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  • DRIVEN: 2016 Toyota Hilux and Fortuner – first impressions of the new pick-up and SUV in Malaysia

    2016-Toyota-Hilux-44

    Remember when Toyota was the market leader in the non-national market? You won’t have to jog your mind too far back – the Japanese carmaker last topped the sales charts in 2014, and was still vying with Honda for the title until the last month of last year, ultimately losing its long-held crown to its closest rival.

    So imagine our surprise when we found out just a month later that the rug had unceremoniously been pulled under Toyota’s feet. Almost every brand struggled to sell cars in the first quarter of 2016, but the world’s largest carmaker was probably hit hardest – as of March, the company sold just 10,216 vehicles, putting it not just well behind Honda, but behind Nissan as well.

    The disappointing performance came about mainly as a result of a significant price hike (due to the depreciating ringgit), but an ageing lineup could be blamed as well – this despite the launch of the facelifted Camry, Avanza and Rush, as well as the tax-exempt Camry Hybrid in 2015. Toyota’s increasingly unfashionable image – particularly among our readers – probably didn’t help matters, either.

    2016-Toyota-Fortuner-1

    Tasked to reverse its fortunes are the new 2016 Toyota Hilux and Fortuner, both launched today. These are very important vehicles for the brand in Malaysia, particularly the Hilux – the ubiquitous pick-up forms the backbone of Toyota’s commercial vehicle range and makes up a significant chunk of its overall sales.

    Both the new Hilux and Fortuner are built on a new platform and come with completely revised looks and engines, as well as a smattering of new equipment and safety kit. The competition has really stepped up the game over the past few years, so it’s great to see that Toyota has finally come to the table armed to the teeth.

    But the new trucks will have a mountain to climb to tackle a vastly different market from the one their predecessors entered more than a decade ago. Will they be good enough to keep up with the times and, more importantly, revitalise Toyota’s sales? We take both on a quick spin in Malaysia – both on- and off-road – to find out if they have promise.

    Read the review of the 2016 Toyota Hilux and Fortuner here

     
  • DRB-Hicom managing director Syed Faisal Akbar appointed as Proton non-executive chairman

    Syed Faisal Albar

    Proton today announced the appointment of Datuk Seri Syed Faisal Albar, the group managing director of DRB-Hicom, as its new non-executive chairman following ex-chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s resignation on March 31.

    The automaker also said that Syed Faisal – who was appointed to his DRB-Hicom post in March this year – will also be taking on the role as chairman of Group Lotus.

    Prior to his appointment at DRB-Hicom, Syed Faisal was the CEO of Malakoff. Before joining Malakoff, the 50-year-old – who is an accountant by profession – was the CEO of Gas Malaysia Berhad from June 2013 to December 2013.

    He was also the executive director of Konsortium Logistik (KLB) from June 2013 to December 2013, and was previously group MD of POS Malaysia from 2008 to 2011 as well as the CEO of New Straits Times Press (NSTP) from 2003 to 2008.

     
  • Lexus GS F now in Malaysia, priced at RM1.1 million

    lexus-gs-f-060

    If the idea of a BMW M5 or a Porsche Panamera doesn’t quite float your left-field boat, here’s something that should do just the trick – a Lexus GS F.

    The performance sedan, which made its debut last year in Detroit, is now available in the country through official channels via Lexus Malaysia. Not exactly cheap at RM1.1 million (on-the-road with insurance), but it’s no pushover.

    The car is powered by a naturally-aspirated 5.0 V8 engine offering 477 PS at 7,100 rpm and 530 Nm of twist at 4,800 to 5,600 rpm. This is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which features four different performance modes (Normal, Eco, Sport S and Sport S+, the latter designed for the racetrack).

    Performance numbers for the 1,865 kg rear wheel-drive offering include a 0-100 km/h time of 4.6 seconds and a 270 km/h top speed.

    The GS F features Lexus’ Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD), which is also found on the RC F coupe. The system has three modes – Standard, Slalom (emphasising nimble steering response and agility) and Track, which enhances high-speed stability.

    Other novelties include structural reinforcements, a unique suspension system, carbon-fibre rear spoiler as well as upgraded brakes, complete with bright orange calipers. As for wheels, the car sits on 19-inch multi-spoke items with front 255/35 and rear 275/35 tyres.

