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  • Mercedes-AMG GT R road car set for late 2016 debut


    Previously believed to be known as the AMG GT3, it looks like Affalterbach’s coming range-topping super car variant will be known as the Mercedes-AMG GT R. Yes, the name’s striking resemblance with a certain Japanese supercar may have Nissan kicking up a bit of a fuss, if not for its alliance with Daimler AG.

    A report from Motor Trend claims that a source within AMG’s walls revealed the new name of the road-going model that will sit above the AMG GT S, effectively reserving the GT3 title for the track-only racer.

    As spied before on several occasions, the Mercedes-AMG GT R has been seen wearing an extra aggressive exterior body kit which features a sportier front bumper, a large fixed rear wing and an F1-style diffuser amongst other performance-enhancing items. New reports suggest that active aerodynamics will also be involved, along with a four-wheel steering system.

    The Motor Trend report also suggested that the AMG GT R will feature an industry-first adjustable spool valve active suspension system. Beefier brakes, larger wheels and a few design tweaks inside the car is also expected along with a weight-loss programme that will see it shed up to 100 kg over the GT S.

    For power, the German GT R is said to feature a more potent version of the 4.0 litre V8 biturbo engine currently available in the GT and GT S variants. With the current GT S pushing 510 hp and 650 Nm of torque, reports suggest that the GT R could get up to 600 hp.

    Launched in Malaysia in June 2015, the 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 Mercedes-AMG GT S is priced at RM1.125 million. With the GT R, Mercedes-AMG will specifically look to challenge Porsche’s 911 GT3 and the GT3 RS, effectively pushing the GT S’ price point higher up the scale.

    GALLERY: Mercedes AMG GT R spyshots

    GALLERY: Mercedes-AMG GT R road car at the Nurburgring
    GALLERY: Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car

  • BMW i5 to become a stretched i3 or sedan – report

    bmw i3-83

    It appears that BMW is on the brink of confirming a body style for its next i model, said to be known as the BMW i5. The new car would be BMW i’s third model in the range, following its full-electric i3 hatch and i8 sports car.

    According to a report by Autocar, the BMW sub-brand has narrowed down its options to either a stretched i3 that would resemble an MPV, or a proper sedan-like vehicle that would compete against the coming Tesla Model 3. Ian Robertson, board member for sales and marketing at BMW, told the British motoring website that, “we are in the final stages of deciding what the next car will be and when you will see it.”

    Currently, rumours suggest that a concept for the model said to be known as the i5 will be unveiled next year, coinciding with the German car maker’s 100th anniversary. On that note, Robertson also told Autocar that, “we will look back 100 years at that point, but mainly into the future.”


    To date, no confirmation has been made as to whether the i5 will become a full-electric vehicle like the i3 or a plug-in hybrid like the i8. Some reports also suggest that BMW may be considering hydrogen power as an option, with the car maker knowingly involved with Toyota and its fuel-cell technology.

    Previously, we reported on the possibility of the BMW i5 making its debut only in 2019, with a conventional three-box sedan layout as opposed to futuristic silhouettes adopted by its i3 and i8 siblings. Both full-electric and PHEV versions of the BMW i5 is also said to be a possibility.

  • Top Gear to return with Chris Evans on May 8, 2016


    Curious to see what a Top Gear without the iconic host trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will be like? Well, mark your calendars on May 8, 2016, as that’s when Britain’s most popular motoring TV show, now with radio presenter Chris Evans at the helm, will make its return to the small screen, according to The Guardian.

    Evans said that the first episode will be aired on the Sunday just three days after filming wraps on May 5. He added that producers had “already started making the films” and that the team will be headed to the United States to shoot the first inter-continental film, but did not reveal any other details, including who his other hosts will be. The new show will consist of 16 episodes in the first season.

    It was already confirmed that the new Top Gear will ditch the three-presenter format used to great effect with Clarkson, Hammond and May, although it was unclear whether this meant that Evans would be hosting on his own, or if there will be co-presenters. The studio bits of the show will also be revamped.


    “We are going to do things differently, because we have to, we want to,” Evans said. “Because they were brilliant at it, I’m not going to do that. One thing is for sure, there’s not going to be me and one guy there, and one guy there. That’s not going to happen.”

