In this specs, the car is shod with 215/50 R17 tyres. Maximum speed is claimed to be 195 km/h while 100 km/h sprint can be done is 12.5s.

The 1.6L version is powered by now-famous 1,598cc lump with force induction. It features twin scroll turbo with direct injection. It delivers 163bhp@6,000rpm and punching out an excellent 240Nm of torque from lowly 1,400rpm. This is the real deal of a turbocharged 1.6L engine. Drive is channelled via the 6 speed automatic transmission that also comes with adaptive, sport and Tiptronic mode. Compared to the 2.0L version, the tyres are fatter, comes from 225/45 R17 variety. Century sprint is 9.2s while the top speed is 215 km/h. This version complies with Euro 5 emission legislation, while the cheaper alternative is Euro 4 compliant.
Peugeot 408 is 4,682mm long, 1,815mm wide and 1,525mm tall. It rides on a 2,710mm wheelbase. The long rear overhang of 1,032mm helps it to swallow 562L worth of luggage, which is also assisted by the compact torsion beam rear suspension. Front wheel movement is controlled via McPherson struts. Ventilated disc is used up front, while rears are taken care by the solid item.

Moving on to the interior, Peugeot 408  dashboard is virtually identical to the Peugeot 308 hatchback sibling. One thing to note here is that Peugeot is more skillfull in dashboard texturing. The top portion of the dashboard is the soft padded plastic, contributes greatly to quality perception. The upper portion of the door trim carries the same texturing. Despite the use of hard plastic here, it does not looks any cheapskate. The rest of the interior is typical Peugeot, pure Gallic in nature.

Typical to all Naza-produced car, Peugeot 408 is comprehensively equipped. Both versions of Peugeot 408 comes with an automatic dual-zone climate control system, rear aircond vents, 6 speakers sound system that plays CD/MP3, USB and Bluetooth, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, one touch power window with anti-pinch for all four windows, cruise control with speed limiter function, 17" alloy wheels, Follow Me Home light function, automatic light and wiper and automatic retractable side mirror. The more expensive 408 Turbo gets additional luxury touch such as premium leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with aluminium inserts, auto-dimming rear view mirror and a rear armrest with two cup holders. The 408 Turbo also comes with aluminium insert for the pedal.

In terms of safety, both variants feature two smart airbags, ABS, EBD and EBA. Opting for the 408 Turbo version will get you front side airbags, front and rear curtain airbags, electronic stability programme (ESP) and anti-skid regulation (ASR).

Gallery of both variant can be found after the jump.

BMW updates the 7 Series flagship

Among all the modern day BMW, the flagship 7 Series is the oldest one, and it looks like one too. BMW technology and design evolution do not follow the same coincidence cycle. For example, the 7 Series might have debuted some of the electronic trickery that has been filtered down to the mainstream model, but the updated design philosophy only debuted with the new 1 Series and 3 Series. In an attempt to prolong relevancy of its flagship series, BMW has thrown in some updates to keep the model fresh. The new BMW 7 Series reinforces BMW’s commitment to building the finest flagship model possible with a focus on sporting elegance, superb refinement and luxurious comfort combined with efficient yet high performance powertrains.

Small design enhancements, including new optional Adaptive LED headlights, accentuate the strong, powerful lines and balanced proportions inherent to the 7 Series. Inside and the pursuit of innovation is apparent with an enhanced control display and a new optional multi-function Instrument panel providing access to the latest in BMW’s ConnectedDrive technology. Additional in-car refinement measures and further optimisation of the 7 Series’ chassis have led to an even higher level of driving comfort for the occupants.
 On the powertrain front, the updated 7 Series features a revised range of highly efficient engines, a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox and the full array of EfficientDynamics technologies thus the new BMW 7 Series combines enhanced performance with significantly reduced emissions and fuel consumption. 

From the front, the new 7 Series now presents the latest version of the famous BMW kidney grille which features a larger aperture but with nine instead of 13 slats for greater visual impact. In the lower section a full-width air intake is now split into three sections, defined by a pair of chrome bars on the outer edges and flanked by vertical air intakes that form part of the advanced aerodynamic package. The headlight internals also have been updated with the graphic that is more in-line with the new 1 and 3 Series. At the back, additional chrome element has been added at the lower valence, connecting the reflectors as well as connecting the rear light (which anyway has more red lens). Side mirrors gain an LED indicator too. The car also sits 8mm lower than before.

The interior has been re-crafted with newly design front leather seat, new 1,200 watt Bang & Olufsen Surround Sound System and an optional rear seat entertainment system. 
The powertrain range kicks in the entry level 730i which runs on the naturally aspirated 3.0L punching out 258bhp and 310Nm. The next up is the BMW 740i powered by the superb TwinPower turbo 3.0-litre straight-six, a pioneer of BMW’s integration of twin-scroll turbo technology with direct fuel injection, Double-VANOS and Valvetronic for maximum throttle response and power with highly efficient consumption. The engine has a peak power output of 320hp and a maximum torque of 450Nm. 

Fans of a higher powered version should opt for BMW 750i that comes with a revised version of the TwinPower turbo 4.4-litre V8, with optimised high pressure direct fuel injection and reduced charge cycle losses thanks to the clever integration of Valvetronic variable control of intake valve lift. The engine now delivers 10per cent more power at 449hp, and 8.5per cent more torque at a mighty 650Nm, developed over a broad rev band – enough for a 0-62mph sprint of 4.8 seconds. 

