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Date: Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 00:36

PROTON-IRIZ

Selamat Hari Merdeka everyone! It looks like our national car company Proton has decided to give us all a little Merdeka gift in the form of a new set of Proton Compact Car teaser images on their new microsite for the car – betulbetulonz.com.my.

There are a few teaser images on the site showing us things like the headlamp design and the touch screen head unit. Proton has also given us a way to unveil the full car using four mobile phones to generate four pieces of the teaser image. Try it, it’s pretty fun.

We’ve did that and pieced together the teaser image especially for you, dear readers. So here you have it, the first full body view of the new Proton Compact Car that’s NOT leaked from classified areas.

PROTON-IRIZ-TEASER-0001

The first teaser image released for this car in Proton’s Merdeka video already gave us a glimpse of how the Proton Compact Car’s headlamps would look like, but in this photo the angle is slightly different. The Proton logo in the headlamp is a nice touch.

The headlamp appears to use both projector and reflector lenses, and the yellow tinge (as opposed to the more whitish colour of xenons) seen in this photo could mean halogen bulbs.

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This teaser image shows a top cutaway view of the car. We can see that the high spec variants (if not all variants, here’s wishing) of the Proton Compact Car will come with six airbags. Thanks to the angle, we also have a preview of the interior layout.

There are five seats of course, and the rear seats look like they have three headrests, and the bench looks like it has a 60:40 split. We can see that the gear lever is in the usual position close to the dashboard, and behind it there are two cup holders and a handbrake lever. It looks like there’s also another cup holder behind the handbrake lever for the rear passengers.

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This teaser image gives us a first look at the Proton Compact Car’s touch screen head unit. It looks different from the Android one found in the Suprima S. The four icons seen here say Navigation, Radio, Media and Bluetooth, so we know that the car has integrated navigation maps.

Our previous spyshots also show there should be an option for a regular head unit for the more affordable models. Another interesting bit – if you look at the bottom left edge of the image, you can see what appears to be faux stitching on the dashboard for a more premium look, just like the new Toyota Vios dashboard.

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This teaser image shows that the variants of the car that has the touchscreen head unit can be equipped with a reverse camera function. If it’s standard, even better.

The reverse camera video feed has guide lines super-imposed onto it to help with parking.

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Upper end variants of the Proton Compact Car will be available with keyless start, according to this photo. On the left side of the image you can see what appears to be a normal key hole that’s blanked out.

This image also allows us a closer look of the dashboard plastic texture around that area. This part of the dashboard is the lower half, and Proton could be using a combination of textures, as the dashboard texture of the area surrounding the air cond vents seen above look a little different.

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Best news of all – safety. The Vehicle Dynamics Control logo seen here confirms the availability of electronic stability control in this car, what remains to be answered is if it’s standard on all variants. There’s also a five-star ANCAP crash test rating logo.

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Author: "Paul Tan" Tags: "Cars, Proton, Proton "Iriz" P2-30A Globa..."
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 07:34

ASEAN-NCAP-GRAND-PRIX-2014

ASEAN NCAP held a Grand Prix Awards 2014 last week to commemorate the crash test results of the cars involved in the ASEAN NCAP assessment program since its first testing. The awards also featured segments for safety technology (OEM and car maker category), media contribution and appreciation awards to organizations and individuals involved in the ASEAN NCAP committee.

The cars are divided into seven categories for these categories, according to body style and for hatchbacks and sedans – kerb weight. Here is the list of the awards recipients.

Best Child Occupant Protection (COP)
Mini Car: Kia Picanto
Small Family: Volkswagen Polo
Medium Family: Honda Civic
Large Family: Toyota Prius
MPV: Perodua Alza
SUV: Honda CR-V
Pickup: Isuzu D-MAX
Best Overall COP: Toyota Prius

Best Adult Occupant Protection (AOP)
Mini Car: Mitsubishi Mirage
Small Family: Honda City (2014)
Medium Family: Proton Prevé
Large Family: Toyota Prius
MPV: Toyota Avanza
SUV: Honda CR-V
Pickup: Chevrolet Colorado
Best Overall COP: Honda City (2014)

Safety Technology Award
Car Maker Category: Honda LaneWatch
OEM Category: Bosch Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
Academician: No Winner

The nominees for the awards above consist of cars crash tested by ASEAN NCAP based on crash test performance. The next round of awards will be in 2016 – hopefully more Malaysian or ASEAN market cars will have been crash tested by then so we’ll be able to see award winners picked from a larger pool of nominees. The Prius ended up in the Large Family category because of its kerb weight of over 1,400kg.

ASEAN NCAP Chairman, Prof. Dr. Wong Shaw Voon said, “I’m very indebted to all parties who has helped MIROS and realized our NCAP dream so far. It started with a small effort with outdoor crash testing, the paper-based star-rating evaluation in MyVAP (Malaysian Vehicle Assessment Program) and today we managed to have the NCAP not only for Malaysia but also for the benefit of the ASEAN region. I’m also indebted to the government of Malaysia for putting the trust on us, MIROS and ASEAN NCAP, to introduce this kind of intervention in road safety with both financial and technical support.”

ASEAN NCAP Secretary-General, Mr. Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim, added, “We hope ASEAN NCAP will grow stronger and be one of the influential platforms for car safety as well as for road safety as a whole. I’m looking forward for healthy competition among the manufacturers to produce safer cars with commendable safety standard. I personally looking forward for a 5-Star car with an affordable price in the region, and perhaps with only one or two variants per model for ASEAN region with safety not being compromised. We will see the result in the next Grand Prix two years from now.”

