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  • 2016 smart fortwo cabrio revealed, debuts in Frankfurt

    smart fortwo cabrio 2015

    The 2016 smart fortwo cabrio has been revealed in full prior to its physical debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Described as “three cars in one”, the topless sibling to the 2015 smart fortwo will be available for bookings from mid-November 2015 before reaching showroom floors in February 2016.

    “Clearly recognisable” as a smart product, the new fortwo cabrio retains the now-familiar honeycomb front grille, rhombic head and tail lights while adopting a narrower B-pillar compared to its fixed-roof twin. Also, the tridion safety cell has been said to feature a more “progressive” outlook to allow for a “an even sportier and more forward-focused” silhouette.

    As expected, the biggest different is the fabric soft-top that retracts at the touch of a button to transform the car from coupe to convertible in 12 seconds. Said electrically-operated roof comes in three different colours – blue denim, red or black – with a heated glass rear screen.

    smart fortwo cabrio 2015

    Some of you might still be wondering why smart has decided to call it three cars rolled into one – after all, it’s either coupe or convertible, right? Well, removing the side roof bars turns the car into a full-blown convertible while keeping it on allows one to drive a car with a “large sliding canvas roof.”

    Said roof bars can be stowed away inside a storage compartment behind the tailgate so one doesn’t have to scramble back home in case the weather turns nasty. The 2016 smart fortwo cabrio measures in at 2,690 mm long, 1,660 mm wide and stands at a height of 1,550 mm.

    Under the skin, the smart fortwo cabrio is powered by a choice of two rear-mounted, three-cylinder petrol engines – a naturally-aspirated mill with 71 hp and 91 Nm of torque or a more powerful turbocharged unit with 90 hp and 135 Nm of twist. Both engines can be paired to either a five-speed manual or twinamic six-speed double-clutch transmission – drive goes to the rear wheels.

    smart fortwo cabrio 2015

    Performance figures for the normally-aspirated engine include a century sprint time of 14.9 seconds (15.5 for the twinamic) and a top speed of 151 km/h. The more powerful turbo’ed unit takes 10.8 seconds for the same sprint (11.7 with twinamic). Fuel consumption is rated at 4.3 and 4.2 l/100 km, respectively.

    Inside, it’s as per smart fortwo coupe as well. Three trims are on offer – passion, prime and proxy – with customers being offered the choice to spec on additional toys and gadgets. The list includes smartphone integration with MirrorLink or an Urban style package (black wheel arch linings and lowering kit). A wind deflector is also offered as a cost option.

  • Lada Vesta Cross Concept unveiled at 2015 Moscow Off-Road Show – doesn’t it look totally amazing?

    Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 10.52.19 AM

    Do you remember the time Jeremy Clarkson destroyed a Lada? Or perhaps when Top Gear tuned a Lada – with the help of Lotus – back in the day. Well, those days are a distant memory, with the company unveiling the Vesta Cross Concept.

    The study made its debut at the Moscow Off-Road Show 2015, and the vehicle supposedly previews both the production Vesta estate model and a more rugged version.

    This particular model has raised ground clearance and black linings. The front façade shares the characteristics of the sedan, and the rear has its similarities too. The interior also seems to be from the sedan as well.

    Reports suggest that the Lada Vesta Cross Concept is inspired by the “Lada B” platform that was developed via a collaboration with AvtoVaz’s parent company, Renault-Nissan. Apparently there are rumours that this vehicle is based on the Renault-Nissan B architecture that is used by models like the Micra, Juke, Dacia Logan and Datsun Go.

    It’s speculated that the Lada Vesta sedan will enter production by the end of September, and the Vesta estate is expected to launch next year, with a Vesta Cross version arriving later on. In terms of powerplants, its anyone’s guess really. We also have a video of the Lada Vesta Cross Concept in all its glory too. Watch it below.

  • MEGA GALLERY: Mazda MX-5 in Europe, plus e-mag


    Mazda Europe has released a huge 150-image photoset of the new fourth-generation ND Mazda MX-5 – which has just been launched in Malaysia, priced at RM219,999 on-the-road without insurance – out and about in various locales around the Continent, and we’ve gathered them up after the jump for your enjoyment. If you’ve wanted to get a full, proper look at the roadster, here’s your chance.

