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  • Honda CB650F, Kawasaki Z900 ABS, Triumph 765S, Yamaha MT-09 – which RM50k bike is best for you?

    Many readers have asked the author to conduct comparison tests for various motorcycle segments, comparing like for like and to enable better informed purchase decisions. It is not as easy as you think it might be to do such a thing.

    Availability of review bikes, shooting schedules and having enough riders are all criteria that have to be fulfilled. Additionally, some distributors are reluctant to have their bikes put through a direct comparison with the competition.

    However, at, we pride ourselves on fairness and accuracy in reporting, without fear or favour. With that in mind, we recently had a recently had a perfect storm of motorcycles coming together in one place at one time.

    With the selection of bikes we had in hand, the author had the idea of answering the question, “what can you get, in Malaysia, if you had RM50,000 to spend on a naked sports motorcycle?” We disregarded power ratings, engine size, equipment specifications and only held to that hard number.

    As it happened, we had on hand the Kawasaki Z900 SE, the Triumph 765S, the Yamaha MT-09 and the Honda CBR650F. All these bikes can be purchased, retail, at or below RM50,000 excluding road tax, insurance and registration and we put them through the paces to see what you get for your money.

    Read the rest of the RM50,000 motorcycle comparo after the jump.

  • Build electric car plant in Pasir Gudang – Che Zakaria

    Permas assemblyman Datuk Che Zakaria Mohd Salleh said he plans to submit a proposal to Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian for the building of two new facilities, the first being a modern garbage disposal plant, and the other an electric car factory in Pasir Gudang.

    According to Bernama, Che Zakaria said the proposed electric car factory would be built with technology from China and Japan. “We are still looking for a suitable site for the proposed electric car factory,” he told the publication. However, no specific brand or company has been mentioned.

    Currently, he said the paperworks, which include research findings, have all been compiled. The next step is to present it to the MB. The assemblyman said that the factories are projected to fulfil employment needs of those residing within the vicinity of Pasir Gudang.

    “The building will take after examples set by similar facilities in other countries, and this will help us identify the best methods of execution and ensure that they are suitable for the Pasir Gudang environment,” adding that the project will “indirectly attract investors to our area, thus making sure that the residents here will have job opportunities and a source of income.

    Che Zakaria explained that the application to build the factories were submitted last year, but was put on hold since Pakatan Harapan took over office post-GE14. “It is my duty and our responsibility to provide the best to the rakyat and make sure that the residents in this area have good careers,” he said.

    Presently, the only automotive assembly plant in Pasir Gudang is China Auto Manufacturers (CAM), which produces commercial vehicles. The next nearest facility is Oriental Assemblers that’s located in Tampoi, Johor, which assembles Chery vehicles. What are your thoughts on this, dear readers?

  • Volkswagen and Ford announce strategic alliance – partnership to develop a range of commercial vehicles

    Strategic alliances are becoming more common these days, and why not? Sharing expertise, tech and build makes a whole lot of sense from a cost and efficiency point-of-view, and the more heads there are, the more that can be gleaned. Well, that’s the thought, at least.

    The latest one that has been announced will see Volkswagen and Ford working together – the automakers have signed a MoU towards exploring potential projects across a number of areas. One of these will be the development of a range of commercial vehicles, a segment which Ford stated recently is set to play a big part in its North American product portfolio by 2020.

    Currently, Volkswagen’s commercial division has the Transporter T6, while Ford has a Transit range – no details were mentioned as to what exactly will come about, but the companies say the new range of products will be aimed at better serving the evolving needs of customers. According to some news reports, electric vans look to be a strong possibility.

    The automakers say that the projects that will come about as a result of the alliance are targeted at strengthening each company’s competitiveness, but the partnership will not involve any equity arrangements or cross ownership stakes. They added that updates and additional details will be announced as discussions progress.

  • BMW M’sia appoints Regas Premium Sabah as dealer

    BMW Group Malaysia today appointed Regas Premium Sabah as its newest dealer representative for BMW, MINI and BMW Motorrad brands in the state of Sabah.