The post ASEAN NCAP Grand Prix Awards 2014 commemorates the best vehicle crash test results so far appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Author: "Paul Tan" Tags: "Cars, Local News"
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 04:11

We’ve come a long way since independence, and sometimes it’s easy to forget how the journey was made since those humble beginnings 57 years ago. To celebrate the passage that is nearly six decades of our country’s existence, Petronas has come up with A Walk Through Time for Merdeka and Malaysia Day 2014.

The three-and-a half-minute webfilm, capturing the spirit and gestalt shown by the late Yasmin Ahmad in previous outings, relives our nation’s history, viewed through a series of significant milestones.

Merdeka, the formation of Malaysia and the historic 1992 Thomas Cup win are just some of the key moments captured in the compelling shorty, produced by Leo Burnett Malaysia and crafted by film company Reservoir Production.

Petronas Merdeka 2014 lead

Plenty of nostalgia on show, from the (in)famous two-decade-long KL Mini Bus service and the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee’s iconic Laksamana Do Re Mi from 1972 to a time when rickshaws were routine daily transportation and bell bottoms a norm. A Petronas station from the 80s is also depicted.

A high level of care and attention to detail is evident throughout, most impressively showcased by the props, from the Ruby Theatre in Ipoh (now housing a furniture store, but which had its exterior restored to its former glory for the film) to items such as an Everyday milk tin and an immaculate Broadcast Relay Service Rediffusion television.

Accuracy happens in the background as well – for example, even if it’s not visible in the film itelf, the tear-off calendar on the wall in the scene that depicts Monday, September 16, 1963 (Malaysia Day) actually reflects the date.

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Vehicles from the eras are also featured – the first Proton Saga, Mark I Mini, MG TF and Morris Minor are among the metal to be seen (the Ford Escort Mk II propped in the Ruby frameset didn’t actually come into production until 1974, but let’s not split hairs about this, seeing as the two-door example chosen is representative of the decade).

Kuala Lumpur’s modern skyline is also represented, with the Petronas Twin Towers, KL Tower and the Rapid Rail LRT system featured. The neat touch is that the two protagonists never age, despite travelling through the six decades of the country’s transformation, which encapsulates the film’s tagline of “Reflect on yesterday. Live for today. Hope for tomorrow” rather nicely.

But enough of that now. Enjoy the video (and once you’re done, catch the The Making Of), and we at paultan.org would like to wish all Malaysians Selamat Hari Merdeka! May we always remember who we are, where we came from and how we got here.

The post VIDEO: Petronas Merdeka 2014 – A Walk Through Time appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 02:42

Import duties

Abolishing Approved Permits (AP) for the import of cars will affect the government’s revenue through tax collection from AP holders, and have a negative impact on Bumiputera entrepreneurs in the automotive industry, the Malay Vehicle Importers and Traders Association of Malaysia (PEKEMA) has said, according to a Bernama report.

Although the number of cars sold made up only five percent of the overall market, annual tax collected from members of the association total over RM2 billion, PEKEMA president Datuk Zainuddin Abdul Rahman said.

“From the number of imports, the quantity that is brought in is not big. However, in terms of tax collection, our contribution is commendable,” he said in a statement in conjunction with PEKEMA’s annual general meeting.

“For example, in 2011 the government’s import tax collected from our members totalled RM2.8 billion, and this increased to RM3.3 billion in 2012.

nap-2014-ap

“This does not include annual corporate and individual taxes. Moreover, the government receives new revenue from the fees of each AP for used cars of RM10,000 which now amounts to more than RM1 billion.”

The irony, said Zainuddin, is that out of the more than 800 types of APs issued, APs for cars are the only ones on which the government has imposed a fee.

It was reported earlier in the week that the review on the impact of the termination of the Open AP system should be finished this year, according to the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI). The institute is in favour of abolishing Open APs because, it says, they limit the development of the automotive industry.

But, according to the PEKEMA president, this is unfounded, as “… the Open AP policy has succeeded in ensuring the participation of Bumiputera entrepreneurs in the automotive industry. This is one of the government’s affirmative actions in the implementation of the New Economic Policy,” he said, according to Bernama.

used-car-dealer1

On this, Zainuddin said PEKEMA was grateful to the government for considering the issues that could be faced by AP holders, especially its members.

“PEKEMA has consistently said that the huge implication on Bumiputera entrepreneurs if the Open AP policy is abolished is that it would kill the Bumiputera participation in the nation’s automotive industry…if the proposal is adopted,” he said.

According to the national news agency, International Trade and Industry minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said earlier this month that the government is still studying the proposal to put an end to APs for the import of cars, and that whatever policy will be introduced to replace the AP system will compensate for the loss in government revenue.

Further reading:

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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 11:43

A3_SLine_Ext_14

Here it is then, the new Audi A3 Sedan – an Audi for the masses. Well, not exactly for everyone, but it’s a proper Audi built to compete in the junior levels of the executive sedan ranks. That’s a first for Ingolstadt. This car is massively important in Malaysia, especially, where we don’t get the three- or five-door A3 hatchbacks, and the A1 is just too small to be of any relevance.