    Clarkson was dismissed from the show after fracas with producer Oisin Tymon; May and Hammond decided to leave Top Gear soon after. Instead, the trio are forming a new show on the Amazon Prime Video streaming service, which will come online sometime in the autumn.

  • 10 toll plazas to go fully cashless by January 13, 2016

    2015-npe-pantai-dalam-toll-plaza- 001

    In a bid to further ease traffic at toll plazas throughout the country, the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) has confirmed that 10 more toll plazas will adopt the new cashless transaction strategy beginning January 13, 2016.

    A new report by The Star confirmed that the affected toll plazas are located along the Maju Expressway (MEX), New Pantai Expressway (NPE), Cheras-Kajang Highway (Grand Saga) and the Kemuning Shah Alam Expressway (LKSA).

    Specifically, the toll plazas include:

    • Salak Selatan (MEX)
    • Putrajaya (MEX)
    • Seri Kembangan (MEX)
    • PJS2 (NPE)
    • PJS5 (NPE)
    • Pantai Dalam (NPE)
    • Batu 9 (Grand Saga)
    • Batu 11 (Grand Saga)
    • Seri Muda (LKSA)
    • Alam Impian (LKSA)

    The news report also mentioned that in order to ease the transition from cashless to full-electronic payments at the toll plazas, highway operators will provide 24-hour Touch ’n Go sales and make sure that its staff is present to help road users.

    In the future, do expect more toll plazas to adopt the electronic payment-only system, with PLUS already confirming that all 92 of its plazas will make the switch before the end of 2017. Of the 92, 14 have already been converted to the electronic toll collection (ETC) system. Further down the road, PLUS is set to implement an RFID gateless gantry toll system starting in 2018.

  • Kia Cerato facelift unveiled in South Korea, RM56k-77k


    After having been seen undisguised last week, the Kia Cerato facelift has made its debut in its home market of South Korea. The C-segment sedan boasts a new look, a more economical 1.6 litre engine and some tweaks to enhance the driving experience.

    We’ve seen the new exterior design before, but let’s have a more in-depth look this time around. The more angular front end design incorporates a broader, slimmer “tiger nose” grille that’s mounted lower, while the headlights have also been made wider and sleeker. Lower down, the air intakes and fog lights have been streamlined, and BMW-esque air curtain intakes as seen on the new Optima also make an appearance here.


    At the rear, there are redesigned tail light graphics for both bulb-type and LED units (with the indicators and reverse lights that sit on the bottom edge instead of on top), along with a new, simpler black rear apron design. New two-tone wheel designs complete the aesthetic.

    Fewer changes are apparent inside, with a flat-bottomed steering wheel, revised instrument cluster display graphics, redesigned switchgear, new faux carbon fibre pattern around the air vents and a smattering of chrome and gloss black highlights being the only discernible updates.


    More can be found under the bonnet – the domestic market 1.6 litre Gamma GDI four-cylinder engine is slightly less powerful than before (132 PS vs 140 PS, 161 Nm vs 167 Nm), but promises improved fuel economy of 14.3 km per litre, 0.3 km per litre better than before. It remains to be seen if our range of 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre MPI models will see similar improvements.

    The six-speed automatic gearbox now includes a drive mode selector with three modes (Sport, Normal and Eco), while the processing unit of the speed-sensitive motor driven power steering (MDPS) has been upgraded from 16 bit to 32 bit, bringing increased steering responsiveness. Pricing of the new Cerato in South Korea starts from 15.21 million won (RM56,100), rising up to 20.95 million won (RM77,200).

  • Nissan Global Headquarters Gallery in Yokohama

    Nissan Global HQ Gallery Hall 7

    We’re in Yokohama for the 2015 Nissan 360 event for Asia and Oceania, and paid a visit to Nissan’s Global Headquarters in Japan’s second largest city. Located at the bayside central business district of Minato Mirai, the carmaker’s modern HQ houses the Nissan Global Headquarters Gallery on its first floor.

    If you’ve been to the previous Nissan Gallery in Tokyo’s posh Ginza district, you’ll find this new one huge. It is, at 4,000 square meters, four times larger.

    There are four themed-zones – Product Zone (latest models available in Japan), Global Products Zone (global product line up), Corporate Communications Zone (explains corporate activities) and the self-explanatory Heritage Corridor. No gallery is complete without a boutique, and there’s a Starbucks outlet too. Nissan says that an average of 2,500 people visit during weekdays and around 4,000 do so at weekends.

