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  • Infiniti Q50 BTCC racer to support injured paratroopers


    The Infiniti Q50 may be a fairly sporting sedan – especially in Eau Rouge guise – but it still seems just a bit too luxe for racing duty, doesn’t it? That’s certainly not how Infiniti sees it, however, as it prepares to race the car in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) next season. For a charitable cause, too.

    To compete in the top-flight British racing series, the company has fed the Q50 with a concentrated dose of steroids to bring it up to Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) specifications. It looks absolutely hardcore as a result, with a massive front splitter, bulging wheel arches and an enormous rear wing.

    No specifications were announced, but NGTC specifications include a 2.0 litre turbocharged and direct-injected engine developing in excess of 300 hp, as well as an Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox.


    The “charitable cause” bit is hinted at in the team’s name – Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing, a collaboration between Infiniti and Support Our Paras, the official charity of the Parachute Regiment in the British Army. The team is headed by team principal Derek Palmer, and the Q50 BTCC will be driven by his son Derek Palmer Jr. as well as Richard Hawken.

    The non-for-profit team aims to raise awareness for the organisation, employing a number of injured paratroopers to prepare the cars for race weekends as well as maintaining them throughout the season. In the long term, Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing hopes to develop and train an injured paratrooper to race for the team in a third car in the future.

    “This is something totally different,” said Support Our Paras director of operations Colin Smith “It’s employing injured paratroopers and they can eventually make a career out of this; that has never happened before.”

    The Q50 made its local debut in August – read our launch report and review of the Q50S Hybrid.

  • GALLERY: Hyundai Genesis 3.8 GDI V6 in Malaysia


    The second-generation Hyundai Genesis – first previewed in Malaysia last August – was put on display at the recent Hyundai Experience Car Fest 2014 (both in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru). We took the chance to photograph the near-five metre-long sedan in detail, both inside and out.

    This particular left-hand drive example has a 3.8 litre V6 GDI engine that develops 315 PS at 6,000 rpm and 397 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm. The direct injection mill is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is the largest of three V6 GDI engines available for the Genesis (others being 3.0 and 3.3 litre units).

    If it looks massive, that’s because it is. The rear-wheel drive Genesis measures in at 4,990 mm long, 1,890 mm wide and 1,480 mm tall. Its long 3,010 mm wheelbase sits squarely in between that of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2,874 mm) and long-wheelbase S-Class (3,165 mm). Just to compare, the D-segment Hyundai Sonata has a 2,795 mm wheelbase.


    And doesn’t it look good? The Genesis adopts Hyundai’s new ‘Fluidic Sculpture 2.0’ design philosophy, pairing a single-frame hexagonal grille up front with a complex, sculptural rear end. There isn’t a single Hyundai logo on it, as it wears its own ‘Genesis’ crest both inside and out.

    The spec sheet provided by Hyundai-Sime Darby (in the gallery below) lists 18-inch wheels, Electronic Control Suspension, Smart Cruise Control, xenon headlamps, keyless entry and a panoramic roof. Also included are Around View Monitor, Smart Park Assist System, tyre pressure monitoring system, head-up display and a 14-speaker Lexicon sound system.

    On the safety front, the Hyundai Genesis boasts electronic stability programme, Advanced Traction Cornering Control, Pre-safety Belt, blind-spot detection and nine airbags (including rear side bags). Just recently, it achieved the highest score in ANCAP’s 21-year history (36.88 points out of a possible 37), along with a maximum five-star crash safety rating.

    Having displayed it numerous times in Malaysia, it’s pretty much a given that Hyundai-Sime Darby plans to bring this flagship model here. When, and more importantly, how much? You’ll know more when we do.

  • Daimler sells stake in Tesla Motors – reports indicate growing rivalry as electric car demands soar globally

    B Class Electric Drive-05

    In a report by Automotive News Europe, Daimler AG has made the decision to sell its 4% stake in Tesla Motors, an electric car maker from America. The company bought into Tesla in 2009 to gain access to the latest battery technology.

