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  • Citroen C1 Furio – sporty looks for the tiny city car

    Citroen-C1-Furio-1

    It’s not very macho to admit, but some are into sporty looks as much as (or more than) actual performance. Citroen, like most manufacturers, understands this very well, and this new Citroen C1 Furio’s purpose is “offering young drivers an affordable, sporty looking car” without them having to opt for a bigger engine/more power.

    To go on sale in the UK from August, the Furio variant of the tiny city car “builds on Citroen’s sporting credentials” and is mentioned in the same breath as the 1990s Saxo Furio and cars like the AX Sport and C2 by Loeb.

    Citroen-C1-Furio-2

    Available as a three-door hatchback, the C1 Furio can be had as a VTi 68 manual and PureTech 82 manual. Based on the existing ‘Feel’ trim level, the Furio adds on black 15-inch ‘Planet’ alloys, exterior graphics plus red door mirrors and wheel centre caps to provide contrast to the Lipizzan White or Carlinite Grey metallic colour options. A rear diffuser and centred exhaust outlet complete the funky exterior.

    Inside, the C1 Furio gets ‘Wave’ grey cloth upholstery and a rev counter. This cute little thing goes is priced from £10,855 (RM58,117) on the road in the UK. Does it nail the baby AMG look?

     
  • VIDEO: Toyota Fortuner Chief Engineer interviewed

    VIDEO: All-new Toyota Fortuner – Design Improvements

    Executive chief engineer for the recently-launched Toyota Fortuner, Hiroki Nakajima tells the tale of what went into the making of the Japanese automaker’s body-on-frame SUV.

    Nakajima notes that customers mentioned that considering the SUV’s higher equipment levels and consequently higher prices relative to the Hilux pick-up truck, the Fortuner’s styling was perhaps too similar to that of the Hilux.

    To take care of that, Toyota decided to give the Fortuner its own unique front fascia while maintaining the same parts commonisation ratio as the previous models’, said Nakajima.

    Despite utilising the same hood panels, front pillar area, windscreen glass and front doors as the new Hilux, the designers have managed to give the Fortuner a different frontal look, he adds. “We also needed to improve the “cool” factor of the SUV. Our design concept was mainly “tough” and “cool”,” Nakajima says.

    The chief engineer says that a “tough” look is important for portraying off-road ability, while at the same time maintaining the “cool” factor as most customers use the vehicle on the road. The Fortuner’s visual belt line, for example, is an artistic device used to enhance the “cool” part of its image.

    VIDEO: All-new Toyota Fortuner – Interior

    Moving towards the vehicle’s interior, Nakajima recaps that the previous Fortuner/Hilux iteration shared a common instrument panel, which made them appear similar from the driver’s point of view. He goes on to elaborate that while the instrument panel’s structure for the Fortuner and Hilux is the same, the designers have given them each a different look.

    Particularly for the enhancement of the Fortuner’s premium image, Toyota drew inspiration from their own Land Cruiser and Land Cruiser Prado heritage, as a means of differentiating the Fortuner from competing, premium body-on-frame SUV rivals.

    “We utilised a larger cross-section compared to the previous model, so with this, we can achieve a higher safety standard, particularly for frontal impact,” Nakajima says. The Fortuner includes up to seven airbags, like on the Hilux pick-up truck. “The important thing is to address the passenger injury criteria, and with all these, we achieved the highest score in the NCAP rating,” he adds.

    VIDEO: All-new Toyota Fortuner – Drivetrain

    Fuel efficiency was admittedly a great challenge to deal with for the latest Hilux and Fortuner duo, according to Nakajima, to which end the new petrol and diesel engines help achieve a 10% improvement in fuel economy. He also said that both petrol and diesel engines for the Fortuner have been quietened, which makes it “easier for the customers to recognise the higher performance and better fuel economy,” he says.

