30 November 2012

New CAR Magazine in the market

There's a new car magazine at your nearest news agent, and it is called CAR. The latest publication from Astro Publication is the fruit of the licensing agreement with Bauer Consumer Media Limited in the UK. In UK market, CAR is the premium motoring magazine with 50 years of history and CAR Malaysian edition is the 10th licensed edition of the CAR Magazine in many continents round the globe.

CAR Malaysia is headed by Ahmad Zulizwan and Donald Cheah. If their names sound familiar, this is because they have led other UK-based magazine before, and this is not the first licensed automotive magazine from Astro Publication.

The new magazine will rival the likes of Autocar, Top Gear and Evo, which are the high-ranking UK-licensed magazine. CAR content will mix the selection of local and European news, with the first-grade photography.

The magazine has hit the news agent from 28 November and retailed at competitive RM10. The first Malaysian edition will feature the drive impression of the new Volkswagen Golf, Aston Martin Vanquish, Ford Focus sedan as well the finest superhatch in the Britain's market.

Malaysia Motoring News would like to welcome the latest edition of the magazine to the Malaysian shore. Truthfully, our market is really starving for the healthy dose of automotive magazine. My student time in the UK was certainly a heaven in this aspect, and my trips to Japan has shown the same heaven too. So lets hope these heavenly scenario is not that far off from Malaysian automotive magazine market.

27 November 2012

First real life photo of updated American Honda Civic exterior

We've seen the first shot of the updated interior of the American Honda Civic, now the exterior photos have surfaced out, thanks to the source. These shots were taken at the dealership and it shows clearly the renewed rear end is far more substantial looking than the weedy looking current American Civic.
This is not the best angle to determine the overall outlook of the rear. While it looks more "complete" with larger tail lights with properly sectioned internals and the chromed garnish that make the rear fascia more upmarket looking together with chunkier lower edge of the bumper, from some internet photos, MMN has a suspicion that the rear fascia is a bit angled rear-wards, i.e slightly sagging, which is accentuated further by the contour of the rear bumper upper section. It doesn't have the pert look like the sportier-looking Civic FD. To see side by side how the current Civic differs from the older Civic FD, refer to MMN previous article HERE.

The front end is wholly new, as the changed item covers new bumper and grille assembly and the hood outer panel. Much like the revised dashboard, chrome inserts are featured heavily, prominently inserted around the radiator grille and lies across the car along the lower intake. I however feel that the Asian Civic, especially on its optional Modulo grille looks way better.

It remains to be seen how the rest of the Civic range will look with different trim. MMN is quite keen to see the gear console which we think is a bit understyled compared to the outgoing Civic. We think they won't be any changes there or else this guy would have snap it.

The rest of the photos from the earlier post can be be found after the jump.

First sight on the interior of the updated American Honda Civic

As expected, the refresh that Honda will make for the North American Civic will be extensive, covering both interior and exterior to reflect the critics it received from the press and consumer at that side of the world. We've been officially served with glimpse of the exterior update (HERE). 

For the interior, Honda has retained the main build of the dashboard, but has added the new centre module as well as padding up the area at the front of the passenger. The shape of the air-vent has been changed to almost rectangular and they are trimmed on their surround. The area in front of the front passenger LOOKS padded, but a true judgement still awaits. The previously matte-looking centre console has been taken out and replaced by the glossy panel, with a chromed-laden panel. Air vents and audio buttons are inserted with chromed bits, and the there is also chrome bars running lower down the panel. The climate control panel is now more CRV-look instead of a throwback to the outgoing generation. 
The updated Civic will be reveal during the Los Angeles Motorshow. In addition to the styling enhancement, Honda is expected to increase the equipment level too. 

For the uninformed, North American Honda Civic is an entirely different model to our Asian car. Despite the similar underpinnings, and most of the exterior and interior panel, the specific details are tailored exclusively for each region. For example, the FD generation Civic sports an entirely different front end rear end between Asian and American. Only in certain exception that this fact varies. For example, the FD Civic was rebadged as Acura CSX in Canada where it is truthly just a LHD version of the Asian car. The current model is less so, but with the revised styling, the outlook of the American and Asian cars are now set further apart. With the new rear end that is distinctively American, we won't be hoping that our next update for the Civic will follow the same route. For those who missed the previous update, head down after the jump for the updated exterior photos.

26 November 2012

The 4th-gen Toyota RAV4 image leaked

A couple of days before the fourth generation Toyota RAV4 makes its official unveiling on November 28th, a small gallery of the new Toyota SUV made their way to the net. As depicted by the spied camouflaged cars, the new RAV4 does indeed wears the same styling theme as its hatchback cousin the Auris. 