    Industry observers are indicating that both companies now saw each other as potential rivals as the electric car market begins to heat up. “There is a difference between working together and partnership. In our view the ties between the two companies have loosened over time,” states analysts at ISI Research.

    In an official statement issued by Daimler, the company says that cooperation deals are still active, stating that shareholding was not required for both companies to continue working together. Tesla has yet to comment on the sale and future projects between itself and Daimler.

    Tesla Motors currently provide the technology required by Daimler to manufacture electric variants of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and Smart ForTwo. Back in 2009, Daimler acquired a bigger stake in Tesla Motors, which eventually decreased to 4% prior to the sale.

    Below is Daimler AG’s official statement:

    Daimler restructures cooperation with Tesla

    Daimler AG (stock exchange symbol: DAI) has reorganized its cooperation with Tesla Motors Inc. In this context, Daimler has terminated the share-price hedge it initiated in 2013 and has sold its stake in Tesla of approximately 4%. The cooperation between the partners on the automotive projects is unaffected. Development work for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is completed, the partnership with Tesla remains in place.

    “We pursue our strategy for emission-free driving consequently. Electric vehicles are one component of this roadmap. In Tesla we do have a bold partner. Together we launched the B-class Electric Drive successfully in the United States this summer. In November, the B-Class Electric Drive will be launched in Europe as well. We are convinced that this powerful electric vehicle for every day use will appeal to a lot of customers,” stated Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Furthermore, the batteries for the first generation of the smart fortwo electric drive had been from Tesla. The two-seater with electric drive is one of the best-selling electric cars in Germany. “Our partnership with Tesla is very successful and will be continued”, added Zetsche.

    Bodo Uebber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Finance & Controlling and Financial Services: “We are extremely satisfied with the development of our investment in Tesla, but it is not necessary for our partnership and cooperation. For this reason, we have decided to divest of our shares. This will also allow Tesla to broaden its investor base.”

    The sale of Daimler’s stake in Tesla will result in a cash inflow of around$780 million, which will be used to strengthen Daimler’s operational business. The impact on EBIT for the year 2014 is approximately in the same amount.

    “We have supported Tesla as a startup company for many years and have learned a lot from Tesla. At the same time, Tesla was able to profit from our automotive expertise. The cooperation with Tesla is one component of our activities in the field of electric mobility. It optimally complements our involvement in Deutsche ACCUmotive,” explained Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

    Daimler has the industry’s biggest portfolio of electric vehicles, from cars and vans to buses and light trucks: smart electric drive, Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-CELL, B-Class Electric Drive, B-Class F-CELL, SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive, Vito E-CELL, Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid, Fuso Canter E-CELL and Freightliner Custom Chassis MT E-CELL All-Electric. Systematic hybridization is also a fixed element of Daimler’s powertrain strategy. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz sold more automobiles with hybrid drive than all other German manufacturers combined. The focus will continue to be on plug-in hybrids in the coming years. By the year 2017, Mercedes-Benz Cars will launch ten new plug-in hybrid models in all market segments.

    Daimler initially acquired a 9.1% interest in Tesla in May 2009. 40% of that investment was transferred to Aabar Investments PJSC in the context of a joint strategic project in July 2009. Tesla has been listed on the stock exchange since the end of June 2010. As a result of capital increases at Tesla, Daimler’s stake in the company decreased to around 4%, without affecting the two companies’ strategic cooperation or joint development projects.

  • BMW M2 Coupe could draw up to 400 hp from new turbocharged 3.0 litre six-cylinder engine – report


    A treasure trove of details regarding the upcoming BMW M2 Coupe (Theophilus Chin renderings shown) have surfaced, courtesy of Autocar UK. The hot two-door is reportedly set to pack a turbocharged 3.0 litre six-cylinder motor under its bonnet.

