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  • IIMS 2014: Honda HR-V Mugen and Modulo live gallery

    Honda HR-V Mugen IIMS- 11

    The Honda HR-V, making its ASEAN debut in Jakarta, is drawing in the crowds at JI Expo, assisted by jaw dropping models. We’re not talking about the beautiful ladies gracing the stand (you’ll have to wait awhile more for that) but dressed up versions of the B-segment SUV, one from Mugen, the other by Modulo.

    The latter is striking enough with a chrome look and purple-tinged wheels (or is that pink?) but the Mugen is the mad one, with widebody extensions and super elaborate flower-spoke wheels. Body stripes in the tuning house’s trademark colours add to the “look at me” effect. The tuner boys in Sunway must be rubbing their hands with glee at the sight of this.

    The Modulo showcar is based on the HR-V 1.8 Prestige, and we know that from the LED headlamps with DRLs. The 139 PS/169 Nm 1.8 CVT model also gets nice things like a panoramic roof, a leather lined interior, reverse camera and six airbags.

    Honda HR-V Modulo IIMS- 7

    The 120 PS/145 Nm 1.5 variant, which can also be had with a five-speed manual gearbox in Indonesia, comes with an electric parking brake, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, dual airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), Ultra Seats from the Jazz, auto air con, keyless entry with push start, cruise control, shift paddles and leather seats, depending on grade. There are three: A, S and E.

    Indonesian estimated pricing starts from 240 juta rupiah (RM64,907) for the base 1.5, rising to 350 juta rupiah (RM94,555) for the 1.8 Prestige. We’re expecting to see the HR-V in Malaysia next year. Full details, specs and live pics from IIMS 2014 in our earlier launch report.

    Honda HR-V Mugen

    Honda HR-V Modulo

    Honda HR-V 1.5 and 1.8, ASEAN-spec

    JDM Honda Vezel at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

     
     
  • Honda CR-V facelift – first photo surfaces online!

    honda-cr-v-facelift-first-photo

    Hey presto – the first photo of the facelifted Honda CR-V has found its way online! New are the front grille design (two-bar), front bumper (rectangular fog lamps), headlamp internals (with LED surrounds), wing mirrors (slimmer) and shuriken-like alloys.

    What about the back? Well, our spyshots reveal a reshaped rear bumper and a new wing-shaped bar that runs across the Honda tailgate badge. There probably will be some minor changes to the interior – maybe all that touch- and HDMI-enabled stuff from the City, Jazz and HR-V/Vezel?

    Reports speculate that everything underneath could be earning a repeat performance – North America should carry on with its 2.4 litre DOHC petrol engine, while Europe should get a 1.6 litre turbodiesel, a 2.2 litre turbodiesel and a 2.0 litre SOHC petrol.

     
     
  • Proton Suprima S R3 bodykit available from RM1,017

    proton-suprima-s-r3-bodykit-1

    Now you can make your Suprima S look like the Super Premium range-topper – Proton Motorsports has announced on its Facebook page that the R3 bodykit for the Proton Suprima S is now open for booking.

    Available for all Suprima S colours, prices start from RM1,017 excluding installation. The prices vary depending on the colour chosen, and those who book the bodykit before September 28 will enjoy a 20% discount.

    Left: Proton Suprima S with R3 bodykit, Right: Proton Suprima S Super Premium

    The car pictured here appears to be wearing the same seven-spoke 17-inch R3 gunmetal alloys we saw on the Suprima S Super Premium, as well as the R3-bodykitted Proton Preve in August 2013 – the a la carte price was then estimated to be RM2,500 for a set of four wheels.

    The bodykit is body-coloured here; on the Suprima S Super Premium it’s non-glossy black. R3’s signature ‘notched’ front splitter and side skirts are familiar, but the rear side skirts (aft of the rear wheels) here are also notched; on the Super Premium they’re not.