The now familiar Toyota new design language theme is accentuated by the beak-type front snout where the large Toyota emblem resides. The headlight is slim and sharp and join the grille, a transition made seamless using the horizotal "whisker" bar that rooted from the emblazoned beak. Other place of the body is characterized by the crisp character lines as per the Auris, but toughened for the RAV4 by the black-colored  body cladding. The rear light stands proud of the bodywork, increasing the presence of the new generation Toyota RAV4. The side profile meanwhile, looks familiar to the current RAV4, saved for several new crisp lines to inject some excitement into the otherwise conventional soft-roader look.

The interior is best described as typical 2012 Toyota from the shape of the steering wheel, door trim design and the compartment in front of the front passenger. It carries the cues from the freshly-introduced Toyota Auris and Toyota Corolla Axio.

More details are expected to be unravelled over the next two days so stay tune.Some more photos can be found after the jump.

25 November 2012

Honda launched Honda Jazz Hybrid CKD & announced R&D Center

Honda has launched the CKD operation for its Jazz Hybrid model, making it the only locally manufactured hybrid car in Malaysia. Currently, Honda Jazz Hybrid is fully imported and enjoys tax exemption hence making it locally, in theory, will results in no cost reduction. However, Honda has thrown in some RM4,900 price reduction, courtesy of some realignment in the specification.

The CBU version of Honda Jazz Hybrid is the EU spec, thus has a left-mounted signal stalks. This is among the changed item, the signal is now on the right, as per most of the Japanese cars. Other realignment include dual airbags (down from 6 airbags), rear drum brakes instead of solid disc, no jack-knife key, re-labelled fuel meter and the deletion of hill start assist, cruise control, auto wipers, paddle shift and steering wheel mounted audio control. Together with 10% localized part, these are parts that contribute to the slight cost savings.

Otherwise, Honda Jazz Hybrid remain similar to the imported model. It is powered by the 1,339cc gasoline engine hooked to Honda's IMA system. The petrol mill produced 88PS and 121Nm while the electric drive contributed further 14PS and 78Nm.

The Alor Gajah assembled Honda Jazz Hybrid is priced at RM89,900. Apart from the slightly reduced price, and the quite sum of reduced equipment, the color variation has been revised too. While the CBU is flourished with the striking Fresh Lime Metallic and Milano Red, these two shades made way for Sparkling Brown Metallic and Polished Metal Metallic in addition to the usual Tafetta White, Crystal Black Pearl and Alabaster Silver which are the usual Honda paint option in Malaysia across all of their models.

Meanwhile, Honda Malaysia also announced its intention to setup R&D Center in Malaysia next month. This is to complement the Thailand R&D Center and will concentrate in developing the parts for Honda cars more suited to the local flavor. Currently, for certain parts, Honda has to pick and match between all the globally available variant in order to create the local specification. Thus, with proper design and development engineer on-site, the development of the new components will be much easier. Just ask any experienced Proton and Perodua engineers!

Many media quoted the R&D Center will be located adjacent to its Melaka assembly plant. However, according to those who has attended the interview (yes people there were job opening recently for Honda R&D Malaysia) the office could be setup in Sungai Buloh. While we are not certain about the location, but we knew they were looking for Japanese-speaking personnel to handle the R&D transition from Japan to Malaysia. 

So for the Proton and Perodua runaways (I know many of you want to run) this is your chance. For the automotive engineering guys in the oil and gas company here (no matter how weird it sound, and I know all of you don't want to run away), this also could be your chance as a fresh alternative which did not exist previously!

24 November 2012

Honda Brio Amaze unveiled in Thailand

Honda has pulled the wrap of its "sedanized" Brio in Thailand. The car is called Brio Amaze in Thailand, and will be called just Honda Amaze in India where it will also received a new small-capacity diesel engine. Thais however, will make do with the gasoline 1.2L shared with its hatchback sibling.

In terms of dimension, Honda has added 60mm to the Brio's wheelbase, grown it to 2,405mm. Due to the longer sedan rear overhang on top of the lengthened wheelbase, the overall length has grown by 380mm to 3,990mm. Width and height are 1,680mm and 1,485mm respectively. The boot volume is 400L, which for comparison, 15L less than Proton Saga BLM boot. Brio Amaze is fairly lightweight at 965kg for the most laden version. Consistent with the class trend, Brio Amaze rides on McPhersons strut and Torsion Beam respectively for front and rear.
 Aesthetically, the front end is identical to the Brio hatchback with its cheeky looking headlight and bumper assembly. Post the B-pillar, the rear door has been enlarged and viewed from the side, the C-pillar is a tad too vertical. Honda does try to mask the the awkward lines by injecting a dose of character line. The rear lights are slightly protruded out, like the new Honda Civic, while the rear bumper too follow the same trend set by its much larger brother.

