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  • 2022 Peugeot 308 SW debuts – longer wheelbase, 608 litres of boot space; 1.6L PHEV, up to 60 km e-range

    Say hello to the new Peugeot 308 SW. Its unveiling comes just three months after the third-generation 308 broke cover, but the sleek French wagon will only be hitting showroom floors in early 2022. At launch, there will be seven exterior colour options to choose from, starting with Nera Black, Nimbus Grey, Cumulus Grey, Bianca White, Pearl White, Elixir Red, and the new Avatar Blue you see here.

    On the design side of things, the 308 SW looks visibly longer compared to the regular hatch. The front fascia is identical between the two, but the wagon gets a stretched roofline, roof rails and larger three-quarter windows.

    The back end of the 308 SW is completely unique. The LED tail lights are no longer connected by a trim piece, allowing the new lion badge to be moved up. The registration plate holder has also been shifted upwards, making for a suitably cleaner look.

    As the more practical variant of the 308, the wagon offers a generous 608 litres of boot space, complete with a two-tier stowage system. This can be expanded to 1,634 litres with the rear seatbacks folded (40:20:40 split), accommodating items up to 1.85 metres-long. All this comes from stretching the new 308’s wheelbase by 55 mm – the 308 SW measures 4,640 mm-long (60 mm longer than the older 308 SW) and has a 210 mm rear overhang.

    Since it’s based on the same upgraded EMP2 platform, the 308 SW comes with the exact same powertrain options, with fully-electric versions being possible as well. Early adopters can choose between two plug-in hybrid flavours,the Hybrid 180 and 225. The numbers represent the amount of total horsepower on tap, coming from an 81 kW (110 PS) electric motor and the 1.6 litre PureTech turbocharged four-cylinder engine with either 150 PS/250 Nm or 180 PS. The combined torque is 320 Nm.

    The 308 SW is also equipped with the same 12.4 kWh battery pack, providing an all-electric range of up to 60 km (WLTP cycle). A 3.7 kW onboard charger comes as standard, but customers can upgrade to a 7.4 kW unit, which allows a single-phase wallbox to fully charge the car in just under two hours. Otherwise, you’ll need approximately seven hours to charge the battery via a standard eight-ampere domestic socket.

    Non-hybrid powertrain options include the 1.2 litre PureTech 130 and 1.5 litre BlueHDi 130. All 308 SW models are fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard.

    Now, the cabin and equipment list are pretty much the same as the 308. Peugeot’s i-Cockpit layout is standard, featuring a 10-inch fully digital instrument cluster and another 10-inch widescreen touch display in the middle. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support are standard across all models, but wireless connectivity is only available from Allure Premium and up.

    A second display can be optioned to sit just underneath the main display, replacing the climate controls and providing user-customisable shortcuts. The tall centre console features a trendy toggle-style automatic gear selector and drive mode rocker, freeing up space for a dedicated wireless charging slot, two large cupholders and up to 34 litres of storage space.

    Peugeot claims that the seats in the 308 SW have been awarded the coveted AGR (Aktion für Gesunder Rücken) certification thanks to their ergonomics and range of adjustment. A 10-way power adjustment with two memory settings can be had as an option, as well as a multi-point massage and heated seats. Upholstery materials include mottled fabric, Alcantara, embossed leather and coloured Nappa leather.

    Safety-wise, the 308 is offered with the new Drive Assist 2.0 pack, adding semi-autonomous driving capabilities. Aside from adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist, the system also includes lane change and speed limit suggestions as well as the ability to slow down for corners at speeds of up to 180 km/h. Other new features are long-range blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a reverse camera washer, a 360-degree camera system and an emergency call function.

  • All-new Lexus LX set for Sept debut, LX 750h hybrid with 480 hp, LX 600 with Land Cruiser 3.5L V6 – report

    After Lexus promised one more new model for 2021 after the second-generation NX, the premium brand released a video teasing a large SUV. All signs point to it being the new Lexus LX – today’s LX has origins from 2007, and the Toyota Land Cruiser – which the LX has always been based on – went into a new generation this month.

