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  • 2017 Isuzu MU-X facelift teased ahead of March debut

    Isuzu has begun teasing its new MU-X SUV, updated for 2017. The SUV is due to be introduced sometime next month in Thailand, and the automaker has revealed some of the changes in store through a short video clip.

    Fresh exterior bits include a redesigned grille and projector headlamps, complete with LED daytime running lights, new 18-inch alloy wheels and LED tail lights. The interior should also feature boast a number of refinements and offer an airier feel, as suggested by the beige-colour trim glimpsed in the video.

    Two engine variants of the MU-X will be available. The first is a 1.9 litre Ddi Blue Power turbodiesel, which was introduced to the SUV in March last year. The RZ4E-TC offers 150 PS at 3,600 rpm and 350 Nm at 1,800 to 2,600 rpm, with two transmissions choices to pick from, a six-speed manual or a six-speed Rev Tronic automatic.

    The other is a 3.0 litre unit, and for regional markets the 4JJ1-TCX should remain unchanged, offering 177 PS at 3,600 rpm and 380 Nm at 1,800 to 2,800 rpm. Last week, it was announced that the 2017 D-Max for Australia will be getting a revised Euro 5 emission-compliant version of the engine.

    The 4JJ1-TC Hi-Power, as it is known as, offers the same power output as the 4JJ1-TCX, with 177 PS on call, but torque has been bumped up by 50 Nm to 430 Nm, available from 1,700 to 3,500 rpm. Said to be developed exclusively for the Australian market, no word on whether it will eventually find its way on elsewehere.

  • Ford researching crowd-sourced virtual pothole map

    Potholes have to rank as one of the most hated and dreaded things motorists face. The booby traps are destructive, and causes paranoia, especially in the dark. But we’re not alone.

    This winter is expected to set records as the worst ever in some parts of Europe, with freezing temperatures, ice and snow likely lead to more cracked and potholed roads. Bad road surfaces contribute to more than a third of all accidents every year in Europe. In the UK, a pothole damage claim is received by local authorities every 17 minutes – with claims averaging £432. In 2011, 20 million potholes were reported in Europe but only half were filled – at an estimated cost of more than €1.2 billion.

    While they’re luckier in the sense that repair bills can be sent to local authorities, potholes are still best avoided. Ford is working on something that will help motorists avoid potholes and the misery they bring.

    The Blue Oval is currently researching a crowd-sourced virtual pothole map, with testing due to start later this year. The map would show drivers, in real-time, on in-car displays, where potholes are, how bad they are, and suggest alternative routes.

    “A virtual pothole map could highlight a new pothole the minute it appears and almost immediately warn other drivers that there is a hazard ahead. Our cars already feature sensors that detect potholes and now we are looking at taking this to the next level,” said Uwe Hoffmann, research engineer, Advanced Chassis Control Technologies, Ford of Europe.

    Larger Ford models such as the Galaxy, Mondeo and S-Max already use on-board sensors for Continuously Controlled Damping with Pothole Mitigation, which detects potholes using sensors and adjusts the suspension to help reduce any potential damage.

    Engineers are now researching the use of cameras and embedded modems at the Ford Research and Innovation Centre in Germany. Together, these technologies would gather detailed information on the potholes and beam it to the cloud – where it can be made available to other drivers – in real time. Further research is also exploring the use of an active suspension system designed to massively reduce the severity of bumps and rough road surfaces.

    Ford already tests new cars on a nightmare 2 km road at its Lommel Proving Ground in Belgium, using replicas of some of the world’s worst potholes.

  • January 2017 Malaysia car sales – down 31% from Dec

    The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) has just released car sales figures in Malaysia for January 2017. Combined sales for commercial and passenger vehicles managed a slight gain over the same month last year, with a total of 44,667 vehicles sold last month, compared to 44,589 in the same month last year.

    The outlook for sales volume in February is a slight decrease, attributed to the shorter working month due to post-Chinese New Year festive holidays. This follows a significant dip from last month, representing a 31% decrease from December 2016; the year-ender itself made a 32.1% gain from November, with 64,822 vehicles sold.