Thailand car will still be powered by the 1,198cc gasoline, kicking an adequate 90hp@6,000rpm and 110Nm@4,800rpm. The transmission choice is either a CVT or 5 speed manual. The fuel tank is 35L, sufficient to propel the car for quite a distance if it meets its claimed 5L/100km of fuel consumption rate. For India market, a 1.5L i-DTEC diesel is on cards. Further details of this variant are to follow suite.

The interior carries the same dashboard as per the hatchback, while the front seat too is carried over together with its integrated headrest. The rear seat however, as a result of the extra space liberated by the 60mm longer wheelbase, has been made thicker by Honda. This is to increase the comfort for the rear passenger, expected on the sedan car.

There are two trims level available for Thailand market, kicked by S model and topped by V trim. Both lines are available with either manual or CVT, paired to similar engine. There 5 color option, consist of the Tafetta White, Alabaster Silver, Carnelian Red Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl and Marin Purple Pearl.

Small gallery of Honda Brio Amaze can be found after the jump.

19 November 2012

Mitsubishi Mirage officially launched in Malaysia

Mitsubishi Motor Malaysia has officially launched its Mirage compact car to our shore. The order book has been opened for a couple of months and Mitsubishi even conducted a roadshow in Mid-Valley to showcase their forthcoming car. MMN article for the said showcase can be found HERE.  With the launch today, the priced has been confirmed to start at RM55,583 for the manual-geared GL, increase to RM60,453 for the CVT geared version of GL and topped by the GS CVT at RM63,375. All prices are without insurance. The car is Thai-made and imported as a CBU.
Size-wise, Mitsubishi Mirage is slightly smaller than Perodua Myvi in length at 3,710mm (depends though on which version of Myvi, the SE is shortest at 3,685mm while the Extreme is longest at is 3,775mm due to different bumper design as well as bodykit addition) while its width is identical at 1,665mm and lower at 1,500mm, 45mm less than the nation best selling car. The 2,450mm wheelbase is 10mm longer than Myvi. The car is fairly light at 825kg in its barest trim.

In terms of accommodation, the interior is cosy for four adult with sufficient legroom for the rear occupants. However, don't expect a spacious cabin as offered by the Perodua Myvi, as the legroom is much less. Boot space however is 245L, much larger than 208L offered by the new Myvi. The feeling of spaciousness (or the lack of it) is further accentuated by the dark color choice for the cabin.

There will only sole engine option on offer, which is the 3A92 MIVEC 1,193cc unit pumping out a 78PS@6,000 rpm of power and 100Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. The drivetrain, combined with a lightweight 850kg (max for CVT kitted in GS trim), the car is claimed to be capable of returning 21km/L of fuel consumption.

Suspension is McPhersons struts up front and torsion beam at the back, while the power steering is electrically assisted unit. Braking is ventilated disc at the front while the rear make do with the drum setup. The 14 inc alloy wheel is wrapped by 165/65 tyre.

Standard equipment across the board include the 2DIN audio interface with USB/iPOD connectivity, dual SRS airbags and ABS braking system. The pricier GS trim gets front fog lamp, rear spoiler, push start button, digitised automatic air-conditioning and keyless entry. All model are equipped with 60/40 split folding rear seat for an added practicality, as well as 3 head restraint for the back seat.

In keeping with the trend adopted many car seller today, Mitsubishi Malaysia also gives you the option to deck out your Mirage with plenty of option. For RM750, you can get a Chrome package which will buy you chromed fog lamp panel, front lower grille, tailgate garnish and door scuff plate. The Aero package meanwhile gives you front skirt, side window deflector, side skirt and rear skirt and costs you RM1,999. The cheapest accessories if you must get one is the Ralliart Fuel Lid Cap at RM150. The "smart fit" leather seat is RM1,500.

Mitsubishi Motor Malaysia also announced today that they have received 500 orders for Mirage, where most of them are for the top-liner GS version. More photo of Mitsubishi Mirage can be found after the jump, including the one from the Mid Valley road show.

17 November 2012

New wireless charging concept by British Columbia University

The researcher at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Physics department has come up with the novel wireless electric vehicle charging concept. Inspired by the method for magnetically driven charger for medical application such as the pacemaker, the concept has been extended to the electric vehicle charging, albeit still in the proof of concept stage.

The current state of the art wireless charger plays around with electromagnetic induction principle whereby the varying electric current in the transmitter resonates with the similarly varying current in the receiver creating the current flow recharging the battery. The drawback of such system is that is could radiate heat to the nearby metal or emit radio waves, both could raise the safety concern for the public, definitely won't be a help in mitigating the sceptism  about electric vehicle.

The UBC concept is wholy different in a sense that it utilizes a remote magnetic gears which relies on the magnet dynamic coupling whereby, even with the lack of contact, the two magnetic gears are rotated harmoniously simply by the interaction of the magnetic field between the two. Where the magnetic gear on the transmitter side is motorized, the rotated gear on the receiver side will drive the generator that produce the electricity to recharge the battery.

