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  • DRIVEN: 2014 Nissan Serena S-Hybrid – better value?


    Let’s say you’re an up-and-coming sales executive, and you just got word that yet another child of yours was in the oven. You’ve bought the clothes, refurnished the smallest room in the house and sold off your nameless D-segment sedan for a decent coin to a trader named Sam. With money in hand, you’re ready to ply the new route as a family person with a comfortable, dependable MPV.

    Trouble was, until recently there was a rather large chasm between the basic, utilitarian sub-RM100k people movers (Toyota Avanza and Innova, Nissan Grand Livina) and the posher European alternatives (Peugeot 5008, Volkswagen Cross Touran) costing upwards of RM150k – just a little too rich for both your blood and your wallet.

    The respite came last year in the form of the Nissan Serena S-Hybrid – with duty exemptions afforded by its CBU hybrid vehicle status, it snuck in at just under the RM150k mark (since then, its biggest rival, the Mazda Biante, slotted into the market at around the same price). With the tax breaks set to end at the conclusion of 2013, however, many people wondered if its space in the marketplace would last.

    Well, it has, and then some. Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) bit the bullet and assembled the now-facelifted S-Hybrid locally at its plant in Serendah to take advantage of the incentives the government continues to dole out for CKD hybrids. As such, the Serena is now even more affordable than before, but has the lower pricetag spoiled the car in any way? We drive it to Melaka and back to find out.

    Read the full review of the facelifted Nissan Serena S-Hybrid here.

  • Nissan Serena S-Hybrid recalled for faulty fuel pressure sensor – CBU units in Malaysia affected


    Just a while ago, it was announced that Nissan Motor had announced a recall campaign for the Serena, X-Trail and Juke in Japan over two separate faults concerning the fuel delivery system.

    An official statement has been released by Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) stating that CBU units of the Nissan Serena S-Hybrid sold from July 2013 onwards are affected by the recall. The company has initiated a nationwide campaign and will contact respective owners to bring in their cars to re-tighten the fuel pressure sensor – failure to do so could lead to a case of potential fuel leakage.

    Owners will not be charged for the service and no replacement parts are necessary. Customers who have purchased the CKD variant of the Serena S-Hybrid are not affected. Individuals with questions regarding the recall campaign may contact the Nissan Customer Care Centre on a toll-free line at 1800-88-3838.

  • Mazda 2 Sedan unveiled at 2014 Thai Motor Expo!

    Mazda 2 Sedan Thailand 21

    Yup, it’s the car everyone’s been waiting to see take the stage at the show – it’s the new Mazda 2 Sedan! The booted version of the fourth-generation Mazda 2 hatch is Hiroshima’s answer to the likes of the Honda City, Toyota Vios and Nissan Almera.

    Whether your breath is taken away by its looks or not (compared to the Mazda 6 and Mazda 3), there’s little denying that it’s a far cry from the outgoing model – for once, it no longer looks like a hatch with a boot grafted on.

    The 1.5 litre SkyActiv-D-engined version is Thailand’s first diesel-powered Eco Car, and it has been approved for Phase 2 of the programme. The numbers to beat are 23.3 km per litre and 100 grams of CO2 per km – the 105 hp oil burner, when connected to a six-speed auto with i-stop stop/start system, does 26.4 km per litre in the Japanese cycle.

    Mazda 2 Sedan Thailand 8

    The automaker’s AutoAlliance Thailand plant, where the car will be built, is set to expand its production capacity, and Mazda Powertrain Manufacturing will begin making SkyActiv-Drive six-speed auto ‘boxes in January. Thai assembly of the SkyActiv-D 1.5 clean diesel mill is set to start in Q4 2015 when its new engine plant in Chonburi begins operations.

    At that point, it will collectively make Thailand the first country outside Japan to undertake comprehensive production of Mazdas (including gearbox, engine and vehicle assembly).

    When the new Mazda 2 Sedan launches in Thailand early next year, it will be equipped with features such as MZD Connect, HMI touch-screen with Commander Control knob, Active Driving Display, i-stop and i-Eloop regenerative braking. We already have a good idea of what the Malaysian Mazda 2 Sedan will feature in terms of equipment – provisional specifications came about last month.

