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  • Volkswagen Passat B8 to spawn CC, Alltrack variants

    Der neue Volkswagen CC

    The B8 Volkswagen Passat family is set to grow bigger with the inclusion of the next-generation CC and Alltrack variants, if a recent report from Car and Driver is to be believed. Chief designer Klaus Bischoff reportedly confirmed the development of these variants in the company’s Autogramm employee newsletter.

    It seems that the low-slung CC will indeed receive a second generation despite the recently-unveiled regular B8 Passat being far sleeker than ever, although the current model is set to soldier on for another two years. The original, designed by former chief designer Murat Günak, was widely considered to be one of the first four-door “coupés”, following in the wake of the trendsetting Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class.

    passat alltrack 1

    Also on the cards to receive a second iteration is the Passat Alltrack, a rugged jacked-up version of the Passat Variant wagon with the company’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. This would make sense, particularly as such vehicles retain a strong presence within the VW Group, what with Audi’s Allroad, Skoda’s Scout and Seat’s recent X-Perience range of cars.

    Like the regular B8 Passat, the CC and Alltrack are expected to move to Volkswagen’s modular MQB architecture and make use of the company’s latest technologies such as new powertrains (like a 215 hp plug-in hybrid system), safety systems (including semi-autonomous Traffic Assist cruise control), MIB infotainment systems and an Active Info Display digital instrument cluster, among others.

    Volkswagen Passat B8


    Volkswagen CC
    Volkswagen Passat Alltrack

     
     
  • Caterham F1 team hands over management to administrators, may miss US and Brazil races

    caterham-f1-2

    There has been some updates to the sad drama surrounding the Caterham F1 Team. The representatives of 1MRT/Caterham F1 Team have agreed to hand-over full management of the team to the administrator Finnbarr O’Connell from London-based accountancy firm Smith & Williamson.

    O’Connell is essentially now the team principal of the ‘very cash-strapped team’ – which were his own choice of words to describe the team that he now has to run while finding a buyer.

    The team has been put into administration because of debts of about £12 million (RM63.3 million). It’s factory at Leafield was closed earlier this week and staff have been told not to return until a deal is concluded. This means the team could miss the US and Brazil races.

    F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone says he will allow Caterham to miss the two races to focus on finding a buyer, but hopes that the team will be able to compete at the final race of the reason in Abu Dhabi.

    The bailiff in charge of this case – The Sheriffs Office – have posted a couple of photos on their Twitter account over the past week showing some of the items that have been seized. Here are some of them.

     
     
  • Nissan electric taxis delivered to Madrid and Barcelona

    nissan-leaf-taxi-madrid-01

    Every other headline with Madrid and Barcelona this weekend will be about the El Clasico and the fierce rivalry between the rival clubs and cities, but here’s something they have in common. Nissan has delivered electric taxis to both cities – the Leaf to the Spanish capital and the e-NV200 to the Catalan hub.

    The latter is an important step in the execution of an agreement between the Japanese manufacturer, the City of Barcelona, and the Barcelona Metropolitan area. The e-NV200 is built in Barcelona for the world. Production started in May this year.

    Madrid has now its first electric Nissan Leaf taxi. The Leaf is the best-selling EV in the world with more than 142,000 units sold globally so far. The handover event was held at the city’s Puerta del Sol, where the “zero km” measuring starting point of all Spanish roads is located.

    “Declining air quality levels are a top concern across Europe and it’s great to see Madrid and Barcelona taking such positive steps in improving air quality through the incorporate of Nissan’s all-electric cars into their taxi fleets,” said Jean-Pierre Diernaz, director of EVs for Nissan Europe.

    “These taxi bring a huge benefit not only residents but also for the drivers – thanks to the ultra-low running costs only an electric car can offer. This scheme demonstrates that sustainable transportation is easy and affordable for everyone,” he added.

    comos-comos 301The Renault Zoe EV will be available for rent under the COMOS programme from next month

    Staying on the topic, Nissan’s alliance partner Renault is currently the most active brand promoting the electric cause in Malaysia, together with Cohesive Mobility Solution (COMOS). The latter’s executive chairman (and former Proton boss) Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin recently told us that his EV car-sharing programme is on track to begin operations early next month.

