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  • V167 Mercedes-Benz GLE300d Thai CKD – RM712k

    The Thai-assembled V167 Mercedes-Benz GLE 300d has just gone on sale in the Land of Smiles with a price tag of 5.19 million baht (RM712k), representing a chunky 870k baht (RM119k) reduction from its CBU counterpart introduced earlier.

    However, according to the Bangkok Post, the tri-star SUV – equipped in the sole AMG Dynamic trim – is still not the most attractively priced model in its class. For starters, it now undercuts the G05 BMW X5 30d by 450k baht (RM62k), but costs over 400k baht (RM55k) more than the Audi Q7 40 TDI. The Volvo XC90 D5, on the other hand, costs 4.19 million baht (RM575k).

    To quickly recap, the GLE 300d is powered by a 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, making 245 hp at 4,200 rpm and 500 Nm of torque from 1,600 to 2,400 rpm. It sprints from 0-100 km/h in 7.2 seconds before maxing out at 225 km/h, and the combined fuel consumption rating is 5.1 litres per 100 km. A nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic and all-wheel drive are standard.

    In Malaysia, the new GLE is currently available in the sole GLE 450 AMG Line, which is priced at RM633,888. It’s powered by the brand new M256 3.0 litre turbocharged straight-six petrol engine making 367 hp and 500 Nm of torque, and the engine is augmented with a 48-volt mild hybrid system that provides 22 hp and 250 Nm of boost under hard acceleration.

    GALLERY: V167 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG Line in Malaysia

  • Carmakers looking forward to 1m Thai sales in 2020

    It’s going to be a hat-trick of Thai auto sales topping one million units, if the optimism of carmakers based in the kingdom comes true. They are predicting that car sales will reach the 1m mark in 2020, which will be the third straight year total industry volume has hit the mark, Bangkok Post reports.

    While the car market has contracted for five months in a row since June, year-to-date figures for the first 10 months of the year stood at 838,968 units, which is 0.7% up from the same period in 2018, according to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI). The auto club says that sales from the last two months of the year will push the TIV past the 1m mark. Last year, the final tally was 1.04 million units.

    Chanchai Trakarnudomsuk, president of Mazda’s Thai arm, said the domestic market in 2020 will be boosted by the government’s stimulus measures.

    “The measures are not only for grassroots people, but also to stimulate overall economic engines such as consumption and investment. The central bank’s measures to control auto loan approvals from financial institutions will be postponed from a tentative plan to take effect in early 2020, so there is no worry for the lending sector,” he said.

    His counterpart at Mitsubishi, Morikazu Chokki, sounds less positive, but is also projecting over 1m sales in 2020. “When the economy slows down, the car market performs in the same direction. The contraction is not only in Thailand, but also other countries globally, pressured by trade war tensions. We expect Thai GDP in the second half of 2019 to bottom out, but overall 2020 sentiment is hard to predict,” he said.

    Tri Petch Isuzu Sales VP Takeshi Kazahara said that 2020 Thai car sales will decrease slightly from this year because of unpredictable factors such as trade disputes, the US presidential election, Brexit, Hong Kong’s political turmoil, the strong Thai baht and the country’s tepid exports.

    “The positive sentiment for Thailand is the stable political movement, while the government is trying to launch stimulus measures for the agricultural and property sectors,” he said, adding that the Land of Smiles’ “big picture” is still better than in other countries, so the current sluggish car market is not a crisis.

    What the Post‘s report did not mention is the stimulus from all-new eco car models such as the Honda City and Nissan Almera, both sporting clear new designs and downsized turbo engines.

  • Space for a big BMW Motorrad Boxer in your heart? Concept R 18 twin is BMW’s biggest boxer mill

    While the author reserves his comments on the trend for retro motorcycles – some of these are really well done, others should be taken out back and shot – BMW Motorrad has come up with its biggest boxer yet, the mill powering the Concept R 18 and Concept R 18/2. Displacing 1,802 cc, effectively some 901 cc per jug from the over-square 107.1 mm bore and 100 mm stroke, the “Big Boxer”, as BMW Motorrad calls it, is a torque monster as can be guessed from the specifications.

