Latest Stories

  • New 2015 Mazda 2 Skyactiv spied testing in Thailand


    The new Mazda 2 has been spotted in Thailand, which could mean that production of the B-segment car will be starting soon. The 2015 Mazda 2 was only revealed two weeks ago, so this sighting comes very soon. It’s a rear shot of a white five-door hatchback (sedan not confirmed or revealed yet, but could look like this) with the Mazda and Skyactiv badges under black tape.

    A faithful reproduction of the Hazumi concept from Geneva 2014, the new Mazda 2 (Demio in Japan) will come with 1.3 and 1.5 litre SkyActiv-G petrols, and a new 1.5 litre SkyActiv-D diesel. Expect SkyActiv manual and auto gearboxes, both with six speeds, plus MZD Connect and the i-Activsense suite of safety systems.

    The new five-door hatch grows in all dimensions except width, which remains at 1,695 mm. Wheelbase has jumped 80 mm to 2,570 mm, length is up 160 mm to 4,060 mm, and height enjoys a 25 mm leap to 1,500 mm. Compared to the Honda Jazz and Ford Fiesta, the M2 is longer overall, and from wheel to wheel.

    The new 2 will come to Malaysia either towards the end of this year (according to a research report) or sometime in the first half of 2015. We have plenty of material for you to pore over, from comparo charts to videos and hi-res pics. Click here to view them all.

  • Proton Design Competition 2014 – we take a behind-the-scenes look at how a Proton is designed

    Have you ever wondered what it’s like to design a car from the ground up? Well, today’s your lucky day, because was recently granted exclusive access to the innards of Proton’s design studio to provide you with a glimpse of a car’s development from the initial sketch all the way to the final model.

    Nestled within the confines of the company’s Shah Alam complex, the Proton Design Studio is sprawling, modern facility, much more relaxed and informal than your usual office atmosphere. It utilises a great deal of advanced technologies to help bring the designers’ ideas to life, such as a virtual reality auditorium, milling machines and several high-performance workstations connected to huge Wacom Cintiq drawing displays.

    Of course, every project starts with a brief, which determines the basic parameters for the product, such as body style and number of seats. From there, all the designers are asked to put whatever ideas they have onto paper (or their computer displays) and are given pretty much carte blanche to really get those creative juices flowing, unrestrained by practical restrictions like interior space or powertrain packaging.

    Such restrictions are saved for later, where the stylists are required to translate their initial ideas into realistic renderings that follow the interior, powertrain and drivetrain packaging that has been set. The goal is to create images that are representative of what the actual car will look like in real life.

    The designs are then pitted against each other through presentations with a cross-functional team, a group of people from different departments such as engineering, testing and marketing, who will then shortlist these designs based on what meets all their needs. Eventually, the team will end up with up with a handful of designs on which further development and refinement will commence.

    The surviving designs get modelled in 3D in stages, each with an increasing amount of detail. The first 3D model, called a C-class model, is a fairly rough model with no engineering or manufacturing considerations and is done purely to visualise the design in a three-dimensional space. The next step up is a B-class model, which is more detailed and includes some input from the engineers.

    Both these models are built using a 3D modelling software called Alias, whereas the final model, an A-class model, is done using CATIA, a computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software. This model is fully detailed, complete with considerations for manufacturing processes such as tooling and draft angles, and is virtually production-ready.

    The resulting A-class model is then imported into a rendering software in order to visualise the car in realistic lighting and settings. The team uses Bunkspeed, a software that is capable of rendering photorealistic visuals in real time. The output is so realistic, in fact, that the company used Bunkspeed renderings as press photos of the Suprima S!

    Indeed, watching a lifelike virtual model of the Suprima being rendered in real time and being able to change colour and materials of each part on the fly was an eye-opener for someone like me, who is used to having to wait for several hours for a 3D model to be rendered, and having to restart the process for every angle or after making modifications the model.

    Next week, we will look at the rest of the process, including the selection of colours and materials, as well as the final hard model that is signed off for production. And of course, don’t forget to join the Proton Design Competition 2014 – the deadline has now been extended by a week to August 18 – with your vision of a Proton city car in the year 2020!