We’d be hardly spoiling the rest of this review by pointing out the blindingly obvious, that the A3 Sedan pair (1.4 TFSI and 1.8 TFSI quattro) is very impressive (we’ve made that clear in our last episode of Driven Web Series, anyway). But so is the BMW 3 Series range. Niggling quality and warranty issues aside, the F30 is a cracking car, no matter what variant you choose. But perversely, the Bimmer’s ability is also its biggest weakness. After all, every half-successful bugger around seems to be driving one.

Surely, given a choice, there are plenty of people looking for something a bit different. With the larger and fast ageing A4 missing the mark, this A3 Sedan looks set to shine. Happily, the new model is not just relying on the cachet of that Audi badge alone. Volkswagen Golf-base or not, these two can each hold its own in the premium class. Time to find out if they hold all the best cards, then.

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As modern as tomorrow. That is how one would best sum up the A3 Sedan’s looks. A bit derivative of the rest of the Audi range, yes, but still very much contemporary. And most important of all, it manages to generate a greater impression of solidity than its rivals, whether direct (Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 – based on a smaller hatchback) or not (BMW 3 Series – technically a class up, but similarly priced).

There’s very little to break up those high slab-sided looks. Even the well-aligned door handles look like they’ve been honed from the same sheet of metal as the whole car. The muscular wheelarches add to the feeling of strength, and the only downside is that the standard alloy wheels – 17-inchers on both the 1.4 TFSI and 1.8 TFSI quattro – aren’t quite big enough to fill them. The 18-inch S line items look far better in comparison.

Without a doubt, the A3 Sedan is a looker, but defining its styling is a little more complex than that. Some of the detailing is not great, for instance. Small-looking wheels aside, all the horizontal lines on the front are there to visually stretch the width of the face, as this is quite a tall and narrow car. Round the back, the tail is a touch too high as the shoulder line is sloped the way it is.

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It ends up looking rather fussy to some. And yet, the more time you spend with the Audi, the less you notice these (crucially small) flaws and the more its overall lines grow on you. It’s not just different, it’s elegant in its own right. You could say that about all Audis these days, but again, mounted on a relatively compact body, the execution is commendable.

Whether you’d see it as classically handsome or ultimately boring, that’s your call to make. In the flesh, though, it looks good. Aggressive. Precise. Solid. With the big gaping grille, slim headlamps and those frowning LED daytime running lights, the A3 Sedan commands a lot of presence. Yet it does so with subtlety and grace, without looking all mad like the Mercedes CLA.

While there’s a significant number out there who go absolutely gaga over the Merc’s looks, it has very little to back it up with, not least specced the way it is over here (maximum showroom appeal and little substance). On the other end of the scale, a lot of car enthusiasts see the 3 Series as a TV soap tough guy who went a little bit soft when the F30 was launched, so Audi’s polished yet distinctive styling set seems like the best compromise.

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Under the bonnet, there’s a choice of two downsized, forced-induction engines here. The base 1.4 TFSI musters just 122 hp from 5,000 to 6,000 rpm, and 200 Nm of torque between 1,400 and 4,000 rpm. Sent exclusively to the front wheels (gasp!) it takes a leisurely 9.3-second stroll to 100 km/h, the slowest compared to the CLA 200 (8.5 seconds) and BMW 316i (9.2 seconds).

Despite this, it’s a pleasant engine to live with, made more so by its claimed 20.4 km per litre fuel economy. It may not be the quickest revving, but it stays smooth and ultra refined up to 6,000 rpm. And the transmission of choice here, the Volkswagen-sourced seven-speed dry dual-clutch S tronic gearbox, is a far better partner than the Merc’s slow and dim-witted 7G-DCT.

Through the seat of your pants, you’d think the A3 1.4 TFSI is at least a full second quicker to 100 km/h than the CLA, not 0.8 seconds slower as the stopwatch would suggest. Next to the 316i, you’d be splitting hairs if you’re comparing outright speed and performance, but between the two, the BMW is the clear victor in terms of feel. Why? The Three’s magical ZF eight-speed auto, that’s why.

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Spend an extra RM60,000 to get the A3 Sedan 1.8 TFSI quattro, and you end up with a cracker of an engine. It revs faster and more crisply than the 1.4, and reaches 100 km/h 2.6 seconds sooner. The 6.7-second century sprint puts it in between the BMW 320i (7.3 seconds) and 328i (5.9 seconds), and almost level with the Volkswagen Golf GTI (6.5 seconds). However way you look at it, that’s mighty fast.

The 1.8 litre turbocharged engine makes 180 hp at 4,500 to 6,200 rpm and 280 Nm from 1,350 to 4,500 rpm – curiously more power but less torque compared to the A4 1.8 TFSI’s 170 hp and 320 Nm. Taking charge of delivering all that to the four-wheels (via quattro all-wheel drive) is the GTI’s six-speed wet dual-clutch transmission, which is also badged S tronic in this application. Fuel wise, it’s claimed to return 15.2 km per litre.

But as nothing ever is, it’s not all roses here. The range-topper’s ability to crush all before it is somewhat impaired by the efficiency-biased throttle and shift mappings. Unless you engage Dynamic mode under the Audi Drive Select menu, it takes quite a big prod of the loud pedal to force a quick downshift-and-go from the 1.8 TFSI. The 1.4 TFSI has no such issue.