    Producing 91 hp at 4,750 rpm, the issue here is not one of power but torque, and stump pulling handfuls of it. The Bog Boxer produces 158 Nm at 3,000 rpm with 150 Nm available to the rider’s right hand from 2,000 to 4,000 rpm, making the torque curve flat as a pool table.

    It is obvious the market the boys from Munich is chasing is the “cruiser” and “power cruiser” segment. When Harley-Davidson used to dominate this niche, it’s market has been falling fast the past few years and this demographic has seen stiff competition from Indian Motorcycles, along with the newly released Triumph Rocket III and, having a following in its own right, the Ducati Diavel and XDiavel.

    The Big boxer is not to be rushed and point-and-shoot sports riders should look elsewhere. The opposed-twin engine weighs a hefty 110.8 kg complete with gearbox and intake and redlines at 5,750 rpm, idling at 950 rpm.

    For riders used to 13,000 redlines (like the author) this indicates the engine should, perhaps, be ridden at a rather more relaxed pace, using the engine torque to gently waft along the highway. Or, during the author’s Harley-Davidson period, taken on a footboard scraping, rear wheel chattering, pillion hanging on for dear life and screaming loud enough to be heard inside the helmet ride to Sungai Koyan.

    Technology does dominate the Big Boxer, BMW Motorrad has made sure of that. There is a limit to how far you can push this retro nonsense, after all, despite the amount of money you could make pushing 70’s engine design to soy latte sipping, drainpipe jeans wearing hipsters.

    What is retro is the air/oil-cooled engine which, to support the enormous pistons, comes with two outboard main bearings like the normal R-series twin but with an additional main bearing in the centre to carry the load. The quench and tempered steel crankshaft holds connecting rods and aluminium pistons with Nicasil coated bores.

    ‘Modern’ sensibilities include four-valves per cylinder in overhead configuration and twin-spark plugs. The camshafts are located above the crankshaft and driven by via a sleeve-type chain which BMW says shortens the pushrods and decreases flex and moving mass.

    Unfortunately, despite the size and bulk of the Big Boxer, valve adjustments are done manually, no hydraulic valve lash adjustment here, thank you very much. The benefit of having the cylinders sticking out on either side of the bike, though, is valve adjustments are easily done with screw adjusters.

    Completing the Big Boxer package is a six-speed transmission – gearbox sounds crude for a engine like this – with four shafts holding helical gears. Available as an option is reverse gear, driven by an intermediate gear and an electric motor which will, naturally add a few more kilos to engine weight but once you’ve crossed the 100 kg barrier, what’s a few kilos between friends.

    Besides the Concept R 18 and R18/2, BMW Motorrad has not revealed where the engine might sit in the current model line up but we think a series of big power cruisers will be in the offing. This make sense, considering the current R NineT Heritage series of retro styled motorcycles has seen keen interest from riders wanting something different from the current crop of retro sports bikes.

    What do you think, dear reader? Retro is as retro does or do we need more throwbacks to what some see as the “Golden Age” of motorcycling? Leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions below.

  • New national car launch delayed to 2022 – DreamEdge to invest up to RM1 bil, targets 3,000 units a month

    The investment to develop and manufacture the new national car could reach as high as RM1 billion, according to a projection in an analyst report. The launch date of the car has also been extended by a year.

    In its report, Affin Hwang Investment Bank said that Malaysian company DreamEdge, which is the lead in the project, has set aside a minimum of RM600 million as the initial start-up cost, but dealership network establishment and production-related preparation costs could see cost overruns of up to RM1 billion.

    The research report – which was picked up by The Star and the Malaysian Reserve – adds that DreamEdge, which is currently in active discussions with several parties on funding, is aiming to sell at least 3,000 cars a month in the first year of sales, leading to an annual rate of 36,000 units a year.

    There has also been a revision to the timeline. In a meeting with Affin Hwang, DreamEdge revealed that a working prototype of the car is on track for release by mid-2020, with full production set to take place by the first half of 2022.

    This means another year has now been added to the project’s timeline. Initial projections stated at the announcement of the project in August said that the first model prototype of the new national car would be shown in March 2020, with the final product set to make its market debut in March 2021.