    Proton Suprima S Super Premium

     
     
  • Malaysians need to start putting their children in child car seats when travelling in their cars

    Nissan-Elgrand-Review-68

    While browsing my social media news feeds during the Raya break, I saw a rather sad news piece posted by someone I know about a five month old baby who died in a car accident in Dungun because the baby was flung out of the car as there was no proper restraining done. The baby was being held by the grandmother in the rear seat of the car, instead of sitting in a baby chair.

    There are no such thing as child seat laws in Malaysia. Even the requirement to use rear seat belts was only introduced in 2009, and adoption as well as enforcement remain poor. Forget airbags – the primary safety feature in the case of a car accident is the seatbelt. Airbags are only meant to be a supplementary restraint system, hence the acronym SRS. But a seatbelt is meant to safely hold an adult body in place – it will not work for the small body of an infant, toddler or a small child.

    It’s been proven time and time again – the statistics show that a child who is in a vehicle that gets into an accident will face the possibility of significantly more injuries or even fatality than a child who is in a child seat. A recent crash test conducted by MIROS shows an adult passenger will not have the required strength to prevent an infant or a child from being thrown forward during a collision at any speed applied.

    Yes, no matter how strong you think you are, your arms are not as good as proper belts. According to AAM, an unsecured infant weighing 7 kg a crash speed of just 50km/h will be thrown forward at a force that’s equivalent to an adult falling from a five-(5) storey building!

    However, obviously there are many who simply still do not use chlid seats. Why do parents and guardians continue to let their loved ones travel in an unsafe manner?

    There are a few reasons for this. Here are some of the usual suspects.

    1. Child seats are too expensive

    With the rising cost of living these days, some parents choose to forgo child seats. However, should we really compromise on a child’s safety?

    Child seats can be had for as low as RM150 these days. I even saw one going for RM97 after discount recently. That’s cheaper than most people spend on cigarettes in a single month. For these more affordable “Made in Malaysia” child seats, just make sure they are SIRIM approved.

    An alternative would be to look on local classifieds websites or even parenting forums or Facebook groups to buy good condition used ones. You also need to check if the child seat has been in an accident before as the structure might be damaged. And give it a good wash, of course.

    2. Child seats take up too much space (i.e. my car is too small)

    Unfortunately this is a real problem for many and it is a problem that runs much too deep to be able to fix easily. Unlike a lot of the other reasons here that are ‘first world problems’, this one is not. In a nutshell, a safe mode of transportation is basically still out of each for many.

    A child seat will take up an entire adult’s seating space, and a lot of people can only afford a car that can seat five max. In fact, getting roofed transport like an old Kelisa or Kenari instead of going around on a motorcycle is already a big upgrade. Our public transport system is not really up to the mark yet, so you have to bring your kids around with a car – if you’re lucky enough to have a car in the first place. Otherwise it’s a balancing act on the motorcycle for you.

    Interestingly, the government actually wants people to have more kids. Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim told the press recently that the government was studying proposals to give incentives for Malaysians to have more kids in order to address a rapid decline in births.

    The 2012 number is 2.1 children per woman compared to 3 per woman in 2000, and Rohani says this will cause problems with a shortage of workforce in Malaysia in 20 to 30 years. But how are we going to fit all these kids into the small 5 seater sedans or hatchbacks that a lot of people are limited to in terms of affordability?

    A search for 7 seater cars on CarBase.my reveals that the cheapest 7 seater in the country is the Perodua Alza 1.5 Standard MT, which costs RM50,837.50. But the cheapest 5 seater is the Perodua Viva 660 BX MT, at an incredibly low price of RM21,144.80. That’s a massive, massive price difference!

    3. I don’t need it, I drive really carefully when my child is in the car

    Anyone who really believes this needs a reality check because no matter how carefully you drive, you are sharing the road with plenty of other motorists and not everyone is as careful and conservative as you.