    Suspension-wise, the Hilux and Fortuner carries over the leaf springs and the independent link system coencepts respectively, however the setup is completely new for the Fortuner, says Nakajima. “For example, the diameter of the absorbers have been dramatically increased to reduce noise and vibration.” These translate into improved ride comfort and reduced cabin noise, Nakajima says in closing.

    GALLERY: 2016 Toyota Fortuner

     
  • Second Mercedes-Benz plant to be built in Hungary

    Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 4MATIC Shooting Brake (X117) 2016. Canvasitblau, Interieur schwarz-beige. Kraftstoffverbrauch (l/100 km) innerorts/außerorts/kombiniert: 8,7/5,5/6,7;  CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 154 g/km Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 4MATIC Shooting Brake (X117) 2016. Canvasite blue, Interior black-beige. Fuel consumption (l/100 km) urban/ex urban/combined: 8.7/5.5/6.7;	combined CO2 emissions: 154 g/km

    Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 4MATIC Shooting Brake (X117) 2016. Canvasitblau, Interieur schwarz-beige. Kraftstoffverbrauch (l/100 km) innerorts/außerorts/kombiniert: 8,7/5,5/6,7; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 154 g/km
    Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 4MATIC Shooting Brake (X117) 2016. Canvasite blue, Interior black-beige. Fuel consumption (l/100 km) urban/ex urban/combined: 8.7/5.5/6.7; combined CO2 emissions: 154 g/km

    Daimler will be building a second plant in Kecskemet, Hungary at an investment of 1 billion Euros (RM4.52 billion), where it currently manufactures the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, CLA and CLA Shooting Brake models.

    According to a report by Automotive News Europe, the new plant is set for completion in 2020 and will create 2,500 new jobs, for the manufacture of front- and rear-wheel drive models, which means manufacturing operations in Hungary will expand beyond building just models based on the MFA platform.

    “We will establish a state-of-the-art and efficient production facility in which different vehicle architectures will roll off the assembly line flexibly,” Markus Schaefer, board member for production for Mercedes-Benz Cars, said in a statement. The factory will have an annual capacity of 150,000, while the Hungarian government offered US$46 million (RM187 million) in incentives, according to Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto.

    At present, the Kecskemet plant employs more than 4,000 staff, and produced over 180,000 vehicles last year. In total, it has built over half a million cars since it started operations in Hungary in 2012.

    GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake in Malaysia

     
  • BMW reveals industry-first, fully-automated optical measuring cell – first use for the next-gen 5 Series

    Next-gen BMW 5 Series optical measuring cell 1

    While BMW isn’t prepared to fully reveal its next-generation G30 BMW 5 Series yet, the carmaker is more than happy to share some information about the technology that will employed in its production.

    The company recently claims to be the first automaker in the world to implement a robotic optical measuring cell in its pilot plant in Munich. Essentially, it is a fully-automated 3D scanner that can create a digital model of full-sized vehicle in half the time previously required, with an accuracy of less than 100 micrometres.

    The setup involves two small, flexible robots fitted with two sensors that record reference points and then capture individual surface areas of approximately 80 by 80 cm each. The data is then combined to form a scan of the entire vehicle. Any deviations based on the analysis of the scan are alerted to technical integration specialists in the company’s production division, so they can take appropriate action early on.

    Being fully automated, 3D vehicle scanning can be performed at off-peak hours or at night, so the measuring cell can be utilised to full capacity, allowing for shorter update cycles. The new 5 Series sedan will be the first model to benefit from this technology, according to BMW.

    The BMW Group first tried out the system back in 2015, in an experiment held at the Munich plant. At the time, the system was only used to in toolmaking, and for complete measurement of individual sheet-metal parts as well as tool inspection. With the new 5 Series however, it will mark the first time the technology is used in the assembly process of a car.

    Of course, the introduction of this technology indirectly teases the arrival of the next-gen 5 Series as well, based on the photos you see here. Unfortunately, the photos only reveal the car’s rear and roof, along with a brief glimpse of the car’s left headlamp. The latter appears to be carry the marque’s Laserlight with Selective Beam system.