    This mirrored the previous December/January pattern as well, which marked a considerable dip in total industry volume compared to the previous year’s, which charted Malaysia’s highest ever at 666,674 units.

    The slight increase for January compared to the same month last year was attributed to a continuation of aggressive sales and marketing campaigns for Chinese New Year promotions, though the gain was not as large as it could have been due to the aforementioned shorter working month, as well as from the diminishing effects of East Coast floods.

  • Lamborghini recalls every Veneno, 5,900 Aventadors

    If you are an owner of a Lamborghini Veneno or an Aventador, or know someone who has one, this is important. The Italian carmaker is recalling every Veneno ever sold, including three coupes and nine roadsters totalling 12 cars, along with 5,900 Aventadors over a fuel system fault that could result in fire.

    The issue stems from the emissions-control system, which can malfunction under certain conditions and be unable to treat fuel vapours properly. This increases the risk of the vapours coming in contact with hot exhaust system components during particular manoeuvres, like engine over revving at idle, which could lead to risk of fire.

    According to a recall report on the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s website and Bloomberg, the issue affects all Aventadors and Venenos built from May 22, 2011 to December 5, 2016. The newly introduced Aventador S and limited-edition Aventador SV are unaffected by the recall.

    Lamborghini says it’s unaware of any driver or passenger injuries linked to the defect, though a spokeswoman was unable to confirm whether any fires have been reported in the affected vehicles.

    The Veneno is a limited production model based on the Aventador, and uses an uprated version of the base car’s 6.5 litre V12 engine that produces 750 PS and 690 Nm of torque. When first revealed, the Veneno coupe costs 3,120,000 euros (RM14,813,760), while the roadster was 3,300,000 euros (RM15,651,570). If you’re looking to purchase one now, you’ll have to pay a hefty premium as second-hand prices of the Veneno have doubled or tripled since.

  • 2018 Hyundai Accent – fifth-gen compact makes debut

    The fifth-generation Hyundai Accent has made its debut at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. The Korean carmaker says that the 2018 Accent boasts bold design, a sophisticated interior, a more efficient powertrain, noticeably reduced cabin noise, and significantly enhanced driving dynamics.

    As with the previous generation, the new Accent sports “baby Elantra” looks, and appears to be a scale model of the sixth-gen Elantra AD. The B-segment has grown in size – now 15 mm longer (4,385 mm) and 29 mm wider (1,729 mm), with a 10 mm longer wheelbase (2,580 mm). The larger footprint is matched with unchanged height (1,450 mm) for a more grounded stance. Ground clearance is down by 10 mm.

    There will be a five-door bodystyle as well for markets that prefer hatchbacks. The Accent 5-door is 70 mm longer and 29 mm wider than the hatch it replaces.

    The new Accent uses 54.5% “Advanced High-Strength Steel”, up from 41.5% in the fourth generation. The new chassis has improved torsional rigidity by 32% by using 98.5 metres of structural adhesives. The result is improves quality perception, noise isolation, and driving dynamics, Hyundai says, while AHSS improves collision performance without adding unnecessary weight.

    Hyundai claims improved ride comfort, handling, and stability. The Motor-Driven Power Steering’s (MDPS is Hyundai’s term for EPS) feel has been refined and enhancements to handling and comfort have been made by lifting up the rear roll centre and raising the leverage ratio of the rear shock absorbers.

    The new Accent is powered by a 1.6 litre Gamma GDI engine with 132 hp and 161 Nm of torque. Compared to before, the engine’s powerband has improved with a 4.6% increase in torque from 1,500 rpm for better drivability. Specifically, the acceleration performance for 40-80 km/h and 80-120 km/h has been improved over the previous model by 0.2 and 1.3 seconds, respectively.

    Fuel efficiency has been improved by 7%. Engine components such as low-friction piston rings, a variable fuel pressure module, and upgraded software for the engine control module improve overall operation. With improvements to the return springs in the braking system, drive friction has been reduced, too.

    The direct injection motor is paired with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed conventional automatic transmission. The latter has been redesigned for better efficiency. It is also two kg lighter. Automatic Accents get Drive Mode Select to alter engine response and steering calibration in two modes – Normal and Sport.

