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  • Honda HR-V facelift revealed in Europe with 1.5L turbo

    Europeans tends to receive Hondas far later than any other region, but in return they get goodies that aren’t available anywhere else. That’s true for the facelifted HR-V as well, which arrives in the Continent nearly six months after it made its debut in Japan, but gets a new engine and a couple of hitherto unseen features.

    The big news is under the bonnet, where Honda has finally shoehorned the Civic‘s 1.5 litre VTEC Turbo engine. That’s coming in 2019 alongside the 1.6 litre i-DTEC turbodiesel; at launch, the HR-V will soldier on with the same 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated i-VTEC petrol as before. It gets friction-reducing plateau honed cylinder walls and timing chains coating, which reduce long-term wear and improve efficiency.

    Outputs remain at 130 PS and 155 Nm of torque, resulting in an identical zero-to-100 km/h sprint time of at 10.7 seconds with the standard six-speed manual gearbox and 11.2 seconds with the optional CVT. Meanwhile, combined fuel consumption has dropped from 5.7 to 5.3 litres per 100 km, as have carbon dioxide emissions from 134 to 121 grams per kilometre.

    The European HR-V will also be equipped with increased sound-deadening material around the car, including around the front bulkhead and wheel arches, the boot structure and both front and rear door panels. Certain models will also receive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) to further reduce noise.

    Elsewhere, it’s the same facelift as elsewhere, with new projector halogen headlights and LED daytime running lights as standard, plus a bolder dark chrome grille graphic, deeper front air intakes with circular fog lights, a dark chrome rear garnish and smoked tail lights. Higher-end trim levels get full-LED headlights, tube-type LED tail lights and new 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels – the latter are unique to Europe.

  • Perodua begins Zero Accident Campaign for its 10,300 staff, aims for zero road/industrial accidents by 2021

    Perodua has begun a zero accident campaign for its 10,300 employees nationwide as the next phase of its five-year road safety campaign launched last October aimed at reducing accidents on the road. Under the Perodua Zero Accident Campaign, the automaker is aiming for zero road accidents involving its staff travelling to and from their respective workplaces as well as zero industrial accidents while on duty by the year 2021.

    Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh said the initiative looks to the company’s employees setting an example by being good drivers. He added that Perodua hopes to take learning points from the internal campaign and integrate these into the five-year Perodua Road Safety Campaign.

    “While reduction and even elimination of industry-related accidents has always been the core focus of our Occupational, Health and Safety rules, we are now expanding that focus to include travel outside our premises. We believe the cultivation of good driving habits begins at home and we want to inculcate as much education on safe and responsible driving into our staff so that they would be a good example to all,” he said.

    The Perodua Road Safety Campaign aims to reduce road accidents by educating drivers on the need to understand and obey basic road rules and courtesies, namely not using mobile devices while driving, the importance of wearing seatbelts and using child car seats as well as utilising turn signals.

    “We use education as the approach because we believe most Malaysian drivers are aware of the rules and courtesies but may not understand the reasons behind them. Education will certainly take longer but once they fully understand the reasons behind the rules, the impact will be stronger,” Aminar said.

  • 2019 Honda Civic – FC gets mid-life facelift in the US

    Has it been three years already? Not for us, but the current FC generation Honda Civic was unveiled in the US in September 2015, which makes it a month short of three years ago. Time flies and we’re now looking at the mid-life facelift, the 2019 Honda Civic.

    No big change from the well-received 10th-generation Civic, which is expected. After all, the Civic is targeting its third consecutive year as America’s number one retail-selling car and its eighth straight year as the top retail-selling compact car (excluding fleet sales). The FC is also the most popular car in America with under-35-year-olds for eight of the past nine years, Honda says. Cumulative sales of the current generation Civic will surpass one million units this year.

    The refreshed 2019 Civic Sedan and Civic Coupe boast updated styling, a new Sport trim for both body styles and standard Honda Sensing tech on all trim levels.

    The styling updates are evolutionary, and focuses on further accentuating the Civic’s low and wide stance. In front, there’s a new piano black “wing” on the grille (replaces chrome) and a restyled lower fascia. The look now is one-piece instead of three, and there’s a full-width front splitter and chrome side pod accents, too. It looks the same to us, but Honda says that the LED and halogen headlights have been updated.

    At the back, there’s now a chrome accent on the lower rear bumper of the Sedan and new wheel designs for both two- and four-door models – including larger 18-inch rims on the Touring trim in the US.

    There’s a new Civic Sport trim positioned between the LX and EX, which Honda claims offers the looks and features budget-conscious enthusiasts are looking for. The Sport gets piano black on the lower front fascia and side pod accents, and for the Sedan, an added rear decklid spoiler. A splitter-style rear lower bumper incorporating a Civic Si-style chrome polygonal exhaust tip is included. 18-inch 10-spoke rims round things up. The Coupes seen here are in Sport trim.

