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  • Lexus RX 450h and RX 350 F Sport debut at NYIAS

    NYIAS_2016_Lexus_RX_450h_019

    Here you go ladies and gentlemen – the all-new Lexus RX, fresh from its world debut at the 2015 New York International Auto Show. The RX has come a long way since its roots shared with the Toyota Harrier – the latest generation of the popular grey import SUV has looked nothing like the Harrier since the last generation, and now looks even more distinct.

    While the Japan-centric Harrier has kept its dimensions restrained with a short 2,660 mm wheelbase platform the new RX has had the room to grow since it now has the NX taking care of compact SUV duties. As a result, the RX is now larger, riding on a 2,789 mm wheelbase, up from the previous generation’s 2,740 mm.

    NYIAS_2016_Lexus_RX_350_F_SPORT_004

    There’s no 2.0 litre turbo so far – we’re looking at two variants at launch, an RX 350 powered by a 3.5 litre V6 and an RX 450h powered by a 3.5 litre V6 mated to a hybrid drive system. The RX 350’s direct injection V6 has had its output increase to 300 horsepower, while the RX 450h’s Atkinson cycle engine and electric motor also has a combined output of around 300 horses.

    Looking like a big NX from the outside, the new RX greets you with a large spindle grille up front. The headlamps, daytime running lights, fog lamps and tail lamps all use LED technology.

    NYIAS_2016_Lexus_RX_450h_022

    The interior is where we got a big shocker – it seems to introduce a completely new design language for Lexus interiors. It adopts a more driver-focused design, with the instrument panel and centre stack wrapping around the driver seat, while previous Lexus interior designs were more symmetrical. That steering wheel looks new too, with much slimmer spokes.

    You’ll see two different instrument clusters in the galleries below – the hybrid uses a more conventional instrument cluster with two large analog metres and a colour multi-info display between them. The RX 350 F Sport has a nice LFA-inspired digital cluster where a large central digital meter has a square multi-info display to the left of it, and regular gauges for temp and fuel tank level on the right.

    NYIAS_2016_Lexus_RX_450h_013
    NYIAS_2016_Lexus_RX_350_F_SPORT_010

    The chassis rides on MacPherson struts up front and a double wishbone system at the rear. Optional is the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system, which electronically monitors and adapts the shock absorber damping and steering to help ensure optimal handling and ride depending on the driving conditions.

    In terms of safety, Lexus has a suite of features it collectively calls the Lexus Safety System+ which can help avoid or mitigate collisions. These include the Pre-Collision System (PCS) that is designed to detect sudden stops by the vehicle in front and brake in certain circumstances; Lane Departure Alert (LDA), which issues an audible signal if it determines the vehicle has strayed from its intended lane; and Automatic High Beam (AHB) that helps ensure optimal forward visibility during nighttime driving.

    The system uses a millimeter-wave radar that works together with a camera to help keep the RX in its intended driving lane via the Lane Keep Assist feature (LKA) and enhances target detection for the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with full stop capability under certain circumstances. Other available features that can help the driver include Adaptive High-beam System (AHS), a Panoramic View Monitor (PVM) and Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).

    These are just the first details of the car released by Lexus. We hope to be able to share more info later, especially on the new higher-powered engines. For now, enjoy the video and galleries below.

    GALLERY: Lexus RX 450h


    GALLERY: Lexus RX 350 F Sport

     
  • GST: Mitsubishi updates prices, down RM200 to RM2k

    Mitsubishi ASX 4WD CKD- 38

    Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia has announced new on-the-road prices for its CBU and CKD models with GST – reductions range from RM200 to RM2,000 on selected variants.

    Mitsu GST pricelist Sheet1 copy

    Variants in the current Triton pickup range (the new one debuts in May) all feature a RM200 price reduction, as does the Attrage.

    Meanwhile, the locally-assembled ASX 2WD and 4WD compact SUVs are now cheaper by RM700, while the biggest price reduction involves the CBU-from-Japan fourth-gen Pajero facelift, its price reduced by RM2,000 post-GST.

    “Taking into consideration of difference in the tax rate of 4% (from 6% GST and 10% of Sales and Service tax (SST)) and weakened Ringgit against the US Dollar, we remain committed to provide all Malaysians with a pleasant ownership and value-for-money cars,” said MMM’s CEO Won-Chul Yang.

