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  • DRIVEN: Mazda MX-5 ND 2.0 – heightened sensations

    Mazda MX-5 2.0 Review 9

    “It’s important not to get hung up on numbers. Not on power, or torque. No, what is more important is the feeling. The driving experience and feeling is more important than power. In my mind it just has to be fun to drive,” Nobuhiro Yamamoto, programme manager of the latest Mazda MX-5, told Top Gear.

    Do you agree with the thinking behind the MX-5?

    Unlike some philosophies that aren’t debated because they’re too abstract, this is one of those things that divide car enthusiasts. One is no less a petrolhead if he’s in the turbocharged hot hatch camp, sniggering at this red ND as a wimpy machine for poseurs.

    On the other hand, there are those who swear by the joys of a sporty naturally-aspirated engine, more so when it’s allied to a lightweight RWD chassis. There’s also much to be said about the open-top experience, which you must know it to love it.

    You’ve undoubtedly read fantastic things about this fantastic little car, but it really isn’t for everyone, even many car enthusiasts. Here’s why.

    Read The Full Story ›

     
  • Continental issues global recall for five million airbags

    airbag

    More airbag-related news, and this time not about Takata, which was in the spotlight again today when Honda announced it will be recalling approximately 2.3 million vehicles in the US equipped with faulty PSDI-5 airbags from the supplier.

    In the US, Continental Automotive Systems has joined the party with its own airbag recall – news reports indicate that the automotive components manufacturer has issued a recall for five million airbag control units globally.

    The issue with the potentially defective units centres around a power supply component in the control unit – Continental explained in its regulatory filings that variations in the manufacturing process could cause a semiconductor material to corrode and eventually compromise electrical connections. As such, this could likely cause the airbags to inadvertently deploy or fail to activate in a crash.

    Affected manufacturers include Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Mercedes-Benz and – yet again – Honda, though less than two million of the recalled vehicles are in the US. It wasn’t detailed where the remaining vehicles are located.

    Fiat Chrysler said it will be recalling around 112,000 older model crossovers and minivans in North America. Meanwhile, Honda stated it was issuing a recall for more than 340,000 model year 2008-2010 Accords to address the problem. Mercedes-Benz had last October recalled more than 126,000 vehicles over the issue, with 2008-2009 C-Class and GLK-Class models being affected.

     
  • Opel/Vauxhall Mokka X – B-segment SUV gets facelift

    Opel-Mokka-X-299146

    The 2016 Geneva Motor Show will see the world premiere of the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka X, the facelifted version of the German B-segment crossover. The X suffix – which will be introduced on future Opel SUVs to differentiate them from the rest of the range – brings along a number of exterior revisions, a revamped cabin, added technology and new engines.

    Outside, the Mokka gets an new face with a wing-shaped grille, rectangular headlights with LED daytime running lights (adaptive LED headlights optional) and a cleaner bumper design with less plastic inserts. The tail lights have also been redesigned with optional LED lighting, while the bumper has been reprofiled with slimmer rear fog lights. New colours like Amber Orange and Absolute Red have been added to the palette.

    The interior has been considerably refreshed with a completely new dashboard – inspired by the one in the new Astra – with a sweeping horizontal design and in-vogue dash stitching. Keyless Open & Start, previously unavailable on the Mokka, also becomes an option.

    Opel-Mokka-X-299147

    With the facelift, the Mokka gains an infusion of new technology, such as the full suite of Opel OnStar communications services. There are also new Intellilink infotainment systems featuring seven- or eight-inch capacitative touchscreens and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, enabling the centre console to have fewer buttons.

    Also introduced is a new, higher-resolution Opel Eye front camera with increased processing power, improving the car’s driver assist systems. The Traffic Sign Assistant has been enhanced with an increased detection rate, while the Forward Collision Alert system now gets a reflective LED Alert Display that warns the driver with flashing red light. There’s Following Distance Indication (FDI) and Lane Departure Warning, too.