    Now, rumours originating from Creative Trend in Japan have revealed possible powertrain details, purportedly from info obtained from a Lexus dealer. The next generation of Lexus’ flagship SUV will be based on the new Land Cruiser with the lighter GA-F platform, but with added luxury and Lexus design. There are even some changes under the hood and new model names.

    At the top of the tree will be the so-called LX 750h, which will use the Land Cruiser 300 Series‘ 3.5L V6 engine. In the Toyota, the twin-turbo engine is good for 409 hp and 650 Nm of torque, but the flagship LX 750h will add on hybrid assistance (hence the ‘h’ in the name) for a combined 480 hp and 871 Nm of torque.

    The report adds that there will be an LX 600 variant with the Land Cruiser’s 409 hp engine intact, without the additional battery and hybrid hardware. Both LX 750h and LX 600 will feature a 10-speed automatic transmission, just like the Land Cruiser. The 300 Series also has a 3.3L turbodiesel V6 engine (305 hp/700 Nm), but fittingly, there’s no mention of the oil burner for the Lexus.

    The report also mentions a more luxurious interior than the Land Cruiser, along with the brand’s new infotainment system seen in the 2022 NX. The latest system sees Lexus ditch the Remote Touch Controller, the much-maligned mouse-like contraption, in favour of a big touchscreen. The screen maxes out at 14 inches in the NX, but rumour is that the LX will have one as large as 17 inches. It certain has the size to accommodate such a wide landscape screen.

    Lastly, it is said that the next LX will have a fingerprint scanner for starting the engine. The internal info says that the LX is set for a September 2021 debut and will go on sale in December in some markets. The Land Cruiser is not destined for the US market, but the big Lexus is a thing there and Americans can opt for the equally off-road capable but more luxe LX.

    New LX aside, Lexus is said to be developing a seven-seater crossover called LF. Unlike the LX, which is based on one of the most capable off-roaders in the world, the LF will have unibody construction and will focus on luxury and on-road comfort.

    Back to some official news. Lexus has already stated that by 2025, it plans to introduce 20 new or improved models, including more than 10 electrified models such as full EVs (BEV), plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and regular hybrids (HEV), in line with the needs of each market and region. By 2025, Lexus also aims to offer electric variants of all its models, with the sales ratio of BEVs exceeding that of ICE vehicles.

    While Lexus and Toyota were hybrid pioneers, they’ve been slow starters in the PHEV and BEV races, having bet on hydrogen fuel cell tech as “the future of driving”. Lexus is making up for lost time now. The brand launched its first BEV late last year with the UX 300e, and the new NX 450h+ is Lexus’ first PHEV. The next step comes in 2022, when the brand will reveal its first dedicated BEV model.

    Dedicated BEV means that it will be a stand-alone electric car, and not a regular model repurposed to be an EV like the UX 300e. In March, Lexus revealed the LF-Z Electrified concept, and the showcar could very well be a preview of that dedicated BEV.

    GALLERY: 2022 Toyota Land Cruiser 300 Series


  • 2022 Hyundai Elantra N gets teased in production form

    Hyundai has released more teasers of the upcoming Elantra N, which is its sixth N brand model following the unveiling of the Kona N in April. Unlike previous teasers that involved camouflage, these new images show us parts of the production model, although the company is still keeping a lot of details under wraps.

    The Elantra N is the high-performance version of the sedan that Hyundai revealed last March, and represents a step up from the N Line that came a few months later. Aesthetic touches that mark the Elantra N out from the rest of the range are splashes of red on the exterior, including on the rear bumper and side sills. The latter is said to channel airflow better and create the effect of a lowered chassis.