    The boutique has plenty of tempting merchandise even for a neutral like myself, but since the prices aren’t exactly ringgit-friendly, I roamed the hall for freebies to share with you – postcards in the form of digital photography.

    From classic race cars like the legendary Nissan R380 (with GR8 engine display), R383 (1970, 700 PS V12) and the R90CK Le Mans racer (1990, 800 PS V8) to famous JGTC racers (before it was called Super GT) like the “Xanavi Nismo” GT-R and the “Pennzoil R33” from 1998. In contrast, the Leaf Nismo RC is a preview of the future.

    Current road cars are of course present. The halo R35 GT-R and Nismo versions of the Fairlady Z (370Z), Juke and Note sit alongside green models (Leaf, X-Trail Hybrid, e-NV200, Nissan’s rebadged Twizy), luxury saloons (Skyline 200 GTt a.k.a. Infiniti Q50, Fuga or Infiniti Q70) and Nissan’s penguin-like EPORO robots.

    A group of the latter can move around without banging into another EPORO, a 2009 precursor to the autonomous cars the company is currently working on. A self-driving Leaf was also in the house.

  • JD Power 2015 Malaysia Initial Quality Study – Honda tops two categories, SUVs reportedly least problematic

    GIIAS Honda CR-V Fender Edition 3

    JD Power has released its 2015 Malaysia Initial Quality Study (IQS) that measures the number of problems owners experience with their new vehicles. The study is based on responses from 2,622 new vehicle owners who purchased their vehicle between August 2014 and June 2015, and was fielded between February and August 2015.

    For this year’s study, 41 passenger car, pickup and utility vehicle models from 15 brands were included. The study examines more than 200 problem symptoms covering eight vehicle categories – vehicle exterior; driving experience; features/controls/displays; audio/entertainment/navigation; seats; heating/ventilation/air conditioning; vehicle interior; and engine/transmission.

    The vehicles are then segregated into four different segments – compact, entry midsize, SUV and MPV/van – where they will be given a score based on problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). Lower PP100 scores indicate a lower rate of problem incidence and, therefore, higher initial quality.

    For the compact segment, the Perodua Axia managed to obtain a score of 89 problems per 100 vehicles (89 PP100), well under the compact average of 98 PP100. The Perodua Myvi and Proton Iriz occupied second and third places with 107 PP100 and 110 PP110, respectively.


    Meanwhile, the Honda City topped the entry midsize segment with 68 PP100, which is well below the segment average of 90 PP100. Both the Toyota Vios (77 PP100) and Nissan Almera (85 PP100) were ranked better than the segment average as well.

    Honda’s impressive results continue into the SUV segment, with the Honda CR-V reporting just 31 PP100, folllowed closely by the Mazda CX-5 with 33 PP100. Both SUVs are positioned under the segment average of 52 PP100, the lowest among all segments. In third place is the Honda HR-V crossover with 67 PP100.

    Finally, the MPV/van segment saw the Toyota Avanza take first place with 36 PP100, followed by the Nissan Grand Livina (55 PP100) and the Perodua Alza (95 PP100). The latter scored worse than the segment average of 90 PP100.

    The study, now in its 13th year, revealed a few key findings as well. Among the problem categories, the vehicle’s driving experience was most reported by owners (17.8 PP100), up by 3.9 PP100 from last year. Seats, meanwhile recorded the fewest problems among the problem categories at 5.0 PP100.

    Additionally, excessive wind noise was the most frequently cited problem at 6.2 PP100. The second most frequently reported problem is noisy brakes (3.3 PP100), followed by floor mats that won’t stay in place with 2.6 PP100.

    JD Power’s study also revealed the importance of the salesperson. When a comprehensive explanation of the vehicle and its features were provided by the sales person, owners report an average of 79 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), as opposed to 163 PP100 when only a partial or zero explanation is given.

    It also highlighted the importance of test drives where a majority of customers (59%) in Malaysia took one during their vehicle buying process. Customers who took a test drive reported an average of 74 PP100, while those who did not reported 97 PP100.