    Under the bonnet, there’s a new 1.6 litre “whisper diesel” engine available in both 110 hp and 136 hp outputs, as well as the new Astra’s 152 hp 1.4 litre direct injection turbo petrol mill. The latter is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission, automatic start/stop and adaptive all-wheel drive and promises a fuel consumption figure of 6.6 litres per 100 km and CO2 emissions of 154 grams per kilometre.

     
  • SPYSHOTS: 2016 Toyota Hilux spotted in Malaysia!

    Toyota Hilux spyshot 1

    Toyota Hilux fans, your wait is almost over, as the new pick-up truck has been spotted in Malaysia. Previously, we were told by president of UMW Toyota Motor Datuk Ismet Suki that the new Hilux will make its launch debut here sometime in Q2, 2016. With this sighting, it looks like we are well on track.

    These photos come courtesy of paultan.org reader Meeran Siva, who spotted the pick-up at a car wash in Nilai. Although we couldn’t get an unobstructed view of the new Hilux, we do get to see the new pick-up’s various design cues.

    From the rear, we can see the Hilux’s new tail lights, alloy wheel design, its double-cab body style and a questionable-looking sports bar (could be an aftermarket option). A shot of the front fascia reveals what appears to be halogen reflector headlights, along with tape covering the Toyota and Hilux badging.

    Toyota Hilux spyshot 5

    The generous usage of tape also prevents us from telling if the model seen here carries the 2.4 (150 PS/343 Nm) or 2.8 (177 PS/450 Nm) litre GD family of turbodiesel engines, or if it is the 4×4 or 4×2 model.

    The eighth-generation Toyota Hilux uses a stronger FIRM (Frame with Integrated Rigidity Mechanism), along with a significantly updated interior that now projects a more premium approach. The pick-up also gains a bump in its safety suite as well.

    Excited? Well, while you wait for the arrival of the new Hilux, why not check out the extreme lengths our Northern neighbours (Thailand) have gone to test out the capability of the pick-up by hauling 170 tonnes of weight, here.


    GALLERY: Australian-market Toyota Hilux

     
  • Tesla Model X Signature Red edition for CNY 2016

    2016-tesla-model-x-red-1

    A new Tesla Model X “Signature Red” limited edition variant is headed to the Chinese market. The order books for the new Model X are now open in China, with prices for the Signature Red P90D variant listed at 1.48 million yuan (RM935k).

    While the limited edition variant is commemorative of the coming Chinese New Year festivities, deliveries of the Model X are only expected to begin in the second quarter of 2016. The standard 90D variant is also available for booking, priced from 961k yuan (RM608k) to 1.171 million yuan (RM750k).

    Interestingly, this pushes the Model X’s global availability ahead of Europe, making it the first non-North American market to be able to configure and put a booking on the car.

    Several reports cheekily suggest that Tesla just wants to show off the Model X’s high-efficiency particulate air filter – something that would come in handy in China’s smog-ridden atmosphere. The car features an industry-first HEPA filter which strips outside air of pollen, bacteria, viruses and pollution before circulating it into the cabin.

    Having made its full debut in September 2015, the Tesla Model X is the brand’s first foray into the SUV market. The standard 90D variant is powered by two electric motors, each rated at 259 hp, allowing it to perform the century sprint in 4.8 seconds.

    The more powerful P90D version also has two electric motors, but while the front maintains the same 259 hp motor, a more powerful 503 hp unit powers the rear axle. Going from zero to 100 km/h takes just 3.8 seconds, while the Ludicrous Speed Upgrade will let you burst off the line to 100 km/h in just 3.2 seconds.

    GALLERY: Tesla Model X

     
  • Citroen SpaceTourer Hyphen – pop music partymobile

    Citroen SpaceTourer Hyphen 1

    Do you like French pop music? Are you a huge fan of Nice-based group Hyphen Hyphen (yes, it’s a real band)? Well you’re in luck because Citroen has got just the car for you. The French automaker has created a one-of-a-kind concept of its soon-to-be-launched Citroen SpaceTourer. Dubbed the SpaceTourer Hyphen, the specially-made MPV will make its appearance during the model’s launch debut at the Geneva Motor Show.