    The public will be able to rent the Renault Zoe (funky Twizy to come later) for RM15 for the first half-hour and RM5 for every subsequent 15 minutes, with four downtown KL charging stations expected to be ready when the service rolls out. Read the full story.

     
     
  • Audi A6 Hybrid dropped from line-up – are nearly half of all Audi A6 Hybrids in existence in Malaysia?

    s8-1398339675-3791-audi-a6

    When Audi unveiled the A6 facelift in early September this year, the Audi A6 Hybrid wasn’t featured in the image galleries that accompanied the press kit. We didn’t think too much of it at that time, but apparently the official word is that the A6 Hybrid has officially been discontinued because of discouraging sales numbers. We’re guessing buyers looking for fuel economy went for the TDI models instead.

    That doesn’t really matter much to us at the moment since the A6 Hybrid no longer qualifies for duty exemptions in Malaysia this year, and Euromobil doesn’t have any more units to sell anyway. But when it was on sale, it was selling like hot cakes. Thanks to its starting price of under RM300k and decent equipment levels, the waiting list for the car was incredibly long.

    You can only buy a used one at the moment – a quick check on car classifieds website oto.my shows that 2013 Audi A6 Hybrids are being listed for between RM278k to RM315k, which is barely any depreciation. Of course, transacted prices are a different matter, but if you buy a 2013 car today, you’ll still have at least another two years of warranty left.

    What we found most interesting is the fact that only about 4,000 units of the Audi A6 Hybrid were ever built. MAA sales data for 2013 revealed that Euromobil sold 1,907 hybrid cars from February to December 2013, and the only hybrid Audi that was on sale at the time was the A6 Hybrid.

    This means a staggering 47% of all Audi A6 Hybrids in existence are in Malaysia, and this does not even include a few cars that the grey importers brought in.

    Audi isn’t abandoning hybrid technology though – the same hybrid powertrain in the A6 Hybrid continues to be used in the A8 Hybrid (there are a few brought in by grey importers) and Q5 Hybrid. The A6 Hybrid itself could possibly be replaced by something like a plug-in hybrid A6 e-Tron, which has been confirmed at least for the Chinese market, even if it doesn’t go on sale globally.

     
     
  • Infiniti Q50 BTCC racer to support injured paratroopers

    Infiniti-04

    The Infiniti Q50 may be a fairly sporting sedan – especially in Eau Rouge guise – but it still seems just a bit too luxe for racing duty, doesn’t it? That’s certainly not how Infiniti sees it, however, as it prepares to race the car in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) next season. For a charitable cause, too.

    To compete in the top-flight British racing series, the company has fed the Q50 with a concentrated dose of steroids to bring it up to Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) specifications. It looks absolutely hardcore as a result, with a massive front splitter, bulging wheel arches and an enormous rear wing.

    No specifications were announced, but NGTC specifications include a 2.0 litre turbocharged and direct-injected engine developing in excess of 300 hp, as well as an Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox.

    019

    The “charitable cause” bit is hinted at in the team’s name – Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing, a collaboration between Infiniti and Support Our Paras, the official charity of the Parachute Regiment in the British Army. The team is headed by team principal Derek Palmer, and the Q50 BTCC will be driven by his son Derek Palmer Jr. as well as Richard Hawken.

    The non-for-profit team aims to raise awareness for the organisation, employing a number of injured paratroopers to prepare the cars for race weekends as well as maintaining them throughout the season. In the long term, Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing hopes to develop and train an injured paratrooper to race for the team in a third car in the future.

    “This is something totally different,” said Support Our Paras director of operations Colin Smith “It’s employing injured paratroopers and they can eventually make a career out of this; that has never happened before.”

    The Q50 made its local debut in August – read our launch report and review of the Q50S Hybrid.