    Imagine you’re driving with your family on a rainy day, the roads are wet, and a car spins out right in front of you. Everything happens so fast that you’re unable to react and you cannot avoid slamming into him. I bet at that moment you’ll wish you’d have put your child in a child seat.

    4. My child does not want to sit in a child seat

    This would not even be an issue if the government makes child seats a legal requirement. As a result, many parents who don’t face any of the problems above still choose to carry their child in their arms.

    I believe that this is just a matter of the child getting used to sitting in a car seat from the very beginning. My son is 20 months old now and he has always been in a car seat. He graduated from a rear facing Maxi Cosi Pebble to a rear facing Britax Max-Fix before he turned one year old and still sits in his car seat until today.

    What we do is try to cap car journeys to 45 minutes max, and if he really gets agitated we’ll stop somewhere for a break. We’ve done KL to Penang and KL to Singapore journeys with him completely sitting still in the car seat.

    5. Who needs child seats? I got child bed!

    ridiculous-car-bed

    There are also parents who want the best for their child and misguidedly decide that a child seat is too restrictive and uncomfortable for the child. The comfort of their child is the number one priority for them. As a result, ridiculous things like this “car bed” sell like hot cakes on online shops.

    I don’t want to even begin to imagine what would happen to a child lying down on this type of “car bed” in an accident. The shocking thing is that it seems to getting massive amount of shares, likes and ‘interested’ comments this item is getting on social media, this means there are a lot of people interested in buying it.

    6. My wife’s arms are as good as the belts in a car seat

    Like we said earlier, tests show that an adult passenger will not have the required strength to prevent an infant or a child from being thrown forward during a collision at any speed applied.

    It’s simple physics. Trying to hold a small baby in a car crash at 50km/h would be like trying to lift 8 bags of cement at the same time. It’s simply not possible.

    7. My child is big enough not to sit in a car seat

    Like we said earlier, seat belts in cars are designed for adult bodies. Even if it appears that your child can wear a seatbelt properly, the seat belt could be sitting on areas like their tummy or neck, which are not the strongest parts of their bodies, instead of where seat belts are supposed to lie – their hips, chest and shoulder.

    In the UK, there are legal requirements in place where a child has to first use a Group 0+ seat (up to 13kg), then move to a Group 1 seat (9-18kg), and then use a booster seat up to 12 years old or taller than 135cm. We do not have such laws but this would be a good guideline. If you want to save money, you can go for ‘convertible’ seats that combine both Group 0+ and Group 1 sizes in one seat.

    This is of course just the minimum. Since everyone’s body is different, if adult seat belts don’t seem to rest on the right places on your child even after the thresholds, continue to use your booster seat.

    Do I need ISOFIX?

    No you don’t need ISOFIX. You can use a child seat that is secured by a seat belt too. But a child seat is only safe if it is secured properly, otherwise it will just become a projectile in a car crash.

    AA surveys show that child seats that are fitted with the adult seatbelts are typically 70% to 80% misfitted with around 30% being seriously misfitted.

    ISOFIX’s purpose is to fix this problem. It minimises installation errors, but if your car does not have ISOFIX points, you just need to make sure you learn how to secure your child seat properly.

    For your next car, use CarBase.my’s advanced search feature to look for cars with ISOFIX points.

    This is what a child goes through in an accident

    I think watching what happens in these videos would say it best. Once you’ve decide to put your child in a car seat where he or she belongs, you might want to read up on front facing versus rear facing child seats – these videos will help show you the difference. A child should be kept in a rear-facing child seat for as long as possible before graduating to a front-facing one.

    I went through a lot of hassle parallel-importing the Britax Max Fix that I use myself because no one carried it locally – it is pretty huge and fits a toddler up to 18 kg in a rear-facing position.

    I hope that this article helps raise some awareness on the importance of child seats in Malaysia. If you know someone who has a child and doesn’t use child seats, please share this with them.