  • Ssangyong X100 B-segment SUV – production XLV concept to debut new 1.6 litre engine family


    The production version of the SsangYong XLV Concept that was showcased at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show will be unveiled in 2015. Word is that an unveiling could happen as early as January.

    The production B-segment SUV – rumoured to be called the X100 – will take the fight to other B-segment SUVs in the market like the Ford EcoSport, the Nissan Juke, the Renault Captur and the Peugeot 2008. Ssangyong have confirmed that the production XLV will debut a new family of SsangYong-designed 1.6 litre petrol and diesel four-cylinder engines.

    Measuring 4,430 mm long, 1,845 mm wide and 1,600 mm tall, it is slightly longer than the competition, and with good reason too. The XLV concept had three-row seating, with seats configurable in either a 2-3-2 or 2-2-3 arrangement, thanks to a middle seat that can slide between the second and third row.

  • Ford EcoSport being previewed at SDAC showrooms – 1.5L Trend and Titanium variants, RM96k-RM104k


    Although it hasn’t been officially launched yet, the Ford EcoSport is now being previewed to the public at SDAC showrooms, so if you’re interested in a new B-segment SUV, you may want to head there to check it out this weekend. We dropped by this afternoon to snap some photos of the EcoSport just for you.

    The new Thai-assembled EcoSport – which made its ASEAN debut last year in Bangkok – will be available here in two trim levels, both powered by a 1.5 litre Ti-VCT engine mated to a six-speed Powershift dual-clutch gearbox, driving the front wheels – the same configuration as found in the current B299 Fiesta 1.5.

    Official pricing hasn’t been released, but the EcoSport Trend is expected to retail for about RM96k, while the higher-spec EcoSport Titanium will go for about RM104k.

    Click to enlarge the brochure.

    Full specs can be seen in the brochure scans above, but we’ll simplify it for you. The Trend trim level starts off with two airbags, ESP stability control, manual air-conditioning, a six-speaker Ford Sync infotainment system, steering wheel audio controls, tilt and telescopic steering adjustment, fabric seats and 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/60R16 tyres.

    The rear seat bench can be folded down in a 60:40 split, and they can tumble forward to maximise the luggage area, which increases from 362 litres to 705 litres with the rear seats tumbled forward.

    The EcoSport Titanium ups the airbag count to seven, including a knee airbag. The driver seat gets adjustable lumbar, and a centre armrest is added on. The variant gets a single-zone automatic climate control system, and there are also auto lights and wipers as well as a sunroof.


    Seats are upgraded to leather, and there’s also leather on the gear lever and the steering wheel. The alloys are also 16-inch units with the same tyre size, but feature a different design. The Titanium also features keyless entry and push-start ignition. You also get an additional 12V power socket at the side of the rear seat. Exterior-wise, there’s a bit more chrome here and there, such as on the fog lamp surround.

    We’re told that the Ford EcoSport will be officially launched sometime in the second half of August 2014, so we’ll get the official prices then. Word is that the 1.0 EcoBoost version will eventually be introduced here, when production of the six-speed PowerShift auto variant begins (currently, Thai production only builds it in five-speed manual transmission guise, for the Australian market).

    In the meanwhile, read our review of the Ford EcoSport from our Thai drive of the SUV.

    GALLERY: Ford EcoSport 1.5 Trend

    GALLERY: Ford EcoSport 1.5 Titanium

  • Minor updates for the Australian 2015 Mitsubishi ASX


    A new model year has brought minor changes to the Mitsubishi ASX in Australia. The 2015 Mitsubishi ASX made its debut there in May, just eight months after the previous running update was launched Down Under. It boasts more kit and under-the-skin tweaks.

    Mitsubishi says that a revised suspension package will deliver significant improvements to ride comfort, handling and steering response. The ASX is now also quieter thanks to improvements in NVH (noise, vibration and harshness), helped by a new standard tyre package and extra sound insulation. Fuel consumption for the 2.0 CVT model is down 4% to 7.4 litres per 100 km.

    Changes that you can see include new daytime running lights (DRLs) in the foglamp housing, new 17-inch alloys, black roof rails, chrome trim (in and out), tinted windows and a nice new paint option called Lightning Blue. Emergency Stop Signal brake lights are now standard.


    Top spec variants are now called XLS instead of Aspire, and they get things like a panoramic roof, leather, navi with seven-inch display, auto wipers/headlights, smart key with push start, heated front seats (powered for the driver), and an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror. Pretty much the same as before.