    In addition to the stronger chassis, the Accent features improvements to the front side members and inner side sill to improve crash protection. The front crumple zones have been increased, front side air bags have been upgraded, and reinforcements have been made to improve the car’s performance in small overlap crashes. Six airbags and ESC are standard, while Autonomous Emergency Braking is available.

    A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a reverse camera will be available in select markets. The Accent sedan will start selling in the third quarter this year, followed by the Accent 5-door in Q4. It won’t be coming to Malaysia, but the Elantra will arrive very soon, powered by a 204 hp/265 Nm turbo engine.

  • SPIED: Volvo S90 T6 AWD R-Design seen in Malaysia

    The Volvo S90 has been spotted in Malaysia again, this time thanks to reader Wong Dee Lern, who snapped a few photos of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series challenger on the Federal Highway.

    The car seen here is different from the one that was previously sighted back in August last year, as this one sports the R-Design package (also available on the V90 wagon), which includes new bumpers (front and rear), new exhaust outlets, black trim, spoiler-integrated fog lamps, brushed mirror caps and a unique grille.

    Also part of the exterior are five-spoke matte black diamond-cut design wheels that appear to be 19 inches in size, as well as a Bursting Blue Metallic body colour. The R-Design package also includes a slight revision to the S90’s chassis, where stiffer springs and dampers are introduced, along with a slightly lowered ride height (air suspension is optional in certain markets).

    Interior enhancements should include silver deco trim, new pedals and mats, an illumination package, sporty contour seats and an R-Design steering wheel.

    This particular unit also has a T6 badge on the boot lid, which points towards a 2.0 litre supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood. The mill provides 320 hp and 400 Nm of torque, with power being sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission.

    Barring the exact launch date, we’ve been told previously by Volvo Car Malaysia managing director Lennart Stegland that the Swedish executive sedan will arrive this year. The first few cars will be fully-imported, with local assembly (CKD) set to take place later at Volvo Car Manufacturing Malaysia’s plant in Shah Alam, which also assembles the XC90 T8 Twin Engine.

    Likely powertrains for the S90 include the T6 AWD mentioned above, as well as the T8 Twin Engine, although it remains to be seen what trim levels will be paired with them. The S90 is available in Kinetic, Momentum and Inscription trims, with the former being the entry-level. Local dealers have also hinted that the V90 wagon will join the S90 in Malaysia with similar specs.

    GALLERY: Volvo R-Design package for the S90 and V90

  • Japan ready to make bid for KL-Singapore HSR project

    Japan is set to make a bid to develop the KL-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) link, and says it is ready to propose the country’s best high-speed rail technology, with financing and service to be part of the bidding process, The Sun reports.

    The country, which is competing with China, South Korea and several European countries for the project, will be pitching its Shinkansen (bullet train). According to Japanese ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Makio Miyakawa, Japan is happy to offer Malaysia and Singapore the technology and service of the Shinkansen HSR network.

    He added that Japan is willing to offer the best human resources development for Malaysia and Singapore. “We are happy to train the experts as well as conduct technology transfer of the same system used in Shinkansen to both Malaysia and Singapore. We are ready to offer the best data, proposal and option,” he told reporters at the launch of a Shinkansen exhibition in KL.

    He said that the system was proven in terms of operational and safety aspects. “There are several merits and advantages that we can derive from Shinkansen, as there have been no fatal incidence throughout its 50 years of operation. The services provided by Shinkansen is reliable and efficient as the average delay time for it is merely one minute each year,” he explained.

    Last December, Malaysia and Singapore signed a legally-binding bilateral agreement to facilitate the HSR project. Construction of the high-speed rail link is set to begin in 2018, with completion in 2025. It is scheduled to start operations in 2026.

    The 350 km-long double-track route (335 km of which is in Malaysia, and 15 km in Singapore) will have eight stops in total – Singapore, Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh, Seremban, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur. A bridge over the Straits of Johor – with a height clearance of 25 metres – will link the line between both countries.

    Trains on the service are expected to run 10 car-long trains, with the capacity for up to 100 passengers per car. The trains are projected to run at average speeds of 300 km/h and bring down the rail travel time between KL and Singapore to 90 minutes.