    According to Arnaud Belloni, director of marketing and communication, “Citroen has always known how to innovate, to be a pioneer and to spot talent. After meeting Hyphen Hyphen, the idea for a partnership came about naturally. This vibrant, offbeat group has a real graphic and musical signature. This may be a communication campaign, but one that comes straight from the heart! It’s also a way for us to pool our values of optimism, sharing and creativity.”

    The SpaceTourer Hyphen is based on the standard version and offers three unique selling points – a supercharged design, an invigorating interior and enhanced mobility. As a start, let’s talk about the “supercharged design,” where we see the MPV receiving a Moondust Dark paintjob, with red-orange accents and trim pieces, black roof and hexagonal-patterned stickers to match.

    The SpaceTourer Hyphen also gets some inspiration from the Citroen’s Aircross concept vehicle, with a broader bumper along with wheel arch trims and sill protectors. If that wasn’t rugged-looking enough, the Hyphen also gets 19-inch matte black aluminium wheels, with five elastomer straps installed on each tyre.

    Moving on to the “invigorating interior” via the sliding side door, passengers get to enjoy the “VIP treatment,” where each seat gets its own unique colour for the upper portion, while sea-green Nappa leather with orange-red stitching covers the seats’ lower portion. The youthful interior is finished up with the application of special fabric on the roof lining and dashboard.

    Finally, we reach the “extended mobility” portion of the SpaceTourer Hyphen. Power is sourced from a BlueHDi 150 S&S turbodiesel engine linked to six-speed manual transmission and on-demand four-wheel drive. The powertrain was developed in collaboration with Automobiles Dangel.

    The Citroen SpaceTourer is one of three MPVs, the others being the Peugeot Traveller and Toyota ProAce – that are essentially the same car underneath, but with different styling on the outside. All three are a result of a joint-collaboration between PSA Peugeot Citroen and Toyota that began in 2012.


     
  • Suzuki Baleno RS Concept shown at Delhi Auto Expo

    2016-maruti-suzuki-baleno-rs-concept- 001

    Here’s a look at the Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS – a new concept that’s on show at the ongoing Delhi Auto Expo 2016. The five-door hatch, which was first revealed back in September last year in Frankfurt, is a sub-4-metre hatchback made in India.

    The Baleno RS here is essentially the same vehicle, but carries a slightly more aggressive idea of what the humble hatch could be. It’s also a preview of the actual production model that will be launched for the Indian market some time this year.

    As you can tell, thanks to photos by our friends at IndianAutosBlog, the Baleno RS features a few extra cosmetic upgrades. The front grille has a different mesh design, while the front bumper has been reworked and a new front splitter has been added.

    There’s a new diffuser insert at the rear, while a look at the sides show a new set of 16-inch alloy wheels and side skirting. Also noticeable is the fact that Suzuki hasn’t bothered to alter the vehicle’s ground clearance.

    The car maker didn’t disclose performance figures, but says that the Baleno RS will feature a 1.0 litre, three-cylinder, direct-injection, Boosterjet petrol engine. For perspective, the Euro-spec turbocharged 1.0 litre K10C DITC mill delivers 110 hp and 170 Nm of torque. In India, the Baleno has two engine options at its disposal – a 83 hp/115 Nm 1.2 litre petrol engine, and a 75 hp/190 Nm 1.3 litre diesel.


    GALLERY: Suzuki Baleno at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show

     
  • Mad biker Myers to attempt fastest wheelie – on ice!

    Ice Wheelie record 3

    Almost everyone calls bikers mad, and sometimes for good reason. Hailing from Wisconsin, US, Cecil “Bubba” Myers is attempting to break the world record for the fastest wheelie, on ice. Myers is poised to make his attempt on a 200 hp Kawasaki H2 after several practice runs in late January on Lake Koshkonong, near Fort Atkinson in Wisconsin, where he recorded speeds of between 218 to 225 km/h.