    Most of those goodies are on the Malaysian ASX, too, now locally-assembled at Tan Chong’s Segambut plant with attractive pricing. Launched in February, the CKD ASX starts from RM114,744 for the 2WD model. The new 4WD variant is priced at RM128,880 OTR without insurance. Local spec sheet and pics here.

  • VW celebrates 50,000th T5 California camper van


    Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is celebrating its iconic California camper van breaking a significant production milestone – 50,000 units from the assembly plant in Hanover Limmer.

    “The Volkswagen T5 California is the most popular and best-selling camper van in its class. We have completed production of 50,000 T5 Californias since 2004. This year, with a figure of over 8,100 units, we will achieve the highest level of annual production yet,” said Dr Eckhard Scholz, chairman of the board of management for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.


    The California is offered in two variants: the entry-level Beach and the range-topping SE (Comfortline outside the UK). To date, 13,000 California Beaches and 37,000 California SEs have been produced. VW says that it’s the only vehicle manufacturer to produce its own camper van, which is compact and convenient enough to be used as an everyday vehicle.

    The California’s popularity has grown with every new generation. Production figures for the T3 version totalled 22,000, rising to 39,000 for the T4. Manufacturing for the current T5 continues on a two-shift basis to meet high demand.

    Mercedes recently unveiled a classier camper van called the Marco Polo. See the W447 V-Class-based apartment on wheels here.

  • Toyota GT86 CS-R3 – and now, the return to rallying

    toyota gt86 cs-r3 1

    Toyota has announced that its prototype GT86 CS-R3 rally car will make its public debut next month at round nine of the FIA World Rally Championship in Germany. It won’t be competing directly in the ADAC Rallye Deutschland however, only being utilised in the event as the zero car.

    Engineered by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) – the folk responsible for the GT86 CS-V3 Nürburgring VLN series racer – and developed to FIA R3 class requirements, the finished race-ready version of the Toyota 86 will begin shipping to its first customers in the first quarter of next year.

    For this one, the FA20 2.0 litre four-pot boxer’s output has been upped to around 240-250 hp following software changes as well as revisions to the unit’s cam-lift and compression ratio. A six-speed sequential gearbox, with attendant limited-slip differential with variable ramp settings, drives things along.

    toyota gt86 cs-r3 2

    Standard fit kit includes a HJS racing exhaust/exhaust manifold, a 75 litre FT3 safety cell fuel tank, a weight-optimised safety cage designed to FIA requirements, Reiger three-way adjustable shock absorbers as well as four-pot front and two-pot rear brake calipers.

    A couple of OZ wheel designs are available for the 1,080 kg offering, these being a 17-incher for tarmac use and a 15-incher for gravel-based applications.

    At Rallye Deutschland, rally driver Isolde Holderied will pilot the pathfinder CS-R3, evaluating the testbed for performance while at it – the input from her drive will determine the final adjustments that can be made to the racer’s design prior to its homologation to international R3 competition criteria.

  • Mercedes-Benz S400L with 3.0L twin-turbo V6 open for booking in Malaysia – RM866k OTR, fully imported


    Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has introduced a new variant to the W222 S-Class line-up in Malaysia – the S 400 L, priced at RM865,888 OTR without insurance, arrives as a CBU import. There has been no official press release so far, but a visit to Cycle & Carriage PJ reveals that the price and equipment list for the new variant is already on display. Don’t get confused now – the S 400 L and S 400 L Hybrid are two different variants.

    Under the S 400 L’s hood is a 3.0 litre twin-turbo V6 engine, the same one found in the E400. It produces 333 hp and 480 Nm of torque, taking it to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds. That’s faster than the S 400 L Hybrid’s 6.8 seconds. Swap a hybrid system for two turbochargers and what you’ll lose in terms of torque from the electric motor, you’ll gain in terms of torque from forced induction.

    The introduction of the S 400 L is timely, as the waiting list for the locally-assembled S 400 L Hybrid has gone beyond a year at the moment. If you try to book the RM588k S 400 L Hybrid now, your Mercedes-Benz dealership will tell you you can only get your car after December 2015, which is when the NAP 2014’s duty exemption for locally-assembled hybrids will have ended. There’s no official pricelist for the hybrid model with full duties as of now, but unofficially it is RM899,888, making this non-hybrid S 400 L a little cheaper.