Gasoline range topper meanwhile is the 760Li powered by an  all-aluminium, 5,972cc V12 features TwinPower turbo technology, direct fuel injection and Double-VANOS variable camshaft control to produce 544hp and 750Nm of torque from as low as 1,500rpm. Predictably, this gives the 760Li superb acceleration and speed (0-62mph takes just 4.6 seconds and the top speed is limited electronically to 250 km/h), all delivered with the silky refinement. More details after the jump.

26 May 2012

Lotus CEO Danny Bahar suspended

Lotus CEO, Danny Bahar has been suspended from his job, according to Autocar. This is following the complaint about Bahar's conduct, as confirmed by DRB-HICOM.

DRB said the decision was made based on operational review but Bahar will be welcomed to return to his position if the investigation found no fault in his part. Group Lotus Plc also has confirmed the statement. DRB-Hicom statement said "Following an operational review, CEO Danny Bahar has been temporarily suspended from his role to facilitate an investigation into a complaint about his conduct made by Lotus' penultimate parent company, DRB-HICOM Berhad."

In Bahar absence, Lotus operational matters now has been handed to Dato' Lukman Ibrahim, Mohd Khalid Yusof and Aslam Farikulla. Rusman Zaihan the CFO will also be assisting.

Danny Bahar was supposed to in Monaco this weekend to attend the glamorous Gran Prix, but instead was called to Malaysia where he was given news of his suspension.

24 May 2012

Peugeot 301 revealed - low cost sedan for emerging market

Peugeot has released the information on its new 301 model ahead of Paris Motor Show unveiling in September. The car also debuted the new naming system of Peugeot car, dropping the "8" after "0", for example 308 and 508. Build to cater the "emerging" market like Turkey, Eastern Europe, Russia, African states and a few others, Peugeot 301 brings the new Peugeot design language element onto a cheaper "third world" body design.

Measuring 4,440mm long and 2,650mm wheelbase, Peugeot 301 sets to offer a generous accommodation for the masses. The boot volume is cavernous 506L, while the rear seat accommodation is claimed to be class-leading too. To keep the cost down, Peugeot has grafted  a modern element of its current design language (floating front grille, fancy headlight and distinctive rear combi internals like the 208) onto a cheap, boxy slab metal stamping panel which is renown for its cheap manufacturing tooling cost. However, Peugeot 301 still manage to look quite good, especially with modern-ish bumper and light design, as well as pleasingly-styled alloys.

Despite the pared back cost-conscious body styling, the equipment level is bang up to date. Features such as electronically controlled air-conditioning, audio system that plays MP3 and Bluetooth as well as USB and remote trunk lid operation. Safety items are not compromised either as 301 is equipped with ABS, ESP, EBA, ISOFIX mounting and up to 4 airbags. Not fire breaking deal, but sufficiently equipped nevertheless.

In the powertrain department, Peugeot 301 is as modern as it can get. It is the second only to Peugeot 208 in getting the new 3 cylinder gasoline engine, namely the 1.2L VTi kicking 71bhp paired to either manual or EGC gearbox. The other petrol option is the 1.6L VTi version with 115bhp that can be mated to either manual or conventional torque-converter automatic. The final option is 1.6L HDi diesel powertrain unit, punching out 92bhp and available only as manual.

The interior can described as functional at best. Clearly lacking the panache of Peugeot recent interior offerings, 301 interior is a good combination of cost and aesthetic. The door trim and the dashboard are visibly cheap in their simple geometry fascia, but the overall ambiance is upped by the clever use of high-gloss black insert and the shiny silver pieces. The buttons and vents are chunky in appearance, but who we or anyone on earth for the matter, to comment about the interior quality simply by looking at single photo?

So far Peugeot 301 is destinated to arrive in the third world market with left hand drive steering position. However, judging by many other market spesific model that somehow arrive in Asian, MMN won't be surprise if the 301 makes it way to RHD market to replace the dinosaur-age Peugeot 207, a sedan that inherit the hatchback rear door!

Some more photo can be found after the jump.

World first pedestrian airbag - standard on Volvo V40

Every year, 1.3 million people are killed on the world's roads where significant percentage comprises of pedestrian. For Volvo, safety has been a key priority for 85 years and in 2008, launched a unique goal in that ‘By 2020, nobody shall be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo' and to contribute towards the aim, it has fitted technology including Pedestrian Detection, City Safety and the Pedestrian Airbag.

The Pedestrian Airbag technology was a world breakthrough when the all-new Volvo V40 was launched in Geneva earlier this year and will to be fitted as standard to all specifications. The system is active at speeds between 20 and 50 km/h. According to statistics, 75% of all accidents involving pedestrians take place at speed of up to 40 km/h.

Sometimes in early of the new millennium, there has been actually some design guidelines in terms of pedestrian protection. This was when car's hood start become bulbous because there needs to have 75mm minimum clearance between the highest point in the engine compartment and the lowest point of hood inner structure. Yours truly in 2005 was looking into designing the then-axed major Waja facelift, and at that time the packaging of Campro engine within the newly design hood for Waja facelift was quite a concern as the Campro engine can't be lowered any further in the chassis. However, since the project was killed sometimes after that, the whole exercise becomes academic.

At that time, the seventh generation Honda Civic was the benchmark, especially the short-hood Euro version. There's virtually "soft" padded panels everywhere in the hood, fender inner, bumper beam and even the headlight has a sliding mechanism within the bracket to reduce the force exerted on the pedestrian. More details after the jump. 