     
     
  • GALLERY: Hyundai Genesis 3.8 GDI V6 in Malaysia

    Genesis_Ext_04

    The second-generation Hyundai Genesis – first previewed in Malaysia last August – was put on display at the recent Hyundai Experience Car Fest 2014 (both in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru). We took the chance to photograph the near-five metre-long sedan in detail, both inside and out.

    This particular left-hand drive example has a 3.8 litre V6 GDI engine that develops 315 PS at 6,000 rpm and 397 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm. The direct injection mill is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is the largest of three V6 GDI engines available for the Genesis (others being 3.0 and 3.3 litre units).

    If it looks massive, that’s because it is. The rear-wheel drive Genesis measures in at 4,990 mm long, 1,890 mm wide and 1,480 mm tall. Its long 3,010 mm wheelbase sits squarely in between that of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2,874 mm) and long-wheelbase S-Class (3,165 mm). Just to compare, the D-segment Hyundai Sonata has a 2,795 mm wheelbase.

    Genesis_Ext_24

    And doesn’t it look good? The Genesis adopts Hyundai’s new ‘Fluidic Sculpture 2.0’ design philosophy, pairing a single-frame hexagonal grille up front with a complex, sculptural rear end. There isn’t a single Hyundai logo on it, as it wears its own ‘Genesis’ crest both inside and out.

    The spec sheet provided by Hyundai-Sime Darby (in the gallery below) lists 18-inch wheels, Electronic Control Suspension, Smart Cruise Control, xenon headlamps, keyless entry and a panoramic roof. Also included are Around View Monitor, Smart Park Assist System, tyre pressure monitoring system, head-up display and a 14-speaker Lexicon sound system.

    On the safety front, the Hyundai Genesis boasts electronic stability programme, Advanced Traction Cornering Control, Pre-safety Belt, blind-spot detection and nine airbags (including rear side bags). Just recently, it achieved the highest score in ANCAP’s 21-year history (36.88 points out of a possible 37), along with a maximum five-star crash safety rating.

    Having displayed it numerous times in Malaysia, it’s pretty much a given that Hyundai-Sime Darby plans to bring this flagship model here. When, and more importantly, how much? You’ll know more when we do.

     
     
  • Daimler sells stake in Tesla Motors – reports indicate growing rivalry as electric car demands soar globally

    B Class Electric Drive-05

    In a report by Automotive News Europe, Daimler AG has made the decision to sell its 4% stake in Tesla Motors, an electric car maker from America. The company bought into Tesla in 2009 to gain access to the latest battery technology.

    Industry observers are indicating that both companies now saw each other as potential rivals as the electric car market begins to heat up. “There is a difference between working together and partnership. In our view the ties between the two companies have loosened over time,” states analysts at ISI Research.

    In an official statement issued by Daimler, the company says that cooperation deals are still active, stating that shareholding was not required for both companies to continue working together. Tesla has yet to comment on the sale and future projects between itself and Daimler.

    Tesla Motors currently provide the technology required by Daimler to manufacture electric variants of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and Smart ForTwo. Back in 2009, Daimler acquired a bigger stake in Tesla Motors, which eventually decreased to 4% prior to the sale.

    Below is Daimler AG’s official statement:

    Daimler restructures cooperation with Tesla

    Daimler AG (stock exchange symbol: DAI) has reorganized its cooperation with Tesla Motors Inc. In this context, Daimler has terminated the share-price hedge it initiated in 2013 and has sold its stake in Tesla of approximately 4%. The cooperation between the partners on the automotive projects is unaffected. Development work for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is completed, the partnership with Tesla remains in place.

    “We pursue our strategy for emission-free driving consequently. Electric vehicles are one component of this roadmap. In Tesla we do have a bold partner. Together we launched the B-class Electric Drive successfully in the United States this summer. In November, the B-Class Electric Drive will be launched in Europe as well. We are convinced that this powerful electric vehicle for every day use will appeal to a lot of customers,” stated Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Furthermore, the batteries for the first generation of the smart fortwo electric drive had been from Tesla. The two-seater with electric drive is one of the best-selling electric cars in Germany. “Our partnership with Tesla is very successful and will be continued”, added Zetsche.

