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  • Riding in the haze – should or shouldn’t you?

    Riding Masks - tracking-1

    It is apparent that hazy days are here again, and everyone will be up in arms complaining and ranting on social media or otherwise. But the situation being what it is, what can a motorcyclist do about it?

    While those with access to four-wheeled enclosed vehicles will have it easier, some are still forced to use two-wheelers for daily transport. Since it is known that exposure to the haze can be hazardous to health, riders can take some measures to minimise their exposure to haze, notably in breathing in particulates.

    The health authorities will post information about using face masks, but not all face masks are created equal. We have seen riders using paper surgical masks that are sold cheaply at RM3 for a pack of 10, but these type of masks do nothing to filter particulates. These are used to capture bacteria coming out of the wearer’s mouth and nose, and not vice-versa.

    Riding Masks - all -1

    There are also cheap paper cup masks – priced at RM1 or RM2 per piece – that cover the nose and mouth. Usually unmarked, these simple masks only filter out dense particulate such as sawdust or sand. They are not designed to capture the fine particulates that are found in haze.

    For simple, easy, daily use, especially while riding, use a proper cup mask that is marked “N95”. These N95 masks – we got ours at RM6 each – are designed to capture at least 95% of a challenge aerosol with the mask material and filter media. The ‘N’ designation means the mask material is not oil-resistant.

    On a higher scale in terms of respiratory protection, single- and double-respirators provide the best protection against the haze. The respirators, available in hardware stores for around RM22, provide a closer fit to the face than N95 masks, and the filter element can be changed when its efficiency drops.

    The rating on respirator filters follow the ‘N’, ‘R’ and ‘P’ designations, where N is non-oilproof, R is somewhat oil resistant and P is oil-proof. The numbering on the respirator filter, 95, 99 or 100, indicates the percentage of particulates arrested by the filter.

    We did a comparison wear test with various masks, and found that all the masks would fit under an open-face helmet with no issues. Using a full-face meant the respirators were out, due to interference with the helmet’s chin bar.

    This meant that the only real choice for the rider is the N95 cup mask. The N95 mask would be the best compromise between filter efficiency and ease of use, especially on a daily basis.

    Riding in the haze also means the rider’s eyes may be affected by particulates in the haze, so proper eye protection should be worn, or the visor kept down at all times while on the move. Should the eyes be irritated, wash them with water or a simple saline solution, and seek medical attention immediately if the eyes are inflamed or itchy.

    Do remember that visibility on the road will be cut down during the haze, so ensure that all the lights on your motorcycle are functioning, and of the correct wattage. Broken or discoloured lenses should be replaced.

    It is also a good idea to ride while wearing bright coloured clothing, or to wear a reflective vest, whether in day, or night. Avoid prolonged journeys while riding in the haze, and take as many indoor breaks as possible if having to ride long-distance. Drinking a lot of plain water will help.

  • VIDEO: Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine CKD walk-around

    Volvo Car Malaysia recently introduced the locally-assembled (CKD) version of the Volvo XC90, which comes at a RM50,000 discount from the imported version. Where the imported version sold for RM453,888, the XC90 CKD is priced at RM403,888 on-the-road without insurance. Outside of Sweden, Malaysia is the only other country in the world that produces the flagship XC90.

    Here, we have the XC90 in T8 Twin Engine Inscription trim, featuring the carmaker’s plug-in hybrid powertrain, which employs a 2.0 litre four-cylinder super- and turbocharged Drive-E petrol engine, paired with an electric motor. The good news here is a claimed fuel consumption of up to 2.1 litres per 100 km.

    If that isn’t enough, the XC90’s cabin is awash in luxury, starting with a crystal gear knob by Swedish crystal makers Orrefors. The other standout feature here is a portrait-format, nine-inch touchscreen display that is linked to Volvo’s latest Sensus Connect High Performance infotainment system.

    These are just some of the features that are shown in the video above. For full details on the locally-assembled Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription, do watch our walk-around tour.

  • AD: Subaru Forester – premium features and safety, plus five years of warranty and free maintenance

    Subaru Forester sighless

    Sighing because you would like a new car, but it may not be affordable? Motor Image is calling for a stop to that with its new campaign. “Stop sighing and enjoy premium features and safety without paying premium prices,” it says.

    The latest Subaru Forester comes with premium features such as Steering Responsive LED Headlights (SRH), auto lights and wipers, powered tailgate (with PIN code access), not to mention Subaru’s trademark Boxer engine and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. It has top notch safety too, with seven airbags and Vehicle Dynamics Control System (VDC) as standard fitment.

    On top of all this, Motor Image is also offering a five-year warranty plus free five years maintenance with the Subaru Forester 2.0i-P. All this, without having to pay premium prices. Interested? Click here to find out more, or visit your nearest Subaru Showroom.

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  • SPYSHOTS: New Porsche 911 Targa GTS seen testing

    Porsche 991.2 GTS Targa 8

    While Porsche has already unveiled the Carrera and Turbo versions of the facelifted 911 range, there are still many versions of the sports car that have yet to reveal themselves. One such model is what you’re looking at here, the new 911 Targa GTS.

