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  • GALLERY: Toyota Hilux 2.4G Limited Edition up close

    Last week, UMW Toyota Motor announced that the Toyota Hilux 2.4G Limited Edition was officially on sale. We’ve now got a full gallery of the accessorised pick-up truck variant – which is based on the Hilux 2.4G AT – in order to highlight the new additions.

    Available only in Super White II, the LE gets a smattering of contrasting exterior kit, including a graphic package that consists of black stripes on the bonnet, tailgate and flanks, as well as a black roof and carbon fibre effect stickers on the B-pillars.

    The wing mirrors are also black, while the grille has been painted in a gloss metallic grey. Also fitted is a bumper guard, bonnet garnishes, head- and tail light covers and fog light surrounds – also coated in the dark grey hue – as well as black fender extensions. Lastly, the 17-inch alloy wheels have been painted grey.

    No changes to the interior, so you get the standard 2.4G AT interior with features such as keyless entry, push-button start, Premium Security & Solar Film tint, auto lights and wipers, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, leather upholstery, a digital video recorder, a 6.1-inch touchscreen DVD infotainment system, a reverse camera, a digital video recorder and six speakers.

    The engine has also been carried over, so under the bonnet sits a a 2.4 litre 2GD-FTV turbodiesel engine producing 150 PS at 3,400 rpm and 400 Nm of torque between 1,600 rpm and 2,000 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to a part-time four-wheel drive system. Safety-wise, the Limited Edition gets three airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, stability control and ISOFIX rear child seat anchors.

  • SPIED: Aston Martin DB11 to spawn hotter S variant

    It is, perhaps a natural step in any car model’s progression – first, the all-new model arrives, and then follows the tweaked, refined and sportier-tuned variant.

    Where the DB11 boasts outputs of 600 hp and 700 Nm from its now-turbocharged, 5.2 litre V12 engine, the upcoming S variant spotted is expected to build upon those figures – gains upwards of 30 hp are expected, along with an unspecified increase in torque.

    As visible in these spy images, the sportier model – rumoured to gain the ‘S’ moniker – also wears mildly revised bodywork. In front, the bumper sports a deeper, lower splitter to better craft airflow for increased downforce, while the flanks just ahead of the front doors appear to wear modified outlets, relative to the standard model.

    Around the back, the sportier test mule wears a rear bumper with an altogether more aggressive diffuser treatment, and as seen in images above, contrasts with a standard DB11 parked alongside.

    Behind the standard DB11 wheels, the test mule’s brakes also appear similar to the 400 mm disc/six-piston calliper front and 360 mm disc/four-piston calliper rear items from the standard car, though given the uprated engine’s performance, the brakes and chassis of the eventual production model could also be fortified.

    In its parked state, the test mule here also appears to have to lower ride height compared to that of the standard DB11; this could indicate revised spring and/or damper settings for this sportier variant. The interior of the test mule has also been photographed; the changes from the standard car (testing equipment aside) aren’t apparent, save for a racing bucket seat for the driver; a new seat design could follow.

  • No ban on Dego Ride motor taxi service yet – Nancy

    Only a week after transport minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that Dego Ride will not be legalised, the government appears to have softened its stance towards the motorcycle taxi operator. Now, minister in the prime minister’s department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri says that there is no decision to ban Dego Ride yet.

    “The government does not wish to jump the gun over the ban too fast as it involved lots of people, hence, prior to coming to a finalised decision, a proper study on the demand and market force for the service is needed. This is to ensure the government’s decision would not look like we are trying to contain the B40’s creativity and innovation,” Nancy told reporters after launching the Express Bus Transformation Lab in KL today, reported by The Sun.

    She added that if there is a demand for the service to continue, Dego Ride would have to consider how to incorporate its service with the existing laws, following the path of app-based ride hailing companies Uber and Grab. The minister maintained that it is premature for the government to state its stand on the issue.

    Last week, Liow cited safety as the reason why Dego Ride should not be allowed to operate. “Even when SPAD tables the amendment, they (Dego Ride) will not be legalised. We are not against Dego Ride, but we are against this mode of transportation, where motorcycles are being used to take passengers. It will create higher risks for road users,” he said, adding that over 60% of road deaths involved motorcycle accidents.

    Last month, deputy transport minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi sung the same tune as Liow. “So far, no licences have been issued for motorcycle taxi riders, if they conduct such a business, it is illegal,” he said, adding that riders who provide such services could be charged for misusing their personal motor vehicle licences for commercial purposes.