    It was also stated at the announcement that an engineering capability model mock-up was slated to be shown at the end of that month, but there has been no sign of the mock-up, nearly four months in.

    The Affin Hwang report, authored by analyst Brian Yeoh, reiterated that the model is a plus-sized B-segment sedan as originally reported by this publication (it was initially mentioned as a C-segment unit during the project announcement, and later corrected).

    The car will be powered either by an internal combustion engine or a hybrid powertrain, and is expected to feature technologies such as connectivity and advanced driver assistance systems. It will be built by a contract manufacturer, with rumours of this being Daihatsu subsidiary Perodua.

    The design concept and development of the car will be led by DreamEdge, with technology partner Daihatsu – which confirmed its involvement in the project in October – handling the development of the powertrain and providing the platform. DreamEdge however stated during the meeting with Affin Hwang that the car would not be another rebadged Daihatsu.

  • Hyundai Nexo sets a new distance record of 778 km

    Hyundai has set a new world record for the longest distance travelled with a series production, hydrogen-powered vehicle, as a Nexo managed to cover 778 km on a single tank of hydrogen. The feat was undertaken by French aeronaut and president of the Solar Impulse Foundation Bertrand Piccard, who drove from the FaHyence hydrogen station in Sarreguemines to the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace in Le Bourget, France.

    The Swiss national wasn’t alone on his journey, as several prominent passengers joined him along the way, including Benoît Potier, CEO of Air Liquide, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, among others.

    By the end of the 778-km trip, the car still had 49 km of range left, and purified a total of 404.6 kL, which is equivalent to the volume of air that 23 adults breathe in a day. Doing the same trip in a vehicle with an internal combustion engine would have emitted around 111.2 kg, the carmaker noted.

    “With this adventure, we have proven that with clean technologies, we no longer need revolutionary experimental prototypes to break records. Everyone can now do it with standard zero-emission vehicles. A new era in performance is beginning, for the benefit of environmental protection,” said Piccard.

    “While some may doubt the relevance of hydrogen in tomorrow’s cars, we at Hyundai have believed in it since 1998, when we began our developments on this technology. Thanks to this record set by Bertrand Piccard, all doubt has been dispelled,” commented Lionel French-Keogh, managing director of Hyundai Motor France.

    “As well as being listened to worldwide, Bertrand is a charismatic character who knows better than anyone how to raise awareness of climate issues. We share with him the conviction that it is possible to change our consumption in a sustainable way and hydrogen is an answer to this issue. We see respect for the environment as a vector for growth and not as an obstacle to innovation,” he added.

    The Nexo, which is built on a dedicated platform, is the replacement for the Tucson ix35 FCEV, and is powered by an electric motor that delivers 163 PS and 395 Nm. The car’s fuel cell system combines oxygen and hydrogen to a flow of electrons that powers the electric motor and charges the 1.56 kWh high-voltage battery. According to Hyundai, the fuel cell stack generates 95 kW of power, while the battery outputs 40 kW.

    Hydrogen is drawn from three fuel tanks that offer a combined capacity of 156 litres, which provides up to 666 km of range following WLTP regulations and 756 km with the NEDC. In terms of performance, the Nexo takes 9.2 seconds to get from zero to 100 km/h, and will hit a top speed of 179 km/h.

    GALLERY: Hyundai Nexo at the 2018 KL International Motor Show

  • New BMW M4 GT3 to get S58 straight-six, over 500 hp!

    BMW has officially dropped its first teaser of the M4 GT3, which is set to be the new range-topping model in the customer racing offering. The M4 GT3 will succeed the current M6 GT3, which had won numerous championships in international race series.

    Of course, the M4 GT3 will be based on the next-generation M4, and they will share the same turbocharged S58 inline-six petrol engine. Output is said to be well over 500 hp, with BMW saying that the engine and chassis of the regular M4 being “perfect” for the development of the GT3. The engine, it adds, offers explosive power delivery that can be enjoyed just as much on regular roads as it is on track.

    BMW Group Motorsport director, Jens Marquardt said: “With our new GT3 project, we are emphasising the significance of BMW M Customer Racing. It is a central pillar of our motorsport programme. With the introduction of the new GT3 regulations for 2022, the BMW M4 is the perfect base. The core product from our colleagues at BMW M is yet again just great. Without wanting to give too much away, the M4 GT3 will be a real highlight in terms of optics and technology.”