    The interior features leather and carbon-fibre trim finishing, and the equipment list includes a F Design steering wheel and front sports seats, dual-zone auto climate control and a 12.3-inch electronic multi-vision screen.

    Also on the standard kit list is a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system with which the driver can tune in to the big V8’s soundtrack in Sport S and Sport S+ modes – the RC F’s Active Control System is present, but the sound from the mill can be further amplified with the rear speakers chiming in.

     
  • 2016 Perodua Myvi facelift leaked: new two-tone look?

    2016 Perodua Myvi 1.5 facelift leak

    What do we have here? A brochure of the so-called 2016 Perodua Myvi facelift has appeared on various social media platforms, showing a Myvi 1.5 Advance wearing a new two-tone look. Set to be unveiled this Saturday, May 7, it looks like the update will be a (very) minor one. That’s not really a surprise, of course, considering the current version was only introduced early last year.

    The image above reveals that the Myvi will gain a new Electric Blue-Ebony Black two-tone combo, with the pillars, roof, side mirrors, rear spoiler and back door garnish all receiving the dark finish. Also new are matching (black) door visors, which could be offered as standard on the top model (currently a cost option). The rest of the vehicle appears unchanged.

    Currently, the Perodua Myvi 1.5 is priced at RM49,968.50 (MT) and RM52,968.50 (AT) for the SE variants, while the range-topping Advance Edition goes for RM57,968.51, on-the-road including insurance. It’s yet unclear if there will be changes to the pricing. So folks, what do you think of this new version?

     
  • 2016 Porsche Macan launched in M’sia with new kit

    2016 Porsche Macan launch

    The 2016 Porsche Macan officially makes its Malaysian debut today, bringing with it an updated equipment list, a more powerful engine, as well as enhancements to its visual presence.

    First up, the base model Macan’s 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine gains a 15 hp bump in power to now produce 252 hp at 5,000 to 6,800 rpm. Peak torque is increased by 20 Nm to 370 Nm, available at 1,600 to 4,500 rpm.

    Performance-wise, the Macan 2.0 will make the century sprint in 6.7 seconds, an improvement of 0.2 seconds. Tag on the optional Sport Chrono Package and an additional 0.2 seconds is slashed from that time. Top speed here is 229 km/h. The mill is paired to a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission.

    2016 Porsche Macan Malaysia launch 19

    Only the base Macan 2.0 gets the power bump, while other variants retain their respective outputs. However, the equipment list has been uprated across the range.

    New full-LED headlamps that are now available as an option. Identified by its four-point LED spotlights within, the lighting units come with the Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus (PDLS Plus).

    Said system features dynamic and static cornering light function and speed-sensitive headlight range control as standard, with a separate mode for adverse weather. Furthermore, PDLS Plus also includes a camera-based dynamic beam control and the Intersection Assistant to light up the area the Macan is turning into.

    Inside, the 2016 Macan receives the new Porsche Communication Management infotainment system that was first introduced in the 991 facelift. Displayed on a new seven-inch touchscreen positioned in the centre stack, the system has a smartphone-like user interface with a proximity sensor, multi-touch gesture selection, WiFi hotspot and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

    The new navigation system here is available in 3D for the first time, and can be controlled via voice commands. It can also deliver real-time traffic info and Google services. Also part of the cabin upgrades is the new Connect module, which contains an integrated smartphone compartment in the centre armrest for charging and optimised signal reception.

    For now, no prices have been revealed for the new Macan. According to Sime Darby Auto Performance (SDAP), a full price list for all variants will be revealed later. The base Macan 2.0 is currently priced at RM435,000, the Macan S at RM590,000, Macan S Diesel at RM560,000 and Macan Turbo at RM820,000.

     
  • Grab welcomes taxi drivers wishing to join its platform

    GrabCar-JB-April-7-01

    Grab is open to taxi drivers who wish to join the platform, said Jaygan Fu, Grab’s head of Malaysia at the launch of GrabHitch today. He noted that for taxi drivers who had finished their lease but wish to continue to drive, Grab is there to offer them the option.

    “If they desire to be a GrabCar or GrabHitch driver, we will support them. If they decide to continue to be on a taxi, they’ll be able to do that. It’s up to the driver to choose which platform they want,” he said.

    “End of the day, taxi drivers are human too and they’re nice people,” Fu said. “These (taxi) drivers (with Grab) who have good ratings, good behaviour, they’re an asset to us. So, we want to keep them within our platform to out-serve our customers,” Fu highlighted.