  • Dodge Challenger SRT Demon generates 35% higher launch force than a Hellcat, easily wrinkles tyres

    Dodge will unveil the new Challenger SRT Demon at the 2017 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) in April, and is continuing its lengthy teaser campaign with a new video titled Multiplication.

    Yes, the American carmaker wants you to explain the math behind its imposing drag/street car, which is essential to wrinkle the tyres as shown in the video. According to Dodge, the Nitto NT05R street-legal drag radial tyres on the Demon, which measure 320 mm wide, contribute to a 15% larger tyre contact patch (obviously) and “more than twice as much grip as well.”

    As a result, the new car is is capable of handling higher launch torque loads than the “tame” 707 hp Hellcat, warranting the carmaker to give it more torque multiplication. This includes fitting a higher stall speed torque converter to the automatic transmission and 3.09 rear axle. Compared to the Hellcat, the Demon sees an increase in converter torque multiplication and rear axle torque multiplication by approximately 18%.

    Dodge says these upgrades alone enable the Challenger SRT Demon to generate more than 35% higher launch force than a Challenger Hellcat, which should make for exciting starts off the line.

  • Honda HR-V to receive 1.0 litre turbo engine in China?

    The Honda HR-V could receive a 1.0 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine in China soon, according to a report by Autohome.

    The new variant is said to be introduced by Guangqi Honda, featuring the same 1.0 litre turbo/CVT combo found in the Civic 180Turbo sold by Dongfeng Honda. On the sedan, the mill offers 123 hp at 5,500 rpm and 173 Nm from 2,000 to 4,500 rpm, driving the front wheels.

    Currently, the HR-V is available with two naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engines in 1.5 litre (118 hp/145 Nm) and 1.8 litre (140 hp/172 Nm) guises (the latter is the only option in Malaysia), with hybrid and diesel options as well. As you can tell, the turbocharged mill matches the 1.8 litre petrol mill in terms of torque, although it is down in the horsepower count.

    Guangqi Honda will reportedly launch the turbo HR-V on March 29 this year, with a few variants being offered to customers in China. Do you think such a model will be welcomed in Malaysia, given the lower road tax applicable?

  • SPYSHOTS: Next-gen Mercedes-Benz A-Class spotted – new interior to feature E-Class widescreen cockpit!

    The first time it was spotted, the next Mercedes-Benz A-Class was seen heavily camouflaged underneath body cladding and disguises, and now for its winter testing runs the Stuttgart automaker’s compact hatchback has shed most of its exterior cladding.

    The A-Class now sports a lower and sleeker front end, with a slimmer set of headlamps while at the back, what appears to be the production tail lamps are now seen fitted to the test mule. As indicated by previous sightings of the A-Class mule, the rear lights are now wider in the mold of the GLA, with the units split between body and tail gate.

    This sighting is also our first with the new car’s interior, though it is still mostly still hidden by concealing fabric. The images do, however, reveal new LCD instrumentation inside the upcoming A-Class, similar to E-Class fashion. Here, the new device appears to be a singular item for both vehicular instrumentation as well as infotainment; the screen appears to adopt the current A-Class item’s upright floating tablet positioning.

    A new steering wheel design is present in this test mule, too, one with a smaller central wheel boss and what appears to be spokes heavily populated by toggles and scroll pads; the latter also seen prior on the W213 E-Class. Further along the interior, the central console in the A-Class mule appears to protrude further out from the dashboard than before, though that too is still behind cover.

    The new MFA2 platform upon which this upcoming A-Class is based, will have greater versatility than before for a wider variety of models, whilst also being lighter for weight management. The aforementioned split tail lights are also a function of the A-Class gaining a wider boot aperture for easier access to luggage, whilst further inside, rear seat passengers should enjoy more room.

    Motive power will come from a plethora of four-cylinder engines, both petrol and diesel. This time around, it’s said that there will be two AMGs, an A 40 and the full-cream A 45; the former estimated to have 300 hp and the latter to top 400 hp. With the newfound flexibility of the MFA2 platform, a plug-in hybrid variant is expected as well.

    The next-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class is expected to make its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year, as a 2018 model year release.


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