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  • DRIVEN: Nissan Almera Nismo Performance Package

    Nissan Almera NISMO Performance Package 10

    It’s a peculiar place, the local B-segment sedan market. The heartland of the automotive scene in Malaysia, these small, ungainly-looking booted hatches regularly stirs the emotions of the buying public in a way no supercar can ever hope to match. It’s a highly competitive segment, with no margin for error, and your lead in the marketplace only lasts until the next time your competitors are refreshed.

    That’s the situation in which the Nissan Almera currently finds itself. Once providing unbeatable value – prices start at just RM66,827 for the base E manual variant, topping off at RM79,837 for the VL – at a time when its rivals pushed for greater sophistication at premium prices, it has suddenly seen its share in the market eaten up, with both the new Toyota Vios and Honda City now featuring stripped-out, bargain-basement variants of their own.

    To try to make up some of that ground, the company is pushing in the other direction with, ahem, the Nissan Almera Nismo Performance Package, aiming to inject some fun and sporting pedigree to its best-selling model, as well as to maintain its considerable foothold in the market. Is this the perfect shot in the arm for the Almera, or is it just a bridge too far for Nissan’s fledgling performance brand?

    See the full report and photo gallery on the Almera Nismo Performance Package here

  • VIDEO: Beijing 2014 highlights – new concept cars

    Yesterday, it was production sedans, and today, our Auto China 2014 team, led by Moy Yew Meng, continues their video coverage with a trio of new concepts that made their debuts in Beijing.

    Aerilynn walks us through the Nissan Lannia, the sedan version of the Friend-ME concept from last year, as well as the Honda Concept B, which previews a five-door model developed exclusively for the Chinese market.

    Lastly, there’s the stunning Peugeot Exalt Concept, all 340 hp of sleek hybrid muscle. Enjoy!

  • Suzuki Concept Alivio – the SX4 Sedan grows up


    We’ve seen the Suzuki Authentics concept at Shanghai 2013 and its identical twin, the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, in Delhi earlier this year. Now the company has returned to China to showcase the Suzuki Concept Alivio – which previews a new SX4-based sedan – at Auto China 2014 in Beijing.

    Measuring 4,545 mm long, 1,730 mm wide and 1,475 mm tall, the Alivio has grown to a full C-segment sedan competitor to take on the likes of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, being 45 mm longer and 85 than the old segment-straddling SX4 Sedan (width remains the same). This leaves the Swift-based Dzire as the company’s sole B-segment entry.

    Looking a lot more production-ready than the earlier concepts, the Alivio is expected to remain much the same when it reaches the market, losing only the large wheels and some of the chrome trim. It certainly looks more conventional and balanced than the rather ungainly SX4 Sedan, that’s for sure.


    Powering the Alivio is a 1.6 litre DOHC VVT inline-four engine (likely the SX4′s M16A engine) which Suzuki claims has increased performance and fuel efficiency due to a reduction of weight and frictional resistance. Currently, the engine in the SX4 produces 120 PS at 6,000 rpm and 156 Nm at 4,400 rpm. The engine is mated to a new lightweight and compact six-speed automatic that promises improved efficiency.

    The production version of the Suzuki Concept Alivio is set to be unveiled for the Chinese and Indian market sometime later this year. What do you think – should it be brought over here to take on Malaysia’s competitive market?

  • BMW 420i Coupe launched in Malaysia – from RM300k


    Following last week’s local launch of the BMW 428i Convertible, it’s now the turn of the BMW 420i Coupe to hit our shores. The entry-level 4 Series is available here in standard and Sport Line forms.

    The 420i Coupe is powered by a 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine that develops 184 hp from 5,000-6,250 rpm and 270 Nm of torque from 1,250-4,500 rpm. With the help of an eight-speed auto, the vehicle gets to 100 km/h from rest in 7.3 seconds before hitting a 236 km/h top speed.

    Of course, there’s stop/start as well as the Driving Experience Control with Eco Pro mode. Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.0 litres per 100 km.

    The standard car gets 225/50 R17 star-spoke alloys, xenon headlamps, fog lamps and front and rear parking sensors. Inside, you’ll find auto dual-zone air-con, auto headlamps and wipers, six speakers, Dakota black leather upholstery, 6.5-inch BMW Radio Professional (so no touch-sensitive iDrive), cruise control with braking function, satin silver matt dashboard trim and a sports leather steering wheel.