    Our earlier spyshots provide a little more info on the new 5er, which will likely adopt design cues from the G11/G12 BMW 7 Series. Similar to the current F10 5 Series, the upcoming G30 range will also include Touring and GT models, as well as a high-performance M5 sedan.

     
  • Subaru Impreza to gain pedestrian air bag feature

    2017 Subaru Impreza sedan 1

    Having made its debut at the New York International Auto Show, the Subaru Impreza is already set to receive an update to include a pedestrian airbag to complement its suite of safety features.

    The pedestrian airbag pops up behind the bonnet and ahead of the windscreen, with the aim of mitigating the pedestrian’s eventual impact with the front of the car in that area.

    This is in addition to the safety features in the Impreza, including the EyeSight suite which includes Pre-Collision Braking Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, High Beam Assist and Lane Keep Assist functions. Additionally, blind spot detection and a new automatic braking system for reversing is also included.

    “We have given it all to achieve world-class, top-notch safety systems,” said Kazuhiro Abe, project general manager for the Subaru Impreza. The new Impreza is powered by an updated FB20 2.0 litre, direct-injected four-cylinder boxer engine, of which the company says around 80% has been revamped. The revised engine produces 152 hp, an increase of 4 hp over the outgoing model.

    The Impreza is now underpinned by the Subaru Global Platform, which provides increased rigidity of 70% to 100% over the outgoing model, and a lower centre of gravity (5 mm). Revisions have been made to the suspension setup, as well as the inclusion of Active Torque Vectoring.

    Transmission is courtesy of Subaru’s revised Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), with reduced weight and improved ratio coverage to achieve better acceleration and fuel economy. It has a simulated seven-speed manual mode when commanded, while the marque’s symmetrical AWD is standard, as befitting the brand.

     
  • SPIED: Genesis G80 to spawn performance version

    Genesis G80 performance - 1

    Hyundai’s sub-brand Genesis is set to carve a performance division for itself with the advent of a high-performance variant of the G80 sedan, seen here testing.

    Previously spotted testing in heavier camouflage, a twin-turbocharged, 3.3 litre V6 petrol engine is expected to produce around 400 hp in this form, while not quite up there with the hottest BMW Ms and Mercedes-AMGs, is closer to the ballpark in which the likes of the Audi S6 and S7 roam.

    A new mesh grille is the face of this high-performance variant of the G80, which in this case is adopted from the larger G90 sedan. If the G80 looks familiar, it is the Hyundai Genesis with different badging. It is positioned in the premium market with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5 Series.

    CP4I6000

    Visually, the high-performance G80 appears to draw inspiration from BMW’s M Sport look, with a three-scoop front bumper that bears some resemblance to the Munich marque’s item, while the rear bumper adopts a similarly muscular, Germanic look, with quad oval exhaust tips to signify this performance variant.

    On the local front, the Hyundai Genesis that was launched last year takes its spot in the market in sole 3.8 litre V6 guise. At its launch, it wasn’t just the car that was on offer; along with a purchase of the luxury sedan came a two-year, free Leader Card membership which offered select concierge-style services.

    This included four free chauffeur service passes for travel between major airports and the Klang Valley, four free visits to the Plaza Premium Lounge at selected major airports in Malaysia, plus other privileges including personalised hotel bookings, travel arrangements and showroom VIP lounge access.

    GALLERY: Hyundai Genesis in Malaysia

     
  • VW Group’s first half 2016 balance sheet better than expected, profits before ‘dieselgate’ provisions up

    VW Tiguan Frankfurt 1

    The Volkswagen Group has announced its first half of 2016 financial results, and the balance sheet is in “a much better position than anticipated.” Operating profit before special items came to 7.5 billion euros in the six-month period, half a billion more than the first half of 2015. The group delivered 5.12 million vehicles in the first half, a 1.5% year-on-year increase.