     
  • Ninth-generation Chevrolet Malibu debuts in New York

    2016 Chevrolet Malibu

    The all-new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu has been unveiled at the 2015 New York International Auto Show (2015 NYIAS). Following several teasers, Chevy’s D-segment competitor emerges with host of new technological upgrades while at the same time ditching its predecessor’s bulky styling for a sleeker, more modern outlook.

    In line with the marque’s latest design language, the front end of the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu boasts a radical take on the dual-port grille, which is now flanked by thinner, swept back head lamps. Depending on the trim level selected, LED daytime running lights are featured. At the back, individuals might be able to see hints of the Kia Optima K5 in the design of the tail lamps – an all-LED affair is featured on the Premier trim.

    More importantly, the wheelbase of the new Malibu has been stretched by 91 mm, allowing for a 33 mm increase in terms of rear legroom. Thanks to liberal applications of advanced, high-strength steel in its construction, the Malibu is said to weigh up to 136 kg less than the outgoing model.

    Under the bonnet, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is powered by a total of three different powertrains – a turbocharged, 1.5 litre Ecotec petrol mill, a turbo’ed 2.0 litre petrol engine and a hybrid model with a direct-injected 1.8 litre petrol engine that’s mated to a Chevrolet Volt-based two-motor drive unit.

    2016 Chevrolet Malibu

    Combined power output on the Malibu Hybrid is rated at 182 hp – powering the electric motor is an 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The system is capable of powering the Malibu Hybrid up to speeds of 88 km/h on pure electric power alone. Additionally, an Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery system harnesses the exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin.

    Conventional methods of propulsion gets taken care of by the other two petrol engines. The aforementioned 1.5 litre engine puts out a total of 160 hp and 250 Nm of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Coupled to a stop-start facility and active front grille shutters that improve aerodynamics, the official fuel consumption figure has been quoted at 11.5 km/l for city driving.

    The turbocharged 2.0 litre mill produces a “GM-estimated” 250 hp and 350 Nm of torque. It gets paired to an in-house eight-speed automatic gearbox, making this the first front-wheel drive GM model to feature such a transmission. Official fuel consumption figures are rated at 9.4 km/l for city and 13.6 km/l for highway cycles.

    On the inside, the latest iteration of Chevy’s MyLink system gets presented on a seven-inch touchscreen that comes standard on the LS, LT and Hybrid models. The Premier variant gets an eight-inch touchscreen instead – available as an option on the LT and Hybrid versions. Elsewhere, OnStar 4G LTE with WiFi connectivity is featured as standard.

    2016 Chevrolet Malibu

    Wireless phone charging is standard on the Premier and available as an option on the LT and Hybrid models. Other conveniences come in the form of dual rear seat USB ports and 110-volt power outlet which is standard on the Premier along with ventilated leather seats – a first for a Malibu, apparently.

    In terms of safety kit count, Chevrolet has thrown everything in its arsenal including the proverbial kitchen sink at the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu. Standard on “most trim levels” is the Teen Driver safety platform. Said system is capable of muting the audio system when a front passenger is not buckled up and alerting the driver when he/she travels above a predetermined speed.

    Parents are also able to view how the car has been driven via a number of parameters that include maximum speed reached, distance travelled and the number of times the active safety features were triggered. A total of 10 airbags and a reverse camera is standard – the latter on the LS, LT, Premier and Hybrid. Optional safety features include a front pedestrian alert system, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and many more.

    The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu will be assembled at GM’s Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas. A total of five different trim levels will be available at launch – L, LS, LT, Premier and Hybrid.

     
  • GST: Perodua car prices reduced by 0.1% to 1.6% depending on model, spare parts prices maintained

    2015_Perodua_Myvi_Facelift_Premium_X_vs_Advance_ 01

    More GST related news, this time from Perodua. Starting today, prices of Perodua cars will see a reduction of 0.1% to 1.6% depending on model, following the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax. For spare parts, Perodua will absorb the impact of GST and maintain prices.

    “We have always been supportive of the government’s intention and the customers’ expectation in terms of providing affordable and value for money vehicles. We had repositioned the price of some of our models and added value ranging from 3% to 12% since 2013. In addition all our models have a five-year warranty for the peace of mind to our customers,” said Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh.