    Spotted by our spy photographers in Southern Spain, the bare test mule seen here sports a GT3-esque front bumper, centre-locking alloy wheels, new rear bumper and an exhaust setup similar to the latest Carrera models. The former is one of the main differentiators of the Targa GTS from the regular model.

    Unchanged here is the targa top, which looks to retain the same opening/closing mechanism as before, with the top section being retracted into a storage area beneath the rear greenhouse. On this particular GTS test mule, the targa rollover bar is finished in black.

    For power, the new Targa GTS will likely adopt a more powerful version of the 3.0 litre biturbo flat-six engine found in the regular Targa. The blown boxer engine outputs up to 420 hp and 500 Nm on the current Targa 4S, but will likely provide more on the Targa GTS. Transmission options should include a six-speed manual and PDK dual-clutch gearbox.

  • Toyota Crown, Land Cruiser editions launched to commemorate Toyota store’s 70th anniversary

    crown athlete 70th 1

    Over in Japan, Toyota has launched a number of special edition models to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first Toyota store, the first of which opened in Tokyo back in 1946. The models, made up of the facelifted Crown Athlete and Majesta variants as well as the J200 Land Cruiser and Land Cruiser Prado, were officially announced today.

    As you’d expect, additional kit find their way on to the domestic-only offerings, and both the Crown Athlete and Majesta get a special wood steering wheel. Here, the material of choice is maple wood, and for the construction two layers are used, the veneers polished to a high sheen by skilled craftsmen.

    The 70th anniversary Japan-Frontier (or J-Frontier) editions of the Crown Athlete features ultra-suede leather upholstery, while the Majesta is fitted out with premium Nappa leather.

    Aside from this, the celebratory vehicles – available in a number of variants and two-wheel and four-wheel guise – also come equipped with a Toyota Safety Sense P collision avoidance support package as standard equipment, and items on the list include millimetre-wave radar and a monocular camera.

    The special Global-Frontier (G-Frontier) Land Cruiser models, meanwhile, also get plusher material and trim, bringing them to overseas specifications, the automaker says. Premium Nappa leather finds its way on to the J200 Land Cruiser, while the Prado gets Russian-stiched Redwood leather seats, which is found on the Middle East export versions of the SUV.

  • SPYSHOTS: BMW M4 sighted with more aero goodies

    A few months ago BMW rolled out the limited-edition M4 Competition Sport (CS) for the Spanish market, where only 60 units will be made. It appears the German carmaker may have plans to introduce the kitted-up M4 for other markets, according to these spyshots.

    However, the test mule seen here appears to differ slightly from the CS in certain areas. While the front spoiler may appear identical, albeit with additional support attachments, the car’s side sills and rear are different from the CS.

    On this prototype, the side sills are more pronounced, and the rear features additional diffuser elements. The rear wing is also larger in size here, although it doesn’t look very refined for the final production car.

    BMW M4 extreme aero spyshots 20

    What appears to be similar to the CS is the lack of the M4 GTS’ grunt, judging by the more reserved-looking hood. Expect a 3.0 litre twin-turbo straight six engine with 450 hp, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that sends power to the rear wheels.

    We’ll have to wait until BMW provides more information on this mysterious, kitted-up M4. It could be a CS offered for more markets, or something else entirely.

    GALLERY: BMW M4 Competition Sport Edition

  • LRT fares low, ticket options available – Prasarana


    Despite a widely publicised complaint published online regarding LRT fares, multi-modal public transport operator Prasarana Malaysia maintains that LRT fares are relatively low, with various ticket options available. The fare amounted to RM8.20, rather than RM9 as stated by “Upset LRT User” who wrote in to The Star, according to the company’s head of group communications and strategic marketing Lim Jin Aun.

    Writing in the Malay Mail in reply, he said that while the reader did not specify which stations were used, he assumed that the trip – which was cashless, using a stored value card – stretched between the IOI-Puchong Jaya LRT station, the furthest LRT station in Puchong on the Sri Petaling Line, and the Sunway-Setia Jaya BRT station, the furthest station on the BRT Sunway line.

    The cashless ticketing option as chosen by the reader also may not be the cheapest travel option, as there are MyRapid Smart 30 and MyRapid Smart 7 ticket products for frequent and moderately frequent rail commuters on offer, and which offer further discounts to the cashless ticketing option, Lim said.

    Lim did clarify, however, that MyRapid Smart 30 and MyRapid Smart 7 ticket products come with a nominal activation fee of RM10 and RM2.50 respectively, upon the ticket’s expiry after a 30-day or seven-day period.

    BRT bus

    In contrast, there has been positive feedback from another LRT user, who has found the LRT to be a cheaper commuting option between their home in USJ, Subang Jaya and their workplace in Kuala Lumpur.