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But when it goes, it goes, alright. It can catch you by surprise at first, just how quick it is. The mid-range surge, if anything, feels faster even than in the 328i, and there’s less of the strange strangulated feel to the whole experience than there is in the Golf GTI, which is mapped harder and more aggressive at all times.

But again, performance isn’t the be-all-and-end-all deciding factor with this type of vehicle. In fact, it should never be when you’re dealing with cars that are to be driven everyday. More likely than not, you’ll spend more time in these cars navigating stop-and-go traffic situations than you do clear highways. And here, the 1.4 struggles a fair bit more than the 1.8, which in turn feels inferior to most of its rivals bar the plainly disappointing Mercedes CLA.

It’s the age-old dual-clutch transmission misery. The dry setup in the 1.4 TFSI takes its own sweet time to settle in when you’re just easing in the throttle for slow, gentle getaways. You almost feel the clutch struggle to catch on, as if you’re feeding too much right foot but not lifting your left enough in a manual car. You’d think that this issue would have been solved, but here it is. In 2014. In an Audi.

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The wet clutch-equipped 1.8 TFSI deals with such driving conditions in a far better way. The engine and transmission feel less busy, and there are less instances (inclines and such) where the gearbox would trip up and send unnerving jerking motions into the cabin. Still, nowhere near as smooth sailing as any recent BMW fitted with the superb eight-speed auto.

On to ride and handling, no doubt there are those spluttering into their gin and tonic at the thought of a front-wheel drive premium car, but the truth is that if they took this A3 Sedan 1.4 TFSI for a drive, they’d probably be hard pushed to tell the difference. Push is the operative word here, as unless you do, as in really, really hard, there’s certainly no hint that the front-wheel drive Audi is carrying any physical disadvantage here.

It has a pleasingly neutral feel, neither giving in to understeer at the first hint of a corner, nor hightailing away if you lift off mid-way through. On the road, the fairly weighty steering (adjustable through Audi drive select) gives a fair amount of information, and there isn’t a great deal of difference between this and the helm of a BMW 3 Series. Yes, really.

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Push hard on tight or fast sweeping bends and the balance swings in the rear-driven (or correct-wheel drive) F30’s favour, as you’d expect. Mid-bend, high-speed bumps unsettle the Audi far more than the ultra composed (and relatively soft) BMW, and there’s also a surprising amount of cabin intrusions being allowed in – bumps, ruts, tyre roar and wind noise.

Comparatively, the BMW is superior in all those aspects, except for the last one (the F30 is notoriously noisy at speed, if you’re uninitiated of its flaws). The Merc CLA, also front-wheel drive, is worse off again, with neither the handling balance nor the cabin refinement to match the Audi.

If you’re a frequent visitor of the limit of tyre adhesion, then you’d want to spend the extra dough for the 1.8 TFSI quattro variant. The colossal price gap between the two models is perhaps bigger than it should be (the 1.8 is a third more expensive than the 1.4), but the inclusion of quattro makes a big difference in the way the Audi A3 Sedan drives. Positively, that is.

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It’s hard not to be impressed by the huge capability offered by the all-wheel drive layout, and the way the whole car involves the driver more. It ties the chassis and steering together in a far more cohesive manner, that you’re put in more control at all times. Next to the 1.4 TFSI, this one feels more mature, more sporty and best of all, a lot more substantial.

Corner-takings will be done at a higher comfortable speed, which can reach silly levels depending on the driver’s skills and more likely, bravery. Handling balance takes a leap forward too, making the car feel more pliable and ultimately a lot more playable with near the limit.

That said, while a well-driven A3 Sedan quattro will leave a comparable BMW 3 Series (M Sport or not) for dead through the twisties, the Bimmer driver would still have a bigger smile at the end of the drive. Make no mistake – the Audi is definitely a good steer, but not F30-good.

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But if you’re not the sort who would take regular weekend drives to Ulu Yam or Kuala Klawang, then perhaps the base 1.4 TFSI would be more than capable enough. The waste of talent isn’t the issue here, but the difference in ride quality is, for the quattro model is fitted with stiffer sport suspension.

Both models ride on a set of passive dampers. The adaptive Audi magnetic ride option is not available in either model, so both the A3 Sedans are stuck with fixed settings – 1.4 TFSI on what we’d call slightly firm, the 1.8 TFSI quattro on hard. The former borders on being pliant (only just), while the latter takes the ride to a level that’s less satisfactory.

The stiffer-sprung and 15 mm-lower-riding 1.8 doesn’t feel as floaty as the 1.4 at speeds, but you do feel more of the faults in the road surfaces. For a better perspective, neither is as cossetting as the genuinely comfortable BMW 3 Series, but even the quattro model is not quite as uncomfortable as the Mercedes-Benz CLA.

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In the case of ride quality, it has to be said that Audi’s quest to pursue driving dynamics at the expense of comfort is largely questionable, especially when the heavily related Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI holds a far better balance between the two. How Audi allowed this to happen is beyond us.

But enough of that, as the Audi A3 Sedan is more than just a driving tool. It’s a beautifully made car too, as the interior really does exude a quality feel that’s well above that of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes CLA-Class. Audis are known for making sublime cabins, and despite its entry-level status, the A3 Sedan is no different.

You sit on very solid seats (heavily bolstered ones in the 1.8), hold a pleasingly thick-rimmed steering (specially in the 1.8) and look out over a nice set of satin-finished metal-rimmed instruments. Everything these is to touch, turn or prod feel substantial, and at no point do you think that this is just a dressed-up Golf. It’s all very relaxing and exciting at the same time.