    What are your thoughts on this Bangkok- and Jakarta-style motorcycle taxi service?

  • All-new Kia Picanto to be offered with 1.0 litre turbo, manual transmission, GT-Line trim level in Europe

    Set to make its debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, more images of the all-new, third-generation Kia Picanto have been unveiled ahead of its Swiss showing in March. What’s known as the Art Collection variant in its native Korea goes by the GT-Line moniker elsewhere, and the range-topping trim level has been confirmed for the European market.

    For Europe, the third-generation Picanto is set to sport the nameplate’s most powerful variant yet, courtesy of a 1.0 litre, turbocharged T-GDI direct injection petrol engine, which endows the A-segment hatchback with 100 PS and 172 Nm of torque.

    The turbocharged, direct-injection mill is one of three petrol engines, the others being a 1.0 litre MPI unit producing 67 PS and 96 Nm of torque and a 1.25 litre MPI engine producing 84 PS and 122 Nm of torque. In terms of CO2 emissions, the 1.0 litre unit is rated at 89 g/km, with the 1.25 litre unit rated at 104 g/km, an improvement from the 95 g/km and 106 g/km seen on their respective predecessors.

    Upgrades to the entry-level, naturally-aspirated 1.0 litre engine include a new exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head, while a new cooling system with a shut-off valve helps reduce warm-up times from cold starts. Elsewhere, a new two-stage oil pump helps reduce mechanical friction, according to Kia.

    The 1.25 litre engine in the new Picanto also receives similar upgrades, with the optimising of the CVVT (continuously variable valve timing) for this engine in addition to the cooling system and shut-off valve also adopted from the new 1.0 engine. New, low-friction coated piston rings also aid the reducing of friction for improved efficiency, says the automaker.

    The range-topping, 1.0 litre T-GDI turbocharged engine features an integrated exhaust manifold, a high-pressure, 200 bar fuel supply, along with laser-drilled fuel injectors for precise fuel delivery towards more controlled combustion, for improved accelerative response and efficiency, says Kia. All three powerplants are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, with a four-speed auto being an option for the 1.25 litre variant.

    Inside, refinement measures abound – the new Picanto gains a new soundproofing panel beneath the dashboard and in the cabin floor, while expandable, sound-absorbing foam has also been applied to the lower sections of its A- and B-pillars.

    A new sound-absorbing engine cover resides beneath the bonnet, and along with the reshaped air intake, helps isolate engine noise from the cabin; the Picanto’s engine mounts have also been revised to better counteract vibrations. Just beyond the hood, the Picanto’s windscreen wipers have been lowered by six millimetres for less wind noise at the base of the windscreen.

    As detailed before, the Picanto is built upon an all-new platform for the marque’s small cars, and gains a 44% composition of Advanced High Strength Steel (up from 22%) for a tensile strength improvement of 12%, while the body-in-white is lighter by 23 kg. The floor pan, roof rails and engine bay, along with its A- and B-pillars, feature the use of AHSS.

    The stiffer bodyshell gives a stronger foundation from which the suspension can work from, and so the Picanto now sports front anti-roll bars which are two percent stiffer and mounted slightly lower in front; at the rear, the anti-roll bars are five percent stiffer and mounted slightly higher.

    The new Picanto’s longer wheelbase and shorter front overhang also repositions its pitch centre slightly rearwards, for a reduction in nose dive under braking without a potentially ride-compromising firmer suspension rate. The rear torsion beam axle has been reshaped and new-design trailing arms collectively offer a 1.8 kg saving, without loss of rigidity, says Kia.

    For greater agility, a new steering rack is now 13% quicker than before, its new ratio now 14.3:1 from the previous model’s 16.5:1. Steering wheel turns are now reduced to 2.8 turns lock-to-lock from 3.4 turn previously, while the front axle has less weight ahead of it for less inertia.

    Infotainment come courtesy of a 7.0-inch “floating” touchscreen, which interfaces Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for mobile device integration. Optionally, a reverse camera with dynamic guide lines can be specified, along with a wireless smartphone charger and USB port.

    The Picanto’s boot grows from 200 litres of capacity previously to 255 litres, along with offering a two-step boot floor, which can be raised or lowered 145 mm for either additional storage space or for an under-floor storage area. With a one-touch lever, the 60:40 split-folding rear seats fold flat to liberate a total capacity of 1,100 litres.

    Safety features on the third-generation Picanto include six airbags (front, front side and curtain airbags), and an optional knee airbag, while active safety features include electronic stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system. The Picanto also comes with autonomous emergency braking for added safety in urban surroundings.

