Latest Stories

  • Nationwide MCO from May 12 – max 3 people in cars, taxis, e-hailing; CVs and public transport unaffected

    With the Covid-19 situation in the country getting more critical, prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has declared a nationwide movement control order (MCO) from May 12 till June 7, following a national security council (MKN) special meeting today.

    Normal MCO rules apply, but what’s new is the three to a vehicle rule. From May 12, only three people can be in a vehicle (private, taxi and e-hailing), including the driver. That means one driver and two passengers max.

    For vehicles carrying goods and commercial vehicles, the max amount depends on what’s allowed in the commercial vehicle license. In other words, no change. Also unchanged is the policy for public transport, although social distancing and regular SOPs will continue to apply.

    Of course, MCO means that there’s no crossing state or district borders without police permission, but that’s already in place from today, announced by senior minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on May 8. Exceptions include reasons such as emergencies, health, work, long distance couples and vaccination appointments.

  • QUICK LOOK: 2022 Honda Civic – mature aspirations?

    Unless you have been living off the grid, you would have, by now at least, least seen official photos of the all-new, 11th-generation Honda Civic. The big news is the full redesign, which has really stirred the pot this time around. We’re sure you’ve already formed your thoughts on the C-segment sedan already, but there’s really more than what meets the eye. So, let’s dive right into it and check out the new Civic in greater detail.

    Now, the outgoing Civic FC was the breakout star of the C-segment market when it broke cover at the end of 2015. The hype it generated was unreal, and it is still very much loved to this day. It was like the Civic FD all over again, and the unveiling of the 11th-gen model seems to bring back some of those forgotten memories of the FB. Odd number curse? Maybe, maybe not.

    In any case, Honda is clearly pushing the limits of its Man-Maximum, Machine-Minimum design philosophy here. In terms of styling, the Civic is deliberately made to look more matured, looking almost like a mini Accord, with a more rounded nose and less aggressive fascia.

    The LED reflector headlights are longer and the intakes are bigger, plus the side mirrors are now mounted on the doors. The most obvious change is evident when viewed from the side. By shifting the A-pillars back by nearly two inches, the bonnet now looks longer, and the Civic’s fastback proportions appear to be more pronounced. A lot of the volume has been moved backwards, and the little kink along the bottom of the rear quarter window is identical to the Accord.

    At the back, there’s an integrated ducktail spoiler, but again, the overall design approach here feels a lot safer than what we saw with the Civic FC. The tail lights get this L-shaped graphics, and this motif is also seen in the LED DRLs up front.

    This being an all-new model, Honda stretched the Civic by 33 mm, so it is nearly 4.7 metres-long. Most of that extra length went into the wheelbase, so expect the already spacious cabin to be roomier than before. The width and height are unchanged.

    Inside, Honda tidied up the dashboard so the air conditioning vents sit in a single straight line, hidden behind a strip of honeycomb mesh. Depending on the market, the freestanding display is available in either seven or nine inches in size, and it now sits on top of the dash. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, of course, and a 12-speaker Bose sound system can be had in the most expensive variant, which is a first for the Civic.

    Also a first here is the 10.2-inch fully digital instrument cluster. Again, this is only for more expensive variants, so cheaper models will make do with a smaller seven-inch display with an analogue speedometer. The dash looks really good from the photos, so we can’t wait to see it in person.

    Honda said some of the key touch points like the HVAC dials are made from higher quality materials, and the switchgears supposedly offer better tactility. There’s also a Qi wireless smartphone charging tray, some USB ports, electronic parking brake and drive mode switches in the new centre console.

    In terms of engines, the familiar 1.5 litre turbocharged engine is carried over, but makes more power than before. Output is now 180 hp and 240 Nm, which is 6 hp and 20 Nm more. Other markets will get a 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated engine with 158 hp and 187 Nm, but it remains to be seen the existing 1.8 litre mill will continue to be offered.

    A continuously variable transmission is paired together with the engine, and it too has been enhanced to provide better performance. The chassis and suspension are uprated to provide a better driving feel, and the track is widened for better stability as well. Honda said NVH levels are reduced as well, so you’re looking at a Civic that has been improved on almost every level.

    So, what do you think of the Civic? Do you like the more matured design? Is it an improvement over the FC that’s currently on sale? Whichever side you’re on, note that there is a possibility that the new Civic will be introduced in Malaysia by this year, as hinted by Honda Malaysia president and COO Sarly Adle Sarkum.