    Other aero-related cues include a distinctive rear spoiler to reduce lift and provide better driving stability at high speeds. Beneath the rear bumper, there is additional black trim and two oval-shaped exhausts to further emphasise the model’s sporty credentials.

    The Elantra N also gets grippy 245/55 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres wrapped around 19-inch wheels. Though not shown here, previous teasers indicate the front of the performance sedan will feature larger corner intakes and a lip spoiler.

    Under the bonnet, reports suggest the Elantra N will be powered by a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 275 hp, which is considerably more than the N Line’s 1.6 litre turbo unit with 201 hp. Drive goes to the front wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch or six-speed manual transmission. More details will be revealed in the coming weeks, the company said.

  • 2022 Audi RS3 teased – 2.5L inline-five with 400 PS, 500 Nm; 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds, RS Torque Splitter!

    Audi will be unveiling the fourth-generation RS3 soon, following a series of teasers and over the last few months. We already know that the RS3 will be available as a hatch and sedan, but today, the automaker revealed intriguing new details of the pair, and it’s clear Audi is going after Mercedes-AMG.

    First things first – the 2.5 litre inline-five engine continues to power the RS3, making 400 PS from 5,600 to 7,000 rpm and 500 Nm of torque from 2,250 to 5,600 rpm. That is 20 Nm more than the outgoing RS3, thus allowing the hatch to sprint from 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds. That’s 0.3 seconds quicker than the older RS3, and one-tenth of a second quicker than the venerable Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4Matic+.

    Audi says those output figures make it the most powerful hot hatch in the segment, but remember, the A 45 S’ M139 2.0 litre four-pot makes 421 PS and 500 Nm. Top speed for the new RS3 is electronically limited to 250 km/h, but this can be optionally raised to 280 km/h, or 290 km/h with the RS Dynamic package with ceramic brakes. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is standard, and a Launch Control function is available this time around.

    There are seven drive modes to choose from – comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, RS Individual, RS Performance, and RS Torque Rear. That’s right. The new RS3 can drift, thanks to a newly developed fully variable torque vectoring called RS Torque Splitter. It is the first Audi model to get this system, which uses one electronically controlled multiple disc clutch on each of the respective drive shaft.

    During dynamic driving, the torque splitter increases the drive torque to the outer rear wheel with the higher wheel load. This significantly reduces the tendency to understeer, Audi says. In left-hand curves, the torque splitter transmits torque to the right rear wheel, and in right-hand curves it sends them to the left rear wheel.

    When driving on closed roads, the torque splitter enables controlled drifts by applying all of the engine power to just one of the rear wheels. That’s up to a maximum of 1,750 Nm of torque, mind you. Besides the newfound ability to drift, RS Torque Rear also improves agility and stability during dynamic driving. It is less prone to understeers, and the system can compensate for oversteer, too.

    The amount of power that gets transmitted to the rear wheels vary depending on the selected drive mode. In comfort or eco modes, the RS3 runs almost solely through the front wheels. In auto mode, torque distribution is balanced between the two axles, and in dynamic mode the car becomes heavily rear-biased.

    For suspension, the RS3 gets newly developed dampers and valve system that is more reactive than before. It’s 10 mm lower than the S3, or 25 mm lower than the A3. Installed up front is a McPherson strut suspension with model-specific pivot bearings, stiffer lower wishbones, subframes, and stabilisers. It also has one degree of additional negative camber compared to the A3. The rear axle features a four-link design.

    Of course, the RS sport suspension plus with adaptive damper control is available as an option, too. There’s also RS-specific progressive steering equipped as standard. Now, between this and the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S 4Matic+, which would you pick?

    GALLERY: Audi RS3 Hatch

    GALLERY: Audi RS3 Sedan

  • Rapid KL takes delivery of first train set for LRT3 line – 22 three-car units to service 37-km route in 2024

    Rapid KL has announced that it has taken delivery of its first train set for the Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3) line project, which is scheduled to begin operations from February, 2024. The train set is currently located at the CRRC Rolling Stock Center (Malaysia) facility in Batu Gajah, Perak for interior installation work of its three cars.