    We’re rather big fans of the new sports car, so much so that we just can’t wait to have a go in it. That’s no surprise, really, as Hiroshima promises plenty in terms of performance and driving dynamics.

    Under the new, very sharp Kodo styling, the new MX-5 has gone on a crash diet, trimming over 100 kg off the not-exactly-portly NC. For a start, it’s the shortest MX-5 ever – shorter even than the original NA – measuring 3,915 mm long, 1,730 mm wide and 1,235 mm high. Compared to the NC, it’s 105 mm shorter, 10 mm wider and 10 mm lower, with the 2,315 mm wheelbase some 14 mm shorter.


    Of course, a greater use of aluminium and high-tensile steel (from 58% to 71%) has aided the weight-loss programme too – the upshot is that the ND weighs between 990 kg and 1,080 kg. As such, without any options, a 1.5 litre model with a six-speed manual transmission weighs just 50 kg more than the NA.

    This is despite the plethora of toys (keyless entry and start, MZD Connect infotainment system, nine-speaker Bose sound system – with NA-like headrest speakers!) and safety kit (four airbags, stability control, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning System) Mazda has piled onto the MX-5 over the years.

    Suspension duties are handled by double wishbones at the front and a multi-link setup out back, while the steering is now electrically- rather than hydraulically-assisted this time around. Want some more bite? You can specify a limited-slip differential, a front strut brace, sports suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers and 17-inch BBS wheels with Brembo brakes if you’re so inclined.

    Mazda MX-5 - Nice

    You get to choose between 1.5 litre (129 hp at 7,000 rpm, 150 Nm at 4,800 rpm) or 2.0 litre (158 hp at 6,000 rpm, 200 Nm at 4,600 rpm) high-compression, direct-injected SkyActiv-G petrol four-pots, along with six-speed SkyActiv-MT manual and SkyActiv-Drive automatic transmissions. We currently only get the bigger engine and the self-shifting ‘box, but Bermaz has confirmed that a manual version will arrive in a few months.

    Do enjoy the large gallery after the jump, and as a bonus, we also have Mazda’s MX-5 Magazine in digital format. Leaf through the 63 pages and you’ll find plenty of details regarding the ND, stunning imagery (some of which you’ll see in the gallery), a great retrospective piece of its forebears, as well as a rare behind-the-scenes look at how the MX-5 came to be.

    Read The Full Story ›

  • Naza Automotive Manufacturing lays off 300 staff

    nam gurun

    According to a news report, Naza Automotive Manufacturing (NAM) has laid off 300 workers at its assembly plant in Gurun, Kedah. The lay-off at NAM involved 225 staff members as well as 30 from the NAM Committee, with the remainder being administration staff, The Malaysian Insider reports.

    The report added that laid-off staff were given a farewell party earlier today at Dewan Seri Zaleha in Gurun, where they received their termination letters. In attendance at the event were NAM chief operations officer Roslan Abd Ghani and a labour department officer, according to the event programme.

    The NAM plant, which has been in operation since 2004 and which has a workforce of around 1,000, assembles Peugeot and Kia models for the domestic market.

    In a follow-up, the Naza Group issued a short statement on the matter:

    “We have undertaken an exercise to rationalise the staff strength at Naza Automotive Manufacturing given the tough economic conditions brought about by the weakening ringgit and domestic and export demand.

    However, at this time, our priority and focus is to assist and support where we can, those affected, to ensure that their welfare is well managed and taken care of. We have provided a separation package to enable them to plan their future endeavours.

    Meanwhile, we shall continuously address measures of cost efficiency without compromising our quality of service to our customers.

  • VIDEO: Mercedes ‘halo-style’ cockpit protection for F1

    It has been a dark week for motorsports in general, especially with the passing of Justin Wilson, after being struck in the head by debris during the Verizon Indy Car series at Pocono in the US.

    There seems to be a feeling that the motorsports fraternity needs to look into ways to provide better protection for drivers’ heads. Even the recent passing of Henry Surtees and Jules Bianchi could have been attributed to the same lack of protection.

    There has been talk of having a fighter jet-style canopy, but concerns regarding its strength have brought this move into question. Also, the FIA believes drivers could get trapped in these cockpits in an event of an accident, so it doesn’t seem like it is going to get the nod for future development.

    The FIA has already done tests on a fighter-jet style canopy, and it seems the cover could possibly shatter upon hitting debris, or it could launch debris into the air and cause a lot more danger to spectators too.