    The P2 boss pointed out that the first fruit of its cost saving initiative was the S-Series variants, which chalked up sales of around 153,000 units from March 2013 to January 2015. The Rawang-based carmaker has initiated investment and transformation programmes since 2011 to be globally competitive in terms of quality, cost and delivery of goods/services.

    Perodua_Axia_Standard_vs_Advance_ 001

    While P2 supports the introduction of GST in principle, its dealers aren’t happy. Yesterday, Perodua Dealers Association president Wan Kamal Wan Ismail pleaded for the government to allow dealers to reclaim the 10% sales tax on invoices issued prior to the implementation of GST. With pre-GST stocks being “double taxed”, each independent dealer will stand to lose an average of RM230,000, he said.

    Starbiz, in a report today touching on the subject, quoted an unnamed customs officer who made light of the issue. “The stock is unlikely to be that big. Furthermore, these are big ticket items and most car companies don’t keep them for too long. The impact won’t be adverse. If there are unsold stock, it will usually be sold within a few weeks,” he said.

    Aminar touched lightly on the matter. “While the impact of the GST may result in reduction to some areas of our business, unfortunately there are other areas of our business that will result in an increase in cost.

    aminar-rashid-salleh

    “Taking all these into consideration including the appreciation of the US dollar to the ringgit, we are happy and pleased to announced that we are able to pass along the savings to our valued customers on the price of the vehicles, while absorbing the cost incurred on our spare parts,” he said.

    More on the issue of “double tax” and an in-depth look at GST and the automotive industry in our GST feature story, where we speak to actors from both sides of the stage – customs and the carmakers.

    Perodua has not released GST-inclusive prices of its cars at the time of writing. Watch this space for updates.

     
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS 400 now on sale – RM598,888

    mercedes-benz-cls-400-2015-facelift-previewed-malaysia 974

    Would you believe the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was launched about a decade ago? The car that started the whole four-door coupe phenomenon is now in its second generation in facelifted form.

    Previewed last week at a Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver meet and greet dinner, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia have finally announced the new GST pricing for the car. The new price is RM598,888 which represents a massive RM162k drop from the pre-facelift CLS 350’s RM761k price tag.

    The new RM599k price tag puts the CLS 400 closer to the pricing of its German competitor, the RM585k Audi A7. We bet this will catch the attention of many who have been considering grey imported CLS before this since an officially imported and climatised product with four year unlimited mileage warranty is now within reach. This move leaves Munich’s 6-Series GranCoupe alone in the ambitious RM700k-800k price range.

    mercedes-benz-cls-400-2015-facelift-previewed-malaysia 979

    So what’s changed from the outgoing CLS 350? The CLS 400 does lose some equipment but gains some as well. What’s gone is the panoramic roof (replaced with a sunroof) and the Night View Assist infrared camera, but what’s been added on is an AMG Line exterior and interior kit, Steering Assist with Stop&Go Pilot for the Distronic Plus active cruise control, and a Surround View camera system.

    The Malaysian-spec car gets the optional Multibeam LED headlamps as standard. Each Multibeam LED headlamp contains a module for the low-beam headlamp, which can be swivelled upwards up to 12 degrees. It can swivel to let you see around bends, allowing the road to be illuminated effectively as soon as possible.

    This active light function will also swivel back to the straight-on position before the corner ends, allowing the driver to identify dangers earlier when entering and exiting bends. The anticipatory control allows an additional range of between 30 and 60 metres, depending on the traffic situation.

    mercedes-benz-cls-400-2015-facelift-previewed-malaysia 1001

    The outgoing 3.5 litre normally aspirated V6 has been replaced with a 3.0 litre twin-turbo V6 producing 329 hp and 480 Nm of torque, driving the rear wheels via a 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed gearbox.

    The AMG Line kit has sportier bumpers, paired with striking 19-inch wheels wrapped with staggered 255/35 rubber at the front and 285/30 at the rear. Other than the new bumpers, the facelift brings a new diamond radiator grille, and slightly darkened tail lamps with multi-level function.

    If you’ve always wanted a CLS-Class, the new pricing should be very good news for you. It’s also pretty close to the S400 Hybrid’s price tag so if you’re on the wrong end of the long waiting list for that one and tend to want to drive your own car, perhaps you can consider this instead.