    However, it won’t be the M3 and M4‘s N55-derived S55 lump – M division boss Friedrich Nitschke has told the publication that the M2’s powerplant is a newly-developed unit with the S57 designation, and that it’s based on the upcoming B57 engine that’s set to first power the next-gen 7 Series.

    Plans exist for this S57 engine to serve petrol-powered M Performance models in the future, and according to Nitschke, it can produce up to 400 hp in production guise – over 60 hp up on the limited-edition 1 Series M Coupe and over 70 hp more than the not-quite-M M235i.


    “Four hundred is the magic number. With forced induction it is no trouble to achieve this, but we have to make sure it doesn’t get too close to the power level of the new M4,” Nitschke told Autocar UK. The M4 and M3 have 431 hp and 550 Nm of twist at their disposal.

    A standard six-speed manual or optional seven-speed M DCT with shift paddles will be offered. Naturally, there’ll be a start/stop system, brake energy recuperation and thermal energy recovery, says the report.

    M division sources indicate that given a DCT, the M2 Coupe will be able to complete the century sprint in 4.4 seconds, while V-max is a limited 250 km/h. Power will go to the back through an electronic limited-slip diff with torque vectoring, but Autocar UK reveals that M division is mulling an xDrive all-wheel drive version for certain markets later on, and that xDrive versions of other M cars could also be offered in the future.


    Thanks to some lightweight parts that debuted on the M3 and M4, including a carbon-fibre strut brace in the engine bay and composite plastic panels, the M2 Coupe is slated to weigh considerably less than 1,530 kg.

    Our European spyshots reveal that the M2 Coupe will sport unique bumpers front and back, aggressive-looking side skirts, widened wings and quad tailpipes, and Autocar UK says 19-inch wheels will be standard. With its classic squat and compact coupe proportions, it should look a treat.

    The M2 Coupe should share the Leipzig production line with its tamer sister, the 2 Series Coupe. Autocar UK expects an almost-production ready concept to show up at September 2015’s Frankfurt show, and the real deals to hit Continental showrooms between late-2015 and early-2016. Of course, later on, there should be a wind-in-your-hair variant as well.

  • Lotus Exige S Automatic unveiled: 6-speed self-shifter


    Fancy the hardcore 345 hp/400 Nm bantamweight Lotus Exige S but not hardcore enough to row the manual gearbox yourself? Well, the British sports car maker has just the answer with a new self-shifting variant – the Lotus Exige S Automatic.

    The new model basically swaps the six-speed do-it-yourself transmission hanging off the 3.5 litre supercharged Toyota-sourced V6 with a six-speed torque converter automatic, similar to the Intelligent Precision Shift (IPS) ‘box on the Evora. Steering wheel paddle shifters come as standard, and selecting Sport or Race mode delivers “optimised gear selection and response” to go with the changes on the rest of the car.

    A limp-wristed gearbox for such a focused track car, you say? The Exige S Automatic is still undergoing final testing, but it’s already as fast as its manual-equipped counterpart around the company’s Hethel test track, and is actually 0.1 seconds quicker from 0-100 km/h at 3.9 seconds.

    “By introducing a paddle-shift, we have expanded the Exige product range to make it more accessible to customers worldwide,” said Group Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales. “Now, customers who are more accustomed to two pedals and automatic transmissions can enjoy the unbelievable performance and handling of the Exige S without compromise.”

    The automatic gearbox will be available in all countries currently selling the regular Exige S, with sales starting in January as a £2,000 (RM10,500) cost option in the UK. Over here, the manual Exige S retails at RM405,777 for the coupé and RM410,777 for the Roadster, and you can expect to pay a hefty premium over these prices for one less pedal.

    Lotus Exige S

    Lotus Exige S Roadster

  • SPIED: Mercedes-Benz C 200 BlueTEC in Malaysia


    Now here’s something we didn’t expect – reader Ong Kok Tsin just sent us a picture of a W205 Mercedes-Benz C 200 BlueTEC parked at Cycle & Carriage Jalan Tun Razak.