    BMW Group Malaysia MD and CEO Harald Hoelzl said that Sabah currently contributes over 500 units to the premium segment in the country annually and has the potential to double over the next five years. “Last year, we experienced an 18% growth in our deliveries in Sabah in comparison to 2016 which really demonstrates the potential in the state.”

    Regas Premium Sabah is a joint venture between TM Vision Auto Services, a subsidiary of Tan Brothers Machinery Company (TBMC) group of companies and Regas Premium Auto, which operates BMW dealerships in Sarawak. Regas Premium Auto is the state’s authorised dealership for BMW i, and last year established the first BMW i public charging facility in East Malaysa at CityOne Megamall Kuching.

    Regas Premium Sabah is taking over FM Autohaus’ Kota Kinabalu BMW dealership. It will operate in the existing 53,500 sq ft 4S facility on Jalan Penampang from July 1. BMW Group Malaysia currently has a network of 20 BMW, 8 MINI and nine BMW Motorrad dealerships nationwide.

  • Polestar 1 – use of carbon-fibre saves up to 230 kg!

    The upcoming Polestar 1’s extensive use of carbon-fibre has been detailed, with the Swedish plug-in hybrid sports car said to use carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) for most body parts, potentially contributing to a weight saving of 230 kg!

    According to CarAdvice, CFRP will be used to make the bonnet, boot lid, side panels, doors and the entire roof structure. The ‘dragonfly’ component sitting between the middle of the floor and the rear construction will also be made from the same lightweight material. CFRP is lighter, but stronger than steel.

    Polestar’s head of product creation, Christian Samson said, “when you combine this strengthened framework with the super-strong body and roof structure, you get a stiff and communicative chassis which translates driver input into superb driving characteristics.” The 1 will also get a panoramic roof featuring a huge glasshouse. With CFRP, the glass panels will help create a “truly panoramic view.”

    To recap, the Polestar 1 that was unveiled last October will be equipped with an ‘Electric Performance Hybrid’ drivetrain, featuring a Drive-E 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine that drives the front wheels, plus a 46 hp/150 Nm integrated starter generator (ISG). Two electric motors making 109 hp each will be tasked to drive the rear wheels, and the motors will draw power from three battery packs totalling 34 kWh. Torque vectoring is present as well.

    Its total output is 600 hp and 1,000 Nm of torque, but exactly how quickly it will sprint from zero to 100 km/h remains unknown (word is it’ll be under 4.0 seconds) for now. However, Polestar did say the 1 is capable of travelling up to 150 km on pure electric power alone. The launch model sits on 21-inch wheels with 275/30 tyres shod up front and wider 295/30 for the rear.

    Production of the car will take place at the purpose-built Polestar Production Centre in Chengdu, China. The company has already started taking pre-orders for the car, the price of which is projected to start around 130,000 euros (RM600k). The 1 will make its ‘dynamic debut’ at the upcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed that’s scheduled to take place from July 12 to 15.

    Following the 1, Polestar will begin work on the 2, which will be the first battery-electric vehicle (BEV) from the Volvo Car Group. Production of the 2 will start in 2019, where it will be exported to other markets to rival the Tesla Model 3. After that is the Polestar 3 pure-electric SUV, to up against the Tesla Model X. A total of five fully electric Polestars or Volvo-branded vehicles will be launched between 2019 and 2021.

    GALLERY: Polestar 1

  • Genesis, Kia and Hyundai top J.D Power quality study

    Global market research firm J.D Power has released the results for its 2018 Initial Quality Study (IQS), a US-based survey which measures initial car quality by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the first 90 days of ownership.

    This year, the survey found that initial quality has improved generally, and the new industry average score is 93 PP100 – a four point improvement than in 2017 (97 PP100). Since it’s a study measuring number of problems per sample size, the lower the score, the higher the quality.