  • Mercedes-Benz Concept EQT makes its official debut – previews new all-electric version of upcoming T-Class

    Mercedes-Benz Vans has officially revealed the Concept EQT, which previews an all-electric version of its new T-Class small van. The production model – called the EQT – will be positioned below the existing EQV that has been around since 2019.

    Design-wise, the EQT sports familiar cues seen on other EQ concepts like the Vision EQS, including a grille that features small, illuminated Mercedes-Benz logos. The closed-off grille is flanked by slim LED headlamps and “cradled” by a long light bar, while the sculpted lower apron is a showcase of the company’s “Sensual Purity” philosophy.

    Along the sides, muscular shoulders and defined wheel arches, the latter housing 21-inch alloys, are complemented by large window sections, while sliding doors on both sides make ingress and egress easier. At the rear, the vertical taillights hug the edges of the body and are bridged by a light bar to emphasis width. In terms of dimensions, the Concept EQT measures 4,945 mm long, 1,863 mm wide and 1,826 mm tall.

    Inside, you’ll find the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) system, although the presentation is little different from what you’re familiar with. The bulk of functions are accessed via a free-standing touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, or the touch control buttons on the steering and optionally, the “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant – there’s no touchpad here.

    Nonetheless, there’s still a good number of services available, including Mercedes me connect and EV-specific navigation, on top of relevant displays that show the charging current, departure time, energy flow and consumption histogram.

    On either side of the infotainment touchscreen are two of the four circular air vents, while quick access controls are located beneath it. More buttons can be found on to raised console that accommodates the climate controls and curiously, a gear lever. For the driver, the instrument binnacle houses analogue dials and a central multi-info display.

    Behind the front seats, the second row can be fitted with either individual seats or a bench, the latter capable of taking on three child seats. There’s also a third row of seats, which can be folded or remove completely if more storage space is required. Luxury touches for the cabin include nappa leather upholstery, plaited leather applications, ambient lighting and a panoramic roof with a starscape lasered into it.

    For the concept, the company also integrated an electric longboard into the load compartment, which is stored in a double-floor compartment beneath a plexiglass lid fitted in an aluminium frame and flush with the load compartment floor. The theme is largely due to the brand roping in legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk for promotional purposes.

    Mercedes-Benz Vans has confirmed that the EQT will only arrive after the regular T-Class is launched in 2022. Both models, including the commercially-focused Citan will be based on the third-generation Renault Kangoo, as the German and French automakers are currently engaged in a partnership.

    As such, it isn’t a surprise if you see some resemblance between the latest Kangoo and the Concept EQT. The Citan will celebrate its premiere this year and will also come with a fully electric variant of its own.

  • Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors offers step-up financing plan – up to 9 years, 90% loan, from RM958 monthly

    Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) has rolled out a new step-up financing plan that offers flexible and affordable repayments. The loans can be stretched out to nine years, with up to 90% financing.

    With the plan, the Kona’s monthly instalment starts from as low as RM958, the Elantra from RM1,098, the Grand Starex from RM1,348, the Santa Fe from RM1,388 and the Sonata from RM1,548. These figures are based on a 90% loan over nine years.

    “The banks’ recent implementation of stricter loan approvals has resulted in tougher loan approvals. We understand the predicament of our customers, therefore we have introduced this step-up financing scheme to help lower their monthly commitments when purchasing a new car and hopefully, help them in securing a loan,” said Low Yuan Lung, MD of HSDM.

    “With every product and service offering, we aim to surpass our customers’ expectations by creating distinctive experiences and providing excellent value. We are constantly studying customers’ expectations of our products and offerings and we will keep improving not only to meet them but also to exceed their expectations,” he added.

    As a bonus, customers who purchase any 2020 Hyundai model from now until June 30 will receive an Ogawa Smart Vogue Prime massage chair worth RM11,999 for free. Of course, the government’s sales tax exemption is in place till June 30, and there’s still time to take advantage of this rare window. All HSDM’s cars come with a five-year or 300,000 km factory warranty as well as a three-year or 50,000 km free maintenance package.

    HSDM has been very active of late in terms of new models. Recent arrivals include the Elantra 1.6 Executive – a more affordable variant of the seventh-generation CN7 sedan that was launched in December – and the Kona facelift. A sporty N Line version of the latter is on the way.

    GALLERY: 2021 Hyundai Elantra 1.6 Executive

  • Toyota and Honda expected to report lower operating profits for 2020, Nissan to post another year of loss

    Japanese automakers are due to announce their 2020 financial performance later this week, Reuters reports, and early estimates have Toyota, Honda and Nissan set to announce lower earnings than in 2019, very much expected given the Covid-19 pandemic and, in more recent times, the microchip shortage that has impacted production.