    “I personally believe the angry taxi drivers are very much drivers who are not on our app. There are ones who tend to line up in certain hotspots and try to get their passengers from there,” Fu opined.

    Grab rebranding Singapore-2

    When asked whether Grab would approach taxi drivers to join its platform to address the issue, Fu replied, “we definitely are open to getting taxi drivers onto our platform. We have our walk-in centres which are open on weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm, for drivers to come in and submit their applications if they want to join us. We are open to that.”

    Fu stated that with more drivers, passengers would face shorter waiting times – a significant benefit for Grab users. Meanwhile, it was also stated that the company is not just looking at providing them with income. “When they (taxi drivers) join us, we are not only looking at providing them jobs. We also have social missions like Grab school for taxi drivers’ kids,” he said.

    Other such programmes include an elite driver programme, which rewards hardworking drivers with incentives. “We don’t only look at it from a monetary angle but we look at it at a social angle. For us we enable them to earn money and we touch their hearts as well,” he added.

    As for regulations which will soon be introduced by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), Fu disclosed, “prior to this, we were constantly in discussion with SPAD, to see how we can move forward with this. Being a Malaysian company we need to abide by the laws, if they decide to go in a certain direction, we’ll definitely need to adhere and we’ll give our full cooperation to abide by any regulations imposed.”

     
  • BMW K1600R – new inline-six street bike planned?

    BMW Motorrad K1600R S-Kraft rendering

    While BMW Motorrad’s much-loved ‘R’-boxer twin, and the inline-four S-series engines, have seen wide acceptance in the riding community, its big inline-six has thus far been confined to heavy-touring duty, in the K-series long-distance highway cruisers.

    This could be about to change, as a rendering of what purports to be a naked streetbike using the big K-series engine, has emerged. As published in German motorcycle magazine Motorrad.de, this rendering by Stefan Kraft of S-Kraft Design in Stuttgart shows BMW Motorrad’s massive 1,649 cc inline-six mounted in a naked chassis.

    Dubbed the K1600R, the bike shares styling cues with BMW Motorrad’s other roadsters, the R1200R and the S1000R. In the current K1600GT, the K-engine is rated at 160 hp and 175 Nm of torque at 5,250 rpm, and is capable of propelling the 332 kg tourer to well over 200 km/h.

    In naked sportster form, that amount of power would be almost, but not quite, insane. The chassis looks like it has been lifted off an S-bike, which would make sense as the beam-aliminium frame is already designed to deal with 200 hp.

    This sportster would certainly be an interesting addition to the K-series range, harking back to the days of the Benelli 750/900 Sei, Honda CBX 1100 and Kawasaki Z1300 inline-six bikes.

    GALLERY: BMW Motorrad K1600 GTL Ignite Straight Six project

     
  • Volkswagen CrossBlue SUV – production body teased

    Volkswagen CrossBlue test body

    As reported earlier, the production version of the Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept SUV will be built at the company’s Chattanooga plant in Tennessee, US. Now, the carmaker has released an image that reveals the first assembled metal test body for the upcoming SUV.

    According to Volkswagen, full production of the new model is scheduled to begin late this year, and will hit the market in 2017. This test body build is used for checking the calibration of body shop equipment and processes. The body is then passed on for further testing and development.

    At the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Volkswagen rolled out the CrossBlue Concept, which previewed a midsize seven-seater SUV. Built on the Golf’s MQB platform, the concept measured five metres long, and packed a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain.

    With a 190 hp TDI Clean Diesel engine mated to a 54 hp electric motor in front and a 114 hp unit at the rear, the concept’s combined output is rated at 305 hp and 700 Nm of torque. The transmission fitted is a six-speed DSG, while the electric motors are powered by a lithium ion battery located in the centre tunnel.

    The production CrossBlue will fight popular North American “midsize” SUVs like the Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer. If the CrossBlue name sounds familiar, it was also used on the sportier CrossBlue Coupe concept that premiered in Auto Shanghai 2013.

    GALLERY: Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept


    GALLERY: Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe Concept

     
  • SPYSHOTS: 2018 Jeep Wrangler – next-gen out testing

    Spy-Photo

    The next-generation Jeep Wrangler has been captured testing close to Fiat Chrysler’s North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Although wrapped in camouflage, it’s apparent that the new Wrangler’s wheelbase will be longer than before.