    According to Rapid KL, the LRT3 line will be serviced by 22 three-car train sets that are supplied by China’s CRRC Corporation. As of June 30, 2020, the project, which spans 37.8 km, is 33.12% completed and the company expects it to be fully finished by February 28, 2024.

    Following the current plan, the LRT3 line will have 20 stations linking Bandar Utama to Johan Setia, the latter located in Klang. Trains plying the route will pass through interchange stations located in Glenmarie (Kelana Jaya Line), while at Bandar Utama, commuters can switch onto the MRT Kajang Line.

    When the project was first announced in 2016, 26 stations were originally planned, but a revision in 2018 resulted in the cancellation of the Persiaran Hishamuddin station, while five other stations – Bandar Botanik, Bukit Raja, Raja Muda, Temsaya and Tropicana – were listed as provisional.

  • Volvo XC60 – next-gen to be full electric, coming 2024

    Volvo has big plans to become an electric-only carmaker by 2030, which means it will eventually have to replace its core petrol-powered models with zero-emission ones. The XC60 is one of its biggest sellers and the Swedish carmaker has just confirmed an electric successor will be introduced by the middle of the decade.

    The company buried the news in a press release announcing it will develop and build batteries with its compatriot Northvolt. It plans to enter a 50:50 joint venture with the latter, which will begin with the construction of a research and development centre in Sweden coming on steam in 2022.

    No details on the next XC60 as yet, but Volvo did say that the car will be the first to feature batteries developed as part of the collaboration. Given that the company is looking to source 15 GWh of battery cells a year from an existing Northvolt plant starting in 2024, we’re expecting the car to enter production then.

    Eventually, the joint venture will spawn a new European battery “gigafactory” that will enter production in 2026, with a capacity of up to 50 GWh per year. Building batteries sustainably near its own base will allow Volvo to cut down its environmental footprint on battery sourcing and production, which represents a sizeable part of a car’s total lifecycle carbon emissions. It also underlines Polestar’s commitment to building a truly carbon neutral vehicle, the Polestar 0, also by 2030, the company said.

    It’s still years before the next XC60 comes to fruition, so we have no idea what form it will take. However, it will likely have plenty in common with another electric SUV, the Polestar 3. That car, which is due to ride on the second-generation Scalable Premium Architecture (SPA2), will enter production next year (alongside the next XC90) in Volvo’s Ridgeville plant in South Carolina, currently building the S60.

    Volvo also said it will reveal more details on its future technology roadmap at the Volvo Cars Tech Moment, to be held on June 30.

    GALLERY: 2021 Volvo XC60 facelift

  • VIDEO: Honda Malaysia demonstrates 360-degree camera option – available for the HR-V, BR-V; RM3,300

    Last month, Honda announced the availability of a 360-degree camera system for the HR-V and BR-V, with the option being priced at RM3,300 for both models. The company has now released a new video demonstrating functionality of the system, which is certainly helpful in a few situations.

    Using cameras placed around the vehicle, the system combines the video feeds to display a bird’s eye view of the car on the central touchscreen head unit, alongside an additional feed from the rear camera when reversing – useful when dealing with tight parking spots.

    Based on the video, drivers can also activate the system while moving forward, so it’s easier to spot low kerbs or other obstacles ahead. There’s also a 3D panoramic view so you can see what’s around the vehicle before you set off on your drive.

    The genuine accessory dubbed the “Honda Recommended Advanced 360 HD Camera” includes a camera at the front and rear, plus side mirrors with pre-fitted casings to ensure a seamless installation.

    The camera system is available as an option for brand new cars, but it can also be retrofitted to current car as well. All variants of the HR-V from model year 2019 can be equipped with the option, but only the V variant of the BR-V can get it – the base E’s head unit doesn’t have a screen for the cameras.