    Based on consensus estimates from two dozen analysts, Toyota, the world’s largest automaker by vehicle sales last year, is expected to report an operating profit of 2.1 trillion yen (RM79.2 billion) for the year ending March 2021, a 12.5% drop from the 2.44 trillion yen (RM92.1 billion) it achieved the year before.

    While there is a drop, the anticipated profit is far better than that originally forecast by the company in May last year during the initial stages of the pandemic. Back then, the automaker said it expected its full-year operating profit to drop by 80% to around 500 billion yen (RM18.87 billion), which would have been its lowest in nine years. Profit is anticipated to increase to 2.6 trillion yen (RM98.2 billion) in the current fiscal year, which started on April 1.

    Honda, meanwhile, is likely to report an operating profit of 560 billion yen (RM21.2 billion), an 11% reduction from the 634 billion yen (RM24 billion) it posted last year. Analyst estimates suggest that the company’s profit is likely to rebound to around 791 billion yen (RM29.9 billion) in the current business year.

    As for Nissan, it is expected to report an operating loss of 142 billion yen (RM5.4 billion), widening from the 40.5 billion yen (RM1.53 billion) loss the year prior, when it reported a net loss of 671 billion. The situation is however more positive than originally thought – in July last year, citing Covid-19 and the challenging business climate that had come about as a result of the pandemic, it had projected a 470 billion yen (RM17.8 billion) operating loss for fiscal 2020.

    Things haven’t been good at the beleaguered automaker, but there may be signs that it is turning the corner, at least where operating profit is concerned, with the company likely to swing to an operating profit of 141 billion yen (RM5.32 billion) in the current business year, according to analytical estimates from Refinitiv SmartEstimate. Achieving a net profit, however, may take a while longer.

  • New Porsche Macan – electric SUV starts tests, to be introduced in 2023; petrol version to debut this year

    Like it or not, Porsche’s future is electric, and the first existing nameplate to switch over to zero-emissions power is the Macan. The second-generation compact SUV is moving onto the Volkswagen Group’s Premium Platform Electric (PPE) – also Stuttgart’s first – and is set to debut in 2023.

    Ahead of the car’s on-sale date, the company has announced that it has begun testing the electric Macan out in the open world and has released the first official “spyshots”. Porsche says that by the time it reaches showrooms, it will have undergone three million test kilometres, plus countless more on a simulator.

    The prototypes you see here are heavily camouflaged, but we can still make out a bit of the finalised car’s styling. Look beyond the comically-oversized “headlight” decals and you’ll find far slimmer units with the trademark Porsche four-point LED daytime running lights. They’re so slim, in fact, that the main headlights appear to have been moved downwards into the corner air intakes, as is now commonplace on SUVs.

    Porsche has also added decals to mimic the large grilles of the outgoing model, but the actual ones are smaller in profile, so expect the front end to be very similar to the Taycan. Elsewhere, the side windows appear to carry the same teardrop shape as before (despite what the disguise suggests), while the rear windscreen is slightly more raked for a coupé-like roofline.

    The rear end looks to feature the usual full-width taillights, although the exact shape and design is still shrouded here. The diffuser is, of course, entirely fake, as they feature two blanked-off “exhaust exits”. Previous spyshots showed an active rear spoiler above the taillights, as per the Cayenne Coupé.

    The PPE is being jointly developed with Audi, so the Macan will share much of its mechanical makeup with the Q6 e-tron, just as the e-tron GT is essentially a reskinned Taycan. And like the Taycan, the Macan will be built on an 800-volt electrical architecture.

    Porsche says this will allow for longer ranges (previous reports state that PPE-based models will deliver a range of up to 480 km, with battery capacities of up to 100 kWh), high-performance fast charging (up to 350 kW, besting the Taycan’s 270 kW) and repeatable hard acceleration.

    Two years is a long wait, considering that the current model is already eight years old. Plus, the Macan is a very popular car globally, and not all markets have the demand and the infrastructure to support an electric model. To solve these issues, Porsche is launching a revamped version of the first generation this year, with pure internal combustion power.

  • SAE refines definitions of driving automation levels

    In light of the rapid advancement in autonomous driving technologies and functions, SAE International in collaboration with the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has announced a key update to the most-cited reference for self-driving capabilities: the SAE J3016 Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles, or the SAE Levels of Driving Automation.

