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  • Genesis keen to build Essentia, Mint concepts – report

    Hyundai’s upmarket brand Genesis is driving its future direction on design and engineering teams which bank strongly on European backgrounds, and according to Genesis CEO Manfred Fitzgerald, the brand is keen to see its concepts such as the Essentia and the Mint come to life.

    The sad reality for many concept cars is that no matter how appealing they look, most will be consigned to the company’s archives and storage facilities, not to see the light of day again, let alone production. Fitzgerald’s team is working to turn that around, GT Spirit reports.

    “That is exactly what we don’t want to happen. There are so many beautiful concept cars that have a very short lifespan – they are shown and then never seen again. We are trying not to follow that road. The short answer for the Essentia is that we are still working on it, and it is still alive,” he explained.

    The Essentia has yet to be finalised to become a project for series production, but work on the car is ongoing and it will be an electric vehicle, Fitzgerald said, adding that its exact means of electrification has yet to be confirmed, though hydrogen is a possibility. Meanwhile, the Mint appears to have a fighting chance at seeing the daylight as well.

    Genesis Essentia concept.

    “I certainly hope (the Mint has a chance at series production), and we are currently reviewing the reactions to the launch. Our takeaway is that first, it was clearly a surprise; most people were clearly expecting something else. Secondly, the Mint has the potential to redefine the segment. I am one who will fight the very end for this car to be exactly that, and actually come to the streets,” Fitzgerald said.

    The Mint Concept will be built from a new basis, the CEO notes. “It is not based on an existing platform. Once we are ready for that car, there will be technical discussions,” he said. The first test was to gauge public reaction, which was to see whether it was something that ‘resonates with them and something they can relate to’. The firm has already found the answer, Fitzgerald says.

    The Essentia Concept will be the pacesetter for future Genesis direction, in more ways than one. A high-density battery pack and multiple electric motors will propel the Essentia from standstill to 60 mph (96 km/h) in three seconds. Meanwhile, the also-electric Mint Concept is touted with an estimated range of 320 km, and is compatible with a 350 kW fast-charging station, Genesis says.

    GALLERY: Genesis Mint Concept

  • Aston Martin DBS Superleggera is now On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – 50-unit 007 limited edition

    James Bond has driven quite a few cars over the decades serving Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but none are as synonymous with 007 as Aston Martin. This association is set to continue, thanks to the most recent collaboration between the British carmaker and EON Productions, the company that produces James Bond films with MGM Studios.

    To celebrate the 50th anniversary of James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 50 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service DBS Superleggera special edition cars will be sold. Painted Olive Green to match the original 1969 Aston Martin DBS driven by James Bond in the classic spy flick, this limited edition lifts the Super GT’s looks to another level.

    The OHMSS DBS Superleggera sports a carbon fibre splitter, CF aero blade and unique diamond turned and forged wheels. A bespoke metal grille featuring six bright horizontal vanes adorns the front to replicate the distinctive feature of the old movie’s DBS. The exterior paint surface is enhanced with body coloured cantrails and roof, and there are commemorative side strakes.

    Inside, the flagship Aston is trimmed in black leather, accented by grey blend Alcantara. The cockpit is accented in red, inspired by the red trimmed glovebox in the original car, which held 007’s telescopic-sight rifle.

    The car’s 50 owners will have the option to select a bespoke designed drinks case which fits perfectly in the boot. The black case opens via a bright metal clasp to reveal the matching red felt lined interior, with space for two bottles of champagne (not supplied, please negotiate with your sales advisor) and four champagne flutes.

    The DBS Superleggera is powered by an uprated version of the firm’s 5.2 litre biturbo V12 that also served in the DB11. Here, the twelve-cylinder heart produces 725 PS and 900 Nm of torque between 1,800 rpm and 5,000 rpm. Set low and as far back as possible to optimise centre-of-gravity and weight distribution, the V12 is paired to an eight-speed ZF automatic. The 0-100 km/h sprint is despatched in 3.4 seconds, and top speed is 340 km/h. Shown here in March, it’s yours for RM2.88 million.

    “Creating a James Bond special edition is always an exciting challenge as we work to create a car that embodies the legend of James Bond, and the original movie car. The DBS Superleggera is a muscular car that commands attention, but the Olive Green gives it a subtlety that belies the beast beneath,” said Aston Martin VP and chief creative officer Marek Reichman.

