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  • VinFast to unveil sedan, SUV at 2018 Paris Motor Show

    Vietnamese automotive start-up VinFast will be unveiling its new sedan and SUV at the Paris Motor Show in October. As reported earlier, the Pininfarina-designed models will emerge from the company’s joint venture with AAPICO Hitech for automobile body stamping and welding in the country, while partnering German engineering group EDAG for the first EV to enter the Vietnamese market. The sedan and SUV are set to go on sale in Vietnam next year.

    The automaker has lofty goals; it hopes to be the top car manufacturer in ASEAN with a target of 500,000 units per annum by 2025. The company expects to produce 100,000 to 200,000 cars a year in the first phase, which includes the aforementioned sedan and SUV, as well as electric motorcycles.

    “We have the resources, scalability and commitment to become a significant new player in the global automotive industry. We are immensely proud to be the first volume automotive manufacturer in Vietnam, and the first to participate in a major international motor show,” said CEO of VinFast Trading James DeLuca.

    Earlier this month, General Motors (GM) announced that it will transfer its Vietnamese operations to VinFast, which has also been appointed as the exclusive distributor of Chevrolet cars in Vietnam. Previously for Chevrolet assembly, the existing plant will be optimised for the manufacture of the upcoming models, and Vietnam-market Chevys were imported.

    This adapted manufacturing plant will supplement the purpose-built, 335-hectare facility which is currently being constructed in Hai Phong, northern Vietnam, which the company says is one of Vietnam’s largest-ever industrial projects.

  • RON 97 petrol price down 3 sen this week – RM2.56

    Time again for another update on fuel prices, and for the coming week, users of RON 97 petrol will need to pay RM2.56 per litre. This is a three sen decrease from last week, where RON 97 was priced at RM2.59 per litre and RM2.58 the week before that.

    As with the past few weeks following an announcement by the government, RON 95 petrol and diesel prices remain unchanged due to subsidies. Only RON 97 will follow market prices.

    Officially, RON 95 continues to be priced at RM2.20 per litre and Euro 2M diesel at RM2.18 per litre, while Euro 5 diesel is priced at RM2.28 per litre at the pump. The new RON 97 price will take effect from midnight till July 25 when the next fuel price announcement is made.

  • A217 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabrio – in M’sia soon?

    What’s this? We do know the Malaysian debut of the facelifted W222/V222 S-Class is coming soon, but it appears from a teaser on the Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Facebook page that something else from the family may also be on the cards – the image reveals the topless form of the facelifted A217 S-Class Cabriolet, which made its global debut last September at the IAA 2017 in Frankfurt.

    If indeed it does go on sale here, the drop-top will likely come in the form of the S 560 Cabriolet, which is powered by the marque’s M176 4.0 litre biturbo petrol V8 producing 469 hp and 700 Nm of torque. This replaces the previous M278 4.7 litre biturbo V8 on the pre-facelift S 500 version.

    Aside from new front and rear bumpers, the refresh adds new side skirts and wheel options as well as OLED (organic light emitting diode) tail lights and new chrome-plated twin tailpipes, the latter replacing the dual outlets seen on the pre-facelift.

    Equipment-wise, the S-Class Cabriolet will bring the whole nine yards, and then some – fresh bits include a new steering wheel with touch control buttons and an Intelligent Drive driver assist suite, and the brand’s Energising comfort control is a new option.

    The S-Class Cabriolet is also available in AMG-badged form, with two versions on offer in other markets, namely the S 63 and the S 65. The former is powered by a 4.0 litre biturbo petrol V8 with 612 hp and 900 Nm of torque, while the latter is equipped with a 6.0 biturbo petrol V12 offering 630 hp and 1,000 Nm of torque.

    The V8-powered S 63 version gets paired with the nine-speed AMG Speedshift MCT gearbox, whereas the V12 S 65 employs the older seven-speed transmission. Right-hand-drive markets will do without the AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system, so if an AMG variant does show up, it will be strictly a rear-wheel driven affair.

    If it shows, the facelifted iteration will be the first A217-generation S-Class Cabriolet that we will officially receive for the Malaysian market – back in 2016, the pre-facelift was said to be inbound, but it never showed up. We did drive it though – check out the drive impressions where our man Anthony Lim sampled the pre-facelift A217 S-Class Cabriolet in the sun-soaked Cote d’Azur, south of France.

    Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet

    Mercedes-AMG S 63 4Matic+ Cabriolet

    Mercedes-AMG S 65 Cabriolet

  • New Aprilia Malaysia distributor plans better service

    With news of the appointment of Didi Resources as the new distributor in Malaysia for Italian performance motorcycle brand Aprilia, sat down with Juan Chow Wee, its general manager. Wee discussed plans for Aprilia Malaysia, as well as considerations for the take over of customer care from the previous franchise holder, Naza Premira.