    The ‘special items’ in question is the money set aside for the ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal. VW says that this reduced operating profit by 2.2 billion euros, including provisions amounting to 1.6 billion euros. Taking this into account, the group’s operating profit after special items is 5.3 billion euros. At 107.9 billion euros, the group’s sales revenue in the first six months fell slightly short of the previous year’s takings (108.8b).

    “Particularly in light of the current special items, we can be satisfied with our results for the first half-year. The figures show that our operating business is sound. With our brands the group is built on many strong pillars. Building on these foundations we will transform the Volkswagen Group with our ‘Together-Strategy 2025′ from a car maker into a world-leading provider of sustainable mobility,” said VW Group chairman Matthias Müller.

    Dynamic photo,  Colour: Florett Silver

    VW’s operating profit does not include figures of its Chinese joint ventures, which amounted to 2.4 billion euros in the reporting period, down slightly y-o-y from 2.7b. The group’s profit after tax amounted to 3.6 billion euros, down from 5.7b.

    “We produced a solid result in difficult conditions. This shows that the Volkswagen Group has high earnings power. But it will require continued hard work to absorb the significant impact from the diesel issue,” said Frank Witter, the group’s CFO.

    The European giant said that its H1 2016 results were not just from the prolonged positive growth of Audi, Porsche and Skoda brands, but also came from a palpable improvement in the namesake Volkswagen passenger car brand in the second quarter of the year. This in turn is attributable to factors such as seasonally strong demand, a recovery of the European car market and the revitalisation of the fleet business.

    Despite this, operating profit before special items at the namesake brand declined to 900 million euros from 1.4b, which VW says is due to exchange rates, lower sales volumes and higher marketing costs resulting from the diesel emissions issue.

    2016 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S 2

    Other brands are compensating very well. Audi, which figures include Lamborghini and Ducati brands, generated an operating profit before special items of 2.7 billion euros (down from 2.9b), Skoda saw profit rise from 522 to 685 million euros, SEAT saw profit rise by 40 million to 93 million euros, while operating profit at Porsche jumped 7.7% to 1.8 billion euros.

    CEO Müller commented on the outlook saying: “We will work hard on our earnings power to manage the future investments needed to transform our core automotive business and build an innovative business unit for mobility services. One pillar of Strategy 2025 is therefore that all brands and business areas contribute to increasing efficiency at every link in the value chain.”

    The VW Group expects a 2016 sales revenue decline by as much as 5% over 2015 figures. Dieselgate aside, the highly competitive environment as well as exchange rate and interest rate volatility and fluctuations in raw materials prices are cited as factors. However, positive effects are expected from the efficiency programmes implemented by all brands from the group’s modular toolkits.

     
  • VIDEO: Acura NSX GT3 gets put through its paces

    Up until now, Acura has only revealed several official images of the new NSX GT3, which is frankly pretty boring. Not anymore, as the carmaker has dropped its first teaser video of the race car, where you can devote 16 seconds of your day to unadulterated twin-turbo V6 noise.

    We are of course referring to the NSX GT3’s 3.5 litre DOHC mill that utilises the same engine parts from the road-going NSX, including the block, heads, valvetrain, crankshaft, pistons, along with its dry sump lubrication system.

    Elsewhere, the nine-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system has been binned, with the GT3 opting for rear-wheel drive and a six-speed sequential-shift racing gearbox instead.

    The NSX GT3 is seen in the video wearing its exposed carbon-fibre bodywork, which feature aero components such as a large rear wing, front canards, splitters, side skirts, smaller wing mirrors, hood vents, underbody diffuser and enlarged hood vents.

    The racecar will make its first public test debut on July 28 during the Pirelli World Challenge practice sessions at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and is slated for homologation as an FIA GT3-class race car later this year.