22 May 2012

Peugeot 408 finally launched - 2 variants, from RM109,888

After months of pounding Malaysian streets and spied on many occasions, Nasim Sdn. Bhd finally has launched its C Segment contender, the 408. Codenamed T73, the new sedan is manufactured at Naza Automotive Manufacturing (NAM) plant at Gurun, which is meant to be the Peugeot manufacturing hub for many countries in the nearby region. Two variants are offered for Malaysian buyer; an entry level 2.0L naturally aspirated and a turbocharged 1.6L.

Peugeot 408 was conceived to redefine the C Segment car in Malaysia. Seems that this segment is becoming increasingly competitive where the range starts from sub RM60k with Proton Preve ( with its C Segment size and B Segment level in all other things), moving up to Naza Forte ( genuine C Segment in everything but B Segment price), Inokom Elantra ( similarly deeply engineered like Forte, but slightly more expensive), a bunch of also-ran in between these gaggle (like Chevy Cruze & Mazda3) and the segment stalwarts like Toyota Corolla Altis and Honda Civic. Capitalizing on the similarity of taste between us and other conservative market like China, thankfully there's suitable model for the masses here. Build on the lengthened Peugeot 308 platform, the wheelbase was extended to 2,710mm from 2,612mm originally. Other vital dimensions are 4,682mm, 1,815mm and 1,525mm for length, width and height respectively. Peugeot 308 basic packaging but with an additional boot can only mean one thing, a massive boot space which stands at 562L!

In terms of exterior styling, Peugeot 408 adopts the semi-update of the Peugeot contemporary look. While it is not in the same league as the newer Peugeot 508 and 208, particularly around the front end design, Peugeot 408 still features Peugeot’s trademark feline headlights, thin chrome strips on the radiator grille, and sculptured lines on the bonnet that flow naturally into the wide, slopping windscreen. Meanwhile, the sides of the 408 feature carved wheel arches while the plunging body line from the rear lights to the front wing illustrate the image of a dynamic, modern and robust vehicle. The rear lights of the all-new 408 are ruby red that are trimmed with a clear white strip that hint at a lion’s claws within the cluster in Peugeot literature speak.

To combat with the C Segment leader aforementioned, Nasim has equipped the Peugeot 408 quite generously. Both versions of Peugeot 408 comes with an automatic dual-zone climate control system, rear aircond vents, 6 speakers sound system that plays CD/MP3, USB and Bluetooth, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, one touch power window with anti-pinch for all four windows, cruise control with speed limiter function, 17" alloy wheels, Follow Me Home light function, automatic light and wiper and automatic retractable side mirror. The more expensive 408 Turbo gets additional luxury touch such as premium leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with aluminium inserts, auto-dimming rear view mirror and a rear armrest with two cup holders. More details after the jump.

21 May 2012

Honda CR-Z Drive Impression

Honda CR-Z. Name that is reminiscent of the legendary Honda CRX, with similarly wedge-like silhouette with low nose snout before rising to an abrupt chopped-off hatchback. Is it any good? To make it even more interesting, Honda CR-Z is true blue new millennium Honda, where  double wishbone suspension now has been sent-off for retirement and in comes the torsion beam. Similar story with the NA engine that rev to the moon, it too has been, well dispatched to the moon and replaced with the hybrid drivetrain. Well, to cut the discussion short, Honda CR-Z still, one hell of a car! Priced only at RM115,000, many thanks to Malaysian government generosity as far hybrid car tax is concern. Honda also threw in 5 years/140,000km warranty for the battery, just so you can have good peace of mind on the top of 3 years/100,000km warranty for the car.

Artistically styled to succeed the last hero of CRX, the shape of CR-Z is actually how the aerodynamically-shaped car body design will converged. The low snout is good for reducing air resistance, while the gradual slimming towards the back is gentle to the departing flow. Just as the air will start to detach and induce drag, the body is cut-off. However what matters to the customer is how the car looks, and in his aspect, the CR-Z does look imposing and signalled the right sporting intent. It is as cool as the youthful-reasonable price balanced can be. Think of people "graduating" from their Proton Satria Neo (sporty look, superb handling, mild pace and most important of all, cheap) and you'll get the point.

In the era where hot hatchback is banging the 90's supercar with their near 300bhp power stake, hugging the  apex thanks to their torque vectoring system hooked to the AWD drivetrain and can banished the V8 sport sedan from late 80's in their century sprint, Honda CR-Z is a refreshing take. Powered by a puny 1.5L engine hooked to Honda's IMA hybrid system, the powertrain kicked out a fresh 124PS@6,000rpm and 174Nm from lowly 1,000rpm. Mated to the 6 speed manual transmission, the car can achieved the 100 km/h milestone is breezy 9.1s. Still want to race with that Perodua Myvi Extreme?

The lithe outlook revealed a petite measurement. Mere 4,080mm is what you'll get when stretching the measuring tape from the front chin to the rear deck. The width is 1,740mm and height is 1,395mm. But within the 2,435mm of the chopped-off Honda Insight platfrom lies the most focused car cabin I've ever encountered at this price. The cabin sports a 2+2 layout, which means two seats up front and,well, two seats at the back with reduced scale. Boot space is 214L, the tally will be 401L when the rear seat folded.