    “First off, we know we have a long road ahead of us to rebuild the Aprilia brand in Malaysia,” said Wee. “What we want to do now, we will engage with the customer initially,” Wee said, “and the workshop is ready to accept customer bikes.”

    While facilities are available immediately for service, minor repairs and warranty claims, Wee said full-scale operations for both the Aprilia showroom and workshop will begin in September. The distribution agreement for Naza Premira ends this July 31 and transitions to Didi Resources on August 1.

    “We will be looking into the current Aprilia dealers in Malaysia and there will be a realignment of the dealer structure,” Wee said, “and all the dealers will be re-evaluated and we are looking at the network to work with those dealers who meet Aprilia standards.”

    Wee said the aim will be to have a key dealer in every region in the peninsula – Central, North, South and East Coast. “What we are looking at is having the Aprilia flagship store in The Gasket Alley, supporting the regional dealers,” he said.

    Current Aprilia owners will not be forgotten or sidelined during the transtion, said Wee. “Aprilia warranties and recalls will be supported immediately by us and we are aiming to get more owner involvement in the brand.”

    “We have planned many more activities for Aprilia owners, such as rides, track days, meeting the MotoGP riders,” Wee said. “We are not just looking at selling Aprilia motorcycles, it is an ownership campaign. The meaning of what it means to own an Aprilia, why you should buy an Aprilia,” he said.

    Asked about the 2019 Aprilia models that will be brought into Malaysia and when, Wee had this to say. “Right now our application for the franchise AP has been forwarded to the relevant authorities, pending due process and approval. We hope to have everything settled ahead of the Malaysian MotoGP in October.”

    As part of the campaign to kick-off the new Aprilia Malaysia operations, a gathering of Aprilia owners was organised. Some 80 Aprilia riders turned up at The Podium in Kayu Ara for a dinner and viewing of the German MotoGP.

  • Volvo XC40 secures five-star Euro NCAP safety rating

    The Volvo XC40 has been awarded a five-star safety rating by the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), joining its 60 and 90 Series siblings in obtaining the result.

    According to an official report, the XC40 achieved one of the highest Adult Occupant Protection scores in the past three years at 97%. Points were awarded for the stable passenger compartment during the frontal offset test, relatively low damage to occupants based on readings taken from crash test dummies, and an effective autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system.

    In the Child Occupant Protection category, the SUV scored 87%, with good protection for dummies representing children aged six and 10 years in both the frontal offset and side barrier tests. The 2018 Euro NCAP testing now includes cyclist-detection with auto-brake and emergency lane keeping systems, making it a more demanding challenge for carmakers.

    Despite this, the XC40 achieved a score of 71% in the Vulnerable Road Users test, with the AEB system performing well in daylight and darkness, although it did falter a little when the target is crossing the vehicle’s path.

    A wide range of standard-fit safety systems like lane keep assist, emergency lane keeping, front-rear seatbelt reminders, plus AEB helped contribute to the 76% score in the Safety Assist category. The XC40’s AEB system was praised for working well in all test simulations of highway scenarios, losing only a fraction of a point.

    With this latest result, every Volvo model tested in 2018 and 2017 have managed to obtain a five-star rating, with all scoring over 90% in Adult Occupant Protection.

  • VW Group sold 5.5m vehicles in H1 2018, highest ever

    The Volkswagen Group recorded the best ever first half year in its history, delivering 5.5 million vehicles in six months. It represents growth of 7.1%, and comes after June sales grew 4.1% to 958,600 units. The second half of 2018 won’t be super smooth though.

    “This was the best-ever first half year in our company’s history. Group deliveries increased significantly in all core regions. Our core brands recorded strong growth in the first half year. We expect deliveries in the second half of 2018 to be affected by the introduction of the new WLTP standard. Some vehicles will probably be handed over to customers later than planned,” said Fred Kappler, head of group sales at Volkswagen AG.

    Click to enlarge

    In Europe, the group sold 2.4 million vehicles (+6.5%) while North American deliveries remained stable (+0.8%). Also up were sales in South America (+13.1%) and Asia Pacific (+8.9%). The German giant noted poor June performance in Mexico and China – the latter is attributed to consumers’ “wait and see” stance in anticipation of lower tariffs on imported vehicles, which came into effect on July 1.

    The tables above show sales by region and brands. What Dieselgate?

  • BMW Malaysia’s H1 2018 sales up 11%, MINI up 18%

    At the unveiling of the BMW Concept X7 iPerformance at the BMW X Range Roadshow at Bangsar Shopping Centre today, BMW Group Malaysia took the opportunity to announce its first half of 2018 sales performance.

    In the first six months of the year, the company delivered over 6,400 vehicles comprising BMW, MINI and BMW Motorrad motorcycles, which is an 11% growth compared to the first half of 2017. Individually, BMW brand sales were up 11% to over 5,300 cars, MINI sales grew by 18% to over 550 units, while BMW Motorrad sales went up 8% to over 540 units sold.