     
     
  • Lotus to lay off 325 employees in restructuring

    elise s 06

    Lotus could lay off a total of 325 people as part of a restructuring program, a number which represents just over a quarter of the 1,215 employees worldwide. The restructuring program is part of efforts to build a “strong, sustainable future”, according to a press statement sent out yesterday.

    “Regrettably, it is likely that compulsory job losses will be needed to ensure that the company has the right number of people with the right skills. Lotus intends to redeploy staff wherever possible and will look for ways to retain specific skills and knowledge within the business, despite the proposed cuts. It also proposes to recruit into key roles, to help achieve the best possible structure and skill base,” it added.

    “We understand the concerns that this proposal will create. We deeply regret the potential impact any reshaping of the business may have on our employees and their families. We have worked very hard to avoid the need to make the proposal, but do believe that it is now essential. It is in no way a reflection on our employees who have shown nothing but dedication to us and have worked tirelessly to support Lotus. Once the reshaping has been undertaken, and with its strong and experienced management team, Lotus should be a leaner, more competitive organization,” said Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales in the statement.

    Jean-Marc Gales_CEO of Group Lotus plc and Aslam Farikullah 01_05_14_20p (3)

    Gales was joined Lotus as CEO in May 2014 from his previous gig as CEO of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) since 2012. Prior to CLEPA, he was made president of both Automobiles Peugeot and Automobiles Citroen in 2009. Gales also previously held senior posts at Daimler, General Motors, Fiat and Volkswagen.

    Lotus also hired former Kia Europe executive Jean-Charles Lievens to develop the automaker’s sales network in the southern European region, and former Millbrook Proving Ground CEO Miguel Fragoso as Engineering Director.

    Lotus Cars Malaysia recently revised prices for its whole line-up in Malaysia and as a result it registered its best ever monthly sales this month. The Elise S is now priced at RM280k, down from RM332k, while the Evora S’s price tag was dropped from RM567k to RM476k. Global sales are on the uptrend as well, with Lotus sales increasing 31% worldwide (505 units up from 386 units) for the first financial quarter of 2014.

    Lotus is also working on a sedan and an SUV to supplement their sports cars “Porsche style”.

     
     
  • DRIVEN: Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost – jack of all trades?

    Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost 27

    When the Ford Fiesta was launched in Malaysia in 2010, the local B-segment hatchback market was still relatively quiet. Back then, its only real rivals were the less well-equipped Mazda2 (the outgoing model) and previous-gen Suzuki Swift – the cheapest Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo were still north of RM100k and there were no tax-free hybrids to steal the little Ford’s lunch money. Smitten by the reasonable price, attractive Euro styling and sharp handling, buyers flocked to the Fiesta in droves.

    What a difference four years make. In the interim, the duty-exempt CBU B-segment hybrids have come and gone, the Honda Jazz and Volkswagen Polo are both now locally-assembled and priced squarely to compete with the Fiesta, and the Peugeot 208 and cheaper models such as the Mitsubishi Mirage have also joined the party.

    Hoping to battle the influx of new rivals, Ford has introduced an EcoBoost variant for the facelifted Fiesta, fitted with a tiny 1.0 litre three-cylinder engine. Despite the considerably smaller motor, the price has gone up by over RM9.3k over the 1.5 Sport, now sitting at RM93,888. Has the company gone too far down the downsizing route, or will the newfangled mill make the Fiesta appealing again?

    Read The Full Story ›

     
     
  • Malaysia to explain new Singapore toll fees – report

    singapore-coe

    Government officials from Malaysia will meet with those from Singapore to explain the reasons behind the implementation of toll charges at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex, The Star has reported.

    According to minister in the Prime Minister’s department Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, Malaysia’s transport and foreign ministries will meet Singaporean officials as soon as possible to convince the republic to reconsider its decision to hike toll fees on its side of the Causeway from October 1.