    Upgrade to the Sport Line and you get 225/45 R18 double-spoke alloys, M Sport suspension, an eight-speed sports auto with shift paddles and Launch Control, high-gloss black exterior trim and additional front and rear bumper trim.

    Interior additions comprise high-gloss black dashboard trim with Coral Red matt accents, a nine-speaker 205W sound system, sports seats and Anthracite headlining.

    Dual frontal and side airbags, plus head airbags front to rear, DSC, ASC, CBC and DTC are standard. Body colours comprise Alpine White, Midnight Blue, Mineral Grey, Black Sapphire (base car only) and Melbourne Red (Sport Line only).

    The fully-imported (CBU) BMW 420i Coupe costs RM299,800, OTR without insurance, while the Sport Line package (pictured here, taken at Quill Automobiles PJ) is a RM20k upgrade.

    The BMW 4 Series range in Malaysia is now thus:

    BMW 420i Coupe Sport

  • Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ updated with better dynamics


    The Toyota 86 (or the GT86 as it’s called in Europe), has been given a minor update for the 2015 Model Year. You’d hardly describe the reborn hachi roku as lacking in the dynamics department, but that’s precisely what Toyota decided to improve upon.

    Toyota claims to have continued to work on the car since it was first launched in 2012. Chief engineer Tetsuya Tada said, “there is no reason that development should stop, only because the vehicle has gone on sale. The 86 is all about driver involvement, and we are committed to keep enhancing this aspect of the car.”

    Click to enlarge.

    Integral to the running upgrade is a “more rigid fixation of the front suspension and the rear shock absorbers.” Coupled with reworked dampers, the changes provide more stability to deliver a smoother and more communicative handling. Body roll has been reduced too, while the steering is said to be even crisper than before.

    Changes that you can physically see are limited to a new shark-fin antenna (which is aero-positive, apparently) and a carbon-fibre-look dashboard trim. Subaru has also announced a very similar update for its near-identical BRZ.

  • VIDEO: Toyota Camry 2.0 G X – two funnymen face-off

    The recently-introduced Toyota Camry 2.0 G X is the set piece in this one, in which Patrick Teoh and Kuahjenhan engage in a humourous face-off over the car.

    All the car’s novelties are highlighted by the two funnymen in the clip, as is its performance, which has agar-agar thrown in for good measure.

    The RM159k Camry ‘X’ (which stands for ‘Exquisite Luxury’, apparently) is based on the 2.0 G variant, and features embellishments such as smoked head/tail lamps, dark silver 17-inch alloys, dark brown leather upholstery and wood trim as well as ‘Camry X’-branded front carpet mats.

    It also has an optional seven-inch DVD-AVN touchscreen system with navigation fitted as standard. Also on are a powered rear blind and manual rear side window blinds, items that have previously been exclusive to the Camry 2.5 V. Which all makes the Camry 2.0 G X really “atas” and look very hip-hop…

  • New Peugeot 408 Sedan unveiled at Auto China 2014


    Peugeot has unveiled the new Peugeot 408 at the ongoing Auto China 2014 show in Beijing. Designed for the Chinese market, the new 408 is based on the new 308, the reigning 2014 European Car of the Year. In the Middle Kingdom, it replaces the 408 that we’re familiar with in Malaysia.

    To do battle in the “upper Chinese C-segment”, the new 408 is armed with more space and tech. The wheelbase has grown by 20 mm to make 2,730 mm, the longest in the segment – although WB measurement doesn’t always tell the full story (packaging counts, too), the 408 should offer above par rear legroom.

    Like the new 308, this sedan sits on PSA’s new EMP2 platform. The Efficient Modular Platform 2 also underpins the new Citroen C4 Picasso MPV. In the 308, the new underpinnings play a key role in the considerable weight reduction, by an average of 140 kg compared to the outgoing hatch. This should translate to a lighter 408 as well.


    No official pic of the cabin was released, so we’re left wondering if Peugeot carried over the 308′s modern, minimalist dashboard or gave the 408 a more traditional cabin, one that has a more “luxurious” feel befitting its positioning. We’re guessing the former.

    Under the hood is a direct-injection 1.6 THP turbocharged engine with Stop & Start technology. Dongfeng Peugeot’s move to push the new 408 upmarket means that the sedan will have full-LED headlamps, a “City Park” system and blind spot sensors, among other kit.