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The downside is, all the major controls bar the dual-zone climate control system, are accessed through the clunky Audi MMI interface. Its sci-fi novelty wears off very quickly the moment you realise that simple everyday functions, such as changing the radio stations, take two or three more steps than you’d ideally like. BMW’s iDrive system is significantly more user friendly, and even Merc’s flawed COMAND control scheme is more easily comprehensible.

Also less than spectacular is the A3 Sedan’s cabin space. You’d just about fit three adults in the back with limited head- and legroom, though the lack of space here isn’t nearly as severe as in the Merc CLA. Even the BMW 3 Series, which is far from the best in its class (full compact exec – Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4 and the like) in terms of space, feels humongous in comparison.

The A3 Sedan’s boot space (or lack thereof) is even direr. Numbers don’t lie, and the 1.4 TFSI has just 425 litres of space in the back, versus the 480 and 470 litres in the 3 Series and CLA-Class respectively. The number drops to a dismal 390 litres for the 1.8, as it has a raised boot floor to accommodate the quattro system’s rear differential. Its only saving grace is its foldable rear seats, which betters the BMW.

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Detailed interior trim differences between the two variants, as well as the long list of optional extras are best appreciated by watching our comprehensive walk-around video of the A3 Sedan pair below. Unlike movies based on books, some things are best seen than described, after all.

But to recap, you can add Comfort Key (standard on the 1.8, RM3,500 on the 1.4), MMI Navigation plus (RM13,000), Bang & Olufsen sound system (RM4,000), a reverse camera (RM2,000), panoramic roof (RM4,500), pearl-effect paintjob (RM3,000) and full LED headlights (RM8,000) to your A3 Sedan. Hey, it’s an Audi, why would you expect it to be cheap?

The most significant entry in the options list is the full S line package for another RM19,800. Offered exclusively on the 1.8 TFSI quattro model, it includes an all-around bodykit, 18-inch wheels, a panoramic roof, part-Alcantara sports seats, full black headliner and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. It’s just too bad it doesn’t add adaptive dampers into the mix as well.

Costly options aside, there’s certainly enough substance behind the new Audi A3 Sedan’s massive showroom appeal to make it a serious contender in this competitive market. It has much to recommend dynamics-wise, and both its unique looks and peerless cabin appointments really grow on you in time.

In the 1.4 TFSI’s case, it certainly doesn’t suffer all that much from being front-wheel drive, and at RM179,900 – the cheapest Audi on sale here in Malaysia, alongside the tiny A1 hatchback – it’s good value as well. The RM240,888 1.8 TFSI quattro asks for a lot, but it also gives back generously in return.

The A3 Sedan certainly isn’t perfect, with a fair share of flaws – firm ride (even harder on the 1.8), annoying MMI interface, small interior and boot – but above all that, it feels different and a bit special. It’s hard to put a price on that warm glow you feel inside. It’s rare that a car allows both the heart and head to justify it. This is one of the select few.

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Audi A3 Sedan 1.8 TFSI quattro S line A3_SLine_Ext_14 A3_SLine_Ext_15 A3_SLine_Ext_08 A3_SLine_Ext_01 A3_SLine_Ext_04 A3_SLine_Ext_05 A3_SLine_Ext_06 A3_SLine_Ext_07 A3_SLine_Ext_09 A3_SLine_Ext_11 A3_SLine_Ext_12 A3_SLine_Ext_13 A3_SLine_Int_01 A3_SLine_Int_02 A318_Int_01 A3_SLine_Int_03 A3_SLine_Int_04 A3_SLine_Int_05 A3_SLine_Int_06 A3_SLine_Int_10 A3_SLine_Int_11 A3_SLine_Int_12 A3_SLine_Int_08 A3_SLine_Int_13 A3_SLine_Int_14

The post DRIVEN: Audi A3 Sedan 1.4 TFSI and 1.8 TFSI quattro – proof that the best things come in small packages? appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 10:14

Volvo XC90 First Edition 03

Volvo Car Malaysia (VCM) held a special product presentation regarding the recently revealed 2015 Volvo XC90 earlier today, during which managing director Keith Schafer announced that the long-awaited second-generation seven-seater SUV is slated to arrive on Malaysian shores in August 2015.

The company is aiming to bring in the new XC90 as a fully-imported model – production in Sweden is expected to begin in February – before starting local assembly. While VCM currently assembles the outgoing car at its Shah Alam plant, adapting the factory to build vehicles based on Volvo’s new and complex Scalable Product Architecture (on which the new XC90 is based) is expected to take some time, with the first CKD models expected only in 2016.

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VCM is also looking to provide high levels of equipment for local models, and all three 2.0 litre four-cylinder Drive-E petrol powertrains are being considered. These are the 254 hp, 350 Nm turbocharged T5, the 320 hp, 400 Nm supercharged and turbocharged T6 as well as the range-topping “Twin Engine” T8 supercharged and turbocharged plug-in hybrid that produces a combined output of 400 hp and 640 Nm.

The hybrid is an interesting proposition, as there are currently duty exemptions for hybrids that are locally assembled. This policy will expire at the end of 2015, however, which is some time before CKD production of the new XC90 is set to begin. Perhaps the Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) incentives indicated in the 2014 National Automotive Policy (NAP) will help VCM price a CKD T8 hybrid attractively, as Mercedes-Benz has recently done with the S 400 L Hybrid.