To demonstrate the concept, UBC researchers has build a trolley demonstrator which house the magnetic drive. As can be seen on the right the bottom bar on the your left is the transmitter which housed the rotating magnetic gear. When the magnetic gear rotate, due to magnetic interaction, the magnetic gear on the receiver side will turn too, generating electricity to power up the bulb at the back of this trolley.

For the field demonstrator, UBC has fitted such system to their service vehicles. Four wireless charger station has been build and the charging to their EV achieved 90% more efficient than the cable counterpart. They also found that the perfect alignment between the transmitter and receiver is not needed to achieve the desired virtual mechanical coupling.

While the system is still in its infancy, due to the immaturity of this technology, the potential can still be considered as high. Admittedly, to produce the system for mass application there is still a lot of refinement needed. First is the packaging. At the moment the magnetic gears are separated from the driven motor and the generator driven by mechanical gears, whereas for production these could be designed to be integrated. The material for the magnetic gears also is still lab-staged and a cheaper, easier to manufacture replacement need to be found.

The video demonstrating UBC wireless charger can be found after the jump.

13 November 2012

Honda Civic Facelift announced

Honda America has released the first set of photo of the facelifted American Civic ahead of its official unveiling at Los Angeles Motor Show scheduled late this month. The enhancement is the results of Honda reaction to the customer and press complain, although the sales chart says otherwise.

With the facelift, Honda aims to bring the Civic styling upscale towards more premium image. Gone is bland and plain bumper and grille design and in comes an Accord-inspired (no pun intended to the Accord-badged Inspire in Japan) front grille with prominent chrome surround and meshed grille pattern insert. The bumper sports a wider lower intake, garnished by a chrome-plated horizontal bar that run across it. The bumper itself is more sculpted, with more creases and depression found ahead of the upper grille and headlamp leading edge. The lip of the front bumper is more pronounced too, replacing the all-flat affair of the current American bumper. The hood itself is replaced too, with more contoured central section joining the new grille section. 

The changes at the back is more radical and it involves a change in sheet metal too. The trunk lid has been redesigned, the panel is a little closer to the Asian model with the lack of depression for license plate garnish, resulting in a wider look. The rear light has been totally restyled with more upmarket internal graphic and extended deeper into the trunklid inwards. Chrome bar atop of the rear light inner is added too. The rear bumper, despite maintaining the upper contour, has received a redesigned lower section incorporating a reflector on each lower side.

There is no news on the interior yet, but Honda is expected to upgrade some of the material quality and finishing of the its American Civic. While we've been told that the plastic quality differs between Asian and American Civic, don't be surprise if Honda has managed to include some redesign here and there.

For comparison on how the American Civic differs from the Asian counterpart, refer to MMN previous article HERE.

Will this facelift make it to the Malaysian market? We don't know and we don't think it will happen too soon. Not too soon as in Malaysian market, Honda Civic is the best selling non-national C Segment car. Since its July launch, Honda Malaysia has delivered 4,400 units where breakdown of the 6,000 unit of booked car is  2.138 units 1.8L, 1,493 units Civic Hybrid, 1,292 units 2.0L while the remaining 1,148 units is the top-line 2.0L Navi. It captures 30% of the market share for the segment, despite whatever has been said about the car in the internet media. Contrary to the internet bashing, the exterior of the Asian Civic is actually lovable, and kind of grows on you. The boxy interior styling does not look too bad after third and fourth look out. Even the writer himself is slowly developing some infatuation to this new Civic.

Stay tune for for update of the facelifted American Honda Civic.

12 November 2012

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster Revealed

Some cars are like pure fantasy. Fantasy in terms of the impossibly beautiful curve, or in a sense of extreme jarring edges that is akin to the sci-fi spaceship outer material. They are like driven straight out from your dream. Introducing the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster.

As the name implies, this is the roadster sibling to the Aventador coupe in which the Raging Bull company has managed to shift some 1,300 units since its 2011 launch. The open-top version is clothed in an even more dramatic set of suit compared to the fixed-head sibling. Compared to the Coupe, the Roadster has a redesigned rear pillar to support the removable roof panel as well as providing roll-over protection to the occupants. The engine cover is differently styled too, with the central spine running along the centre line separating the transparent glass engine cover.

The roof panel is made of carbon fibre, a two-piece affair and manufactured off using forged composite as well as resin transfer moulding. It weights mere 6kg and can be stowed in the front luggage section after being removed manually. 

The extremities of the wind-in-your-hair experience can be selected via the deployment of the electrically operated rear windscreen which controls the amount of the V12 noise entering the cabin. There's also a wind deflector mounted at the top of front windscreen. Combined, a calm cabin sensation can be achieved. 

Aesthetically, apart from the aforementioned rear bodywork design revision, LP700-4 Roadster also has been given a two-tone paint finish. The high gloss black finishing is applied to the A-pillar, roof section and the rear window area, in complementing the standard body color.