     
  • GST: Subaru updates prices, decrease of up to RM12k

    Subaru WRX STI 44

    Motor Image Malaysia has released its post-GST price list for its lineup of Subaru models. A closer look at the revised list will reveal the absence of the Legacy model which has been sold out – Motor Image has confirmed that there are no plans to restock units of the Legacy.

    Note that the prices listed here do NOT factor in road tax figures, insurance and hire purchase claim fee(s). The range now starts of at RM108,120 for the Subaru XV Premium – a drop of RM230 from the original figure of RM108,350. Subaru’s halo performance car, the WRX STI, is now priced at RM267,120.

    Subaru GST pricelist copy brz

    Perhaps the biggest decline can be seen in the updated price for the Subaru BRZ – a new tag of RM227,900 indicates a saving of RM12,300 (a 5.12% reduction) for the rear-wheel driven sports coupe.

     
  • GST: Nissan Malaysia releases new prices – CKD models cheaper by RM190-2,700, CBU cars no change

    2015 Nissan X-Trail 1

    Edaran Tan Chong Motor has released new Nissan prices updated with GST – all CKD models and variants are cheaper by between RM190 and RM2,724, or between 0.3% and 2.0%.

    However, the prices of CBU models – namely the Sylphy, Elgrand, Murano, 370Z and Leaf – stay the same as before. The Almera is now between RM195 and RM233 cheaper, while the Teana enjoys a RM2,429-2,724 price drop.

    The table below shows the old (pre-GST) and new prices of CKD Nissan models:

    Nissan GST pricelist Sheet1 copy

     
  • GST: All Ford models slightly cheaper, by up to RM100

    Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 27

    Malaysian Ford distributor Sime Darby Auto Connexion has announced new prices for Ford vehicles with GST. All models currently on sale in Malaysia see very slight price drops – from as little as RM2 for the Ford Ranger 3.2 XLT 4×4 Automatic to RM100 for the Ford S-Max 2.0 EcoBoost.

    The Focus ST is not in the list – we’re told stocks are sold out and that there are no plans to replenish. Note, too, that the Mondeo, Ranger and Everest prices are of the current models – we’re expecting the new Mondeo to launch very soon (we’ve driven it! Read our first impressions), the facelifted Ranger to arrive around the second-half this year, and the new Everest to land sometime in the third-quarter this year.

    Ford Malaysia GST price list

     
  • GALLERY: 2015 Ford Mondeo – first drive impressions

    2015 Ford Mondeo MY preview 3

    Not long to go before the 2015 Ford Mondeo EcoBoost is officially launched in the country – word is that the car will be introduced before the month is out. Ahead of that, the fifth-gen CD391 (which is known as the Fusion in North America) is continuing on its preview rounds; the car is currently on show in Bangsar Shopping Centre until the weekend.

    We’ve covered the D-segment offering in great detail in our earlier post last month, when specifications for the Malaysian car – which is assembled in Spain at Ford’s Valencia plant – were revealed. To recap, the 1,562 kg car will come with an equipment level equivalent to Australia’s mid-level Trend variant, with elements from the high-end Titanium included in the mix.

    The 2.0 litre EcoBoost offers the same 240 PS (at 5,300 rpm) and 345 Nm (at 2,300 to 4,900 rpm) output tune as found previously on the outgoing CD345 Mondeo, though there’s a change in transmission – the six-speed PowerShift in the old car (the wet clutch Getrag 6DCT450) has been replaced by a conventional six-speed torque converter unit, the GM-Ford 6F35 SelectShift, which is also seen on the Ford Kuga.

    Exterior bits include 17-inch double five-spoke alloys wrapped with 235/50 Michelin Primacy 3 tyres, adaptive LED headlamps, daytime running lights, dual exhausts and auto fold wing mirrors (with puddle lamps).

    2015 Ford Mondeo MY preview 2

    As for equipment, the list includes adaptive cruise control, keyless entry/push button ignition, dual-zone auto climate control, an electronic parking brake, auto headlamps and wipers, fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers and 10-way powered front seats. Other base items are front and rear parking aid sensors, leather steering wheel/gear shift knob as well as paddle shifters and rear air-conditioning vents.