    The price to play Bond is £300,007 (RM1.59 million before our taxes), with first deliveries commencing in Q4 2019. Those wheels though.

    GALLERY: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera in Malaysia

  • Toyota to restart parts production for A70, A80 Supra

    With demand for sports cars of past generations ever growing, Toyota is joining the ranks of automakers resuming manufacture of components for the restoration and preservation of such models, in this case the A70 and A80-generation Supras, according to Japanese Nostalgic Car.

    Parts production for the two models will be restarted, revealed Toyota Gazoo Racing president Shigeki Tomoyama, himself an owner of the A80-generation model.

    “We cannot answer about specific parts at this time, but we will make every effort to meet the expectations of owners,” said Tomoyama. Called the GR Heritage Parts Project, the renewed supply of parts will mean that owners of said third- and fourth-generation cars will eventually be able to access original Toyota parts for their cars from official channels, handy for restoring cars that have been ravaged by time.

    The JZA80 has been a firm tuner favourite, giving rise to heavily modified creations, sometimes with four-figure horsepower outputs. It was no slouch in factory standard form either, producing 326 hp in twin-turbo RZ guise. The latest A90 Supra – sharing its basis with the G29 BMW Z4 – continues the march of progress, bringing a turbocharged inline six-cylinder powerplant with 340 PS and 500 Nm of torque.

    A four-cylinder version of the A90 comes alongside the iconic straight-six layout as well, with the 2.0 litre unit producing 258 PS and 400 Nm of torque. The A90 Supra is slated for a Malaysia debut later this year, although variants and pricing have yet to be announced.

    Prior to Toyota’s announcement for the JZA80, Nissan has resumed production of parts for its own performance icon, the Skyline GT-R under the Nismo Heritage Programme starting with the R32 GT-R. A year later, Nissan expanded its retrospective parts support to include its successors, the R33 and R34 GT-R. More modest in performance stats but no less significant is the Mazda NA MX-5, which has also been treated to the availability of a full restoration programme.

    GALLERY: A90 Toyota GR Supra

  • 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport unveiled – old looks hide new platform, technologies, mild hybrid engines

    The Land Rover Discovery Sport is Solihull’s sleeper hit. Despite not drawing the crowds the same way the Range Rover family does – especially its closely-related Evoque sibling – the entry-level seven-seater SUV has consistently been the brand’s breadwinner, with nearly half a million units sold worldwide over the past five years. Now, there’s a new one and it promises to be just as capable while playing just as incognito a role.

    Like the new Evoque, the new Disco Sport rides on the latest Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA), a modular mixed-material platform that is designed with new technologies and electrified powertrains, such as mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids (the latter available by the end of the year), from the outset.

    Not that you’d know that from looking at it, however, because the body looks pretty much identical to the one before, right down to the trademark body-coloured C-pillar. In fact, the dimensions have been largely carried over – measuring 4,597 mm long, 2,069 mm wide and 1,727 mm tall, the new car is just two millimetres shorter and three millimetres higher, and crucially, it retains the same 2,741 mm wheelbase.

    Even so, there are a number of aesthetic tweaks, including new LED headlights with double U-shaped daytime running lights that also function as sequential indicators; a similar graphic can be found at the rear. You also get a redesigned grille and a subtly reprofiled front bumper with slimmer air intakes, while the rear bumper design has also been given a revamp.

    There’s also a sportier R-Dynamic trim that adds the prerequisite aggressive front and rear bumpers, integrated exhaust exits and body-coloured cladding, plus a range of new wheel options that now measure up to a massive 21 inches in diameter.

    If the exterior revisions leave you wanting, then the interior promises a bigger step forward, borrowing cues from the Evoque and Velar. There’s a sleeker, more modern dashboard with greater use of gloss black surfaces and a pistol-type electronic gearlever that replaces the old rotary dial. Strangely, the Disco Sport doesn’t get the dual-screen Touch Pro Duo infotainment system found on its more fashionable brethren.

    The upper 10.25-inch screen is still here as part of the Touch Pro interface, but there’s now just a simple array of touch-sensitive buttons below it, although a physical volume knob and a pair of rotary controllers remain. These are used to control the air-conditioning, but they can also manipulate the car’s new Terrain Response 2 system at the push of a button. A 12.3-inch digital instrument display is available as an option.