    BMW M CEO, Markus Flasch (pictured above) also said: “It is only logical that future top models in customer racing will be based on the next-generation BMW M4. We will already be setting new standards in terms of sporting performance in production, which is why it makes sense to present the new GT3 sports car on this platform as well.”

    The M4 GT3 will be fielded for race in 2021. From the 2022 season, the race car will be accessible by privateers and privateer teams around the world. Interested parties can reach out to BMW Motorsport by email at

    Meanwhile, those interested in the regular road-going M4 can look forward to having it with a manual transmission. At the BMW M Festival in South Africa recently, Flasch said purists still demand a stick shifter for performance cars like the M3 and M4, so the manual will still get another lease of life. All-wheel drive will also be introduced, but the manual will strictly be RWD, and likewise for the new M3.

  • Aston Martin officially opens St Athan factory for DBX

    Aston Martin has officially opened the doors to its brand spanking new factory in St Athan, Wales. The plant will produce the DBX SUV and a range of electric vehicles under the revived Lagonda luxury brand, with production of the former due to kick off in May.

    The site of a former Royal Air Force (RAF) maintenance base and training facility, the new factory is set to employ up to 600 people once full production commences, with the total number rising to 750 at its peak – at which point the plant is expected to build up to 100 cars a week.

    Vehicles coming out of St Athan will be hand-built with the help of modern technologies, just like the sports cars that will continue to be built in Gaydon. The first 40 Welsh recruits, who were hired just six months after the company announced it had purchased the site from the British ministry of defence, learned on the job by building DB11s at the company’s headquarters, and are now training new employees at St Athan.

    Using the existing three super-hangars as a base, Aston transformed the site in the three years since it bought it, adding offices and reception areas and converting and outfitting the hangars in time for the start of pre-production earlier this year. Most of Welsh production will be exported overseas, with around 90% of DBX’s sales projected to come from other countries.

    “Opening our new manufacturing facility at St Athan today is a pivotal day for Aston Martin and a vote of confidence in the UK, with the facility projected to employ up to 750 highly-skilled workers at its peak,” said president and CEO Andy Palmer. “St Athan is a critical step in delivering our new car, DBX, which will be built in the new facility. The opening of St Athan is a hugely important milestone in the company’s growth plan and integral to our ambitions as a global luxury brand with a presence in all major sectors of the market.”

  • Jetta sub-brand for VW launched in China – 30,000 units sold in three months; 80% comprised of VS5 SUV

    Jetta VS5 SUV.

    Volkswagen has announced launch of the entry of its sub-brand, Jetta into the China market, following the delivery of nearly 30,000 units from the new sub-brand in the country. This makes the Jetta’s introduction to China the most successful in recent times by measure of the first three months of sales, according to Volkswagen; the VS5 SUV took the lion’s share of sales with 80% of total deliveries in this time.

    “The entry-level segment has so far been served almost exclusively by Chinese brands. The Jetta brand closes the gap between the entry-level segment and the volume segment, at the top end of which the Volkswagen brand is positioned. We see tremendous potential there, and the flying start of JETTA proves us right,” said Volkswagen sales board member Jürgen Stackmann.

    Approximately one-third of all passenger cars sold in China are in the entry-level segment, notes Volkswagen, of which 80% are first-time car buyers. In China, first-time car buyers spend between 8,000 to 15,000 euros on their first car and are, on average, 20 years younger than those in Europe or America.

    Jetta VA3 sedan.

    China is Volkswagen’s single largest market, which represents almost 50% of global deliveries. Although the overall market situation in China is noted to remain challenging for the remainder of this year, the Volkswagen brand gained market share by maintaining delivery volume ‘largely at last year’s level’, and therefore is on track to again deliver more than 3 million vehicles in 2019.

    All Jetta-brand models are produced by the FAW-Volkswagen joint venture with a factory in Chengdu, China, working closely with the FAW-Volkswagen central hub located in the city of Changchun, says Volkswagen. The China-only budget car brand under this joint venture was first known to be mooted in 2016, and the brand is set to launch a second SUV model ‘in the near future’, said Volkswagen.