    Do you agree with the results from this year’s JD Power 2015 Malaysia Initial Quality Study? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

  • SPAD’s taxi, Uber and Grabcar survey – results so far

    SPAD Taxi service survey-01

    A total of 27,765 respondents (and growing) have taken part in the survey initiated by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), entitled “general perception: taxi service in Malaysia.” To keep you updated, here are the results so far. Out of 27,765 respondents, a majority of respondents are aged 21 to 30 years old (46.9%) with those aged 31 to 40 years old coming in second (30.3%).

    A bit more on the demographics – some 66.3% are employed, while 18.7% are self-employed and the remaining 15% are students. As for monthly household income, 26.4% have a combined income of over RM8,000, 19.7% with a household income between RM3,501 to RM5,000 and 18.5% with a household income between RM5,000 to RM8,000.

    Interestingly, based on frequency, 40.8% of respondents said that they rarely use a taxi, while 17.8% use a taxi at least two to three times a week and 14.5%, only once a week. Respondents who use taxis once a month amount to 17.1%. As for their preferred method to book a taxi, a whopping 66.6% of respondents use mobile apps, 16.2% went the old-fashion way by street hailing and 13.4% booked one via telephone reservation.

    Click to enlarge.

    As for the top complaint against taxi services, overcharging and not using a meter is currently on top (89.7%). The second leading cause of dissatisfaction is the attitude of the driver (72.2%). Cleanliness of the vehicle is in third (43.3%), while comfort of the vehicle is in fourth (38.6%).

    A total of 46.3% of respondents chose both credit card and cash as their preferred method of payment, while 37.3% would rather use cash. Only 16.3% preferred to use a credit card. Some 69.9% felt that SPAD needs to “standardise the current taxi service types to only two or three categories,” while the remaining 30.1% feels that it doesn’t need to do so.

    As to whether passengers are willing to pay for better drivers, better vehicle quality and services, 58% of respondents said ‘no’, and 42% voted ‘yes’. Whether or not they’re willing to pay extra to get better availability of taxis during peak hours, 57.6% of respondents said ‘no,’ while 42.4% said ‘yes’.

    Click to enlarge.

    The next section of the survey notes that 83.4% of respondents have used Uber and Grabcar services, while only 16.6% have not. As to why many chose to use ride-sharing apps, 70.8% noted that it is reliable. A total of 64.7% felt that the service is affordable and 60.5% said that it is easily accessible.

    Whether SPAD should “regulate internet based taxi network applications to allow them to operate within the boundaries of Malaysia’s laws and regulations?” 69% of respondents said ‘yes’ while 31% responded with a ‘no’.

    The survey is still open and will only close on December 3, so if you haven’t taken part, you can do so by clicking here.

  • AD: Wheelcorp Premium Year End Grand Carnival – free Montblanc Starwalker pen with a new BMW!


    Wheelcorp Premium is having its Year End Grand Carnival this weekend, November 27 to 29. The BMW dealership announced exclusive offers for the event, including a complimentary Montblanc Starwalker roller point pen with every booking made! It promises incredible deals, so it’s an event not to be missed.

    Other offers include alluring rebates on selected BMW models, plus attractive trade-in value for your existing cars. The new BMW, of course, will come with a five-year BMW Warranty and Free Scheduled service (in accordance with the on board Condition Based Service system).

    Also available to be experienced will be the new BMW 3 Series range, along with a wide selection of BMW Malaysia’s offerings. Expect a mystery gift when you visit the dealership this weekend, while food and beverages will also be served.

    Wheelcorp Premium opened the doors to its all-new BMW dealership in Setia Alam just a few months ago. The new 4S (sales, service, spare parts and spray painting/body repair) facility boasts a built-up area of 107,500 square feet and sits on a land area measuring 1.1 acre.

    The four-storey construction houses a showroom floor that fits 12 new BMWs, along with a BMW Premium Selection area spacious enough to accommodate up to 30 BMW vehicles. There’s also a BMW M Performance display area, along with a 13,000-square foot service centre with 15 service bays.

    The second floor is a stock holding area with a capacity of over 80 vehicles. while the third floor houses the dedicated Body and Paint repair shop – itself boasting a work area of 22,000 square feet. All in all, the new Wheelcorp Premium BMW 4S centre employs a total of 50 staff members.

    The new 4S centre is located at No. 1, Jalan Setia Murni AH U13/AH Setia Alam, Seksyen U13, 40170 Shah Alam, Selangor. For more information on Wheelcorp Premium and its Year End Grand Carnival, call 03-2727 7499.