    Anyhow, they are conducting more ‘closed cockpit’ tests next month, and a few more ideas have been mooted. There have been a host of ideas put forward, including having vertical blades with different heights in front of the cockpit, which can turn debris away, but also not hinder a driver from being extracted in any untoward incident.

    But perhaps the craziest idea is from Mercedes. It is being called a ‘halo-style’ solution, which you can see in detail in the video above. With the locking mechanism, apparently it’s very ease to remove as well. The animation was done by Giorgio Piola for, and it’s really quite insightful in terms of what could be in store for Formula One in the future.

  • Peugeot 308 Racing Cup to debut at Frankfurt 2015


    Would you look at that rear wing?! Forgive us for sounding a tad unprofessional in our opening but one cannot deny the presence of that massive spoiler attached to the rear of the Peugeot 308 Racing Cup. A what? A Peugeot 308 Racing Cup – a track-only 308 cousin to the Peugeot 308 GTi has been unveiled prior to its debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show next month.

    Exterior wise, the Peugeot 308 Racing Cup sports a reworked bumper with a splitter up front while the rear is adorned by a large bumper replete with twin diffuser-like elements. Elsewhere, a roof scoop is to be found along with significantly widened wheel arches – overall width now stands at 1,910 mm which is a full 106 mm wider than the road-going 308 GTi. Did we mention that wing?!

    Said spoiler is reputed to be inspired “directly from the WTCC regulations.” Elsewhere, the 308 Racing Cup features black twin-spoke 18-inch wheels shod with either racing slicks or wet-weather tyres. Under the skin, the same 1.6 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the 308 GTi powers the race machine. Naturally, with a fair bit of work and the turbo from the Peugeot 208 T16, it now pumps out a total of 308 hp.


    The Peugeot 308 Racing Cup also shares a portion of its suspension setup with the road-going 308 GTi – mainly its pivots and rear beam. Also, the car is now equipped with six-piston brake calipers while a six-speed sequential transmission with paddle shifters sends power to the wheels.

    Unfortunately, Peugeot has decided to remain mum on exact performance figures but factor in said horsepower figure and a quoted weight of around 1,000 to 1,050 kg and one can expect some serious numbers to materialise. More than just a show car, the 308 Racing Cup will take to the Paul Ricard circuit for a demo run shortly after its Frankfurt debut.

    The 308 Racing Cup will replace the RCZ Racing Cup and is slated to be available to customers at the end of 2016 for entry into one-make or saloon and sports car racing series such as the German VLN, Belgian BGDC and 24H endurance championship.

  • Nissan Sylphy S Touring Edition unveiled in Japan


    Nissan has unveiled a sportier version of its Sylphy sedan in Japan. The Nissan Sylphy S Touring Special Edition, as it’s called, features mainly visual enhancements.

    It gets a completely new bumper, one that is shapelier and more aggressive than the standard item. The bars on the grille get a gloss black finish too. The look is completed with matching side skirts, rear bodykit extension, a boot lid spoiler and new 16-inch aluminium wheels.

    There are no indications of engine tweaks, so the Sylphy S Touring will still have the same 1.8 litre four-cylinder engine which churns out 129 hp at 6,000 rpm and 174 Nm at 3,600 rpm. An Xtronic CVT transmission sends power to the front wheels, just like the Sylphy we get here in Malaysia.

    This isn’t the only sporty Sylphy around, of course, as Australia gets the Pulsar SSS that has a 188 hp/240 Nm 1.6 litre DIG-T turbocharged engine. It’s available with a six-speed manual gearbox too. There’s also the Sylphy Tuned by Impul package available here, which adds a bodykit, bigger wheels and lowered springs.

    Nissan Pulsar SSS

    Nissan Sylphy Tuned by Impul

    Standard Nissan Sylphy

  • VIDEO: Leona Chin challenges WRC driver, Jari-Matti Latvala, to a gymkhana face-off this September

    You gotta’ hand it to all race car drivers. Be it on the circuit, the rally stage or even an empty car park, every single of them is always up for a challenge – and what a challenge it will be as Malaysian drift sensation, Leona Chin, has just issued one in the direction of WRC driver, Jari-Matti Latvala.