    Plenty of new features have borrowed from the Evoque, including wireless smartphone charging, a 4G WiFi hotspot, a digital ClearSight rear view mirror and a ClearSight Ground View system that gives you a view of the terrain under the bonnet. Massage seats are also offered and they can be upholstered in a sustainable, non-leather Luxtec material made of a recycled polyester microfibre.

    Other changes are more practical in nature, such as the fitment of a 40:20:40 (previously 60:40) split-folding and sliding second row and a 25% increase in small item storage space to 48 litres. There are also optional Click & Go tablet holders at the rear, the rugged Activity Key from the Jaguar F-Pace that lets you store your regular key safely in the car, and an Advanced Tow Assist that makes reversing with a trailer easier and safer.

    From launch, the new Disco Sport will be available with a choice of petrol and diesel Ingenium engines, all 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder mills. There are 200 PS and 249 PS petrol options and 150 PS, 180 PS and 240 PS diesels, and only the base 150 PS diesel is available with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox – all others get all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic.

    The all-wheel drive models also get a 48-volt mild hybrid system that adds a belt-integrated starter generator to recapture kinetic energy when decelerating, provide assistance under acceleration and shut the engine off under braking and at speeds below 17 km/h. The PTA platform allows the 200 Wh lithium-ion battery to be stored under the floor without compromising interior or luggage space.

    Another benefit of PTA is a 13% increase in structural rigidity, with rigidly-mounted subframes that reduce noise and vibration intrusion into the cabin. All-wheel drive models get an Active Driveline torque-vectoring rear axle and Driveline Disconnect that disengages the rear axle when not needed to improve efficiency. Buyers can also specify Adaptive Dynamics dampers, controlled using the Configurable Dynamics menu.

    Off-roading is part and parcel of Land Rover’s DNA, and to that end the Terrain Response 2 system debuts a new Auto mode that adapts the vehicle settings to any given terrain, although you can still choose from the usual Comfort, Sand, Grass-Gravel-Snow, and Mud and Ruts modes. As for safety, the Disco Sport comes with the usual driver assists, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Steering Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking and a Driver Condition Monitor.

  • Toyota Granvia eight-seater MPV announced for Australia – Estima replacement goes on sale Q4 2019

    Toyota has announced that it will begin selling the new Granvia in Australia later this year. The MPV, which is based on the sixth-generation H300 HiAce that made its debut in the Philippines in February, will replace the Tarago – known in other markets as the Estima – in the local line-up. There will be a slight overlap period in which both vehicles will be sold together, until the Tarago is discontinued at the end of 2019.

    The underpinnings may be van-based, but the Grandia will go on sale as an upmarket eight-seater people mover, complete with a premium seating configuration and an Alphard-esque front, which has a rather sedate-looking grille compared to that on the Lexus LM.

    Aimed at hospitality, corporate and family buyers, the Granvia will be available in two model grades in Australia. Both will be powered by the sole engine option for that market, a 1GD-FTV 2.8 litre four-cylinder turbodiesel. There’s no mention of transmission, but the mill should be paired with a six-speed automatic.

    Ditching the leaf-spring setup on the HiAce, the Granvia will ride on a four-link coil-sprung rear suspension, which the automaker says will deliver superlative ride comfort and stable handling. The cabin gets a more premium outlook, courtesy of faux-wood trim, leather uplhostery and second-row captain’s seats, which are electrically-adjustable.

    Specifications include power-sliding rear side doors, a 12-speaker advanced multimedia system and a host of connectivity options, including four USB ports.

    The MPV will come with a full suite of Toyota Safety Sense features, active cruise control and pre-collision safety system (PCS) with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection being among the driver-assistance features. Both model grades will also be equipped with nine airbags.

    GALLERY: 2019 Toyota HiAce H300

  • V167 Mercedes-Benz GLE580 4Matic revealed with electrified 4.0 litre biturbo V8 – 483 hp and 700 Nm

    Mercedes-Benz has introduced another variant of the GLE dubbed the GLE 580 4Matic, which joins others in the range like the performance-focused GLE 53 4Matic+ and GLE 450 4Matic. The new addition comes with an electrified V8 powertrain that is also offered with the larger GLS in the form of the GLS 580 4Matic.