  • AD: Euromobil Year-End Celebration – savings up to RM29k, Luck in the Trunk prizes worth RM40,000!

    The end of the year is a time of conclusion and for festivities. Handily, Audi’s biggest authorised dealer Euromobil is holding its Year-End Celebration, which also makes this a great time to purchase a new Audi, particularly if you’ve had one or more models from the German marque’s range already in your sights.

    Audi’s range of models will be present for prospective buyers to check out, including the likes of the Q2 and Q5 SUVs, the recently-launched Q3 as well as the distinctive Q8 flagship. From now until December 31, 2019, customers stand to enjoy savings of up to RM29,000 on their vehicle purchases, and buyers of new or pre-registered vehicles also stand to win Luck in the Trunk prizes worth RM40,000!

    To be eligible for the Luck in the Trunk, customers will need to have placed their bookings by December 31, and have their vehicles registered by January 31, 2020. Prizes in the Luck in the Trunk include an Audi Genuine Accessories voucher, a premium Audi watch, a vehicle tinting package, a fine dining package for two, and a three-day, two-night leisure package.

    Sounds tantalising, doesn’t it all? To find out more, check out Euromobil on its website, on Facebook as well as on Instagram; you might just ring in the new year with a new ride, and win attractive prizes to boot! Better still, head over to Euromobil showrooms at Audi Centre Glenmarie, Audi Damansara or Audi Johor Bahru to see the latest models in the metal.

    Euromobil Audi Centre Glenmarie
    Lot 27, Jalan Pelukis U1/46, Seksyen Utara Satu, Kawasan Perindustrian Temasya, 40150 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan
    Monday to Saturday – 8.30 am to 5.30 pm
    Sunday – 10 am to 5 pm
    Tel No: 603-7688-7688

    Euromobil Audi Damansara
    Lot 2766, Jalan Bukit Lanjan, 60000, Kuala Lumpur
    Monday to Saturday – 8.30 am to 5.30 pm
    Sunday – 10 am to 5 pm
    Tel No: 603-7722-3100

    Euromobil Audi Johor Bahru
    197B, 4½ Mile, Jalan Skudai, 81200, Johor Bahru
    Monday to Saturday – 8.30 am to 5.30 pm
    Sunday – 10 am to 5 pm
    Tel No: 607-234-4830

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  • Toyota RAV4 wins 2019 Japan Car of the Year award

    The fifth-generation Toyota RAV4 has been named Japan Car of the Year 2019-2020, marking the first time the carmaker won the award since the Prius took the top prize back in 2009-2010. The RAV4 triumphed by scoring a total of 436 points, beating out the Mazda 3 in second place (328 points) as well as the BMW 3 Series in third (290 points).

    According to JCOTY, the RAV4 impressed as it “responded to all needs at a high level,” and was available in three types of all-wheel drive systems. Other positives include the enjoyment and comfort that came with the TNGA platform used, pricing, luggage space and the Japan-exclusive data communication module.

    The RAV4 is the 40th vehicle to win the coveted JCOTY title, with past winners being the Volvo XC40 (2018-2019), XC60 (2017-2018), Subaru Impreza (2016-2017), Mazda Roadster/MX-5 (2015-2016), Mazda Demio/2 (2014-2015) and Volkswagen Golf (2013-2014).

    Further down the list, the Toyota Corolla took the fourth post (118 points), and is followed by the Jaguar I-Pace (109 points), Jeep Wrangler (56 points), Honda N-WGN (54 points), Mercedes-Benz A-Class (53 points), Nissan Days/Mitsubishi eK (35 points) and finally, the Daihatsu Tanto (21 points).

    Special awards were also given out to the Jeep Wrangler, which took the Emotional Award for its robust on- and off-road capabilities, while the Nissan Skyline secured the Innovation Award for its ProPilot 2.0 “hands-off” semi-autonomous driving system.

    Meanwhile, the Small Mobility Award went to the Mitsubishi eK and Nissan Dayz, thanks to the kei cars’ improved manoeuvrability, safety and driving support systems. The jurors were also receptive to the models’ high level of comfort, effective utilisation of space, and unique styling.


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Last Updated 07 Dec 2019


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