    “We have to meet them personally to rectify their perception that Malaysia introduced a new charge at the CIQ to pay the concessionaire and to upgrade the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) and it should not be an excuse for them (Singapore) to increase their toll charge,” The Star quoted him as saying.

    lta-causeway-singapore-new-toll-charges

    Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) recently announced that from October 1, Singapore’s toll charges for all vehicles, except motorcycles, leaving Singapore through the Causeway, will be increased to mirror the increase on the Malaysian side in July.

    The LTA said that it has been “a long-standing policy” for Singapore to match its toll charges at the Causeway and Second Link to those set by Malaysia. It also said Singapore will follow suit should Malaysia reduce or do away with the toll charges.

    Wee said Singapore’s hiking of toll fees at its checkpoint to match those of Malaysia’s is unjustified, and the meeting is aimed at clearing the air over the issue.

     
     
  • Lamborghini teases new mystery car for Paris

    lamborghini-paris-teaser

    Lamborghini is set to introduce a new model in October at the 2014 Paris motor show. Judging from the sole image, the car appears to break away from the styling themes of current Lamborghini models, featuring a sloping roofline and a more conventional profile.

    With the tagline, ‘Once perfection is achieved, you can just double it’ accompanying the teaser shot, do not be surprised if Lamborghini decides to shock everyone with a potential 2+2 model to sit alongside the more extreme Huracan and Aventador models.

    Whatever it is, Lamborghini remains tight-lipped about the car as a whole. Here’s a snippet of our past experience with the Aventador to whet your appetite for the impending reveal. The 2014 Paris motor show can’t come soon enough.

     
     
  • Volvo XC90 R-Design; cosmetic upgrades for new SUV

    The all-new Volvo XC90 R-Design

    Fresh from its recent global debut, the new Volvo XC90 has been showcased with the R-Design kit. To those who need a refresher course, R-Design is Volvo’s line of aesthetic upgrades – similar in concept to BMW’s M Sport line, Audi’s S Line and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG trimlines.

    Changes are only purely cosmetic, with no upgrades to the drivetrain whatsoever. At the front, there is a redesigned, deeper front bumper along with a different grille design. The roof rails, side mirrors and window surrounds are now trimmed in a matte-like silver treatment.

    The all-new Volvo XC90 R-Design

    The rear sports a mildly restyled rear bumper with integrated, rectangular twin exhaust pipes at each end. Wheel sizes are now 20-inch in diameter with two distinct five-spoke designs available to choose from.

    Inside, the car is now fitted with Contour sport seats while a smattering of R-Design badges serves as a constant reminder that this is no ordinary XC90. A perforated leather steering wheel and gearknob complete the interior upgrades.

    While the R-Design treatment itself doesn’t have quite a presence amongst local buyers, the XC90 itself has been well-received around the world and is slated to arrive on our shores in the near future.

     
     
  • Renault Fluence ZE planned for production in China

    DSC_3421a

    Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has told Reuters that the electric-powered Fluence (known as the Renault Fluence ZE) is being planned for production in China.

    The proposal is being discussed with Chinese authorities, and if the government gives the green light, Renault will build the car for a Chinese brand, he said, according to the news agency.

    He didn’t say what Chinese brand, but Renault has a joint-venture in China with Dongfeng Motor Corporation. Dongfeng-Renault finally received approval in December to locally assemble Renault cars in the People’s Republic, after a gruelling 10 years of operation.

    But the Renault Fluence ZE hasn’t exactly been flying off the shelves – according to JATO Dynamics, less than 60 units found European homes in the first half of 2014, Reuters reports.

    A few soldiers from the French carmaker’s all-electric ZE (Zero Emissions) army are here in Malaysia – Fluence ZE, Twizy and Zoe – none of which you can buy at the moment.

    Built in Turkey, the Fluence ZE arrived here quite some time ago to undergo trials, and while there has been little word of it since, its 2.0 litre petrol-powered sibling launched here in May.

     
     
 

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