    Bodo Uebber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Finance & Controlling and Financial Services: “We are extremely satisfied with the development of our investment in Tesla, but it is not necessary for our partnership and cooperation. For this reason, we have decided to divest of our shares. This will also allow Tesla to broaden its investor base.”

    The sale of Daimler’s stake in Tesla will result in a cash inflow of around$780 million, which will be used to strengthen Daimler’s operational business. The impact on EBIT for the year 2014 is approximately in the same amount.

    “We have supported Tesla as a startup company for many years and have learned a lot from Tesla. At the same time, Tesla was able to profit from our automotive expertise. The cooperation with Tesla is one component of our activities in the field of electric mobility. It optimally complements our involvement in Deutsche ACCUmotive,” explained Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

    Daimler has the industry’s biggest portfolio of electric vehicles, from cars and vans to buses and light trucks: smart electric drive, Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-CELL, B-Class Electric Drive, B-Class F-CELL, SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive, Vito E-CELL, Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid, Fuso Canter E-CELL and Freightliner Custom Chassis MT E-CELL All-Electric. Systematic hybridization is also a fixed element of Daimler’s powertrain strategy. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz sold more automobiles with hybrid drive than all other German manufacturers combined. The focus will continue to be on plug-in hybrids in the coming years. By the year 2017, Mercedes-Benz Cars will launch ten new plug-in hybrid models in all market segments.

    Daimler initially acquired a 9.1% interest in Tesla in May 2009. 40% of that investment was transferred to Aabar Investments PJSC in the context of a joint strategic project in July 2009. Tesla has been listed on the stock exchange since the end of June 2010. As a result of capital increases at Tesla, Daimler’s stake in the company decreased to around 4%, without affecting the two companies’ strategic cooperation or joint development projects.

     
     
  • BMW M2 Coupe could draw up to 400 hp from new turbocharged 3.0 litre six-cylinder engine – report

    bmw-m2-coupe-theophilus-chin-front

    A treasure trove of details regarding the upcoming BMW M2 Coupe (Theophilus Chin renderings shown) have surfaced, courtesy of Autocar UK. The hot two-door is reportedly set to pack a turbocharged 3.0 litre six-cylinder motor under its bonnet.

    However, it won’t be the M3 and M4‘s N55-derived S55 lump – M division boss Friedrich Nitschke has told the publication that the M2’s powerplant is a newly-developed unit with the S57 designation, and that it’s based on the upcoming B57 engine that’s set to first power the next-gen 7 Series.

    Plans exist for this S57 engine to serve petrol-powered M Performance models in the future, and according to Nitschke, it can produce up to 400 hp in production guise – over 60 hp up on the limited-edition 1 Series M Coupe and over 70 hp more than the not-quite-M M235i.

    bmw-m2-coupe-theophilus-chin-back

    “Four hundred is the magic number. With forced induction it is no trouble to achieve this, but we have to make sure it doesn’t get too close to the power level of the new M4,” Nitschke told Autocar UK. The M4 and M3 have 431 hp and 550 Nm of twist at their disposal.

    A standard six-speed manual or optional seven-speed M DCT with shift paddles will be offered. Naturally, there’ll be a start/stop system, brake energy recuperation and thermal energy recovery, says the report.

    M division sources indicate that given a DCT, the M2 Coupe will be able to complete the century sprint in 4.4 seconds, while V-max is a limited 250 km/h. Power will go to the back through an electronic limited-slip diff with torque vectoring, but Autocar UK reveals that M division is mulling an xDrive all-wheel drive version for certain markets later on, and that xDrive versions of other M cars could also be offered in the future.

    BMW-M2-001

    Thanks to some lightweight parts that debuted on the M3 and M4, including a carbon-fibre strut brace in the engine bay and composite plastic panels, the M2 Coupe is slated to weigh considerably less than 1,530 kg.