  • SPIED: B9 Audi RS4 Avant tests all-weather traction

    It’s been a while since we’ve seen the next-generation B9 Audi RS4 out testing, but Ingolstadt’s new wagon-bodied bruiser has finally been caught again by our European spy photographers, undergoing winter testing ahead of its unveiling at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

    The RS4’s customary bespoke front bumper, with massive air intakes flanking the singleframe grille, is front and centre as before – though don’t expect that cool LED light bar to be offered on the options list anytime soon. Making its first appearance here, however, are fender box flares that replace the more conventional round ones on past mules. The rear diffuser also looks to be larger and more aggressive.

    So, the wagon’s hulking appearance seems to have been retained, then, but another staple since the B7 model, the 4.2 litre naturally-aspirated V8, is set to be dropped in favour of a modified version of the S4‘s 3.0 litre turbocharged V6. On the RS model, the mill is expected to be augmented by twin turbos instead of just one on the S4, pushing power output from 354 hp to a massive 450 hp.

    Also set to be ditched is the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, replaced by an eight-speed automatic transmission as seen on the current RS6 and RS7. Drive is almost certainly sent to all four wheels via a rear-biased version of Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.

  • Toyota to debut autonomous i-TRIL Concept in Geneva

    Toyota will be debuting an autonomous-capable, electric-powered concept in Geneva. The automaker says that the i-TRIL Concept, positioned as an alternative to city cars, other electric vehicles and motorcycles, is aimed at people who want to have fun even while puttering about at slow speeds in urban surroundings.

    Quite how this fun aspect will be presented remains to be seen, as is the shape of the study itself, but the automaker says the vehicle, which has a one-plus-two seating layout, features Active Lean technology.

    The tech, which angles the vehicle when cornering to provide high levels of stability, safety and comfort, has been seen before, on the i-ROAD three-wheeler that was first presented in 2013, also at the Swiss show.

    On that one, the system uses a lean actuator and gearing mounted above the front suspension member, linked via a yoke to the left and right front wheels. An ECU calculates the required degree of lean based on steering angle, gyro-sensor and vehicle speed information, and the system automatically moves the wheels up/down in opposite directions, applying a lean angle to counteract the centrifugal force of cornering.

    Developed by Toyota Motor Europe, in collaboration with the company’s ED2 design studio in Nice, the i-TRIL is set to showcase numerous innovative aspects of the automaker’s research into improved and more engaging environmentally-friendly mobility solutions. The study is also said to be capable of operating autonomously.

    GALLERY: Toyota i-ROAD all-electric personal mobility vehicle, 2013

  • SPIED: Aston Martin DB11 Volante spotted again

    The Aston Martin DB11 Volante has been spotted undergoing testing again, with the prototype seen here still wearing the same promotional decals as before, which points towards a 2018 introduction and a dedicated website where you can register your interest.

    As before, the convertible version of the DB11 remains largely identical to the coupe until you reach the A-pillars. Therefore, the Curlicue vents that help reduce front-end lift over the front axle, one-piece bonnet, LED headlights and front grille are unchanged.

    Beyond that, the British carmaker has made some modifications to the car’s rear haunches and deck in order to accommodate the folding soft-top. From certain angles, the car certainly looks to be a little taller compared to the coupe, although we’ll have to wait for official figures to comfirm.

    Beyond those revisions, the DB11 continues to retain the same rear bumper, diffuser and dual exhaust outlets as the fixed top model. The Volante should also carry the drivetrain setup from the DB11 – a 5.2 litre twin-turbo V12 engine (600 hp/700 Nm) mated to an eight-speed automatic.

  • VIDEO: Rory Reid goes rallying in an Ariel Nomad

    Welcome to episode two Rory Reid’s Road Trips, the online-only series where the Top Gear host introduces some of the world’s most amazing roads in nifty cars. Consider it as something interesting to watch while you wait for Series 24 of the popular car show to air.

    This time, Reid is behind the wheel of the Ariel Nomad, essentially an Atom that has been repurposed for off-road duties. Powered by a Honda-sourced K24 2.4 litre four-cylinder engine that provides 238 hp and 300 Nm of torque, the 670 kg Nomad will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in just 3.4 seconds.

    In the video, the Nomad is let loose on the roads of the Elan Valley in Wales, where it passes various man-made dams and some pretty scenery along the way. Halfway through, Reid decides to do a spot of rallying, taking the rear-wheel drive-only Nomad on some pretty muddy roads that serves as a training ground for the Forest Experience Rally School.