  • Honda wins big on Sunday – Verstappen and Red Bull Racing headline victories in F1, MotoGP and IndyCar

    If you’re a fan of Honda in motorsports, then yesterday would have been a day to remember. The Japanese automotive giant secured victories in three of its biggest race series, headlined by Max Verstappen’s scintillating win at the 2021 Formula 1 French Grand Prix.

    The young Dutchman took pole for Red Bull Racing at Circuit Paul Ricard on Saturday, but in the windy conditions and on less-than-grippy tarmac he squandered that advantage by running wide at the first chicane – allowing title rival Lewis Hamilton to sail past. However, Verstappen pitted earlier and used the powerful undercut to retake the lead from the seven-time champion.

    The Honda-engined team then engineered a gutsy two-stop strategy by bringing Verstappen into the pits again, forcing Mercedes-AMG Petronas onto a compromised one-stop race. On newer tyres, Verstappen scythed through the resultant gap to the leaders, first dispatching Valtteri Bottas on lap 44 and then making a last-gasp pass on the Briton on the penultimate lap, securing an extra point for the fastest lap in the process.

    Further back, new teammate Sergio Perez ran long on his first stint, then used his fresher tyres to make light work of passing Bottas to take the final podium position. The strong result extended Verstappen’s championship lead over Hamilton to 12 points (131 points vs 119) and Red Bull’s over Mercedes to 37 points (215 points vs 178). AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly finished seventh to cap off a successful weekend for the Bulls.

    It’s easy to forget that Honda is also the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, and in MotoGP, Marc Márquez took home an emotional victory for the Repsol Honda team at the German Grand Prix. The Spaniard won his first race since breaking his arm in an accident at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, which resulted in nine-month break from the sport.

    Starting fifth, the still-recovering Márquez made a fantastic start, going up to second at the first corner and securing the lead by the end of the first lap. There he stayed despite changing conditions at the Sachsenring, holding off KTM’s Miguel Olivera to take the chequered flag just six races on from his Jerez mishap.

    It’s not just in Europe where Honda reigned supreme – over in the United States, another Spaniard, Alex Palou, won the IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Road America for Chip Ganassi Racing. Like his compatriot, Palou started fifth on the outside of the front row; he gradually made his way up to second until a problem for the Chevrolet-engined Team Penske car of Josef Newgarden handed him the lead with two laps to go.

    Behind him, Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta finished second, gifting Honda its second 1-2 finish in 2021. In fact, the carmaker dominated the upper end of the results, clinching all but one of the top eight finishes. Palou’s lead in the driver’s championship now stands at 23 points over Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward.

    Honda also finished strongly in domestic single-seater racing, with Dandelion Racing’s Nirei Fukuzumi taking the win ahead of TCS Nakajima Racing’s Toshiki Oyu at Round 4 of Super Formula in Sportsland Sugo.

    GALLERY: Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing at the 2021 Formula 1 French Grand Prix

    GALLERY: Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda at the 2021 MotoGP German Grand Prix
    GALLERY: Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing at the 2021 IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Road America

  • Daihatsu plans to add 10 new models for emerging markets by 2025, continue tailoring cars for Malaysia

    Daihatsu is stepping up efforts to produce cars tailored to Southeast Asian nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia as it attempts to ramp up its presence in emerging markets. A perfect example is the Perodua Ativa, which is based on the Daihatsu Rocky.

    While the SUV’s overall structure is the same as that of the Japanese model, quite a few aspects of the Malaysian model – which debuted in March – have been reworked to meet the needs of local drivers, as the Nikkei reports.

    These were gleaned from surveys as well as from running trials with evaluation units, according to the man who headed the development of the Rocky. “As Malaysia has lots of expressways, cars often run at high speed. We had to figure out how to deal with that,” said Nobuhiko Ono, deputy chief officer at Daihatsu’s research and development management division.