Mechanically, the Aventador Roadster is identical to the updated Aventador powertrain. It is powered by the 6.5L V12 engine equipped with cylinder deactivation technology. The 700bhp lump is mated to the 7 speed ISR transmission and drive is channelled to all four wheels. Mentioning about the wheel, Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster rides on the 20" and 21" alloys front and rear which is a lightweight forged aluminium.

Anyway, Aventador Roadster is capable of 3s flat century sprint and 350km/h of top speed. If the Roadster version is not extreme enough for you, there's also the Aventador J, which unfortunately is just a one-off creature. More photos of the Aventador Roadster after the jump.

11 November 2012

New Toyota Corolla goes Camry-inspired

In May this year, MMN published an article about the next Toyota Corolla going radical, as described by Car and Driver (our article HERE), where insiders tipped about the crisper body lines and tauter detailing not unlike the US Toyota Avalon. We became unsure about this fact when the JDM version, Toyota Corolla Axio came out and it can be perfectly described as conservative. The anxiety was remedied somewhat upon the arrival of the European Corolla, named Auris which wears a distinctive styling that resonates well with the idea of a radical Corolla. Now, for the first time we can catch a glimpse of the American-bound Corolla, which traditionally is equivalent to the Asian Corolla Altis, saved for some minor styling revision.
The front end is characterized by sharper, more protruding bumper and grille assembly, with widened lower intake section. It is expected that it will resemble the larger Toyota Avalon to certain extent. The front windscreen seems to be more rakish but mounted on a slightly higher cowl top section, perhaps indicating a forwarded cabin section. 
Another look towards the rear of the side profile indicates a C-pillar that resembles the new Camry. The overall glass house is less rounded than the current Corolla. The panel surfacing around the roof line and topping the door section is visibly more crisp, eschewing the soft-look of current car. In this trim at least, the door sash is chromed trimmed, and heavily at that.
Much like the front end, there's not much to be seen in terms of rear fascia detailing. The interior shots however, revealed a more upmarket move is on the card. From this limited view, the meter cluster is chrome-ringed and the steering wheel is adorned with operational button. The current Toyota Corolla is no slouch when it comes to interior quality. The only downside is the uninspiring design and conventional layout. 

In the American market, the new Corolla is expected to continue to be powered by the familar 1.8L engine. If this is true, it means that the engine will be carried over for the 2nd time as the current Corolla is powered by the powertrain set carried over wholesomely from its forebear, albeit with retuning to conform to newer emission standard. What is certain is the 6 speed manual will make an appearance in place of the older 5 speeder stick shift, but the automatic gearbox is well, we don't know, as the Malaysian Camry is happily cruising using its 4 speeder automatic. Maybe a CVT like the current 1.8L and 2.0L will be retained hopefully.

The 11th generation Toyota Corolla is tipped to be launch in the American market in the second quarter of 2013. We are probably looking into late 2013 or early 2014 for Asian launch. The interior photo and one more exterior photo can be found after the jump.

Subaru XV previewed - early bird price RM139,800

Motor Image has opened up the chance for the public to see the forthcoming crossover, Subaru XV up closer at their showroom in PJ. There is also a special early bird price for the locally-assembled crossover at RM139,800 although how much it varies from the final price is yet to be known.

For the uninformed, Tan Chong Motor has announced in March that it will assembled a series of Subaru cars, starting with the crossover XV. Subaru XV is the jacked-up Subaru Impreza hatchback with 220mm ground clearance and chunky body cladding slapped on. This is a true crossover between a hatchback and an SUV as despite the higher ground clearance, Subaru XV has  a slim and raked screens more akin to a hatchback. This will set it in a unique class, unlike the mainstream SUV like Honda CRV and Mazda CX-5. 

For Malaysian market, Subaru XV will be powered by the 2.0L flat-four engine cranking out 150bhp@6,200rpm and 196Nm@4,200rpm. The gasoline engine is paired with Linertronic CVT, channelling the drive to all four wheel via Subaru trademarked Symmetrical AWD.

Subaru XV measures 4,450mm long, 1,780mm wide, 1,570mm tall and rides on 2,635mm wheelbase. With the seating capacity of 5, the crossover also housed a 380L boot. Subaru XV rides on McPherson struts at the front and double wishbone suspension at the back. Braking is provided by disc setup all around.

Some photos of Subaru XV can be found after the jump.

08 November 2012

Proton Exora Bold and Prime enter Indonesian market

Proton Edar Indonesia today launched two updated Exora models to Indonesian market, namely the Exora Bold H-Line and Exora Prime. Both model are powered by the turbocharged 1.6L engine called CFE which is capable of delivering the 2.0L performance upon needs. The pre-updated Exora has been on sale in Indonesia since August 2009, and so far about 2,000 units has been delivered.