    The SAE-defined levels are more commonly known as Level 0, for driving with no added assistance, through to Level 5, which is for fully automated driving. The basic framework for the different levels of assistance remains the same, albeit with more detail on the differences of operation between Level 3 and Level 4.

    Overall, the six different levels (including Level 0 for no assistance) have been evenly divided into two groups. Levels 0 through to 2 have been termed as driver support features where applicable, and the first three levels of automation states that the driver is driving whenever these support features are engaged, even if his or her feet are off the pedals and there is no driving input applied to the steering.

    SAE International J3016 standard table for levels of driving automation. Click to enlarge

    In these lower levels of automation, features for Level 0 are defined as limited to providing warnings and momentary assistance, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind spot warning and lane departure warning. Level 1 is defined as features that provide steering or braking/acceleration support, such as lane centring or adaptive cruise control. Level 2 is defined as both types of systems in Level 1, combined.

    The table defines Levels 3, 4 and 5 as levels where the driver is not driving the vehicle when automated driving systems are engaged, even when he or she is seated in the driver’s seat, according to SAE International. The organisation additionally notes that in Level 3, the driver must retake control of the vehicle when the system issues a request to that effect.

    Level 4 differs from Level 3 in no longer requiring the driver to retake control of the vehicle, however both Level 3 and Level 4 will only enable autonomous driving in limited conditions, and will not do so unless all required conditions are met, according to SAE International.

    The Japan-only Honda Legend Hybrid EX offers Level 3 capability through its Honda Sensing Elite system

    An example of Level 3 given is a traffic jam chauffeur; one such vehicle that offers the capability is the Honda Legend Hybrid EX, equipped with the Honda Sensing Elite system. Meanwhile, Level 4 is exemplfied by a local driverless taxi, and conventional controls such as a steering wheel and pedals may or may not be installed in the vehicle.

    At the highest level of vehicle automation, Level 5, a vehicle of this classification has all the autonomous driving capabilities of one with Level 4 autonomous driving, with the added ability to do so under all conditions.

    “As the development of automated driving technologies continues on a global scale, SAE J3016: Levels of Driving Automation has evolved to align with developing technologies and deployment strategies. Our collaborative partnership with ISO allowed us to expand and refine the recommended practice to better equip international customers with clear, concise and consistent language and definitions,” said chairperson for the SAE J3016 technical standards committee Barbara Wendling.

  • 2021 Husqvarna Vektorr Concept e-scooter shown

    After the release of the E-Pilen Concept electric motorcycle, Swedish motorcycle maker Husqvarna Motorcycle has shown the Husqvarna Vektorr Concept electric scooter (e-scooter). Following in the same vein as the E-Pilen, the Vektorr is designed for urban mobility requirements, notably the urban commuter.

    Coming in a stylish Swedish modern design with hints of the Husqvarna Vitpilen and Svartpilen motorcycles in the body work, the Vektorr is targeted at daily commuters needing a compact personal mobility solution. Husqvarna says the Vektorr is operated like a normal scooter, which means a twist grip throttle and left and right brakes on the handlebars.

    As a concept, precious few details have been released, save that the Vektorr has a top speed of 45 km/h with range of up to 45 km. This is in keeping with specifications for most electric scooters in the market today that are meant for urban use.

    From press photographs, the Vektorr comes with a hydraulic disc brake on the front wheel and a mechanical drum brake at the back. The 8 kW electric motor appears to be hub-mounted on the rear wheel, with suspension using single shock absorbers front and rear.

    The Vektorr joins the Husqvarna E-Pilen Concept electric motorcycle (e-bike), released in April 2021. The E-Pilen is equipped with an 8 kW electric motor with a claimed 100 km of range. Also in Husqvarna’s range of electric mobility solutions is the Bltz Concept electric stand-up scooter, which has a top speed of 20 km/h, and a range of 40 km, designed for last mile mobility solutions and short personal trips in the city.

  • Ferrari Portofino gets the Mansory treatment – 720 PS and 890 Nm, 0-100 km/h in 3 seconds; carbon hardtop

    German company Mansory has released its third tuning project involving a Ferrari model this year, with the latest being the Portofino. As with its previous creations based on the F8 Tributo and 812 GTS, the makeover involves plenty of modifications that cover styling and performance.

    Starting with the former, the company is especially proud of its reworking of the Portofino’s retractable hardtop, which is now made entirely out of dark forged carbon. Lighter than stock, it still operates as it should, so owners need not worry if they want to enjoy some open-top driving.