    The Sport is powered by a 2.0 litre naturally aspirated DOHC i-VTEC engine mated to either a CVT automatic with G-Shift Control or a six-speed manual for lucky Americans. The new trim also gets an updated seven-inch Display Audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and volume button.

    In the kit department, all 2019 Civics from LX to Touring will come with Honda Sensing as standard. The pack includes Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, Road Departure Mitigation incorporating Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System and Adaptive Cruise Control. Honda says that for the 2019 model year, Sensing is either standard or optional on all its models in the US. The company plans to make it standard on all US cars by the 2022 model year.

    This facelift is only for the Civic Sedan and Coupe; with the Hatchback, Civic Si and Civic Type R remaining untouched for now. What do you think of the new look? This or the pre-facelift front fascia for you?

    GALLERY: Honda Civic 1.8S

  • Tesla looking to go private with backing of Saudi fund

    Elon Musk has confirmed plans to take Tesla private with the backing of a Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund. In a statement published on the company’s official website, the Tesla CEO also admitted that he was first approached for the move almost two years ago.

    According to Musk, the Saudi sovereign fund expressed its interest in order to diversify from oil and “has more than enough capital needed to execute on such a transaction.”

    On August 2, Musk notified the Tesla board about his intention to take Tesla private at US$420 per share – a 20% premium. In his proposal, existing shareholders could remain as they are in a private Tesla, or agree to the buyout amount per share.

    Following that, Musk met with the Saudi fund representatives on July 31, which has already accumulated almost 5% of Tesla stock via public markets. The fund’s managing director “strongly expressed his support for funding a going private transaction for Tesla,” said Musk.

    This lead to an official announcement on August 7 that Tesla is looking to go private, but Musk says details of the deal are still being ironed out. The Tesla CEO did clarify that “most of the capital required for going private would be funded by equity rather than debt” so as not to burden the company with more liabilities.

    Musk also dismissed reports that US$70 billion would be required to take Tesla private, estimating that approximately two-thirds of shares owned by all current investors would roll over into a private Tesla.

  • GIIAS 2018: Cewek cantik SPG wrap up our coverage

    SPG stands for Sales Promotion Girl, and not what you might be thinking about. Now that we’ve cleared that, let’s proceed to a recap of our live coverage of the 2018 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS). This is our fourth year at GIIAS and as usual, there were plenty of relevant and/or interesting cars from our neighbouring market.

    We kicked things off by showing you the new Honda Brio, which made its world debut at GIIAS. Camping out at Honda’s booth instead of following the VIP tour paid off, as we were possibly the first in the world to break the story, with live pics.

    President Joko Widodo did not make a full round of the hall, as previous VIPs did. Upon realising that he wouldn’t make it to their corner booth, Honda did a small scale reveal with its own bosses before the car was covered again for its scheduled launch event in the afternoon. That small window allowed us to go live with the first images of the new compact hatch, which is big in Indonesia, India and Thailand.

    For once, Nissan had a big new model to launch at the show. The Nissan Terra, a seven-seat SUV based on the Navara NP300 pick-up truck, will take on the Toyota Fortuner and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport in Indonesia, the second market in ASEAN to see the SUV surface after the Philippines. Meanwhile, Lexus launched the new ES and gave the UX small crossover its Asian premiere.

    No new models for market leaders Toyota and Daihatsu, but we detailed a couple of models of interest. At Daihatsu’s cheery stand sat a 200 hp Axia Turbo and the Terios Custom, the new range topper of a seven-seater that will be the base for Perodua’s upcoming SUV. Speaking of Perodua, the Rawang carmaker’s Myvi was present as the Indonesian-market Daihatsu Sirion. The JDM Daihatsu Boon Active was also displayed.

    Suzuki’s stand was one of the most popular ones at GIIAS, thanks to the new Suzuki Jimny, which Jokowi personally inspected and approved of. The retro modern 4×4 is set to be made in Indonesia. We also showed you the second-generation Suzuki Ertiga MPV and the cool Ignis Suzuki Sport.

    Across the aisle from Suzuki was Hyundai, which launched the new Santa Fe at the show. Both the fourth-gen big SUV and Grand Starex facelift (called the H-1 in Indonesia) are expected to be launched in Malaysia in the near future, so you can check out what our neighbours get. Kia was not present at the show, but snuck in a Sportage facelift via a window tint brand.

    There’s plenty of buzz surrounding new Chinese entrants Dongfeng Sokon and SAIC-GM-Wuling, which are touting aggressive pricing. The latter was the first to enter Indonesia with the Wuling Confero Low MPV, and has followed that up with a bigger and more upscale Cortez MPV, which takes aim at the Toyota Innova.