For the Indonesian market, only the two highest grade of the facelifted Exora will be sold. This means that the facelifted model with CPS engine won't be available. Hence the differentiation comes in seating configuration where the Bold H-Line is full 7-seater while the more expensive Exora Prime is 6 seater. The reduction in one passenger comes from the courtesy of the captain seat for the second row.

For our Indonesian reader, MMN has written a comprehensive write-up about the new 1.6L turbocharged engine, the CFE so you can read it HERE, while we also has tested the turbocharged 7 seater Exora and we conclude that it delivers a punchy drive thanks to a responsive throttle response and excellence steering feel. The articles can be found HERE. We even think it is gutsier than the newer Preve sedan.

For the Indonesian market, Proton Exora Bold H-Line is priced at Rp 248m while the 6 seater Prime is 10m more at Rp 258m. With today exchange rate the price is not too different from Exora domestic market.

07 November 2012

PETRONAS launch new Auto Transmission Fluid- ATF XP4 Tutela

PETRONAS today launched the PETRONAS Tutela Transmission ATF-XP4 (PETRONAS Tutela), a technologically advanced premium automatic transmission fluid (ATF) formulated for vehicles with SP-IV specification especially for six speed transmission and other vehicles that require low viscosity ATF. It is specifically developed in collaboration with one of PDB’s long-standing Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partners, Malaysia’s leading automotive distributor Naza Kia Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

The new transmission fluid, which is an innovative offering of PETRONAS’ Fluid Technology Solutions™ (FTS™), is designed and developed to deliver outstanding fuel efficiency and excellent gear shift performance. Formulated with premium quality synthetic base fluids and high performance additives technology, the PETRONAS Tutela also provides superior results in anti-shudder performance and enhanced friction durability, oxidation stability and effectively stays in grades, low temperature fluidity and protection against wear, corrosion, sludge or other harmful deposits.

Independent third party laboratory tests have confirmed that the PETRONAS Tutela has enhanced friction durability as compared to other fluids, which translates to excellent gear shift performance. In addition, an on-site testing with Naza Kia Malaysia in an actual driving condition within Malaysia has received positive feedback in terms of the overall performance and gear shift.

Speaking at the launch, Mohd Shobri Abu Bakar, General Manager of Lubricants Business Division said, “As the leading retailer and marketer of downstream petroleum products, PDB is committed to deliver only the best in the industry for our partners.”

“Through our relationship with OEM partners, we are constantly a step ahead of the automotive trend – understand what the industry requires and deliver on this need. With this understanding, PDB has actively worked with our partners by introducing products that meet the demands of our partners and customers,” he added.

Mohd Shobri explained, “Our Fluid Technology Solutions™, which encapsulates the involvement of PETRONAS’ technical experts at the laboratory, right through the F1™ race track and well on to the road, allows us to design, develop and deliver high performing fluids to meet stringent quality demands.”

“With PETRONAS’ FTS™ capability, PDB has successfully developed a fluid of world-class quality that delivers excellence in gear shift performance and enhances fuel efficiency,” he added.

PDB is the first oil company in Malaysia to introduce this type of transmission fluid solution. The PETRONAS Tutela that comes in a pack of 1 Litre and 18 Litres, is now available at all Naza Kia outlets.


06 November 2012

Caterham and Renault to revive Alpine sports car

Caterham and Renault announced yesterday that they will pair up to revive the Alpine sports car. Together both companies formed a 50:50 joint venture company called Societe des Automobiles Alpine Caterham (SAAC) and will be led by CEO, Bernand Ollivier (Renault man since 1977). 

In the collaboration, Renault will contribute is Dieppe plus 300 workforce for the project while Caterham will provide the engineering expertise as well as the aforementioned 50% capital. The first output is expected in 2015 at the earliest and rumoured to be inspired the fame Alpine 110 from 1960's.

Renault's Dieppe factory is the specialised facility, experienced in manufacturing Renault's special product. It used to make RS Clio, RS Twingo, RS Megane, Megane soft-top as well manufactured the composite-bodied Espace MPV. 

The detail of the product is scarce, however with the hint of 110 model, both Caterham and Alpine will have their own distinctive model. This makes perfect sense as the low volume exclusive for one brand solely won't make the cut in terms of techno-economics these days. It is rumoured that Alpine version would be the closed-coupe, while the Caterham will the roadster, close to its traditional product line-up.

The configuration of the car is not yet revealed despite the on-going engineering background work currently being done. The powertrain unit could be the new Renaultsport direct-injection 1.6L turbo unit pumping 200bhp or more likely the 2.0L unit from Megane Cup kicking healthy 265bhp. However, the new joint company has recruited some big names to make the project kicks, including Mike Gascoyne F1 designer and Tony Shute, the Lotus Elise main man.