    The route spans 900 acres and has a 14.5 km of gravel stages that runs through dense woodland. To make sure the Nomad isn’t parked in a tree, Reid enlists the help of eight-time Rally America champion, David Higgins. What follows after, you’ll have to watch and see.

  • California Superbike School with BMW Motorrad – how to hone the craft while taking it to the edge, in safety

    Having ridden and raced motorcycles for over three-and-a-half decades, there are many who ask me for tips and guidance on how to ride motorcycles. To the many such requests I get, I usually decline, pointing them to a superbike riding clinic. But the best of the riding schools, bar none and sworn by riders and champion racers alike, is the California Superbike School (CSS).

    Founded by Keith Code in 1980, perfection of the art and science of taking a motorcycle at high speed around a corner featured prominently in the syllabus. Some riders may scoff at this, thinking they know all there is to know about riding because they can get their knee down.

    Having previously attended CSS back in the 90s and early 2000, when BMW Motorrad Malaysia offered us a place in CSS at Sepang International Circuit (SIC), we jumped at the chance. Perfecting “the craft”, as we call it, requires constant practice, as well as instruction to iron out bad habits that riders pick up along the way.

    Split into four levels, CSS takes riders from the very basics of learning how to ride fast, what to see, and how to see it, all the way up to precision honing of specific advanced skills. No matter who the rider is, world champion or newbie, everyone starts at Level One.

    The beauty of CSS is that students, after finishing all the levels, can revisit each level at will, in order to perfect areas where they feel their riding skills are weak. Some don’t go up to Level Three or Four, preferring to further hone their level one and two skills before progressing further.

    Levels in CSS are split into modules, with Level One teaching the importance of lines, turning points and looking where you’re going. Most of the drills in Level One and Two limit the rider to one or two gears, and no brakes, so that the rider concentrates on throttle and bike control, rather than outright speed, and students go out on the track after each module to practice what they have learned.

    We attended both Level One and Two, and the second stage develops the rider’s visual skills. One of the key lessons in this level is it gives you a sense of how big the track actually is, where your lines are, and how to process the visual information your brain is receiving.

    At the end of the two days for Levels One and Two, students were allowed out on track with a “no limits” final session. This allowed all students to combine and practice what they learned throughout the level, in a safe and controlled environment.

    Through the entire session, the S1000 RR performed well, and was sure-footed and confidence inspiring on the Pirelli Supercorsa tyres. The 2016 BMW Motorrad S1000 RR retails for RM104,900, and puts out 199 hp at at 12,500 rpm and 113 Nm of torque at 10,500 rpm.

    CSS isoOrganised in Malaysia by Singapore-based SBR Trackdays, and there could be another session of CSS at SIC later this year. In addition, CSS is also held in the Philippines and Indonesia. Attending CSS in Malaysia will cost you USD 1,600 (RM7,132) per two-day session, not including a suitable motorcycle, with one level on each day. Rental of track bikes is available through prior arrangement.

  • PSA to maintain Opel’s four German factories – report

    The news about PSA Group in talks with General Motors over the purchase of the latter’s European business surfaced last week. Size and scale must be on the mind of the French looking to take over Opel and Vauxhall, and Europe’s overcapacity is a known issue. Should the takeover succeed, surely some factories will have to be sacrificed?

    Well, according to reports, Opel’s German factories will survive. German Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag reported that the PSA Group, which makes Peugeot and Citroen cars, has pledged to the German government to continue operating all four of Opel’s plants in the country.

    It said that PSA’s general counsel Olivier Bourges told two deputy ministers and an adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel that Opel would continue as a separate entity within the group and that no German sites would be closed. No sources were specified. The publication added that the takeover deal will likely be signed by March 9 at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

    However, things do not look so good for Opel’s sister brand Vauxhall, which is based in the UK. Two sources close to PSA have told Reuters that job and plant cuts were part of the PSA-GM talks, with the two British sites of Vauxhall in the front line. PSA’s CEO will meet British PM Theresa May to discuss the deal amid concern that Brexit could put Vauxhall sites at a disadvantage to Opel’s.

    The wire service points out that Germany accounts for about half of GM Europe’s 38,000 staff, while there are 4,500 staff in Britain. Spain and Poland also host Opel factories. A PSA spokesman confirmed that a meeting between PSA reps and German officials had taken place last week. Opel declined comment.


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