    The positive results in Malaysia echoes BMW Group’s worldwide sales, which saw the 35th consecutive quarter of sales growth and its best-ever first half of the year sales with a total of 1,242,507 units delivered. This includes BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce cars. The company delivered 60,660 units of electrified BMWs and MINIs.

    Locally, BMW Group Malaysia’s plug-in hybrid sales accounted for more than half of total vehicle deliveries at 56%, with over 3,200 units finding new homes. The electrified share was 52.7% after the first four months of 2018, so it has grown.

    Should momentum continue in the second half, the company could beat its full year 2017 sales performance, which at 12,680 units was its seventh straight all-time high and a 16% jump from 2016.

  • SPIED: Honda Civic Type R update – two wing designs

    It has been over a year since the world first laid eyes on the FK8 Honda Civic Type R, and it looks like the company is planning to introduce updates to ensure the hot hatch remains relevant in the face of increased competition from Hyundai, Renault, Volkswagen and Ford.

    These test mules were spotted in the wild recently, and it looks like the Civic Type R will be given a number of design changes including tweaked bumpers with those at the front sporting additional dividers in the corner inlets.

    Along with a new look for the headlights, the CTR’s other changes can be seen in the rear, where more dividers can be seen in the fake vents – likely done to make them less prominent. Curiously, some test cars were not fitted with the large rear wing that is a staple on the current car, but instead gets a smaller setup.

    This could be done to meet the needs of customers who want a less flashy wing because the hyper-aggressive styling of the current car can be a little off putting to some. Recent rumours indicate that the CTR will be available in more variants in the future, and this could be our first look at a “milder” version of the model.

    Expect the 2.0 litre turbocharged VTEC engine to remain in service, producing up to 320 PS and 400 Nm of torque, sent to the front wheels via six-speed manual transmission. A more hardcore variant, if it ever exists, should do well to push those figures even higher.

  • New Toyota Supra headlines five-generation gathering

    Owners of Toyota Supras in the United Kingdom were among the first to get up close and personal with the fifth-generation, A90 Supra which was at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend. All four previous generations of the iconic nameplate were present at the gathering, and Supra chief engineer Tetsuya Tada gave owners an exclusive introduction to the still-camouflaged prototype.

    A total of 50 Supras spanning the four earlier generations attended the event, mostly comprised of the A80 fourth-generation model, while eight were third-generation models, four second-generation models and one first-generation Celica Supra model.

    Tada drove the A90 Supra into the building to applauding enthusiasts, and then introduced his ‘new baby’ to the crowd following six years of development, and marked the first time all five generations of the Toyota Supra gathered in public, according to the company.

    “I’m just so happy that we’ve made it to this point. I’ve finally been able to reveal the car to the UK; it’s the happiest day of my life. And to drive it up the hill at Goodwood was a really exciting experience,” said Tada at the closed-door event.

    Co-developed with BMW alongside the upcoming BMW Z4, the fifth-generation Supra will share the German roadster’s powerplant with a slightly different tune, though chief engineer Tada said earlier that it will be very different from the German car. Tada also confirmed earlier that there will also be a 2.0 litre inline-four version of the Supra, an engine that is also sourced from BMW.

    The base four-cylinder version of the Supra will be lighter and offer a sharper-feeling turn-in thanks to “even better weight distribution,” and those who plan to swap engines for the legendary-among-tuners 2JZ unit are advised to go for the four-cylinder model, as it will be much cheaper, said Tada.

    GALLERY: 2019 Toyota Supra spyshots

  • 2019 Porsche Macan facelift teased – China launch

    We’ve seen spyshots of the upcoming Porsche Macan facelift in the past, but the company has now released official photos of mules undergoing high-altitude testing in Lesotho, South Africa. According to Porsche, the new Macan will make its global debut in China towards the end of July, which isn’t that far away.

    These photos show the Macan being put through a battery of tests to ensure all components, updated or not, are capable of delivering the necessary performance both on- and off-road. The Macan is an important model for the company with more than 350,000 units delivered worldwide since 2014, so ensuring they get it right is of utmost priority.

    Rumours indicate there will be a power boost across the range for petrol-powered Macans, although diesel variants would reportedly not be offered due to new emissions regulations. A hybrid version is also said to be reserved for the next-generation model, and will be given a miss with the facelift.

    As far as visuals are concerned, the Macan won’t get a drastic change to its shape, with most of the revisions being discreet styling tweaks. New lighting units are among some of the updates, with those in the rear appearing to gain a light bar linking them like on the E3 Cayenne. Elsewhere, there are redesigned bumpers and new hexagonal-shaped exhaust tips.

    Barring any interior shots, the latest Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment system should be present. This will warrant a new look for the dashboard and a significant decline in the number of buttons, if the new Cayenne is any indication.


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Last Updated 12 Jul 2018


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