    Interestingly, the Genesis brand ranked highest in overall initial quality with a score of 68. Kia comes in second with 72 and Hyundai in third with 74. This is the first time in US history that three Korean brands are at the top of the overall ranking, and it is the fourth consecutive year that Kia is the highest-ranking mass market brand.

    Porsche and Ford took fourth and fifth with 79 and 81 respectively. Towards the bottom of the list are Mitsubishi (111), Subaru (115) and Volvo (122), whereas Jaguar and Land Rover come in last with a score of 148 and 160 respectively. Click on the scoring chart below to see the full list.

    Click to enlarge

    The study also found Mazda to be the most-improved brand, with owners reporting 25 PP100 fewer problems than in 2017. Other brands with strong improvements include Mitsubishi (20 PP100 improvement), Cadillac (15 PP100 improvement), Infiniti (15 PP100 improvement), Hyundai (14 PP100 improvement) and Lexus (14 PP100 improvement).

    There’s also the plant quality awards category, in which scoring parameters are based solely on defects and malfunctions and exclude design-related problems. Toyota’s Yoshiwara plant in Japan, which produces the Lexus LX and Toyota Land Cruiser, received the platinum plant quality award for producing models with the fewest defects or malfunctions.

    Toyota Cambridge North plant (produces the Toyota Corolla) and Georgetown 3 plant (produces the Lexus ES) in Canada each receive the gold plant quality award in a tie for the Americas region. Meanwhile, BMW Group’s Dingolfing 02 plant in Germany, which produces the BMW 6 Series and BMW 7 Series, received the gold award for the Europe/Africa region.

    The J.D Power IQS study is based on responses from 75,712 purchasers and lessees of new 2018 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study, which was conducted from February to May 2018, was based on a 233-question battery organised into eight vehicle categories. Now, do you find the results surprising? What do you think? Let us know, below!

  • 2019 Jeep Renegade facelift – new engines, too cute

    The smallest Jeep has received a facelift, and it’s now cuter than ever. Introduced in 2014, the Jeep Renegade is unlike most 4x4s carrying the famous badge – jointly developed by a team of Italians and Americans, it’s based on Fiat’s Small Wide platform that also underpins the Fiat 500L, and is made in Italy at the Melfi SATA Plant in Basilicata for Europe.

    The B-segment SUV then became the first global Jeep model, with assembly at the GAC FCA plant in Guangzhou, China, and in Pernambuco, Brazil, for the South American market.

    The 2019 Jeep Renegade is boosted with more comprehensive safety equipment and up-to-date infotainment. There’s also a range of new three and four-cylinder downsized turbo petrol engines, which include a 1.0 triple with 120 hp/190 Nm and a 1.3 litre four-pot with 150 hp or 180 hp and 270 Nm of torque.

    The entry engine is paired with a six-speed manual while the 150 hp 1.3L comes with a DDCT (Dual Dry Clutch Transmission). Both are front-wheel drive. The 180 hp 1.3L is mated to a nine-speed torque converter automatic with available 4WD.

    The new modular engines are made entirely of aluminium for lightness (weight starts from 93 kg). The crankcase, developed in partnership with Teksid, is made of high-pressure die-cast aluminium alloy. Cast-in iron liners are used to increase structural robustness. They are 1.8 mm thick and coated on the outside with aluminium to create a “metallurgical bond” between liner and block. An architecture with bedplate was chosen as it offers the best balance of noise, vibrations, weight and structural performance, FCA says.

    For better efficiency, the new engines have a 70 mm bore with a stroke-to-bore ratio of 1.24 and a 10 mm crank offset. This forms a very compact combustion chamber to benefit thermal efficiency. A conrod-crank architecture with improved mechanical efficiency results in minimised friction. The third generation of Fiat’s MultiAir tech, which improves combustion efficiency by adjusting valve lift and timing, is debuting on this new engine series.

    Other highlights include direct fuel injection to maximise volumetric efficiency and a low-inertia turbocharger managed by an electrically controlled wastegate actuator, paired with a water-cooled supercharger module in the intake manifold to ensure quicker transient response.