Anyhow, the cabin is perfectly packaged for an enthusiastic driver. You'll sit low, with your legs stretch ahead reaching the perfectly-spaced pedals. The ergonomics of the interaction between the seat, steering and gear knob are just pure, plainly awesomely perfect. Achieved this, and everything else in the cabin is secondary. Among those secondary items are the disco-like instrumentation with multi dials, showing everything that the hybrid system does. There are also Modes button : Sport, Normal and Econ. I'll drive in Sport all day, where the steering assistance is tighten, throttle action loosen and IMA kicks in to assist you.

This is the key. Key on how the IMA hybrid is used not to save the penguin in the Antarctica, but to lend you the extra kick that normally won't be there for the naturally-aspirated 1.5L gasoline engine. It really goes. Perhaps also assisted by the feathery 1,160kg of kerb weight. The clutch action is light, but set a bit higher up so a small depress is enough to slot in the gear. On the move, the steering feels, full of modern feel. People in the magazine keep mourning the loss of VW first generation GTI steering feel, but to be honest, this is 2012 where people and legislation are galaxy apart from those of 70's.

On the move, the progression from gear to gear is pleasant. You can really feel the movement of the front end biting in the corner. It just flows. While yours truly has no chance to neither sped off to 150 km/h nor blast the Batang Kali back road, but the short driving impression is suffice to tell that the CR-Z is one of the drivers car. 

In a way, this is how a modern hatchback is. Small, low capacity engine and fun handling. To lend the extra kick to keep on pace with the turbocharged mutant these days, the electric motor can lend the torque. When you are relax a bit, the gasoline will do the job. When coupled with the perfectly placed driver control item (steering and gear) and the interaction of the chassis with all these, it delivers a driving sensation unparalleled with the pure power alone. This is what Honda CR-Z is all about.

What bugged me the most is, just personal. Why this car only exist  now when I have 3 kids to tow around? Why isn't it here when I was fresh graduate, but somehow has the non-fresh grad salary like now? I wish I can turn around time. This is the only problem with Honda CR-Z!

Some showroom photos after the jump.

20 May 2012

In June - Toyota 86, yours for RM133.34 (T&C applies)

Interested yet? Want to know the Terms and Condition (T&C)? Well, you can have it, as long as you have to assemble it yourselves, and you'll need to persuade Doraemon to lend you the  "terowong mengecil" to 1/24th of your original height. Yes guys, it is a Tamiya newly launched product in Japan, priced at 3,360yen. For your information, 3,360 yen is no big deal as it is equivalent to a few magazines price only, refer HERE.

Tamiya has launched both of the Japanese drifting twin, the 86 and Subaru BRZ. While the Toyota version will be on the shelf in June, the Subaru equivalent will be available a month later. Measuring 177mm in length, both car differs only slightly. Just like their real world car.

For those unfamiliar with Tamiya cars, you'll need to cut the component yourselves, glue them together, paint it and finish them to perfection. I once got the Nissan Fairlady Nismo, bought by my wife during her Japan's business trip, I took six intermittent month to complete it!

Small gallery after the jump, courtesy of Carwatch. Now when is my next trip to Japan?

19 May 2012

Ferrari 458 Spider launched in Malaysia

Ferrari 458 Spider is now officially in Malaysia. Priced from RM1.9million, the topless Italian is also available with Ferrari Tailor Made customization program which could increased the price to the limit of your bank account (assuming you can afford it in the first place). The foldable roof sibling to the 458 Italia was launched globally back in September last year in Frankfurt motorshow, MMN article can be read HERE.

Spider version of 458 model is equipped with patented, fully retractable hard top instead of traditional soft top that usually fitted to Ferrari. Instead, Ferrari 458 Spider employed a folded hard that swing around rear buttress before being lowered on top of engine compartment.  

There's no need to dwell to long on the specification of the Ferrari 458 Spider as it is available on the net since last year. But in case you managed not to know, or managed to forget, here are vital numbers:

Dimensions: 4527mm x 1937mm x 1211mm (length x width x height) with 2650mm of wheelbase
Weight : 1430 kg with 42/58 weight distribution
Powertrain: 4,499cc V8 producing 570hp@9000 rpm and 540Nm@6000 rpm
Transmission: 7 speed dual clutch gearbox
Tyre size: 235/35 ZR20 (F) & 295/35 ZR20 (R)
Performance: <3.4 seconds for century sprint and 320km/h top speed
Fuel consumptions: 11.8l / 100 km

Full gallery can be seen HERE.
Main photo above from Motortrader.

Toyota 86 gains more firepower - 320bhp & 420Nm

If you think the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ is a bit lacking in intimidating power, Gazoo Racing might have the answer for you. The FA20 lump has been fettled with two form of forced induction, namely both supercharger and turbocharger. The combination would be good to deliver low end punch as well as top rev power. In current state of tuning, the powertrain delivers 320bhp and 421Nm, channelling the drive only via the 6 speed manual transmission. Officially dubbed as a concept, but the kit could filter out as an aftermarket add-on at some stage. The powertrain output is healthy upgrade from the standard unit 197bhp/205Nm punch.
Apart from the increased in the power stake, Gazoo Racing also has recalibrated the chassis setup in the form of revised suspension tuning, upgraded braking systems and wider tyre combination of 245/40 R18 for the front and 265/35 R18 at the back (upped from 215/40 R18 and 225/40 R18 in standard car).