    Peugeot says that the 408, together with the Exalt concept car, debuts the brand’s new styling cues. Note that the lion badge on both cars now sit proud in the middle of the grille, as opposed to on the hood. The 308′s distinctive feature line that rises from the front door and ends at the tail lamp are replicated on the 408, which to our eyes, looks unexciting but neat enough.

  • Volvo S60L PPHEV concept is the complete package


    It may not look all that special, but this car, the Volvo S60L PPHEV (Petrol Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) concept, absolutely is. Volvo claims that it’s a zero-emission electric vehicle, an efficient hybrid and a high-performance car. Yup, all three in one tidy looking Volvo S60L.

    The S60L PPHEV uses the same plug-in hybrid technology showcased in Detroit 2012’s XC60 Plug-in Hybrid concept, and this time it will reach production next year. It will join the existing diesel-powered V60 Plug-in Hybrid in Volvo’s fast-expanding ultra-efficient lineup.

    Under the hood is a 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine that makes 238 hp and 350 Nm of torque on its own. The Drive-E engine powers the front wheels through an eight-speed auto’box, while an electric motor sends another 68 hp and 200 Nm to the rear tyres for instant trough-the-road all-wheel drive.


    Volvo’s “most technologically advanced powertrain ever” offers three driving modes: Pure, Hybrid and Power. Pure gives a 50 km all-electric range, Hybrid uses as little as 2.0 litres of fuel per 100 km (50 km per litre) and Power offers a 0-100 km/h time of just 5.5 seconds. Now this is a three-in-one cocktail you won’t mind having every day.

    Total range is said to be around 1,000 km in the default Hybrid mode, and a full recharge of the boot floor-mounted 11.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack takes between 4.5 to 4.0 hours, depending on the power outlet’s amperage. There’s no need for a dedicated charging station; a regular power socket will suffice.

    Unique to the concept are its matte white crystal pearl colour with contrasting black/blue details, wind-cheating 17-inch wheels and subtle plug-in hybrid badges. Inside, the S60L is further glitzed-up with a hazel-brown leather interior and matching bespoke wood trim pieces. Who says one can’t have it all?

  • Porsche Macan entry engine revealed, 237 hp 2.0 turbo


    Porsche’s new Macan SUV debuted with a Macan S, a Macan S Diesel and a Macan Turbo, all powered by turbocharged V6 engines. What about the basic Macan? Porsche has finally revealed what will be powering the baseline Macan – a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

    The base Macan’s 1,984 cc four-cylinder engine produces a peak output of 237 hp from 5,000 to 6,800 rpm and a peak torque of 350 Nm from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm, with a compression ratio of 9.6:1. It sounds like the VW Group’s EA888 engine to us. Mated to a PDK dual-clutch transmission, it hits 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds. Combined fuel consumption is about 7.5 litres per 100 km.

    Other than the different engine under the hood, there are exterior changes as well. The easiest way to tell between Macan models would be the tail pipes. While the Macan Turbo has quad rhombus tail pipes and the Macan S uses quad circular tail pipes, the Macan uses dual rhombus tail pipes.


    If priced well, this car is undoubtedly going to be prowling all over the streets of affluent communities. It’s likely going to be the most affordable point of entry to Porsche ownership after all.

    Standard specs (not exhaustive) for the 2.0 litre Macan include 18-inch wheels, an automatic rear tailgate, multifunction steering with paddle shifters, dual-zone climate control, comfort seats with Alcantara centre, and a black interior.

    Options include wheels up to 21 inches in diameter, PASM air suspension, a panoramic roof, power steering Plus, cruise control and yes, even front and rear ParkAssist is optional.

    Big thanks to sudonano for the tip!

  • VIDEO: Beijing 2014 highlights – production sedans

    Ni hao from Beijing! Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the first in set of videos focusing on the highlights of one of the biggest and most significant motor shows on the calendar.

    Our charming host Aerilynn (whom you knew from our teaser post as ‘Miss Red’) opens our Auto China 2014 adventure with three production sedans that made their debut at the show – the second-gen Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Escort and Kia K4.

    She even manages to talk to the Escort’s exterior design manager, Andrew Collinson, on the design concept behind the car and its customer base. Enjoy!


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