    In the diesel camp lies the updated 1.6L (120 hp, 6MT or DDCT) and 2.0L (140 hp or 170 hp, with 6MT or 9AT) MultiJet II units, all with SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) and Euro 6/D compliance. There’s also NOx reduction through AdBlue injection (the underfloor passive SCR manages ammonia slip, continuing the reduction process) and particulate matter reduction, through regeneration management.

    The Renegade can be had with two 4WD systems (Jeep Active Drive and Jeep Active Drive Low), rear axle disconnect, Selec-Terrain traction control, Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control. The off-road Trailhawk trim best emphasises the 4×4’s off-road capabilities with maximum wheel articulation up to 205 mm and a ground clearance of up to 210 mm, plus a “Rock” mode in Selec-Terrain.

    The 2019 Renegade manages to look cuter than ever, yet unmistakably Jeep. The new front fascia sports a redesigned, cut-in silhouette seven-slot Jeep grille – similar to the new Wrangler – new headlamps and fog lamps. The roof bars are black on Longitude, Limited and Trailhawk models.

    The new headlamps with full-LED daytime running lights, high beam, low beam and fog lamps (optional on Limited and Trailhawk) enhance looks and safety – visibility is up by 50% compared to halogens and brightness is improved by 20% compared to xenons, Jeep says. The rear also features updated tail lamps with new LED light clusters, available on the Limited and Trailhawk. The light clusters feature an X pattern inspired by the Wrangler. Check out the gallery below to find surprise Easter egg details.

    Exterior changes are completed by new wheels. The new model year offers seven different wheel options, from 16- to 19-inch, with the latter introduced for the first time and exclusive to the Limited.

    Two “open-air roof systems” are available: a dual-pane electric sliding glass roof and My Sky, which has two lightweight panels that can be easily removed and stowed in the boot.

    Inside, the Renegade gets a new centre console, which now features a built-in smartphone holder, new cup holders and additional storage compartments, including a pocket for an iPad Mini or other small devices. Also new is the position of the additional USB port (now at the rear of the central armrest for easy rear passenger access). These solutions provide more than 1.2 liters of additional storage space. There are new bezels on the radio, vents, central tunnel and speakers.

    The Jeep can be had with five-inch, seven-inch or 8.4-inch NAV Uconnect touchscreen systems, which pack a more powerful processor with improved response capability. The top two variants come with a capacitive touchscreen with pinch and zoom capability and a customisable menu bar with ‘Drag and Drop’. It’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto friendly, too.

    Lastly, safety. The 2019 Renegade comes standard with Lane Sense Departure Warning-Plus (self corrects to keep you in lane) and Intelligent Speed Assist with Traffic Sign Recognition. Auto parking now gets out of parking spots automatically as well. Forward Collision Warning-Plus with Active Emergency Braking standard, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind-Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection are all available.

    In Europe, sales of the 2019 Jeep Renegade will start in September. In Russia, the Middle East and Africa, the refreshed small Jeep will be available from the end of 2018.

  • 2019 Volvo S60 revealed – petrol powertrains only, optional Polestar Engineered upgrade, up to 415 hp

    This is the new 2019 Volvo S60, which is making its launch debut alongside the reveal of Volvo’s first United States manufacturing plant in Charleston, South Carolina. As the sedan sibling to the V60 that was revealed earlier this year, the S60 will look to take on rivals like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.

    The S60 represents a few firsts for the Swedish carmaker, as it is the first Volvo model to be made in the US. Additionally, it is also the first Volvo not to be offered with a diesel engine as announced earlier, so petrol is the only path here.

    All powertrains, of which there are four of them, feature the brand’s 2.0 litre four-cylinder Drive-E engine and an Aisin-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission. The first of the bunch is the T5, which comes with a turbocharger to make 254 hp/350 Nm of torque that goes to the front wheels. Further up the notch is the T6 AWD that adds a supercharger to the mix for a total of 310 hp/400 Nm and comes coupled with an all-wheel drive system.