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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 08:51

kuang-toll1

Full-electronic toll collection (ETC) at PLUS Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau toll plazas, supposed to happen this Monday, September 1, is on hold until a later date, according to a statement by Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia (LLM).

The postponement, instructed to PLUS by the Ministry of Works, is to give motorists passing through the two toll plazas more time to purchase SmartTAG, PLUSMiles or Touch ‘n Go cards before full electronic payment takes place, the statement said.

The post Full-ETC at PLUS Batu Tiga, Sg Rasau tolls postponed appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 07:45

Peugeot-RCZ-Rouge-Red

We’re pretty sure not many would mind a Peugeot RCZ in their porch. Nasim’s Drive 2 Win contest is offering a chance to win one in Rouge Red, and you don’t even need to buy anything to be in the running!

To participate, visit a Peugeot showroom and test drive any Peugeot model. Once done, fill up the contest entry form and deposit it into the showroom’s contest box. One test drive, one entry. Those who register a new Peugeot will be given five entries for a bigger chance to win something.

Grand prize aside, the contest is broken into six series’ lasting two weeks each. There will be three winners for each series. Bi-weekly series winners stand to take home a Sony Xperia Z2, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2, Macbook Air and shopping vouchers worth RM500.

peugeot cruisers

In addition, Peugeot Cruisers will handing out freebies across the country. Hotspots include TTDI, Ara Damansara, Desa Parkcity, Setia Alam, Subang Jaya, PJ State and Jaya One. Outside the Klang Valley, they will head to Bandar Baru Uda and South City Mall, Setia Tropika in JB and Georgetown and Batu Feringghi in Penang. Follow Peugeot Malaysia’s Facebook page for locations.

The Peugeot Drive 2 Win contest started on August 15 and will end on October 31. Read our review of the Peugeot RCZ to whet your appetite. Good luck!

The post Test drive a Peugeot to win a Peugeot RCZ coupe! appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 06:15

aston-martin-lagonda-oman-2

Oman Air has announced its partnership with Aston Martin to transport the British carmaker’s yet-to-be-launched Lagonda super-luxury saloon to Muscat for hot-weather testing – and revealed pictures of the pre-production car in the process.

Like William Towns’ controversial 1976 car, the new Aston Martin Lagonda features slim headlamps that are ‘connected’ to the front grille – although obviously interpreted in a much less angular way here. The thick C-pillars and sweep-up lower rear overhang are also clear nods to the old car.

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The new Aston Martin Lagonda is set to begin series production in very limited numbers next year – exclusively for the Middle East. It’ll be offered for sale by invitation only, and the asking price will be commensurate with the model’s exclusivity, quality and luxury.

The work of Aston’s special ‘Q’ division (which also gave us the CC100 Speedster, V12 Zagato and One-77), the Lagonda is based on the VH platform that’s used by the Rapide saloon. Power is speculated to come from the Rapide S’ 6.0 litre V12, which develops 558 PS and 620 Nm of torque.

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The post Aston Martin Lagonda first pics: from Oman with love appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 04:58

kia-sorento-2015-korea-30

The third-gen 2015 Kia Sorento, official photos of which surfaced recently, has been unveiled in South Korea, ahead of a scheduled global premiere in Paris in October. Lots of pics to go along with it, revealing the new SUV’s interior and equipment.

UPDATE: More technical information from European release added.

Standing 4,780 mm long (+95 from before), 1,890 mm wide (+5) and 1,685 mm tall (-15), with a 2,780 mm wheelbase (+80), the “Man on the Road” has a huge ‘Tiger Nose’ grille with a 3D diamond pattern up front that flows neatly into xenon projector headlamps with LED DRL ‘eyebrows’.

Repositioned seat cushions result in more headroom, despite the lower roofline, while boot volume is up by a significant 90 litres to 605 litres. There’s now also an underfloor storage compartment.

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Inside, there’s a three-spoke steering wheel (like the one on the Optima facelift, minus the flat bottom) trimmed in wood and leather, quite a bit of chrome and side air vents that ‘poke out‘ from the dashboard. Manual single-zone and auto dual-zone air-con are available.

Five- and seven-seat versions will be available worldwide; the seven-seater gets ‘remote folding’ second-row seats (you can fold the second row using levers in the boot area). The second row is split 40:20:40.

Torsional rigidity is up 14%, thanks to more ultra-high tensile steel in the body. There’s also more soundproofing in the transmission tunnel and dashboard, and larger engine and transmission mounts. Plus, diesel engines get a new particulate filter cover and an acoustic shield integrated into the timing chain cover. The result? Three to six percent lower cabin noise, says Kia.

Also, a new electric motor-driven power steering system (R-MDPS) is mounted on the rack instead of the column where it was before. Kia claims greater steering feel and quicker response.

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We see two distinct instrument panel layouts here: rev counter/TFT screen/speedo, and rev counter/speedo with integrated TFT (looks bigger here, and in colour too)/fuel gauge and engine temperature.

Options include ventilated (front only) and heated seats, a heated steering wheel, JBL sound, GPS infotainment and a panoramic sunroof. We also see three alloy designs (one 18, two 19s), two-memory-setting seats with adjustable lumbar, an electronic centre diff lock, a powered tailgate, Drive Mode, Around View Monitor with four cameras and rear air-con with eight selectable fan speeds.