  • Nissan recalls Serena, X-Trail, Juke – fuel system flaws


    Nissan is recalling 247,266 units of the Serena (including S-Hybrid models), X-Trail and Juke in Japan fitted with direct-injected petrol engines over two separate defects in the fuel delivery system.

    The first issue concerns the fuel pressure sensor on the fuel rail of both the MR20DD 2.0 litre and MR16DDT 1.6 litre turbo engines, which may have been improperly tightened. As such, the sensor might come loose due to engine vibrations, causing fuel leaks around the mounting point of the sensor.

    Cars affected include 212,579 units of the C26 Serena and Serena S-Hybrid manufactured between November 15, 2010 and October 21, 2014, 10,508 units of the T32 X-Trail manufactured between November 22, 2013 and February 27, 2014, as well as 4,990 units of the Juke 1.6 DIG-T manufactured between November 28, 2011 and March 17, 2014.

    Additionally, 41,940 units of four-wheel drive C26 Serena models manufactured between November 15, 2010 and October 21, 2014 have also been recalled due to a different issue concerning a defective high-pressure fuel pump. Due to faulty design, moisture in the fuel pipe could freeze in cold climates, possibly clogging up the fuel filter with ice.

    In these conditions, the amount of fuel injected might be reduced, causing revs to become unstable and, in worst case scenarios, even stalling the engine while driving.

    Nissan service centres in Japan will tighten the fuel pressure sensor to the proper torque, as well as replacing the high-pressure fuel pump with one of a different design.

    Sources within Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) have confirmed that Serena S-Hybrid models sold in Malaysia have also been affected with the fuel pressure sensor issue, and we will report back with more details once an official statement has been released.

  • RON 95 price could go down next week, says KPDNKK

    2013_Toyota_Vios_fuel_test 011

    With the recent shocking announcement that fuel subsidies for both RON 95 and diesel will end in December 2014, we could see a slight reduction in pump prices come next week, says Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK) secretary-general Datuk Seri Alias Ahmad said yesterday.

    “I did not say it would fall, but if we follow the trend, it would. We have seen between three and four sen fall in the pump price now,” he was quoted as saying in a report by Malay Mail. That may not sound like much, but after rounds and rounds of price hikes, every little bit would help.

    The price of crude oil – which will now directly affect the pump prices of RON 95 and diesel in Malaysia – is currently at its lowest point since August 2010, falling to just over US$70 per barrel as of today. If this trend continues, we are likely to see more price drops in the following months.

  • Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe teased, AMG Sport intro’d

    Click to enlarge

    Mercedes-AMG has announced a new product line called AMG Sport to fill the gap between the AMG Sports package for Mercedes-Benz vehicles and the full-blown AMG models (think BMW M Performance and Audi S), and sneakily teased the upcoming GLE Coupe in the process.

    Merc says the first two members of the AMG Sport family are set to be unveiled in January at the 2015 Detroit motor show, and has released the above picture, presumably of the two new AMG Sport models. The vehicle on the left is very likely the GLE Coupe, while the one on the right could be the C 450 AMG Sport.

    The GLE Coupe is essentially Stuttgart’s upcoming rival to the BMW X6. The new nomenclature has renamed the ML to GLE, since the SUV is based on the E-Class. So this is a ‘coupe’ version of the ML, if you will.

    Reports speculate that the GLE (and Coupe) AMG Sport will sit between the GLE 400’s 329 hp 3.0 litre twin-turbo V6 and the GLE 63 AMG’s 570 hp 5.5 litre twin-turbo V8.

    SPYSHOTS: Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe

  • Honda HR-V 1.8L at 2014 Thai International Motor Expo

    Honda HRV Thai Spec 1

    Still revelling in the hype around its recent launch, the Honda HR-V is now on display at the 2014 Thailand International Motor Expo. Now, we bring you the live shots of the B-segment SUV on display. The HR-V goes on sale with a sole powertrain layout – a 1.8 litre engine coupled to a CVT transmission. Total power output is rated at 141 PS at 6,500 rpm and 172 Nm of torque at 4,300 rpm.

    Thai customers can choose from three trim levels with the entry-level S grade kicking things off, the E variant occupying the middle ground and the EL trim offering the most in terms of equipment. In the S version, Smart Key (keyless entry) with push start, electric parking brake, an ECON mode button, LED tail lamps, ABS, EBD, Hill Start Assist, Isofix, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), two airbags and the much-applauded Ultra Seats.