The Malaysian-owner of Caterham, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said " I have not felt as excited about a new venture since I launched AirAsia in 2001 and I want to thank Carlos Ghosn and Carlos Tavares and everyone in our new Renault family for having the belief in Caterham Group to create this partnership".

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes also hinted that Caterham core model, the Seven won't be left out. Even the new sports car will be affordable with around GBP35k price-tag. "In F1 only Ferrari and McLaren produce road cars and they are exceedingly expensive. The affordability of our car will be key. If we get the quality and price it will sell, recession or not recession".

The head of the Caterham is ambitious too, outlining his vision of the future product line-up." For the Asian market, I would very much like to get into the crossover market and maybe produce a city car". Well, perhaps Caterham could kick it well, but Proton ultimately to get their Proton "Sepang" (Elise-based, later rebadged as a Lotus Europa) and Proton MSX (aluminium crossover with supercharged V6 way BMW X6 exists).

For the uninformed, Caterham is the British sports car company specialising in producing low-volume lightweight sports car. Tony Fernandes took control in 2011 and immediately renamed his F1 team (then Lotus Racing) in the middle of the melee of the embarrassing naming dispute that year.

Suzuki quits American market

American Motor Suzuki Corporation (ASMC) has called it a day in the US, as far as automobile is concern. ASMC issued a press statement outlining its restructuring of bussiness and intend to focus more on the area where it is doing well, namely motorcycles, ATV and marine engine market. This means that Suzuki will stop selling its cars and trucks once stock sold out.

Suzuki cited the justification for its action is due to low sales volume, limited model in product range, uncompetitive exchange rate, increased of cost in maintaining distribution system and stricter legislation for forthcoming years. We think that lack of sales is main culprit, and thus it makes no sense to invest further for sales and service facilities. Currently Suzuki is selling its SX4 (sedan and hatchback), Kizashi sedan, Grand Vitara SUV and Equator truck (rebadged of Nissan Frontier). Suzuki has been selling its automobile product in US for 3 decades now but it has never managed to capture the interest of the American buyer.

Full statement from Suzuki can be found after the jump.

04 November 2012

Syed Zainal returns - in education line

Remember Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin, the former head of Proton? Sure you do as he was one of the most charismatic man Proton ever had since their inception. He was rumoured to join Felda Global Ventures Holding earlier in August (read HERE), but according to STAR, Syed Zainal now is the Executive Chairman of Brainy Bunch Islamic Montessori (BBIM). He also bought the shares in the BBIM although he declined to elaborate how much.

How interesting to see him in the Islamic education line. After all, his other legacy in Proton is probably the Islamic values instilled inside the company when he was at helm.

Updated American Honda Civic Spied

We reported last week that the US Civic is due to be updated at the end of the November (read HERE), and now this is the proof. Spied recently, the camouflaged Civic visibly wears the newly designed front bumper with more prominent sculpture around the radiator grille housing. The much-thicker grille surrounding is probably following the same trend as the recently introduced Honda Accord. The hood too looks set to receive a restyle with an added creases near to the centre bulge to further emphasize the raised centre section. The bumper fascia is different too with revised surfacing design and lower grille design.

While there's not much can be done on the side profile, the rear end is set to be heavily revised. We think the whole trunk lid, rear light and rear bumper are all set to be revised. The rear light cluster sports a revised internal graphic and will protrude more into the trunk lid panel. The license plate garnish and the fascia surface are revised too as a results of the new tail light. While the upper section of the bumper looks almost similar, the same can't be said for the bottom section. The lower edge has been sharpened and probably will get a reflector panel to increase its appeal, one up from the plain blunt design it is now.

We believe the US version of Honda Civic has a cheaper interior materials than our version. although plastic quality is never been the Civic's strength. However based on our earlier article (HERE) some panels are visibly different in design. The textures evaluation however will need us to fly abroad to test it but we think the Asian version should be more expensively detailed due to market positioning of the car. US media is predicting an improved in material and draw a comparison with the Asian and European Civic.

Despite the bad review and critics from the journalist (and online media worldwide), the sales of the 9th generation Honda Civic in the North America is not that bad actually. This could be the difference between the car reviewer and the car buyer in terms of priority of things and for the buyer, the bland looks could be secondary as they don't look their car while driving. Other aspects like reputation, build quality and service excellence probably overrule everything. Honda however has taken the critics seriously and indeed reacting. Quite an excellent company I would say. 

The enhanced Honda Civic will be introduced at the Los Angeles Motor Show later this month. It will go on sale as the 2013 Model Year in North America. It remains to be seen if the update will filter out to the rest of the market, however it could point to the direction of the facelift version will take in the near future. Some more photos after the jump.