Aesthetically, the exterior has been garnished with more muscular front bumper that comes with bigger intakes and wider too, that goes with wide-body side panelling that include new fender, more protruding sills and wider rear arches. Rear spoiler and new rear bumper complete the exterior makeover.
The cosy cabin has been made more intimate when some of precious space is now shared with the roll cage. Four point harness is also part of the package, as well as the bucket seats which are the sole seat in the cabin as the rear set was deemed unfocused. The interior trimmings are different, with more striking combination of black leather with red stitching, painted plastic panel and bare steering wheel.

The car is called Sport FR Concept. It is currently being showcased at the Le Mans 24 Hours race where Toyota fielded four Toyota 86 and one Lexus LFA. Some more photos of Toyota 86 Sport FR Concept can be found after the jump.

17 May 2012

Mazda CX-5 SUV arrived in Malaysia

Bermaz Motor has brought in the CX-5 SUV model, which they have started teasing since a few month ago and have opened the order book. Out of several powertrain combo available, Bermaz launched only a 2.0L Skyactiv-G, essentially a petrol powered version equipped with Mazda direct injection system. Two drivetrain package are offered, front-drive and 4WD. Both version channelled the drive via  6 speed automatic gearbox.

The new compact crossover SUV is Mazda's first full implementation of Skyactiv Technology and KODO design language. KODO design language is the epitome of Soul of Motion. The new Mazda design language, replacing the short-lived Nagare concept, was inspired by nature's power and beauty as well as the concept of object in motion.  The aforementioned Skyactiv technology mainly branched into two fronts; namely advanced lightweight body structure and advanced powertrain. For the body structure, the design is optimized for lightness and rigidity via iterations of multi-load path concept. This eliminate the redundancy in body stiffening, as single reinforcement can resist loading from multi-direction. The use of high strength steel has assist in achieving this, while still maintaining top-class safety standard.

Mazda CX-5 is 4,555mm long, 1,840mm wide and 1,670mm tall. The interior is packaged in such a way that it deliver spacious, practical and smart solution. The class-leading 2700mm wheelbase  yields a class-leading 997mm of rear seat legroom, giving an ample knee space for an adult to occupy the back seat. The boot space stands at 500L , big enough but not as voluminous like Honda CRV and new Kia Sportage. The rear seat adopts Mazda patented KARAKURI for an added flexibility is split-able 40/20/40.

In terms of size, Mazda CX-5 is almost the same size as the new Honda CR-V. The Honda SUV measures 4,550mm, 1,820mm and 1,685mm in length, width and height. Honda has a shorter wheelbase though at 2,620mm, which is retained since the first generation CR-V.

The Skyactiv-G powertrain that is being used in Malaysian-spec CX-5 is a 2.0L direct-injection lump with high 13:1 compression ratio. Those who followed the Skyactiv powertrain might notice the reduction in the compression ratio, this could be due to our low quality fuel which could induce knocking problem with the original compression ratio. Power output is quoted as 153hp@6,000rpm and 200Nm@4,000rpm for front wheel drive version, and the 4WD version has a slight reduction at 152hp/198Nm. More details after the jump.

15 May 2012

Alfa Romeo Giulietta brought in to Malaysia - RM178,888

The evocative Italian hatchback, Alfa Romeo Giulietta has been brought in by local distributer, Sime Darby Auto Italia. Launched in single variant as 1.4L TB Multiair, the higher performance Giulietta QV is slated to be on the way too.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta sits on Fiat's Group Compact global architecture, codenamed C-Evo. This platform was designed to underpin a range of car ranging from compact hatchback to a wider and longer-wheelbase sedan. Alfa Romeo Giulietta is the first receiver of the platfrom, and the recent Dodge Dart and Fiat Viaggio are among the newer recipient, albeit in slightly wider and longer format. The platform can accept only a transverse engine installation, but can accommodate both front and four wheel drive.

The 1.4L TB Multiair version brought in by SDAI is graced by a turbocharging application hooked to Fiat's patented Multiair valvetrain which is electro-hydraulic valve actuation control to continuously varies the intake valve system without the throttle control. This mill produced 168bhp@5,500rpm and 250Nm of torque at low 2,500rpm. Malaysian version is hooked to TCT transmission, which is essentially a 6 speed speed dual-clutch gearbox. Giulietta can crack nought to 100km/h in 7.7s and achieved 218 km/h of top speed. It comes with Start-Stop function as standard to boost efficiency, but it can be switched off too if you don't fancy such stuff. Also included is Alfa’s DNA selector, which gives the driver three driving modes namely Dynamic, Normal and All-Weather.

Malaysian Giulietta is highly specified with  bi-xenon AFS head lights, Bluetooth connectivity, voice control, USB/MP3 compatability, steering-mounted controls, rain sensors, parking sensors, electronic folding wing mirrors, electrochromic rear view mirror  and packed with safety features such as stability control, cornering brake control, Dynamic Steering Torque (DST), hydraulic brake assist, and torque vectoring control. It also comes with 6 airbags.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta is 4,351mm long, 1,798mm wide and 1,465mm tall. It rides on 2,634mm wheelbase. Boot volume is 350L. The car is suspended by McPhersons struts at the front and multi-link setup at the back. 

Some more photos can be found after the jump.