Safety? There’s Adaptive Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Front Collision Warning, Blind-Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Speed Limit Information Function and Around View Monitor with four cameras.

In South Korea, the 2015 Kia Sorento will be powered by 186 PS/402 Nm 2.0 litre and 202 PS/441 Nm 2.2 litre engines, both four-cylinder diesels. Other announced engines are a 2.4 litre GDI petrol, a 2.4 litre MPI petrol and a 3.3 litre MPI petrol. Europe will get the 2.2 diesel and 2.4 GDI petrol. All outputs range from 172 to 270 PS.

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The post 2015 Kia Sorento unveiled in South Korea – more pics! appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 03:31

lexus ipoh 1

Lexus Malaysia recently opened its seventh outlet in Malaysia. Lexus Ipoh is located along Jalan Kuala Kangsar in Perak’s capital city. It comes after outlets in Mutiara Damansara, KL, Sungai Besi, Penang, Johor and Kuching. Lexus Malacca will join the network in the final quarter of 2014.

Lexus Ipoh is operated by Telagamas Motors, a successful Toyota/Lexus dealer with Lexus Penang and two Toyota dealerships in Kulim and Tanjung Malim under its stable. The company invested over RM15 million into the setting up of this new facility.

Lexus Ipoh is a double-story building built on a 30,000 sq ft land. The showroom can display four cars and the service centre has four service bays, all handled by 16 personnel. There’s also a roof top stockyard.

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“The Lexus Customer Experience is legendary and incorporates the art of Japanese hospitality. It starts when you visit the Lexus showroom for the first time, and continues at every step of the way after you purchase your first Lexus. To us, it’s more than meeting your needs and desires – it’s anticipating them. That way, you are always at the center of the experience, just like you would be, as a guest in our home,” said Datuk Ismet Suki, president of UMW Toyota Motor.

Lexus Malaysia has sold more than 6,500 cars in Malaysia and aims to shift over 1,400 units this year. With the termination of tax incentives for CBU hybrid cars, the Lexus ES is set to take over from the CT 200h as the biggest seller here. We’re expecting the new Lexus NX SUV to join the local stable next year.

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The post Lexus Ipoh – 7th outlet opens on Jalan Kuala Kangsar appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 03:01

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A week after unveiling the exterior of the 2015 Skoda Fabia, the Czech manufacturer has now released a dashboard image of the new B-segment hatchback ahead of its debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.

As with the exterior, the interior looks very much like newer Skoda models such as the Octavia and the Rapid, with sharp creases and a very sober control layout. Despite an 8 mm decrease in overall length, the company is touting an interior that is now 8 mm longer at 1,674 mm. There’s also 21 mm more elbow room at the front (1,401 mm) and 2 mm more at the back (1,386 mm).

There’s more room for your luggage too – the boot has swelled by 15 litres to 330 litres – putting it firmly near the top of the class – while folding the rear seats increases that space to 1,150 litres. The rear access width is 1,098 mm, the loading area is 960 mm wide (20 mm wider than before) and the tailgate swings open to 1,915 mm, while a low sill height should make loading and unloading cargo that little bit easier.

140828 New SKODA Fabia - Start of Production 001

The new Fabia will also be the first Skoda to come with MirrorLink smartphone interoperability technology that allows you to control your phone’s media and apps such as navigation through the car’s Bolero infotainment system. Another feature, SmartGate, enables the transfer of vehicle information such as fuel consumption, average speed and journey costs to selected smartphone apps through WiFi.

In addition, Skoda claims the Fabia contains up to 17 “Simply Clever” features depending on the specs. These include an ice scraper in the fuel filler cap, a dedicated cradle for a smartphone, multiple new storage compartments (including one for a high-visibility vest in the driver’s door, a dustbin, a parking ticket holder in the A-pillar, 500 ml bottle holders in the rear doors and a glovebox that can fit a one litre bottle.

Production has already begun at the Mladá Boleslav factory in the Czech Republic – the first unit being the Race Blue example seen above – before reaching showrooms starting from November.

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The post 2015 Skoda Fabia dash revealed ahead of Paris debut appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 02:19

BMW-7-6

We’ve seen prototypes of BMW’s next-generation flagship 7 Series sedan on test for a few months now, and sightings have increased in frequency. But today’s spyshots of the 7 Series prototype reveals something new – it’s now wearing the headlamps that will be used on the production car.

A look at the design of the headlamp under the disguise reveals something interesting – the design of BMW’s signature ‘corona ring’ daytime running lights aren’t the typical U-shaped design. On these headlamps, we see that the inner “U” extends further towards the grille, giving it the appearance like a question mark lying on its side. The outline of the headlamps themselves look slimmer compared to the F01/F02 7 Series design.

This is not the first time we’ve seen this headlamp design. BMW has been using this design on the past few concept cars that its been showcasing. Below you’ll see the same design featured on the BMW Vision Future Luxury concept, the BMW Concept X4 and the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe.

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Word is that the new 7 Series has undergone big weight reductions, with BMW focusing on integrating key learnings from the BMW i project to its regular series cars.

The chassis – said to be codenamed ’5up’, is supposed to allow the 7 Series to compete with lighter cars like the Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ when it comes to kerb weight.