    Our European spyshots reveal that the M2 Coupe will sport unique bumpers front and back, aggressive-looking side skirts, widened wings and quad tailpipes, and Autocar UK says 19-inch wheels will be standard. With its classic squat and compact coupe proportions, it should look a treat.

    The M2 Coupe should share the Leipzig production line with its tamer sister, the 2 Series Coupe. Autocar UK expects an almost-production ready concept to show up at September 2015’s Frankfurt show, and the real deals to hit Continental showrooms between late-2015 and early-2016. Of course, later on, there should be a wind-in-your-hair variant as well.

     
     
  • Lotus Exige S Automatic unveiled: 6-speed self-shifter

    69046_ExigeS-Automatic-Interior_1024x699

    Fancy the hardcore 345 hp/400 Nm bantamweight Lotus Exige S but not hardcore enough to row the manual gearbox yourself? Well, the British sports car maker has just the answer with a new self-shifting variant – the Lotus Exige S Automatic.

    The new model basically swaps the six-speed do-it-yourself transmission hanging off the 3.5 litre supercharged Toyota-sourced V6 with a six-speed torque converter automatic, similar to the Intelligent Precision Shift (IPS) ‘box on the Evora. Steering wheel paddle shifters come as standard, and selecting Sport or Race mode delivers “optimised gear selection and response” to go with the changes on the rest of the car.

    A limp-wristed gearbox for such a focused track car, you say? The Exige S Automatic is still undergoing final testing, but it’s already as fast as its manual-equipped counterpart around the company’s Hethel test track, and is actually 0.1 seconds quicker from 0-100 km/h at 3.9 seconds.

    “By introducing a paddle-shift, we have expanded the Exige product range to make it more accessible to customers worldwide,” said Group Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales. “Now, customers who are more accustomed to two pedals and automatic transmissions can enjoy the unbelievable performance and handling of the Exige S without compromise.”

    The automatic gearbox will be available in all countries currently selling the regular Exige S, with sales starting in January as a £2,000 (RM10,500) cost option in the UK. Over here, the manual Exige S retails at RM405,777 for the coupé and RM410,777 for the Roadster, and you can expect to pay a hefty premium over these prices for one less pedal.

    Lotus Exige S


    Lotus Exige S Roadster

     
     
  • SPIED: Mercedes-Benz C 200 BlueTEC in Malaysia

    Mercedes-Benz_C_200_BlueTec_Malaysia

    Now here’s something we didn’t expect – reader Ong Kok Tsin just sent us a picture of a W205 Mercedes-Benz C 200 BlueTEC parked at Cycle & Carriage Jalan Tun Razak.

    A diesel C-Class isn’t exactly a shocker – MBM did bring in a fleet of the W204 C 220 CDI recently – but this particular engine variant caught us by surprise.

    While we were predicting that the 170 hp/400 Nm, 2.1 litre C 220 BlueTEC would reach our shores sometime in the future to take on the BMW 320d, this C 200 BlueTEC is powered by a Renault-sourced 1.6 litre four cylinder turbodiesel engine with 136 hp and 300 Nm of torque. It should be paired to the same 7G-Tronic Plus transmission found in other W205 models.

    This base diesel variant will join the Australian market in the first quarter of 2015. As the rest of our W205 range mirrors Australia’s rather closely, you can expect the C 200 BlueTEC to arrive here officially within the same timeframe.

    Earlier this month, MBM added the RM339,888 C 250 AMG Line to the Malaysian lineup, which also includes the RM285,888 C 200 Avantgarde and RM 314,888 C 250 Exclusive. Meanwhile, we already know that the Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid will arrive here soon, as a tax-free CKD model. Exciting times ahead for MBM, eh?

    W205 Mercedes-Benz C 250 AMG Line


    W205 Mercedes-Benz C 250 Exclusive
    W205 Mercedes-Benz C 200 Avantgarde

     
     
 

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