    Ono studied feedback on local drivers’ needs and decided to improve the braking response of the vehicle, concluding that drivers would feel less secure if the brakes responded softly when the pedal was pressed.

    Another unique feature is the inclusion of dedicated lock/unlock buttons, which is not available on the Rocky. Mounted on the centre console next to the handbrake lever, these allow the person in the passenger seat to lock the doors if the driver needs to step out of the car, preventing anyone from jumping in and attempting to carjack the vehicle. “The feature was added based on a suggestion from local staffers who tested trial models,” Ono said.

    Changes were also made to the suspension, in the case of the Ativa as well as the Rocky that was introduced in Indonesia at the end of April. For the Indonesian Rocky, Daihatsu used the same market survey and trial production routines as in Malaysia, and the suspension was reworked to perform well on rough roads, taking into account that many of the country’s roads are still unpaved.

    The new models got off to strong starts, with sales reaching 4,000 to 5,000 units per month in Malaysia alone. Indonesian production of the model will also be exported to 50 other emerging markets, including in Southeast Asia and Latin America, in Toyota Raize form.

    Ono also revealed how he turned down the design team’s repeated call for a bigger body when development of the SUV began sometime in 2017. Stressing on the automaker’s expertise in minicars, Ono believed that it should use its experience in that field to differentiate its products from those of other manufacturers.

    As a result, the Rocky measures in at just under 1.7 metres wide and four metres long, making the SUV only slightly larger than the maximum for mini-vehicles under Japanese standards (the Ativa is slightly longer, wider and also taller, the former as a result of its bumpers, and the latter due to its Malaysian-specific suspension).

    “Women and the elderly avoid SUVs because they think it is hard to maneouvre them in tight spots. We thought small SUVs could appeal to them,” Ono said. He was proved right. The Rocky won orders for 10,500 units – roughly five times more than expected – in the first month after its release in Japan in November 2019.

    The automaker is hoping to continue that success by accelerating its efforts to develop more vehicles for emerging markets, planning to add 10-odd models by 2025. This will be aided by its fast, low-cost production method, working with its Daihatsu New Global Architecture (DNGA) modular compact car platform and a concept of “small doubles as big,” which has helped cut development time and cost by 30% and allowed models to be deployed in faster fashion, as in the case of the Rocky/Ativa.

    While the brand is aiming to make as much progress as possible before vehicle electrification takes hold in emerging countries, the report adds that Daihatsu has plans to utilise its DNGA platform – which is connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE) ready – for the development of electrified models. Timelines for these were however not revealed, although it was previously stated the company was planning to introduce a hybrid version of the Rocky later this year.

  • Volkswagen gets the green light to build ID.3 in China

    SAIC Volkswagen, the joint venture company between Volkswagen Group and SAIC Motor, has been given the approval to build the fully electric ID.3 hatchback in China. The ministry that oversees the China automotive industry officially gave the JV the green light earlier this week.

    The Volkswagen ID.3 is the company’s first mass production electric car, measuring 4,267 mm long, 1,168 mm wide, 1,574 mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2,768 mm. It will be assembled at SAIC-VW’s manufacturing facility in Anting, Shanghai.

    This will be the third ID model to be built in China, after the ID.4 crossover and ID.6 SUV. The ID.4 went on sale in the country earlier this year, shortly after making its debut there last November. The China-only ID.6 is also being built at the Anting and Foshan plants, and is expected to go on sale later this year.

    When Volkswagen first announced the construction of the plant in 2018, it said the 610,000-square metre facility will be home to over 1,400 Industry 4.0-standard robots, with a planned annual capacity of 300,000 vehicles. All Volkswagen ID models are built on the Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB) platform.

    GALLERY: Volkswagen ID.3 HatchGALLERY: Volkswagen ID.3 at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show


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Last Updated 17 Jun 2021