    A diesel C-Class isn’t exactly a shocker – MBM did bring in a fleet of the W204 C 220 CDI recently – but this particular engine variant caught us by surprise.

    While we were predicting that the 170 hp/400 Nm, 2.1 litre C 220 BlueTEC would reach our shores sometime in the future to take on the BMW 320d, this C 200 BlueTEC is powered by a Renault-sourced 1.6 litre four cylinder turbodiesel engine with 136 hp and 300 Nm of torque. It should be paired to the same 7G-Tronic Plus transmission found in other W205 models.

    This base diesel variant will join the Australian market in the first quarter of 2015. As the rest of our W205 range mirrors Australia’s rather closely, you can expect the C 200 BlueTEC to arrive here officially within the same timeframe.

    Earlier this month, MBM added the RM339,888 C 250 AMG Line to the Malaysian lineup, which also includes the RM285,888 C 200 Avantgarde and RM 314,888 C 250 Exclusive. Meanwhile, we already know that the Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid will arrive here soon, as a tax-free CKD model. Exciting times ahead for MBM, eh?

    W205 Mercedes-Benz C 250 AMG Line

    W205 Mercedes-Benz C 250 Exclusive
    W205 Mercedes-Benz C 200 Avantgarde

  • Honda executives to take pay cut in wake of fifth Jazz hybrid recall; first-ever quality arbiter appointed

    honda-jazz-hybrid-yorii 009

    In the wake of a series of recalls for the Honda Jazz in just a year’s time, Honda has appointed the company’s first-ever executive solely dedicated to quality reformation, according to Automotive News Europe. The latest one involves the petrol-powered Jazz and N-WGN models as well as hybrid variants of the Jazz and Vezel. A total of five recalls have now been issued by the company.

    Senior managing officer Koichi Fukuo will now be in charge of overseeing the charge to improve slipping quality problems that have plagued the company in recent times. Apart from that, Koichi has also been appointed as the vice president, effective from November 1, of Honda R&D Co. – a semi-autonomous division.

    The issues were cited by Honda as “noise-related defects” that affected the earlier mentioned models. A total of 183 cars overseas will also be recalled for the same problem, however, Fit a.k.a. the Jazz, models in America are not affected. Earlier recalls were of a more significant issue, however.


    A malfunction in the power control unit and the ignition coil due to electrical interference could, in a worst case scenario, cause the engine to shut down involuntarily. The total number of affected units amount to 426,076 – of which, 251 from abroad are involved. Thankfully, no reports on any injuries stemming from this issue has been reported.

    President Takanobu Ito (pictured above) will take a 20% cut of his salary for the next three months. Following in his footsteps are chairman Fumihiko Ike – who will take 10% out, and executive vice president, Tetsuo Iwamura who will surrender 10% as well for the next three months. All in all, a total of 12 Honda executives will stand responsible with a cut from their salaries.

    As a result of this, product delays are expected with production of the Honda HR-V at its new plant in Mexico scheduled to undergo a major quality reviewing process. “We are doing very strict checks on quality worldwide, and that is why we are taking time to launch models,” said Honda spokeswoman Yuka Abe.

  • Audi A4 recalled – 850,000 units over airbag issue


    A global recall of about 850,000 units of the Audi A4 has just been issued, over a software glitch that may prevent the front airbags from deploying in a crash. Models affected are A4s – sedan, Avant and allroad variants included – built from November 2011 to earlier this month.

    Autonews USA reports that of the total sum of affected cars, 250,000 units are in China, 150,000 in Germany and 100,000 in the United States. No regional breakdown of the remaining 350,000 units is available as of yet. We have contacted Malaysian distributor Euromobil to see if any local cars are affected, and will update this story when we receive any new information.