    Other parts that are made of the same material include the front spoiler lip, bonnet air vents, side skirts, side vents and mirror caps. The pillars and discreet spoiler also follow this theme, as does the prominent diffuser that is part of the rear apron.

    Joining the list of exterior changes is a set of lightweight forged wheels that follow the company’s YT.5 design first used on the F8 Tributo-based F8XX. These measure 21 inches at the front and 22 inches at the rear, wrapped with high-performance tyres.

    Inside, the cabin is colour-matched to the exterior to contrast the black leather upholstery, with the three buttons to control the dual-clutch gearbox receiving their own colours – green, white and red – to correspond to the Italian flag. A good serving of Mansory-branded items like the steering wheel, floor mats and embroidery help complete the look.

    Of course, the company couldn’t resist fiddling with what lies under the bonnet, so the 3.9 litre twin-turbo V8 gets a reworked engine management system and exhaust system. The end result is more noise and a V8 that serves up 720 PS (710 hp) and 890 Nm, which is a step up from the standard 600 PS (591 hp) and 760 Nm.

    Performance-wise, the Mansory-tuned Portofino takes three seconds to complete the 0-100 km/h sprint and will hit a top speed of 334 km/h, again, an improvement from the stock car’s 3.5 seconds and 320 km/h.

  • Lotus Evija electric hypercar now open for orders in Malaysia – 2,000 PS, 130 units globally, RM16 million!

    Yup, this sounds rather unbelievable but it’s true. The Lotus Evija – dubbed as the most powerful series production car in the world, and limited to 130 units forever – is now open for orders in Malaysia. The price for such bragging rights? At RM16 million, this could well be the most expensive car to be officially sold in Malaysia.

    Officially, because production slots for the Evija can be made through official Lotus importer and distributor Lotus Karz, based in Bukit Jelutong in Shah Alam. At a glance, the estimated RM16 million price tag sounds crazy, but a substantial portion of that is taxes for Peninsular Malaysia registration. If you register the car in tax free Langkawi, it’s RM10 million.

    That’s still a huge house full of money, and it still sounds ridiculous. Until you know that the base price of the Lotus Evija is £1.7 million in the UK, which converts to RM9.8 million. I know, I know, you’re thinking that for the money, you’ll have a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, a Porsche, an Aston Martin and then a G-Wagen for “rough use” such as going to 7-Eleven for bread. There could be money left for some JDM legends like the R34 GT-R and NA1 NSX. I’d do that, and so would most people.

    But Lotus’ first EV is not for most people. It’s likely to be for those who already have all the above, those who think that Ferraris and Lambos are a little bit too common (not entirely untrue if you camp at BSC’s Dome to check out the cars that pass by), those who see Porsches as Peroduas. I see this thing as an electric equivalent to the Bugatti Chiron, and the Veyron before it.

    And the Evija has the numbers and exclusivity to back up its (still ridiculous) price tag too. Hethel is targeting a combined over 2,000 PS and 1,700 Nm of torque from four electric motors. Each drive motor is built into a single-speed helical gear ground planetary gearbox, which draws power from a centrally-mounted 70 kWh lithium-ion battery. Never mind 0-100 km/h below three seconds, it’ll reach 300 km/h in under nine seconds. Top speed is over 320 km/h.

    If you’re wondering how all that power and speed will sound like without a traditional engine, it will sound like an ICE. Not just any old motor but the Lotus Type 49 race car and its Cosworth-Ford DFV 3.0 litre naturally-aspirated V8. The Evija’s noise was created by British music producer Patrick Patrikios, who has worked with Sia and Britney Spears, among other stars.

    Click to enlarge brochure

    The Type 49 was a special car for Lotus, as it was one of the first Formula 1 cars to use a stressed-member drivetrain to reduce weight, something that would later be used by other teams. Only 12 examples were ever made and the car won on its debut in 1967.

    “There’s a purity to that V8, a raw edge and an emotion that stirs something in your soul, just like the best songs,” Patrikios said. “We wanted to create a soundscape for the Evija that was recognisably and distinctively Lotus. I sat with the development team at Hethel and discussed what that should be. We wanted something intrinsically connected to Lotus so we could set an audio blueprint for its future electric cars,” he added.

    As for exclusivity, just 130 units of the Type 130 – the Evija’s project code – will be made. Production is set to start this year. RM16 million, any takers? See the car in action at Goodwood below.


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Last Updated 06 May 2021