    “Regular LRT User” wrote in to The Star saying that the RM7.20 return trip fare makes it cheaper than parking in the city centre. The reader also said that while the charges on the BRT are absurd, it is justifiable due to the high investment versus the low volume crowd serviced, and that no public transport network is able to cater to every user’s need.

    What has your experience been with the recently-expanded LRT network? How do the costs compare to driving? Let us know in the comments below.

  • SPYSHOTS: 2017 Land Rover Discovery 5 almost nude

    The 2017 Land Rover Discovery 5 has been spotted out in the open, barely disguised by our spy photographers. The seven-seat SUV was previously sighted testing on the road, as well as on the famed Nurburgring.

    The prototype seen here certainly appears to be as close to production-ready as can be (at least on the outside). Obvious design cues from the Discovery Vision concept that made its debut at the 2014 New York International Auto Show are clearly seen here.

    This includes the two-bar front grille that sits between a pair of sleeker headlamps that replace the fourth-generation model’s square-ish ones. Also taken from the concept is the carved-out side intake on the front bumper, side gills and tail lamps.

    The rear tailgate also appears to be nearly identical to that on the concept, although here, a new roof spoiler accompanies it, and the “diffuser” element has been dropped. Additionally, the offset position of the number plate on the test mule appears to be a nod to previous Discovery models.

    No shots of the interior here, but from our previous spyshots, the new Discovery looks to borrow more from the Range Rover Sport, featuring a minimalist dashboard layout. At the time however, the Discovery seen was merely a prototype, so we’ll have to wait for the finished product first.

    Underneath all that new bodywork will be will be the carmaker’s Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA) that is also found in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The platform features heavy use of aluminium in its construction, and should make the next-generation Discovery lighter than before.

    For motivation, expect the new Discovery to come with a range of engines from Jaguar Land Rover’s Ingenium line-up, featuring petrol and diesel options, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Electrification could also be applied to the powertrain, allowing for limited all-electric travel if needed.

    In terms of technology, the Discovery could receive a laser-scanning feature that allows the car to read the terrain ahead, and adjust the vehicle’s suspension to suit it. Other fancy items include the “invisible bonnet” that should be useful when driving on- or off-road.

    GALLERY: 2017 Land Rover Discovery 5 spyshots
    GALLERY: Land Rover Discovery Vision concept

  • SPIED: Mercedes-Benz SLC in Malaysian showroom


    It appears that Mercedes-Benz Malaysia is setting its sights on bringing in a two-seater roadster next – a reader has sent in photos of the Mercedes-Benz SLC, sighted at the Glenmarie showroom. The facelifted R172 SLK – which has been given the new moniker as a result of Mercedes’ range-wide naming restructuring in 2014 – is seen here in both standard and AMG Line (with the Night Package) forms.

    From what we can see, both cars are specced with LED Intelligent headlights and 18-inch wheels – AMG multispoke items on the AMG Line car, five twin-spoke rollers (which comes with the sports package that also includes sports suspension) on the standard car. Also equipped is the Magic Sky Control panoramic glass roof and what appear to be Airguide wind deflectors on the SLC 300.

    The red AMG car is badged the SLC 300, and therefore is powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine making 245 hp at 5,500 rpm and 370 Nm between 1,300 to 4,000 rpm. It’s unknown which model the standard car is, but it’s likely to be the SLC 200 – this shares the same engine as the SLC 300, but detuned to 180 hp and 300 Nm. Both engines are likely to be mated to a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission.

    Changes over the pre-facelift SLK include reshaped headlights, reprofiled front and rear bumpers and redesigned tail light graphics, while the interior gets the latest infotainment systems – including a COMAND Online option – and a larger seven-inch display instead of the previous 5.8-inch one.

    We’ve driven the SLC in AMG SLC 43 form – read our review here.

  • nuTonomy begins world’s first public trial of self-driving car service/ride-hailing app in Singapore

    Software developer nuTonomy has launched the world’s first public trial of a “robo-taxi” service. The trial will be held within Singapore’s One-North business district, where “select” Singapore residents are invited to use nuTonomy’s ride-hailing smartphone app to book a ride in a nuTonomy self-driving car.

    The self-driving car fleet is currently made up of a Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle, which has been fitted with the company’s suite of detection and processing hardware, as well as self-driving software. An engineer will be present in the car during each ride to collect data, as well as assume control if needed.

    nuTonomy hopes to introduce a widely-available commercial “robo-taxi” service in Singapore by 2018. The company was selected by the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) earlier this month as an R&D partner, to support the development of a commercial autonomous vehicle (AV) service in Singapore.

    “nuTonomy’s first-in-the-world public trial is a direct reflection of the level of maturity that we have achieved with our AV software system. The trial represents an extraordinary opportunity to collect feedback from riders in a real-world setting, and this feedback will give nuTonomy a unique advantage as we work toward deployment of a self-driving vehicle fleet in 2018,” said CEO and co-founder of nuTonomy, Karl Iagnemma.

    In addition to Singapore, nuTonomy is operating self-driving cars in Michigan and the United Kingdom, where it tests software in partnership with major automotive manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover.


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