    Moving on, we arrive at the plug-in hybrid options, starting with the T6 Twin Engine AWD (340 hp/590 Nm) that is shared with the V60. Also offered is the T8 Twin Engine AWD with 390 hp/640 Nm, which can be enhanced to deliver 405 hp/670 Nm with the optional Polestar Engineered upgrade that is exclusive to the T8 powertrain.

    Those that opt for the Polestar route will also benefit from new wheels, upgraded brakes and suspension, plus a revised engine control unit. Keep in mind that power outputs for the US market are slightly different – T5 at 250 hp, T6 at 316 hp, T8 at 400 hp and T8 Polestar Engineered at 415 hp.

    Like the V60 and XC60, the new car rides on the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, so the company’s array of infotainment, safety and driver assistance systems are all present, including Sensus Connect, City Safety and IntelliSafe.

    Styling-wise, the S60 looks like a sportier version of the S90, recycling some of the cues used on the big sedan as well as the V60. At the front, we see the same face used on the V60 with an aggressive-looking bumper and six-point grille bearing the brand’s iron mark logo. This is flanked by the signature “Thor’s Hammer” LED DRLs that are part of the car’s headlamps.

    As with most Volvo models, there are a few trim packages to choose from, including the Momentum, Inscription and R-Design. The Momentum is identified by the vertical slats on the grille that are painted black along with the fog lamp surrounds; on the Inscription, these items gain a chrome finish instead.

    The R-Design package replaces the vertical slats for multiple flat pins instead, and the bumper is swapped out for one with an even wider lower intake. The new look also comes with smaller corner “inlets” for the fog lamps and a contrasting line that frames the lower apron and highlights the “fangs.”

    Moving to the rear, we see a near replication of the S90 with taillights that encroach further into the boot lid, although the ‘Volvo’ wording is placed above them and closer to the more pronounced lip spoiler. Further down, we see the reflectors/rear fog lamps followed by exhaust integrated into the bumper. On Momentum and Inscription cars, a thin strip links these two items, while the R-Design gets a sportier frame.

    On the inside, the S60 shares the same layout as the V60, with the infotainment screen taking its spot in the middle while being flanked by vertical air-con vents. To the left is the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and different steering wheels depending on the selected trim package.

    The centre console continues to host the gear lever, drive mode selector, electronic handbrake, engine start/stop switch, cup holders and an armrest with storage below it. This is again, identical to the V60, with different trims and seat types being applied depending on the selected package. Other notable items include an optional Bowers & Wilkins sound system and air-conditioning for rear passengers.

    What of T8-powered cars with the Polestar Engineered package then? Well, they are almost identical to the R-Design but there are now slats in place of the front fog lamps and there are Polestar badges at the front and rear of the car.

    The interior also sees the addition of a leather cushion for the driver’s knee and a redesigned armrest as a result. That’s not all because there’s also contrast stitching on the steering wheel, aluminium pedals, a crystal gear knob and gold seat belts to match the brake calipers on the outside.

    The S60 will be available via the brand’s Care by Volvo subscription service, whereby customers will only pay a flat monthly fee that covers the vehicle’s insurance and maintenance.

    GALLERY: 2019 Volvo S60 Inscription

    GALLERY: 2019 Volvo S60 R-Design

    GALLERY: 2019 Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered

    GALLERY: 2019 Volvo S60 chassis and crash testing

  • VIDEO: Mazda celebrates 40th anniversary of the RX-7

    The rotary engine is a fascinating – if polarising – powerplant configuration in automotive applications. Last year, Mazda marked 50 years of rotary engine development which saw the engine begin service in turbocharged, 13B form in the 1982 Cosmo RE Turbo with 187 hp.

    That twin-rotor engine is perhaps most famously applied in the RX-7, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Introduced in 1978, the first-generation RX-7 packed a 1.2 litre twin-rotor engine which produced 103 hp and was capable of up to 7,000 rpm. Codenamed FB, the original RX-7 sold over 470,000 units around the world, and the nameplate was critically acclaimed as well.