    Wuling also previewed an upcoming SUV that will be based on the Chinese market Baojun 530. DFSK, which everyone here calls Sokon, has the Glory 580 SUV. The design mishmash has a 1.5 litre turbo engine and is bigger than a Honda CR-V, but starts at half the price. We also learned that the Audi Q5’s wraparound hatch is possibly the most popular backside in China.

    Other interesting sights include the Honda Civic Type R TCR race car and the Toyota Vios TRD. The Civic TCR managed to make the outrageous road-going FK8 Civic Type R next to it look tame, thanks to a nice widebody and some serious aero bits.

    Seeing the Vios decked out in TRD parts reminded us that Toyota does not sell a TRD Sportivo version of the Vios in Indonesia and Yaris Ativ in Thailand, so this could well be a final prototype for an eventual sporty range topper. Of course, Malaysia is waiting for the new Vios, never mind the TRD Sportivo.

    There you have it, a summary of our live 2018 GIIAS coverage. We hope you’ve enjoyed the usual level of reporting, done abroad. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for also caring about the main reason why we go to motor shows – you may now proceed to the enticing gallery below. Photographer Sherman Sim and myself signing off from BSD City, till next year.

  • 2019 SIC Yamaha MotoGP team signs Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo for next season

    With the formation of the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) and Angel Nieto Team as a Yamaha MotoGP satellite team, it was announced that riders Franco Morbidelli (23) and Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (19) have been signed for the 2019 season. This was confirmed by Yamaha Factory Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis.

    Italian Morbidelli, who hails from Rome, Italy, is currently riding for Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) satellite team EG 0,0 Marc VDS. Starting in Moto2 in 2013, Morbidelli was 2017 Moto2 World Champion.

    Frenchman Quartararo, who hails from Nice, France, started in Moto3 in 2015 before making the move to Moto2 in 2017 with Pons HP40, riding a Kalex. He finished ninth in last year’s Moto2 championship standings.

    Speaking to ex-racer and pitlane reporter Simon Crafar, Jarvis said Yamaha has a hand in rider selection, although the final decision rests with the team. “I wouldn’t say we don’t have a say but ultimately the decision on the riders is that of the satellite team,” he said, “they’re an independent team.”

    “Any rider they select needs to be finally approved by us at being at the level and the capacity to ride the M1,” said Jarvis. “So, they’ve chosen to go for Franco Morbidelli, who is a rider who is very interesting to us because he’s a World Champion, he’s an Academy rider and he definitely has talent.”

    Asked about the SIC Yamaha team’s choice of second rider Quartaro, Jarvis said although Quartaro is young, he is talented and showed promise in 2018 with future potential. “I think the case of (Hafizh) Syahrin has shown that sometimes you can take a choice and if the guy’s got talent and is brought in without expectation, he can deliver,” Jarvis said.

    Jarvis however declined to comment on the amount of factory support the SIC Yamaha would be receiving. “It will be something like Tech 3 or more than that,” said Jarvis.

    This might mean the SIC Yamaha team could be getting race machinery a year or two removed from the current generation of MotoGP bikes. What do you think? Has SIC Yamaha made the right choice for 2019 or should there be more Malaysian representation at the top flight of motorcycle motorsport?

    GALLERY: Franco Morbidelli

    GALLERY: Fabio Quartararo

  • Plans to abolish toll collection put on hold indefinitely

    The government says that toll collection is set to continue for the foreseeable future because it does not have the means to absorb the financial impact if collection is abolished, The Sun reports.

    In its GE14 election manifesto, Pakatan Harapan (PH) stated it would abolish highway tolls in stages. Because it would cost the government RM400 billion to abolish tolls in one go, works minster Baru Bian says that PH has decided to put the matter on hold indefinitely until the country’s financial situation improves.

    “After taking into account this factor (of having to fork out RM400 billion), the government has agreed to postpone the proposal to abolish tolls until our economy really stabilises and allows for it. The government will, however, study other options that we may deem to be more practical in order to reduce the cost of living for the rakyat,” he said at the Dewan Rakyat.

    Last month, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) CEO Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan had said that highway tolls could not be abolished within 100 days as the government had other monetary priorities to address at this time. He added that the abolishment process is a rather complicated one involving several parties.

    “Ultimately, any toll restructuring is indeed a zero-sum game where one needs to make a payment whether or not it provides a balance between the users and the concessionaires. I think the government also wants to be fair because toll removal and compensation to the concessionaires will transfer the burden to taxpayers, and I think that [being fair] is the priority of the government,” he had then said.

  • Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow concept teased again

    The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is happening at the end of the month, and while the event mostly shines the spotlight on pristine examples of classic cars, it’s also a place for manufacturers to show off their latest and greatest. This year, Mercedes-Benz is joining Audi in revealing another electric-powered supercar, and Stuttgart’s effort is called the EQ Silver Arrow.

    A teaser video has been released, showing chief designer Gorden Wagener sketching the show car. While EQ may be Mercedes’ nascent forward-thinking electric vehicle sub-brand, the car seen in the sketch features a retrofuturistic design, with the shapely bodywork and a buttress aft of the seats harking back to the eponymous pre-war Silver Arrows race cars.

    The car was previewed by the Aesthetics Progressive Luxury sculpture, which also sported a large rear fin to aid high-speed stability. The said fin bears a striking resemblance to the one on the Project One, a hybrid hypercar that shares the 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engine and two of its four electric motors with the championship-winning F1 W07 Hybrid race car from 2016.

    Mercedes-Benz has dabbled with electric supercars before with the SLS AMG Electric Drive, the limited-run model used a total of four motors and a 400-volt, 48 kWh lithium-ion battery pack to deliver 740 hp, 1,000 Nm of torque of torque, 250 km of range and a zero-to-100 km/h sprint time of 3.9 seconds.

    GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz Aesthetics Progressive Luxury sculpture

  • Toyota Corolla hybrid hot hatch in the works: report

    A hot hatch version of the Toyota Corolla with a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain could be in the works, according to a report by Australian website Drive. The Japanese automaker is considering the expansion of the Corolla line-up in the direction of electrified performance, said chief engineer Yasushi Ueda.

    Where rival companies have predominantly employed purely internal combustion for their hot hatch models, a petrol-electric interpretation of the genre ‘sounds very good’, Ueda said. Any potential performance hybrid version of the Corolla will be built upon the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) which underpins the base car, as well as other current models such as the Prius, C-HR and Camry.

    Should the high-performance Corolla come to light, it will most likely use a layout where the petrol engine drives the front wheels, and the rear wheels will be driven by the battery-electric motor, as in other all-wheel drive hybrids from the Japanese brand. “That is the basic structure within Toyota,” Ueda notes.

    Currently, the most potent Corolla hatchback is powered by a 2.0 litre M20A Dynamic Force naturally aspirated petrol engine, which produces 168 hp and 200 Nm of torque. This is paired with a six-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission (IMT) which includes automatic rev-matching, or a less “hot hatch friendly” Direct Shift-CVT. A hybrid variant meanwhile, employs a 1.8 litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine with dual electric motors, producing 134 hp.

    What’s your take on electrified hot hatch models, dear readers?

    GALLERY: 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback (US market)

  • GIIAS 2018: Wuling previews upcoming SUV for Indonesia, based on Chinese market Baojun 530

    The two Chinese carmakers that have entered the Indonesian car market – Dongfeng and SAIC-GM-Wuling – have done so via different routes. The first one, Wuling, chose MPVs to penetrate the large and growing market, which has a preference for affordable people carriers. Dongfeng, via its DFSK (Sokon) brand, has the Glory 580 SUV as its maiden product.

    After the Confero and Cortez MPVs, Wuling might be moving to SUVs next. At the 2018 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS), it previewed a “Wuling SUV” based on the Chinese market Baojun 530, which is also a SAIC-GM-Wuling product.

    Launched in China in March, the five-seater Baojun 530 measures 4,655 mm long and 1,835 mm wide, which is around the size of the 5+2 DFSK Glory 580. Both SUVs feature an Audi Q5-style wraparound hatch. Like the latest Hyundai Santa Fe, the top tier of lights is merely the LED daytime running lights, with the main beam situated below.

    In its home market, the Baojun is available in eight variants with a choice of a 1.8 litre NA or 1.5 litre turbo engines, paired to six-speed manual, automatic or dual-clutch transmissions. The petrol engine range of 1.8 NA and 1.5T is identical to the Glory 580, and the latter’s output is in the ballpark too at 147 hp and 230 Nm at 2,000 to 3,800 rpm. The front-wheel drive SUV is equipped with EPS steering, front McPherson struts and independent rear suspension.

    Available features include ABS, EBD, BA, ESC, hill hold control, electronic parking brake, front and rear sensors, reverse camera, tyre pressure monitoring system, six airbags, panoramic roof, keyless entry with push start, cruise control, an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation and a Harman Infinity sound system.

    In China, the Baojun 530 is priced from RMB 75,800 (RM45,162) to RMB 115,800 (RM68,994). Specs for the Indonesian market are yet to be finalised and research is ongoing – officials say that the Wuling SUV will not be ready this year.


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Last Updated 09 Aug 2018


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