    Also on, a SYNC 2 infotainment system with an eight-inch LCD touchscreen, reverse camera and MyKey. The Sony audio system features nine speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and aux inputs as well as Voice Command for phone, music and climate controls. There’s no navigation (and panoramic sunroof), however.

    Aside from the earlier-mentioned adaptive cruise control, safety kit includes seven airbags (front, thorax, curtain and driver knee) – which is two less than the Australian Mondeo, which features inflatable rear seatbelts to make it an airbag count of nine – as well as ABS, EBD, ESC, traction control, hill launch assist and Isofix mount points.

    The Malaysian Mondeo also comes equipped with Lane Keeping Alert + Aid, and LKA is the only item in the arsenal of Safety Pack items to feature here – no BLIS and lane departure warning, nor is there the Active City Stop, enhanced Active Park Assist or Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection seen on higher-spec Australian models.

    As previously mentioned, the Mondeo EcoBoost will be available in four colours locally, and these are Tectonic Silver, Frozen White, Panther Black and Ruby Red. At the preview in BSC, a Frozen White unit is on static display duty at the concourse, while two demonstrator mules (one Ruby Red, the other a Tectonic Silver example) are available for test drives, running on trade plates.

    The course at the Bangsar showcase isn’t very long, essentially being a large loop around the area, but it does provide enough in the way of a quick impression of the car, and there really are no surprises in store if you’re at all familiar with the workings of the old one. As before, the Mondeo feels very drivable, the EcoBoost continuing to provide a lot of shine in both pull and response.

    The steering is informative, and there’s every suggestion that this one will continue its predecessor’s high levels of engagement in terms of driving dynamics when speeds progress beyond city driving scope levels.

    Seating comfort is likewise positive, as is switchgear ergonomics. The interior is definitely an advancement over the fourth-gen CD345’s in terms of presentation and appeal – the immediate standout is the instrument cluster as well as the eight-inch SYNC 2 screen. Not enough time to really try out the ease of use of the system, so that’ll have to wait for the standard test drive when the time comes.

    The suspension remains firm-ish though, and the low to mid-speed levels and road conditions of the course simply amplify the feedback coming across – Euro fans will love the nuggety feel coming off the tarmac, but those unused to such a depiction might find the Mondeo’s ride nature a tad hard. Those into visual appeal might also find the 17-inchers rather small for the car, given its bulk.

    The estimated RM203,800 price bandied about earlier still stands, but the final price will be confirmed when the car is launched later this month. The Mondeo EcoBoost will come with a three-year/100,000 km warranty (and not as previously mentioned) as well as a three year/60,000 km free service package.

     
  • New Porsche Boxster Spyder to debut at NYIAS 2015

    New-Porsche-Spyder-14

    Porsche will be pulling the wraps off its new Boxster Spyder at the 2015 New York International Auto Show. The new addition will top the 981 Boxster range and offer a “traditional sports-car driving experience but with contemporary performance,” says Porsche.

    Like the previous-gen Boxster Spyder, the classic fabric roof is opened and closed by hand, and it’s only available with a good ol’ manual transmission. It’s for purists, and they will also like the 20 mm lower sports suspension, brakes taken from the 911 Carrera and more direct steering.

    The lightest yet most powerful Boxster is moved by a 3.8 litre flat-six with 375 hp, enough for a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 4.5 seconds. Top speed is 290 km/h. Radio and air con are not standard to save weight, but one can tick those boxes at no extra cost. Porsche Communication Management (PCM) is a cost option.

    New-Porsche-Spyder-1

    Looks good, doesn’t it? The Boxster Spyder’s front and rear ends are from the new and hardcore Cayman GT4, and the roadster has two prominent streamlined bulges that extend down along the long rear lid behind the headrests, a tribute to the 718 Spyder from the 60s.

    The interior of the new car creates an atmosphere that “elicits a feeling of pure driving pleasure” more so than in any other Boxster, Zuffenhausen claims. The driver and passenger sit in light sports bucket seats with large side supports, while the new steering wheel with a diameter of just 360 mm adds to the mid-engine roadster’s impression of agility.

    The Boxster Spyder is very desirable, but here a more realistic alternative, in price if not local availability.

     
 

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