    Turbocharging made its debut in the now-iconic sports car in its second generation, though the FC was actually offered in both turbocharged and naturally-aspirated guises. For the North American market, outputs for both engine setups were 182 hp and 146 hp respectively, while turbocharged models in other markets produced 215 hp.

    Where the FC drew inspiration for its exterior from the Porsche 944, the FD that followed in 1992 was altogether more distinct, and remained in production until 2002. The 1.3 litre biturbo twin-rotor 13B engine grew in output from 252 hp to 280 hp when the car took its final bow, which saw special editions such as the Spirit R and Bathurst R.

    The coupe and rotary engine pairing most recently came together in the RX-Vision Concept, which was unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, and the sighting of a patent filing for a new rotary engine design followed soon after. Alas, the rotary has since been rumoured to assume range-extending duties only. Can fans of the distinct bwaap-bwaap-bwaap soundtrack live in hope of a rotary sports car revival?

  • AD: Do you know that using inferior spare parts in your vehicle can end up costing you more in the end?

    Vehicle servicing is an integral part of car ownership, and crucial when factory warranties end. With more and more owners opting to take their business to general workshops, it is important not to compromise on safety by using inferior parts.

    Aside from unknowingly ending up with fake products at the price of genuine parts, trying to save on what is necessary will likely have an impact on the performance of your car. If you are unlucky, both could end up costing you a lot in repair bills.

    In fact, changing only a faulty component instead of a whole system may cause the need for a subsequent return to do the same job, which will incur additional costs. In many cases, it is important to change all the related components within a system:

  • to optimise the performance and the lifespan of a part
  • to ensure safety
  • to keep running costs down
  • A mechanic may try to help you save money by offering to change a part without changing important related components that have been recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. This is where being armed with some basic knowledge helps – just as you would change an oil filter when doing an oil change and replace tyres in pairs or in a set of four, some parts need to be changed as a package.

    Numbered items are the wear and tear parts that should be ideally changed together in a service replacement

    This is especially so when it comes to belts used in vehicle engines. Changing just the belt itself is not the complete solution – other related components such as the belt tensioner, pulley, vibration damper, oil seals and even the water pump should all be replaced at the same time to ensure that you get the best optimum performance from each replacement part and safety.

    Ensuring that you are paying for an original item and going to the right workshop is also equally important. Counterfeit items have been on the rise lately, and timing belts are no exception – a fake belt can lead to premature engine failure or a complete engine rebuild, which is very costly. It is beneficial to take the time to do some research.You should not just leave it to the mechanic. Sometimes, even an experienced mechanic can find it challenging to spot an inferior or substandard part.

    Realising this, global OE supplier Gates has come up with a way to ensure that buyers will be able to identify its genuine products. The company, which offers more than 500 timing component kits covering a broad range of European, Japanese and Korean applications, recently launched a new security label with a unique QR code to help both consumers and workshops identify that a product is genuine.

    Gates Timing Components Kit box with security label

    Gates covers all automotive part requirements for both import and domestic vehicle models. As an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for virtually every vehicle manufacturer worldwide, you can be assured that the components supplied by Gates are produced based on OE specifications and have better service life performance.

    In order to help users identify the right part numbers for a specific vehicle, Gates introduced the Gates Finder mobile app – available for both Apple and Android users. With the app, users will be able to initiate searches based on the vehicle make, model and Gates part number, by vehicle segment or by OE cross reference.

    Ultimately though, it is important to educate yourself and to learn how to identify authentic parts to make sure you do not pay more for less. It is advisable to read up on what is needed for a scheduled maintenance routine, to look for a reputable brand in which you can authenticate its offerings as genuine, and to talk to your mechanic on what the best course of action is. You should not be afraid to ask, because it is your money.

    If you have enquiries or need more information about this article, visit Gates’ Facebook page.

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Last Updated 21 Jun 2018


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