03 November 2012

BMW X1 facelift debut in Malaysia - new variant sDrive20i

BMW Malaysia has introduced the facelifted version of its smallest SAV, the X1 to our shore, following its world debut last May. The introduction of the updated X1 also signalled the end of the entry level version sDrive18i powered by naturally-aspirated 1,995cc lump punching out 150hp and 200Nm. The entry-level model is now sDrive20i, priced similarly at RM238,800, but now propelled by the turbocharged 2.0L Twin Power unit producing a healthy 184hp and 270Nm, so the gasoline version of the X1 is now reasonably powerful.

As described in May, the updated X1 received a host of enhancement. BMW has updated the front end with revised front bumper design sporting more angular three lower grille. While the high-mounted front fog lamp remains, but the bumper is more angular in its execution. Combined with larger twin-kidney grille, BMW X1 now has a more muscular front end presentation. Elsewhere around the exterior, the side mirror has been replaced with the boxier item featuring LED indicator.  Meanwhile, the rear end revision is very minor. The tail lamps has been retained, while the lower section of the bumper has a smaller black cladding. As a results, the rear reflector is now the bumper section, instead of being fixed together with the blackened bumper garnish. In the interior department, the cabin has been reworked minimally with the new steering wheel design that is more in-line with recent BMW model. The classy touch has also been added to the i-Drive screen with chromed accents on the outer edge of the screen.

01 November 2012

Subaru Forester revealed ahead of Los Angeles Show

Subaru has revealed the first official photo of the new 4th generation Forester ahead of its official unveiling at Los Angeles Motor Show scheduled this month. The new Forester combines a bolder profile than before while offering a roomier interior with virtually the same footprint as the previous model. The all-new Forester preserves the optimal blend of SUV capability and car-like ride and handling that have made the Forester unique in its class.

There are two sets of engine line-up for now for the domestic Japanese and North American market. The Japanese market engine gets the new 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged BOXER engine producing 250hp@5,800rpm and 350Nm from 2,000-4,800rpm paired to Lineartronic CVT. The other engine available for Japan is the 2.0L BOXER naturally-aspirated punching out 148hp@6,200rpm. This engine can be paired with either 6 speed manual or CVT. North American customer gets another option of a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter BOXER engine debuted in the outgoing Forester model, punching out 170hp@5,800rpm and 236Nm@4,100rpm again available with either 6 speed manual or CVT. While the naturally-aspirated 2.0L is not available for North American market, the turbocharged 2.0L does. Fuel economy will be higher across the line with the debut of a new six-speed manual transmission and available Lineartronic® continuously variable transmissions (CVT).

The 2014 Forester will offer an exceptionally roomy interior, featuring increased rear seat legroom and an enlarged cargo area. In-demand infotainment features will be offered, including smartphone integration, navigation, rear view camera and Harman/Kardon® premium audio amplifier and speakers.

The two versions are differentiated by different front bumper treatment. The front bumper of the turbocharged version sports more aggressive design with enlarged intake and additional side vertical intake. The non-turbo version gets more natural version of the bumper, aligned with the design of the new Impreza and XV.

Subaru Forester measures 4,595mm long, 1,796mm wide and 1,737mm tall (with rails) and rides on 2,640mm wheelbase. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is standard for all models. The 2.5L version rides on 17 x 7" aluminum alloy with 225/60 R17 while the 2.0L turbo rides on 18 x 7" aluminum alloy with 225/55 R18.

More details are to come nearer to the Los Angeles Motor Show.

More details of the forthcoming Honda Brio Sedan

Honda Thailand teased the appearance of the sedan version of its Brio hatchback a few days ago. From the limited single view here, it is apparent that the new sedan shared the front end with the Brio including the A-pillar but things get differentiated post the B-pillar.
New details have emerged today. Seems that Honda is not purely "sedanized" the Brio by slapping some metal at the back, but they have stretched the wheelbase by 62mm to 2,407mm. Overall length has grown by 380mm to 3,990mm. It is still under 4m though to capitalize on tax benefit offered in the market like India. Width and height remain unchanged from the hatchback, still at 1,680mm and 1,500mm respectively. The additional length benefits the packaging as Honda now able to package in a cushier reat seat and 420L of boot volume.

The car is due to debut in Thailand this month. In fact this detail emerged after there is media test drive session so the actual unveiling date could be just days away. In Thai market, the car will be powered by the same petrol-driven 90bhp 1.2L lump paired to CVT gearbox.

Honda Brio is actually a clever product of Honda engineering. In the era of rising material cost and the extreme necessity to remain cost effective, innovative company like Honda can still strive. For example, let's have a look at Brio interior. By now surely all of us know that Honda Brio has two-tone interior color. Do you know that the door trim is not two-piece moulded plastic? It is in fact single-piece moulded item with the top portion sprayed in soft dark finishing on the beige surface. This is just one of the example. If you have a chance to have a closer look, zoom in to the design details.

Some photo of the camouflaged media car can be found after the jump.