    The E variant features LED headlights with daytime running lights (DRL), paddle shifters, cruise control, a seven-inch touch screen head unit (the S has a five-inch one), SIRI and smartphone integration along with two USB and HDMI ports. The fully-loaded EL variant adds on a panoramic roof, “tube style” LED rear lamps, a piano black trim for the interior and a total airbag count of six – additional side and curtain airbags.

    Prices for Honda HR-V in Thailand begin at 890,000 baht (RM90,922) for the S, 975,000 baht (RM99,609) for the E and 1.045 million baht (RM106,761) for the EL variant. Also available for Thai customers is the option to load up the HR-V with a Modulo kit which includes larger 18-inch wheels and a bodykit along with a raft of accessories. The Honda HR-V should be en route for a Malaysian launch in the near future.

  • BMW Power eDrive previews 670 hp hybrid powertrain


    Other than the plug-in hybrid F30 3 Series, BMW also detailed its next-generation “highly electrified” hybrid powertrain concept. Housed under the newly christened BMW Power eDrive umbrella, the new plug-in hybrid technology will feature significantly higher-powered electric motors and batteries with twice the capacity of present versions.

    Fitted to a 5 Series GT body here, the Power eDrive package consists of a 2.0 litre turbo engine up front, paired to two electric motors. The latter contributes to about two thirds of the system’s combined output, with the petrol engine accounting for the remaining third. BMW says such setups will offer combined outputs of over 670 hp!

    The two electric motors provide the vehicle’s main source of power, with one motor paired to each axle. Meanwhile, the relatively small internal combustion engine (compared to the total system output) take a supporting role, sending power to the front wheels either when a surge of extra speed is required, or to increase the overall driving range of the vehicle.

    With the high performance Power eDrive technology, there will be an increased focus on zero-emission all-electric operation. An extended EV range of up to 100 km is possible, aided by large capacity lithium-ion batteries (up to 20 kW hours). With a good mix of everyday usability and good long-distance capability, the plug-in hybrid system will be ideal for upmarket vehicle segments, claims BMW.

  • 2015 Mitsubishi Triton shows up at Thai Motor Expo

    2014 Mitsubishi Triton Thailand 8

    After last week’s full unveil, the 2015 Mitsubishi Triton has taken the stage at the ongoing 2014 Thailand International Motor Expo, and we bring you a gallery of the new truck live on the stand.

    Boasting handsome looks in an unassuming sort of way, Mitsu’s fifth-generation pick-up plies its wares in the Land of Smiles in Double Cab Plus and Double Cab 4×4 forms. Possible engine-gearbox combos are a 2.4 litre petrol 5MT, 2.4 litre diesel 6MT and 2.4 litre diesel 5AT. A total of nine variants are offered, priced from 791,000 to 1,008,000 baht (RM81,360-RM103,680).

    The 2.4 litre turbodiesel MIVEC VGT engine is brand new, featuring an aluminium block and a lower 15.5 compression ratio. It makes 182 PS and 430 Nm of torque, while promising 20% better efficiency. You should hear less of it too, thanks to optimised suspension, sound insulation, absorption and vibration damping.

    Closer to home, the 2015 Mitsubishi Triton recently appeared on, with a RM92,000 estimated starting price listed. A 2.5 litre engine is mentioned, leading us to suppose we won’t get the new motor. But here’s hoping!

  • Proton Iriz shows up at Thai Motor Expo, coming soon

    Proton Iriz Thailand 2

    Sawadee krub from the 2014 Thailand International Motor Expo – we’re here covering it live. Funnily enough, we kick things off with something Malaysian – this Citrus Green Proton Iriz is on display, with a ‘COMING SOON’ sticker on its side windows.

    This pretty much confirms the B-segment hatch for the Thai market, replacing (spiritually at least) the Proton Savvy, which business daily The Nation picked as one of its top 10 cars of 2008, citing its affordability.

    Will the Proton Iriz be able to take over the mantle, and be competitively priced in an already hugely-competitive market amongst locally-assembled Eco Cars?

    Proton is distributed by Phranakorn Auto Sales in the Kingdom. The most recent Thai launch was the Suprima S in November last year – the C-segment hatch is priced at 805,000 baht (RM82,800).


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