Vauxhall to launch a trio of new engine within 12 months

Vauxhall is replacing the core of its petrol and diesel line-up in the next 12 months with three all-new engine families that promise to lead the industry for CO2 emissions, economy, torque and refinement. The first to kick-in will be a new 1.6-litre ECOTEC turbo petrol engine with SIDI (spark ignition direct injection) and Start/Stop technology that will cut CO2 emissions by 13 per cent, compared with its predecessor. Similar to the trend followed by German luxuries manufacturer nowadays, the four-cylinder   engine will be available in various outputs and across several car lines. What will set it apart from rivals will be its levels of torque, combined with excellent linearity, reduced noise, strong performance and low fuel consumption.

Peak power for the new 1.6L SIDI is 200PS@4,700rpm, some 20PS higher than Vauxhall current turbocharged 1.6L. Maximum torque is 300Nm, pulled from 1,700rpm, resulting in a class-leading specific output of 187.5Nm per litre.

Vauxhall’s first spark ignition direct injection engine, the 155PS 2.2-litre ECOTEC, was first seen in the 2003 Signum and Vectra models, followed by the Zafira. Today, the Insignia 2.0-litre turbo continues the direct injection theme, and is currently available with 220PS and up to 250PS in some European markets.

This summer, the new Astra VXR will adopt a tuned version of the same engine, with a bespoke cylinder head and turbocharger, that produces 280PS, yet produces CO2 emissions of just 189g/km.  Production at the Szentgotthardt plant in Hungary will begin in late 2012.

13 May 2012

BMW 3 Series Touring announced

BMW has announced the arrival of the Touring version of the famous 3 Series. The latest model continues the trend that BMW started since E30 3 Series, a blend of  load capacity that is the largest in its class, complete with innovative storage solutions, wrapped in a dynamically styled and strong but lightweight body that follows the same winning formula of previous BMW 3 Series Tourings over the years. 

For the exterior, the 3 Series Touring is exactly the same as its Saloon brethren from the tip of the nose to the B-pillar. It gets the similarly  expressive front end, twin headlamps with LED accent lights that combine with the gently forward sloping BMW kidney grille to generate a purposeful face, further highlighted by the additional outer air intakes below the headlamps and the sweeping lines of the bonnet that converge on the grille.
From the side, the new 3 Series Touring is defined by the sweeping silhouette, with its smoothly sloping roofline and glasshouse that extends to the rear of the vehicle. The new car is 97mm longer overall and 50mm longer in the wheelbase than before and that, together with the steeply raked D-pillars, angle of the rear window and the traditional ‘Hofmeister kink’, adds a real sense of forward motion to the profile. At the rear, the spoiler ‘peak’ that accentuates the long roofline, together with the horizontal lines and L-shaped lights set far out to the edges, combine with the 48mm wider track to plant the design on the road.

As for the interior, the 3 Series Touring follow exactly the trendy design first seen on the F30 Sedan. In a nutshell, it is more commodious than before especially the rear seats where there is now 17mm extra knee room and 9mm more headroom making ingress and egress to the rear seats is easier than ever before. However, more importantly for this Touring model is the new luggage area is significantly more spacious than before with extra 35L, totally 495L. Loading sill height from the ground is 620mm.
The new BMW 3 Series Touring has a split rear boot opening with the upper glass area able to open independently of the overall unit. This is unlocked electrically via a button located on the rear wiper arm, and then opened manually. It is particularly convenient when loading in small items, perhaps where space behind the vehicle is limited. To add the convenience the new 3 Series Touring receives an electrically powered boot, controlled either via the key fob, a switch on the A-pillar or a button on the boot itself, standard for all version. In addition, customers can enjoy further convenience with the Smart Opener feature offered as part of the Comfort Access option. When specified, the boot can be opened with the motion of a strategically placed foot beneath the rear bumper.

Other than that, the drivetrain option, BMW Lines option and equipment level mirrors those on the new 3 Series Sedan.

More photos of BMW 3 Series Touring after the jump.

The first of the new Toyota Corolla has arrived - Axio & Fielder

Toyota Japan has launched the first in the line of its new generation Toyota Corolla model, the Corolla Axio and its Touring version named Corolla Fielder. It has become the trend with Japanese marque nowadays to downsize their car, and the new Corolla Axio is no exception. Measuring 4,360mm in length, 1,695mm in width and 1,460mm tall, the new Axio is some 50mm shorter than the outgoing model. The wagon version, Corolla Fielder is also measures 4,360mm, some 60mm less than the current car. Majority of the length reduction was achieved by chopping off the front overhang. Wheelbase is 2,600mm - retained from the outgoing Axio/Fielder.

Further downsizing has been made too in powertrain department where the base model is now powered by a 1.3L engine instead of 1.5L as the outgoing model. Overall strategy-wise, this car seems like the 8th generation Corolla where at that time of non-existence of Toyota Belta/Vios when Civic/Corolla segment is fat-free and not bloated with space expansion like they are now. The latest generation car was termed to the concept of  "car for four adult to travel a long distance in comfort, safe and peace of mind". The A-pillar and C-pillar has been re-positioned and re-sized to liberate extra cabin volume and to increase visibility.