    The previous ice wheelie record, set by Myers’ compatriot Robert Gull, is 206.9 km/h. “That was just a practice day, but it went phenomenally well,” Myers said.

    Myers is assisted by Ryan Suchanek, the original holder of the ice wheelie record. The Kawasaki H2 that he is riding is fitted with studded ice tyres, to increase traction on the slippery surface. During the attempt, the bike will be wheelied between two timing beams, set-up 100 metres apart. The motorcycle’s speed as it trips the beams is recorded, and an average speed reading is taken.

    His biggest concern, not surprisingly, is the amount of grip he is going to have available. “The ice is pretty much unpredictable,” Myers said. “On the pavement you get excellent traction with the heated up tyre. With the ice tyre you get traction, but it’s not predictable traction.”

    No stranger to wheelie speed records, Myers has twice travelled to the UK to participate in the annual World Wheelie Weekend, where he has recorded a speed of 215.6 km/h while standing his bike on its rear wheel for one kilometer.

     
  • VIDEO: New Toyota Hilux proves it can pull 170 tonnes

    While we await the arrival of the new Toyota Hilux in Malaysia, said to be in Q2 of 2016, the people in the Land of Smiles are busy pushing the pick-up truck to its limits. In Toyota Thailand’s “Hilux Revo challenge” video, the automaker showcases the power and utility of its new GD family of turbodiesel engines. How? By pulling 170 tonnes of weight of course.

    Performing this herculean feat is the duty of a white Toyota Hilux Revo Smart Cab, specifically the 4×4 2.4E variant (Thai-spec). It has at its disposal Toyota’s new 2.4 litre inline four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. The engine outputs 150 PS at 3,400 rpm, and more importantly, has 400 Nm of torque available from 1,600-2,000 rpm.

    As a warm up, round one sees the Hilux Revo Smart Cab being attached to a 30 tonne lorry (with accompanying cargo trailer). Suffice to say, the Hilux manages to pull the lorry without a hitch, easy peasy lemon squeezy.

    Time for round two then, where four additional lorries (each with its own cargo trailer) are tagged on for a combined weight of 150 tonnes. To make the Hilux’s attempt even more challenging, four tonnes of sand is added to each lorry, bringing the combined total weight to 170 tonnes. Did the Hilux manage to do it? Well, you’ll just have to watch the video to find out, but we think you know the answer already.

    Now all we need are the Hilux’s competitors – Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan NP300 Navara, Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50 and Chevrolet Colorado – to get together and have a pick-up truck equivalent to the World’s Strongest Man competition. Who’s your winner?

     
  • Nissan’s X-Trail bobsleigh is the world’s first 7-seater

    Here’s a new Nissan X-Trail, but one that’s very different from the car we know. Inspired by the SUV, the X-Trail bobsleigh is the world’s first seven-seater of its kind. Piloted by British Olympic medallist Sean Olsson, the Nissan recently undertook its inaugural run at the historic Olympic track in Igls, Austria.

    Nissan worked with bobsleigh experts Diego Menardi and Ian Richardson to transform a traditional four-man sled into a seven-seater capable of reaching 105 km/h, pulling a G-force of 4.5G. The carmaker says that its sleigh mimics the car’s front aspect, headlamps and seven-seater option, with a 360-degree bird’s-eye view like the SUV’s Around View Monitor.

    X-Trail-Bobsleigh-Specs

    The X-Trail bobsleigh was developed using sketches and computer-aided design (CAD). The detail on the nose was crafted to express the brand’s V-motion grille and capture the sculpture of the hood character lines. This work was complemented by Diego Menardi’s structural lengthening of the cabin to accommodate seven.

    Speeding down an ice drain at 105 km/h and pulling 4.5G, exposed to the elements – that’s an extreme trail.

     
 

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