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  • Ferrari 488 Spider makes ASEAN debut – Malaysian pricing estimated at RM1.2 mil, arrives mid-2016

    Ferrari 488 Spider Phuket-5

    Two months after its 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show premiere, the Ferrari 488 Spider has made its ASEAN debut – the regional launch for the droptop version of the 488 GTB took place in Phuket earlier today.

    The Spider, which was first revealed in July, was introduced at the event in Thailand in its new Blu Corsa finish. Visually, the exterior lines generally mirror its coupe sibling, though there are some design differences brought about by the exclusion of the roof.

    Flying buttresses replace the conventional pillars of the coupe, and there’s a new engine cover as result of the restyling. The latter features longitudinal ribs for a three-dimensional effect, and new sculpted mesh grilles help evacuate heat from the engine bay.

    Despite the omission of a fixed roof, the 488 Spider has the same torsional rigidity and beam stiffness figures as the coupe, and compared to its predecessor, the 458 Spider, the new car – claimed by the maker to be its most aerodynamic spider ever – is equipped with a chassis that is said to be 23% stiffer.

    Ferrari 488 Spider Phuket-7

    The car features a RHT (retractable hard top), which weighs 25 kg less than an equivalent soft-top setup. The folding unit stows away in two overlapping sections, with the entire assembly sandwiched between the mid-mounted engine and the seats in a small cavity, occupying only 100 litres of space when folded.

    The entire operation to retract or deploy the RHT takes 14 seconds, and it can be opened or closed at speeds of up to 45 km/h.

    Also unique to the Spider is a small rear window that offers three stages of operation when the top is lowered to reduce wind buffering – the electrically-operated wind stop can also be lowered with the top in place to obtain a louder soundtrack.

    The 488 Spider is equipped with the same F154 CB mill as seen in the 488 Coupe – the 3,902 cc twin-turbo V8 is related to the 3,855 cc V8 in the California T, but the latter puts out less power, and there are mechanical differences.

    Power output is identical to the coupe, with 670 PS at 8,000 rpm and 760 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm. To recap, the blown CB’s output is a significant jump over that available rom the 4.5 litre normally-aspirated F136 F V8 in the 458 Speciale, which has 605 PS and 540 Nm.

    Like the coupe, the Spider is only available with a Getrag seven-speed dual-clutch F1 gearbox, which is based on that seen in the 458 but revised for use here with slightly longer ratios and Variable Torque Management. Upshifts are 30% faster while downshifts are 40% quicker than that on the Italia. Response times are touted to be nine percent faster than the 458 Spider.

    Performance figures largely mirrors that of the coupe, despite the Spider being a bit heavier at 1,525 kg (1,475 kg for the 488 GTB). The 0-100 km/h time identical at three seconds, though the droptop’s 0-200 km/h time is a shade slower at 8.7 seconds (8.3 seconds for the coupe) and top speed is five km/h less than the coupe at 325 km/h.

    Elsewhere, the architecture first seen on the 488 GTB gets carried over – driver assistance systems include a Side Slip Angle Control 2 (SSC2) system, which results in a 12% improvement in acceleration out of corners compared to the 458 Spider. There’s also E-Diff 3, F1-Trac as well as an ABS system with Ferrari Pre-Fill.

    As standard, the 488 Spider comes equipped with a SCM 3 magnetorheological suspension control system and, like the coupe, rides on 20-inch wheels and staggered 245/35 front and 305/30 rear tyres.

    The first Ferrari 488 Spider examples are set to begin arriving in the region sometime in the second quarter of next year (Malaysia, mid-year), and as you’d expect, Ferrari Far East says demand for the car has been high, with wait times now expected to be as long as that for the coupe.

    Locally, a Naza Italia representative said that the entire allocation of the 488 GTB for 2016 has been spoken for, which means that of the Spider should soon follow suit (if it hasn’t already). Malaysian market pricing for the 488 Spider has yet to be finalised, but the indications are that it will command a 10% premium over its coupe sibling.

    As an indicator, the 488 GTB was priced at an introductory RM1,068,800 (excluding import duty and options) when it made its local premiere in June, so the Spider should come in at close to the RM1.2 million mark sans duties and taxes. Like the coupe, it can be customised via the various trim options available in the automaker’s Tailor Made programme, adding to the final price.


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