    Currently, the Wrangler’s wheelbase measures in at 2,947 mm. The new vehicle is expected to be lengthened for a particular reason. According to Automotive News, FCA noted in a Security Exchange Commissions filing, that the Wrangler would shift from the current five-speed auto unit to an eight-speed auto transmission for the next-gen model.

    It was noted that the current Wrangler is too short, in terms of length, to have the eight-speed unit fitted, according to internal sources. Hence, the need for a longer wheelbase. From the looks of it, the second row is expected to be more spacious as well.

    Apart from the length, the new Wrangler seems to have a more slanted front windscreen, which suggests that it will be more aerodynamically efficient compared to the current model. The front fenders also appear to be a tad wider. It’s also expected to be lighter with the use of aluminium, while the body-on-frame setup will remain.

    Power wise, the 3.6 litre Pentastar VVT V6 with 284 hp and 347 Nm of torque is likely to be retained, but perhaps with improved power figures. It is said that a V6 turbodiesel mill and a mild-hybrid variant could also be included as part of the offering.


    GALLERY: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara “Batwrangler”

     
  • GrabHitch launched in M’sia – new carpooling service

    GrabHitch launch-01-2

    A new carpooling service has been launched by Grab. Called GrabHitch the service (still in beta form) is labelled as a door-to-door service. In short, it’s a service that will match both drivers and passengers – who can be any one of us – heading to the same destination.

    “This latest service caters to both drivers and passengers who are cost-conscious. Drivers with extra space in their vehicles have the option of picking up passengers who are going the same way to offset the cost of his/her journey, whilst passengers only need to pay for a fraction of the cost compared to other option of transportation,” said Ngiam Xin Wei, regional head of GrabHitch.

    As to how it works, one will require a Facebook account to start things off. Drivers will share their normal driving schedule and routes with passengers. The app will then match the driver with passengers going the same way, at around the same time. Passengers will, however, need to pre-book their ride seven days in advance or up to two hours before pick up.

    Once a passenger has been found, drivers can choose to accept the passenger and later work out a pick-up time best suited for both. Meanwhile, the app will launch a GPS navigation system for drivers, to show them where to pick up and drop off passengers who are hitching a ride. Similarly, passengers can get others to join them on the ride as well.

    The new service is targeted directly at those who are planning to travel long-distance (above 15 km). It’s designed to cover the driver’s variable costs such as petrol, tolls and car depreciation. Fares for GrabHitch rides are calculated based on the distance of the ride and will be displayed upfront so that passengers can decide whether to hitch a ride or not.

    It was estimated that for a 19 km trip from SS2 to KLCC, it would cost about RM30 when travelling via conventional taxis. With GrabHitch, the cost would be approximately RM15, which is 50% less. From Shah Alam to KLCC (30 km), it would cost about RM45 for a normal taxi, whereas hitching a ride would cost about RM21 (53% less) instead.

    Perhaps, of more value would be long-distance trips of course. It was noted that that a 360 km trip from Georgetown to KLCC would cost about RM465. With GrabHitch, passengers will see a significantly lower fare charge of about RM71. In percentage, that’s about 85% lower compared to conventional taxi fares. Passengers can choose to pay via cash, credit or debit cards.

    As for safety of passengers, Grab noted that all drivers are carefully vetted before they can sign on. In detail, they must be over 18 years old and possess at least a year of driving experience. Drivers will also need to have their driver’s licence verified and are required to go through a background check for any criminal history.

    GrabHitch Launch-03-2

    Meanwhile, both passengers and drivers can check on one another through Facebook by viewing mutual friends and pictures for that matter. Apart from that, upon initiating the service, passengers can choose to carpool with persons of the same gender, while drivers have the freedom to choose who they carpool with.

    The carpooling service will also include other features such as Grab’s 24/7 customer service, Grab insurance for drivers and passengers and the recording of transactions in Grab’s system.

    GrabHitch is now opened for drivers to sign up via the Grab App. To sign-up, they need only click on the GrabHitch icon, select ‘Drive’ and follow the on-screen instructions. Passengers will only be able to start scheduling rides from May 15 onwards.

    To kick-off the service, a “Grab Freedom Day” will take place on May 16. During this day, GrabHitch pioneers, which consists of staff from Grab Malaysia along with the first batch of GrabHitch drivers, will be offering free rides to passengers on that very day itself.

     
 

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