    This issue is not related to the defective Takata airbag debacle, and merely needs a quick software update to solve (about 20 minutes, claims Audi USA). Production of new A4 models at Audi’s two German plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm has been updated with this software fix as of last week.

  • VIDEO: Second-generation BMW X5 M and X6 M teased in new ‘Paparazzi Challenge’ clip

    The new BMW X5 M and X6 M based on the new F15/F16 series SUVs have been teased in this new clip released by the BMW M division entitled “Paparazzi Challenge”.

    We’re not sure what the video actually means to say though. From what we can gather, BMW is trying to say it doesn’t think much of spy photographers (watch a BMW test driver behave like an ass towards a spy photographer here), and these two second-generation M SUVs have very bright LED headlamps?

    We’re expecting a revised version of the 4.4 litre twin turbo V8 from the first-generation cars to feature under the hood, but will these SUVs use a torque converter automatic or a dual-clutch automatic?

    Have a look at the galleries below for spy photos of the new M SUVs snapped by spy photographers. We thought they were going to debut at this year’s Paris Motor Show but they didn’t, so perhaps at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November then?

  • Nissan Serena S-Hybrid Facelift open for booking – now CKD with LED headlamps, below RM140k


    The Nissan Serena S-Hybrid facelift, which we spotted in Malaysia in August, is now open for booking by Edaran Tan Chong Motor, as advertised on the Nissan Malaysia official website. The facelifted Serena S-Hybrid made its world debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

    ETCM launched the pre-facelift Serena S-Hybrid here in July 2013, brought in as a CBU import from Japan under the now expired CBU hybrid tax incentives. Now that hybrid incentives are reserved for locally-assembled models, the Serena S-Hybrid facelift will roll out from Tan Chong’s Serendah plant.

    No change in drivetrain, so the FL carries over the MR20DD 2.0 litre engine with 147 PS at 5,600 rpm and 210 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. The direct injection twin-CVTC unit is paired to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT gearbox with Adaptive Shift Control.

    An Idling Stop System shuts down the engine when idle, and restarts in 0.3 seconds after the brake is released. The official 15.2 km/l fuel consumption in Japan’s JC08 test cycle remains.

    There are changes to the kit list, though. From what we can see for now, the MPV (in Highway Star trim, as before) will come with LED headlamps with LED signature lamps. The latter isn’t full blown DRLs, but positioning lamps. The LED headlamps are a highly visible upgrade from the current reflector halogens. At the back, the LED tail lamps have a new pattern.

    New face aside, the 16-inch rim design you see here is fresh. Speaking of wheels, the CKD facelift gets a space saver spare tyre, which is more reassuring compared to the the CBU’s repair kit.

    Click to enlarge images

    Other kit highlights include twin powered sliding doors, i-key keyless entry and push start, cruise control, leather wrapped steering and auto air-con. All are present in the pre-facelift.

    However, now there’s a Premium Highway Star trim level that adds on a 10.1-inch roof-mounted LCD screen, 6.5-inch “multimedia navigator” with rear view camera/DVD player/Bluetooth, roof spoiler, V-Kool Elite window tint, combination leather seats and door visors to the standard car.

    Safety wise, it’s status quo with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and two airbags. Isofix child seat anchors are available on the second row chairs, which are “captain seats” that can be moved inwards (stuck together) for better third row access. The Serena is advertised as an eight-seater, and there are eight three-point seatbelts.


    Estimated prices are “below RM140k” for the Highway Star and “below RM150k” for the Premium Highway Star. To compare, the CBU pre-facelift car was priced at RM149,500 (on-the-road with insurance) without the LED headlamps, so there’s savings to be had.

    Check out our Serena S-Hybrid launch report for more info on the MPV, as well as a big gallery of pics showing various seat configurations. The launch is not far away now, so stay tuned for more.

    Nissan Serena S-Hybrid facelift at Tokyo 2013

    Pre-facelift Nissan Serena S-Hybrid


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