    The challenge appears simple enough with the local lass set to go head to head against the Finnish driver (who has chalked up a total of 14 rally wins, by the way) in a gymkhana course at the Setia City Convention Center on September 4. Whether or not he decides to take up the challenge during his Malaysian visit, we’ll find out soon enough.

    Those who were unfamiliar with Leona’s stunts might have taken notice when a video of her dressed as an unfashionable learner driver went viral. In said video, Leona adopted the persona of a rather terrible learner driver to prank several unsuspecting instructors. Upon entering the vehicle however, said instructors were given a rude awakening as Leona gave them a taste of her true driving talent.

    So, then, who do you think will come out on top in this challenge? Will you be gunning for our local heroine or will Latvala prove the old adage ‘If you want to win, hire a Finn’ true?

  • 2016 Kia Sportage SUV officially revealed – first pics!


    The 2016 Kia Sportage has been unveiled. These are the first official pictures of the next-generation SUV, released a few weeks after initial sketches were revealed. But of course, we’ve already seen the vehicle in full both inside and out through leaked images that went public last week.

    It’s quite a big departure from the outgoing Sportage, this new one. The profile is largely the same, but the big bluff nose up front, with a stand-alone grille and high-mounted headlights are all new. The rear appears very sharp too, with slim wraparound LED taillamps that are positioned high along the car’s belt line.


    The interior will get a big revamp in terms of quality too. “We recognise that for a more demanding audience issues such as interior quality, refinement and ride and handling are essential. All of those aspects have been addressed. We have done this because of what our customers have told us,” Kia UK boss Paul Philpott told Autocar.

    Top models will get a large centre screen, “rich material quality” to improve perceived build quality, wireless phone charger and a Harman Kardon sound system. We will have more details of the 2016 Kia Sportage as they become available.

    Current third-gen Kia Sportage facelift

  • Honda CR-Z – second facelift breaks cover in Japan

    2015 Cr-z japan 01

    A couple of days ago, photos of what was purportedly a facelift of a Honda CR-Z facelift came about on the Net, and it looks like it’s all ringing straight and true. Honda has revealed details of the updated CR-Z, and the car now gets another set of revisions following its mid-cycle facelift back in 2012, which added a new lithium-ion battery, S+ boost button and slightly revised aesthetics.

    On the latest facelift, which makes its Japanese domestic market debut in October, exterior changes include new front and rear bumpers, a new front grille design as well as a reworked side sill garnish. Two different trim configurations are available for the car – an Alpha and an Alpha Master Label.

    The design of the honeycomb grille has been restyled, but the biggest change is with the lower lip, which is no longer flat – a protruding chin now extends out into the fog lamp housings. The styling continues the theme at the rear, making the lower half of the new bumper rather prominent. Still no visible tail pipes to be seen though.

    2015 Cr-z japan 03

    More LEDs in use too – the headlamps are now full LED designs, as are the turn signal indicators, and the LED DRLs now run the full length of the headlamps. The car also gets newly designed alloy wheels, in 16- and 17-inch sizes, and new exterior colours as well – there’s Velvet Purple Pearl and a two-tone sporty blue metallic shade with a black roof.

    Inside, changes includes the adoption of an electronic control parking brake, which frees up space and allows a built-in armrest and console box to be added. There’s now push-button ignition, and a new two-DIN touchscreen head unit with a six-box main menu, familiar from the City and Jazz.

    Sound is also up, with a seven-speaker, 360 watt audio system. The 2015 facelift adds a sound symposer into the equation – active sound control channels engine sound to the speakers, so the three options in the 3-Mode Drive System now get an additional audible perspective. There’s also active phase noise control.

    2015 Cr-z japan 04

    Driving dynamics have also been tweaked in the second facelift – mechanical revision are a widening of the rear track by 10 mm as well as reworking the damping force of the dampers and spring rate of the suspension to offer improved stability and handling.

    Braking performance has also been improved – the brake discs have been upsized, and the caliper piston diameter has been increased. Changes to safety kit includes the adoption of a city brake active system and some minor revisions to the side curtain and side airbag composition.

    It looks like there are no changes to the powertrain and drivetrain, both in terms of choices and output – it isn’t mentioned, but the 1.5 litre i-VTEC with IMA motor combination should retain its total combined 136 PS at 6,6600 rpm and 172 Nm from 1,000 rpm to 3,000 rpm output.


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