    GALLERY: Acura NSX GT3


    GALLERY: Honda NSX at Tokyo 2015

     
  • 2016 Renault Koleos – Australian specifications, pricing revealed; four variants offered, from RM91k

    2016 Renault Koleos Australia gallery 1

    The all-new 2016 Renault Koleos is set to go on sale Down Under very soon, with official prices for the five-seat SUV now revealed. As we’ve previously reported, Australia will be the first to sell the Koleos globally, with a Malaysian debut set for September this year.

    The entry-level Koleos variant for the Australian market will be the Life 4×2, which is priced at AUD$29,990 (RM91,489). Among the standard equipment fitted here include cloth upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, automatic headlamps, R-Link 2 infotainment system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, rearview camera, rear parking sensors and Hill Start Assist

    Moving forward is the Zen variant, which comes in both 4×2 and 4×4 powertrains. The former retails at AUD$33,990 (RM103,799), while the latter can be had for AUD$36,49 (RM111,435). The mid-spec variant adds on features such as an electronic parking brake, power driver’s seat, navigation capabilities to the R-Link 2 system and leather upholstery and replaces the Life’s 17-inch wheels with 18-inch ones.

    The range-topping Intens variant is available only as a 4×4, and has a sticker price of AUD$43,490 (RM132,812). As you’d expect, the Intens gets all the goodies – Pure Vision LED headlamps, larger 8.7-inch touchscreen for the R-Link 2 system, Bose 12-speaker sound system, electric panoramic sunroof, hands-free power tailgate and a host of safety kit (Forward Collision Warning, Advanced Emergency Braking System, Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Warning.

    2016 Renault Koleos Australia gallery 9

    The entire Australian-market Koleos range is powered by a 2.5 litre four-cylinder petrol engine – essentially the QR25DE-k2 seen in the T32 X-Trail. The mill provides 169 hp and 226 Nm on the Koleos, and is mated to an X-tronic CVT automatic transmission. This will be the powertrain Malaysians get, although it remains to be seen if the 4×2 or 4×4 option (or both) will be offered.

    The second-generation Koleos rides on the same platform as the X-Trail – the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s Common Module Platform (CMF-CD), which also underpins the new Espace, Talisman, Kadjar, Scenic. For right-hand drive markets, the Koleos is built in Busan, South Korea, whereas left-hand drive models originate from China.

    Closer to home, order books for the new Koleos will open in August, although no prices have been indicated to us yet. Nonetheless, will you be looking forward to the arrival of the Koleos, and what equipment would you expect to be available on it? More importantly, how much are you willing to pay for one?

     
  • BMW announces new M4 GT4 for 2018 race season

    BMW M4 GT4 sketch

    Customer racing is an important part of BMW, so much so that the company’s motorsport division develops factory-prepped race cars for sale to interested parties. The latest to come from BMW Motorsport is this, the M4 GT4, which replaces the aging E92 M3 GT4.

    For the uninitiated, the GT4 spec created by the Stephane Ratel Organisation (SRO) is the lowest class of FIA GT racing, where amateur racers compete. The cars used in GT4 are barely modified, with the majority of them being production-based models. Because of this, the GT4 category is relatively more affordable, and thus, capable of attracting a wide audience of privateer BMW teams.

    BMW’s latest race car comes from the factory homologated to FIA GT4 spec, and uses the road-going M4 Coupe’s 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged inline six cylinder engine (431 hp and 550 Nm), along with its electronics.

    Meanwhile, the carbon-fibre bonnet is taken from M4 GTS, whereas the seats, brakes and pedal box are carried over from the M6 GT3. The M4 GT4 also gets its own carbon-fibre doors, motorsport front splitter and rear wing, as well as a racing exhaust system.

    Other more specific details like the car’s weight, transmission type, performance capabilities and other race-ready parts have yet to be revealed as the car is still in development. According to BMW, the M4 GT4 will complete its first tests at the end of 2016, with customer deliveries expected to start in the second half of 2017. The car will likely make its first appearance at the 24 Hours of Dubai (AE) in January 2018.

     
 

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