    Under the bonnet, there’s a 4.0 litre biturbo V8 engine that produces 483 hp and 700 Nm of torque, paired to a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive system. While it may not be an AMG model, the V8 makes more power than the GLE 53’s electrified 3.0 litre turbo inline-six (429 hp and 520 Nm).

    The company’s EQ Boost 48-volt mild hybrid system is the electrified aspect of the GLE 580’s powertrain, and features an integrated starter generator (ISG). The ISG is responsible for functions such as EQ Boost, whereby an extra 21 hp and 249 Nm is made available to the driver, as well as energy recuperation. The 48-volt architecture also serves other ancillary systems such as the water pump and air-conditioning compressor.

    Additionally, there’s also the E-Active Body Control system, which can individually control the spring and damper rates on each wheel for better comfort and off-road performance. For now, the company has not released performance or fuel economy figures.

    The GLE 580 4Matic will go on sale in the United States later this year, and will be priced from USD76,800. Standard equipment includes Airmatic air suspension with adaptive damping, leather upholstery and an AMG Line exterior package. There’s also the dual 12.3-inch displays on the dashboard, which are linked to the Mercedes-Benz User Experience system.

  • 2020 BMW X5, X7 M50i debuts – N63 4.4L V8, 523 hp!

    The 2020 G05 BMW X5 and G07 X7 will both be getting a hot new engine, one that is plucked straight off the engine bay of the M850i. Set to go on sale in September this year, the M50i-badged SUVs will be powered by the N63B44T3 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8 petrol that makes 523 hp between 5,500 to 6,000 rpm, and 750 Nm of torque between 1,800 to 4,600 rpm.

    Comparatively, the existing xDrive50i (also a 4.4 litre turbocharged V8 unit) makes 456 hp from 5,250 to 6,000 rpm and 650 Nm from 1,500 to 4,750 rpm, which makes the M50i approximately 67 hp and 100 Nm more powerful. This allows the X5 to sprint from zero to 100 km/h in a blistering 4.1 seconds, while the X7 gets there in 4.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically-limited to 250 km/h.

    The newer eight-cylinder M Performance unit features a number of improvements, particularly the use of two twin-scroll turbochargers with charge air cooling located within the V, High Precision Injection, Valvetronic fully variable valve control and Double-Vanos variable camshaft timing.

    The engine block is made of aluminium alloy, while the cylinder walls are given an iron coating (via wire-arc spraying process) to reduce frictional losses. Reinforced, Grafal-coated pistons and optimised piston rings are also specifically designed to endure the stress on the crank drive that comes with the extra output and torque. To enhance engine smoothness, torsional vibration is minimised with the help of a viscous damper on the crankshaft.

    Channeling all that power to the wheels is an eight-speed Sport Steptronic transmission with revised control logic for improved performance and efficiency. Both the X5 and X7 M50i are identical in terms of gear ratios, while paddle shifters with Launch Control function and xDrive all-wheel drive (with M Sport rear diff) are standard. Also on is a sporty-sounding M Sport exhaust system.

    The standard double-wishbone front suspension and five-link rear suspension have also been upgraded by M GmbH. BMW claims the setup provides the best balance of traction on rough terrain and dynamic response and comfort on paved roads. The bushings, spring and damper settings have all been uprated.

    The X5 M50i is gets Adaptive M Suspension while the X7 M50i is fitted with a two-axle air suspension system (optional on the X5 M50i). The latter allows ride height to be reduced by up to 20 mm when in Sport mode, or when speeds exceed 136 km/h. Drivers can also raise vehicle ride height by 40 mm for greater ground clearance when required.

    Design-wise, the M50i models get a slightly revised front bumper with larger openings to allow for greater air flow to the cooling system. The rocker panels and rear bumpers have been distinctly sculptured as well, whereas several exterior components are finished in BMW Individual high-gloss Shadowline trim and Cerium Grey accents.