Toyota Corolla Axio sedan is available in 1.3X, 1.3XG, 1.5X, 1.5G and 1.5 LUXEL, increasingly expensive in this order. The 1.3L version is powered by 1NR-FE lump producing 95PS@6,000rpm and 121Nm@4,000rpm and  driving the front wheel via CVT-only gearbox. Toyota Corolla Axio 1.3L achieved 20.6 km/L in JC08 fuel cycle test. This version is the lightest (really light actually) at 1,050kg.  The 1.5L version meanwhile is powered by 1NZ-FE engine kicking 109PS@6,000rpm and 136Nm@4,800rpm. Gearbox option is either 5 speed manual or CVT and available in either FF or 4WD. The 1,090kg Axio 1.5X/G can achieve 20.0 km/L while the much heavier (and better-equipped) LUXEL stands at 1,200kg and 16.0 km/L, performed over the same test cycle.

The Corolla Fielder version is pitched in a different class compared to the sedan Axio sibling. No 1.3L version is available, where the range starts with 1.5X, 1.5G and 1.5G Aero Tourer and all variant are available with 5 speed manual or CVT and driveline option is either FF or 4WD. The range is topped by 1.8 version, offered in S and S Aero Tourer trim. The 1.8L version is the variation of 2ZR-FAE lump producing 140PS@6,200rpm and 172Nm@4,000rpm. This version is only available with CVT although it can be paired with either FF or 4WD driveline. 

In terms of interior trimmings, Corolla Axio is available in either grey or beige trim, depending on exterior shade. The fabric color not only is for the seat upholstery, but also fitted to the dashboard fascia in front of the passenger and at the top of the door trim. Garnish is either gloss black, silver or simulated wood depending on the variants.

Corolla Fielder meanwhile is offered in sportier black trim, adorning the seat, door trim and dashboard. However, the fabric used for the Aero Tourer is different from the non-sporty version, with more catchy shining lining instead of subdued dark tone of the other version. The wagon boot is 407L in capacity.

Mechanically, Corolla Axio/Fielder is suspended by MacPherson strut up front and cost-conscious torsion beam at the back. Braking is by ventilated disc at the front, while rears are taken care by drum setup for all version.

What does the Corolla Axio/Fielder means to us in Malaysia? The previous Axio varied from our Corolla Altis on the A-pillar front-wards and C-pillar rear-wards. The cabin is exactly similar. If this trend continues,  we can expect the Hachiroku inspired dashboard design with more dazzling centre console than the plain, luxury-oriented console of the current Corolla Altis. Interestingly though, at 4,360mm the new Corolla Axio/Fielder is suprisingly close to Toyota Vios/Belta which stands at 4,300mm long and 2,550mm wheelbase. Will the new Vios/Belta shrunk in size?

Full gallery can be found after the jump, courtesy of Carwatch.

12 May 2012

Facelifted Lexus RX launched in Malaysia

Swift. Not the Suzuki supermini, but more of describing how active Lexus Malaysia in bringing the updated Lexus RX series to Malaysian market, merely two month after its global debut in Geneva Motorshow. Not only that, Lexus is also offering a full house of RX variant, from the entry level RX270 all the way to the environmentalist RX450h.

The updated Lexus RX featured the spindle-themed front grille, consistent with the rest of its contemporary siblings. The popular Lexus SUV also received a new headlight inner graphic including the LED DRL that run along the bottom edge of the headlight, a totally re-profiled bumper and a new rear combi internals. Elsewhere inside the cabin, Lexus has also updated the steering wheel design, centre console box, second-generation Remote Touch Controller and 8" Electro Multi Vision Screen featuring GPS navigation. Both RX350 and RX350 F Sport gets a deeper front bumper, while the entry-level RX270 gets a more simpler arrangement with split-level lower intake.

Lexus Malaysia also brings in the F Sport version, offered on the RX350 version. This RM409,800 version is equipped with meshed upper grille, darkened 19" alloy wheel, F Sport suspension and some external badging. On the inside, the sporting intention is signalled by the alloy pedals, aluminium trim, F Sport perforated seats upholstery and the paddle shifter made an appearance.

Mechanically, all version of of Lexus RX is as per before. To recap, Lexus RX270 is powered by 1AR-FE 2,672cc in-line 4 lump with Dual VVTi valvetrain kicking 185bhp@5,800rpm and 252Nm@4,200rpm. Lexus RX270 is a front-driver only, channelled via a 6 speed automatic gearbox. It has 200 km/h of top speed, whereby the century sprint is achieved in leisurely 11s. Next up in the range is RX350 powered by 2GR-FE V6 engine with 3,456cc of displacement. This powertrain unit produced 274bhp@6,200rpm and 346Nm@4,700rpm where the drive is channelled via also the 6 speeder self-shifter, but directed toward the all four wheels. This version is a lot faster to 100km/h, achieved in 8s. Top speed is however similar to the lower powered version. Similar powertrain is powering the F Sport version. The top-line RX450h is powered by 2GR-FXE 3.5L V6 running on Atkinson cycle kicking out a reduced 245bhp@6,000rpm and 317Nm@4,800rpm. However, the gasoline engine is augmented by the 123kW electric motor at the front and 50kW motor at the rear axle, producing a total 295bhp on hybrid propulsion power. This green version topped 200km/h while century sprint is fastest among all variant at 7.8s.

In Malaysia, Lexus RX is the most popular Lexus model besides the tax-buster Lexus CT200h. The lack of equivalent Toyota version probably helps as there are no more alternative to rebadged a used Toyota Harrier running on new registration plate with the Lexus emblem. Lexus RX270 goes for RM359,800, RX350 for RM399,800, RX350 F Sport RM409,800 and RX450h at RM525,000.

Small gallery of the facelifted Lexus RX Series can be found after the jump.