    As far as we can tell, specs for the S 400 L are exactly the same as the S 400 L Hybrid, except for the interior wood trim. Where the S 400 L Hybrid uses a fancier designo Sunburst Myrtle wood trim, which has a nice gradient effect on it, the S 400 L uses Burr Walnut wood trim. Another difference is that you’ll save quite a bit in terms of road tax yearly, especially if it happens to be a company purchase, as the turbocharged engine is about 500 cc smaller than the hybrid engine.

    For further info, compare the S 400 L against the S 400 L Hybrid at

  • ASEAN NCAP set to move on to routine crash testing


    An update on the New Car Assessment Program for Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN NCAP). Back in May, the announcement of Phase III results saw the conclusion of the three-phase pilot project, which began in January 2013.

    Following this, the agency – which operates under the aegis of the Malaysian Institure of Road Safety Research (Miros) – has now announced that it is moving towards its next stage as planned. According to its road map, the agency is set to operate like other NCAP organisations around the world, in which testing and the release of results are routinely carried out.

    Bernama reports ASEAN NCAP secretary-general Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim as saying that the organisation would be fully operational next August and would carry out safety testing on new cars periodically. It was however not revealed how often testing would be carried out.

    The three phases of pilot testing saw 30 vehicles, including variants of particular models, being evaluated. The first phase saw eight test results being announced in February last year, followed by Phase II test results for 11 vehicles coming about in August 2013. Phase III testing saw an additional 11 vehicles being rated.

    Evaluation saw the cars being subjected to an offset frontal collision test, which involves striking a deformable barrier with an overlap of 40% at 64 km/h. In Phase III, a UN R95 side impact test was added, consisting of a mobile deformable barrier striking the side of each car at 50 km/h.

    The tests were carried out at two laboratories – Miros’ Provisional Car Crash Centre in Malacca and the Japan Automobile Research Institute (JARI) laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan, the latter in Phase III testing. The JARI facility is an appointed ASEAN NCAP official test lab, and the programme’s first test lab outside the ASEAN region.

    Read all about our ASEAN NCAP coverage, including Phase I, II and III test results, here.

  • Three new Citroen models coming to Malaysia – Naza

    Three new Citroens will be coming soon, but the baby C1 is unlikely to be one of them

    A hat-trick of Citroens will be coming to Malaysia soon. Official distributor Naza Euro Motors (NEM) told The Star that the three new models will be from Citroen’s mainstream C-range of cars, as opposed to the more upscale DS range.

    “From the end of this year into next year, you will see three new models from the C-range. We are hoping to price this more competitively from RM100,000 onwards,” NEM’s COO Datuk Samson Anand George said.

    NEM has been selling the DS4 and DS5 since the Citroen brand was relaunched here in February 2013. The DS3 joined the party in February this year, before NEM opened order books for the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso MPV in June. The 207 hp DS3 Racing is in town, but is not for sale.

    So what’s coming next? Current models starting with a C and available in RHD include the C-Zero (a rebadged Mitsubishi i-MiEV), C1 (city car), C3 (supermini), C3 Picasso (small MPV), C4 (C-segment hatch), C4 Cactus (an odd looking thing), C4 Picasso (smaller version of the one we have now), C5 (sedan) and C5 Tourer (wagon).

    Want a cactus in your garden? The Citroen C4 Cactus may be too odd for Malaysia

    You can pick three from the above, although we can safely rule out the electric car, and the C1, since the new cars will priced from RM100k. The two small Picassos also don’t make much sense as we already have the Grand. No prizes for guessing correct :)

    NEM aims to sell 600 Citroens this year, and the figure is set to grow with the new models. “We only had two models, the DS4 and the DS5, last year. If all goes well, we are looking at over 10% growth to 700 units next year. We expect sustainable organic growth. When there is a sudden spike, the back-end may not be able to catch up so fast,” Samson said.

    Speaking of back-end, two more sales outlets (Puchong and Ampang) will open by the end of this year, with three more slated for 2015. The French brand now has five sales/service outlets nationwide, two in Klang Valley, two in Penang and one in Johor.


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