    As for the wheels, the X5 rides on 20-inch dual-tone M Star-spoke items shod with 275/45 profile run-flat tyres, although optional 21-inch and 22-inch versions are available as well. The X7, on the other hand, sits on staggered 22-inch Cerium Grey M V-spoke alloys wrapped with 275/40 (front) and 315/35 (rear) series performance tyres. A set of smaller 21-inch wheels can also be optioned. Resting behind the wheels is a two-piece, lightweight compound brake discs with blue painted calipers and M logos.

    Additional features include unique door sill plates with illuminated M50i logo, M leather steering wheel, gear selector with M logo, Vernasca perforated leather upholstery with contrast stitching, Anthracite headliner in the X5 M50i and Alcantara Anthracite headliner in the X7 M50i.

    Elsewhere, things remain as is. Standard equipment includes the latest BMW Live Cockpit Professional with iDrive 7 Operating system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Harman Kardon surround sound system, Apple CarPlay, WiFi hotspot, and wireless smartphone charging tray.

  • New Renault Megane RS Trophy-R now the fastest FWD at Nurburgring, beats Civic Type R with 7:40 time

    Renault has officially unveiled its new flagship hot hatch, the Renault Megane RS Trophy-R. And what a way to do it, by also announcing that the Trophy-R is now the fastest front-wheel-drive production car around the Nurburgring – a title that the current FK8 Honda Civic Type R wears with pride.

    The deed was done on April 5 this year by seasoned Trophy-R driver-builder Laurent Hurgon. The new Megane RS Trophy-R set a 7:40.100 time on the Nordschleife 20.6 km lap, and a 7:45.389 reference time on the official whole lap of 20.832 km, Renault claims. The deposed Japanese “FWD King of the Ring” did it in 7:43.80 in 2017, toppling the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S‘ 7:47.19 time then.

    The Megane RS Trophy-R carries over the RS Trophy’s 1.8 litre turbo-four with 299 PS and 420 Nm of torque (with the six-speed EDC dual-clutch auto, six-speed manual gets 400 Nm), which is already up from the regular Megane RS‘ 279 PS and 390 Nm.

    Instead of adding power, the record breaker’s greater performance over the Trophy is derived from weight reduction (by up to 130 kg), reworked aerodynamics and “a more radical development of its drive axles.” That’s the same ethos as the previous-generation RS 275 Trophy-R, which was once the holder of this ‘Ring record.

    Renault Sport did not reveal other technical details other than naming its partners – Akrapovic for the exhaust system, Brembo for the brakes, Bridgestone for the tyres, Ohlins for the shock absorbers and Sabelt for the bucket seats. The hardcore Megane RS Trophy-R will hit showrooms before the end of 2019, as a limited edition of a few hundred units.

    The standard Renault Megane RS was previewed in Malaysia last month, with order books open for deliveries in mid-2019. The good news is that we get the Cup chassis in both EDC auto and manual, priced at RM299,888 (estimated) and RM279,888 (confirmed) on-the-road without insurance, respectively. Full details, local specs and gallery here.

    GALLERY: Renault Megane RS 280 Cup in Malaysia

  • Kia reveals interior sketches of new B-segment SUV

    After releasing the first exterior sketches of its compact SUV, Kia is now providing us with a view of the model’s cabin. The yet-unnamed SUV was first previewed by the SP Signature Concept back in April, which is an evolved version of the SP Concept. The new model will go on sale in Korea later this year, with global markets to follow.

    Design-wise, the SUV loosely resembles what was seen in the concept, particularly in the layout of the dashboard. However, the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system features physical buttons, and is separated from the instrument cluster. Based on the sketches, the instrument cluster also appears to be of the analogue variety, with a multi-info display in between the two gauges.

    Below the infotainment screen are slim air vents with metallic highlights, and this design cue is also applied on the corner vents as well. Further downwards, you’ll find conventional climate controls and the centre console, the latter containing the gear lever and buttons for drive modes and other functions.

    Kia says the goal of the interior was to create a “modern ambience to appeal to young-at-heart, tech-savvy buyers.” To that end, the SUV will even get Kia’s Sound Mood Lighting, which is also found in the funky Soul.

    “We have focused on designing a cabin unlike any other in the small SUV segment, with a greater sense of depth and richness to the design. Our newest model will offer greater pleasure and satisfaction to our customers, with a premium-quality interior that benefits from sophisticated design details,” said Byung Chul Juh, head of Kia Styling at Kia Motors.


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Last Updated 18 May 2019


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