10 May 2012

Subaru updated the Legacy range - new engine for JDM

Subaru has rolled out the updated Legacy model for the US and China market at their respective motorshow, but only now they are introducing the updated Legacy for their homeland Japan. While the exterior updates are common across the globe, namely the revised front bumper design that comes together with the new hexagon grille, the interesting bit of JDM car is the new drivetrain, namely a new 2.0L DIT which is essentially a FA20 engine as in the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 but with the Toyota-sourced D4S dual injection (port and direct) ditched and replaced with Subaru-owned direct injection system with a turbocharger. Output is phenomenal at 296hp@5600rpm and 200Nm of torque between 2000-4800rpm. Is this a prelude to the faster version of the highly-acclaimed BRZ? Even if the answer is yes, it is the powertrain that we are interested in, as this turbocharged FA20 in Legacy application is hooked to the CVT gearbox.

Other engine available in the range is the FB25 2.5L boxer-four engine kicking out 173PS@5600rpm and 235Nm@4100rpm, turbocharged EJ25 2.5L producing 285PS@6000rpm and 350Nm@2000-5600rpm. The one remaining drivetrain is a horizontally-opposed 3.6L flat six engine punching 260PS@6000rpm and 335Nm@4400rpm but this engine option is only available for the Outback  . All engine are paired with CVT, bar the flat-six engine which is hooked to a conventional 5 speed automatic gearbox. All model are four wheel driven.
More photos after the jump.

09 May 2012

Mid-range version introduced for Proton Inspira - 2.0 Executive

The slow-selling Proton Inspira has been given an intermediate variant that combines the power of the MIVEC 2.0L with the pared-down specification of the 1.8L version.  We also heard that the 1.8 CVT has been discontinued so if you want the 1.8L version of Inspira, you have to settle down with the manual shifter. We think this is the strategic move to distance away Proton Inspira 1.8 CVT from the recently launched Proton's homegrown Preve.

Specification wise, the car continues to be powered by MIVEC 2.0L with CVT gearbox equipped with paddle shifter. However, the exterior addenda found on the 2.0 Premium version such as the skirting and spoiler has been eliminated. Alloy wheel too has been given a new design. Leather seat meanwhile is unfound. The introduction of this new variant also marks the entrance of Elegance Brown color to the Inspira range. Price has been set at RM86,800, a smidgen more than the 1.8 Executive CVT which was priced at RM85,015.

Meanwhile, there is no official news from Proton yet about this new version, although the advertisement is already up on Mudah.my.

Pic source: funtastickodesign

Peugeot 408 spotted - 2 variants will be offered

Seems that the testing session is over for Peugeot 408. The car has been spotted for quite a long time, which is quite surprising as the car is not a totally new car that required millions of miles to rack up development time. Peugeot 408 was introduced to the world at 2010 Beijing Auto Show. Anyway, the shots revealed that there are two versions, one is badged Turbo and the other one is badged 2.0.

Does this means that Nassim will commonized the excellent Prince 1.6L THP engine that is powering almost all of Peugeot cars in Malaysia now? Hopefully we can get this engine as well as being paired with the 6 speed automatic transmission that is in service for the rest of Prince 1.6 THP engine. In the China market, Peugeot 408 is powered by a pair of option, namely 1.6L(106PS@5750rpm & 142Nm@4000rpm) and 2.0L(147PS@6000rpm & 200Nm@4000rpm) engines. Transmission choices are 4 speed automatic or 5 speed manual.

To recap, Peugeot 408 sits on the Peugeot 308 platform but with extended wheelbase. The car measures 4,680mm long, 1,815mm wide and 1,525mm tall. The wheelbase has been extended from the base 308 to 2,710mm long. For more photo of the Peugeot 408, head to MMN previous article about Peugeot 408 HERE.

More of the latest photos after the jump.

08 May 2012

Fahrradi Farfalla FFX - first ever zero emission supercar?

From the dramatic body proportion to the one of the most sensual curvaceous styling surfaces, Fahrradi Farfalla FFX looks every bit as the the Italian supercar at its best. Surely this thing can keep up with Ferrari 458 Italia on the straight and blew the Lamborghini Gallardo in fine mountain long sweeper and overtake the Audi R8 at the tight chicane of Monaco. Until you see the width (or the lack of it) of the tyres and you'll sense something is not right.

Produced by the same producer who came up with the Ferdinand GT3 RS which looks like the Porsche 911 but weights in mere 100kg and has no engine for economic reason. I guess every material engineer would even kill for the any innovation that can make a usable supercar that weights as much as its driver. Same stories here.

Underneath the svelte Ferrari-inspired looking exterior body, lies, well, a bicycle. The Fahrradi nomenclature is actually derived from Fahrrad which is bicycle in German speaks, while 'i' was said to be derived from the Apple society. The minimization of inertia is derived with the chassis constructed with light tubes and bonded together with adhesive. 
Means of propulsion is provided by two man, while the quoted power is unsurprisingly two men, basically a portion of horsepower. To make the matter more interesting, the rotational motion of the paddler not only translated into the forward thrust, but also connected to the gearing that flap the gullwing door, akin to the wing beat of a butterfly. This gives the "car" its second name ie Farfalla that is butterfly in Italian

The manufacturer has gone to the extent of creating a promotional video for the FFX, adopting the same theme as the Schuey-driven Mercedes SLS inside a tunnel whereby the car sticks to the roof due to the sheer downforce. More photos and a video can be found after the jump.