Thanks to the use of aluminium, magnesium and carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), the new 7 Series is said to be up to 200 kg lighter than its predecessor. But of course, we can’t see any of that in these spyshots.

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The post SPYSHOTS: Next-generation BMW 7 Series prototype gives us a peek at its new headlamp design appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 01:32

etc-plus-m-b 245

As earlier reported, all-electronic toll collection (ETC) is set to begin at PLUS Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau toll plazas (on Federal Highway Route 2) from September 1 at 6.00 am. Only SmartTAG, PLUSMiles card and Touch ‘n Go card transactions will be accepted – no cash.

At a media briefing held recently, PLUS MD Datuk Noorizah Abdul Hamid explained that should motorists require printed receipts (for claims purposes), they will be provided on the spot at the two leftmost booths at both toll plazas, in both directions. Transaction statements may also be printed out through e-Penyata.

PLUS has opened up drive-through counters at the two toll plazas. Open 24 hours beginning September 1, motorists may purchase and reload PLUSMiles and Touch ‘n Go cards at these counters, without getting out of their cars.

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Also, Customer Service Centres (Pusat Khidmat Pelanggan) at the two locations will be open daily between 7 am and 10 pm.

As incentives to migrate to cards, PLUS is offering RM5 preloaded PLUSMiles cards at a promotional rate of RM5 (so essentially the card itself is free) until November 30. Also, SmartTAGs will be offered at a promotional price of RM99 (provided you top-up RM30) until September 30.

That’s not all – a 30% toll rebate will be offered to Class 1 users who pay electronically during off-peak hours (10 am-4 pm, 10pm-6 am) at both toll plazas between September 1 and December 31.

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The rationale behind the move to all-ETC is quite clear – the objective is to reduce toll plaza congestion by quickening the process of paying toll, thereby bypassing land constraints where toll plaza widening is concerned. It will also, of course, save a bit of fuel for motorists in the long run, since you don’t have to slow down, stop, and move off again.

The long-term aim is to increase the number of electronic transactions from 44 per capita in 2010 to 200 by 2020. The switch to electronic transaction will also, PLUS says, save 1% on the country’s gross domestic product.

Additionally, for 2020, PLUS is targeting 100% ETC at all its toll plazas nationwide, with a possible gateless gantry toll collection system (like Singapore’s overhead Electronic Road Pricing gantries) where cars may simply drive through and be charged electronically, without the need for slowing down.

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Why Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau? Well, apart from being heavily congested, over 70% of transactions at the two toll plazas already are through SmartTAG, PLUSMiles or Touch ‘n Go cards, says PLUS.

All-ETC systems are already in place at Perling on the Secondlink Highway (January 2014), Kempas on the NSE (January 2014), Lima Kedai on Linkedua (July 2010), Tanjung Kupang on Linkedua (September 2009) and the Sultan Iskandar Building, CIQ (December 2008).

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The post ETC to begin at PLUS Batu Tiga, Sg Rasau tolls Sept 1 appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 11:29

uber

The controversy surrounding Uber in Malaysia continues – earlier, it was reported that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) was approaching the topic carefully and was wary about taking action against the transport service provider, given its growing popularity with the Malaysian public.

Now, things are heating up. News reports from earlier today gave the indication that authorities had deemed the service ‘illegal’, which isn’t really the case. What SPAD is actually saying is that the mobile app-based vehicle for hire service must fully comply with all transportation laws in the country, which it apparently does not at present.

For starters, the commission says that the service utilises private vehicles, which are not allowed to carry fare-paying passengers. Doing so is an offence under the Land Public Transport Act 2010. The regulations also state that vehicles registered under ‘hire-and-drive’ conditions under SPAD cannot be used for taxi or limousine services.

According to SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, the commission’s findings had determined that Uber is utilising private vehicles as well as those registered for ‘hire-and-drive’ services in addition to vehicles from proper limousine companies.

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“Under the current regulatory scheme, among the vehicles used by Uber, only licensed limousines are eligible to offer chauffeur-driven services,” he said. Plying the trade with private and ‘hire-and drive’ cars is the concern. “This illegal service provided could be colloquially referred to as kereta sapu,” as Syed Hamid put it.

Additional issues concern the fact that vehicles utilised by the service are not covered under commercial vehicle insurance. They might not also be put through Puspakom’s semi-annual checks, he added.

On top of all this, SPAD also found that some Uber drivers do not possess a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) driving licence, an offence under the Road Transport Act 1987.

Syed Hamid however said that the commission is taking a more pragmatic approach and is open to allowing this service, as long as the services are provided by appropriately licensed vehicles and drivers.

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He added that there should be no shortage of options to bring compliance about. “Since there are 839 licensed limousines nationwide which are eligible to offer this service, the supply of vehicles and drivers should therefore not be an issue for Uber,” he said.

Syed Hamid stated that as the regulator in charge of Malaysia’s land public transport, SPAD would not hesitate to take enforcement action on service providers who do not comply with the law.

Earlier, Gabungan Persatuan dan Syarikat-Syarikat Teksi Semenanjung Malaysia (GABUNGAN) called on SPAD to act against Uber. Apart from taking away their customers, taxi operators claim that the law does not bind the service, and if an accident happens, passengers are at risk.

Malaysia is of course not the first country in which the service – which was launched in KL in October last year and which recently introduced its budget UberX service – has faced such vitriol.

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Uber’s services – currently covering 57 cities in 22 countries – pose a definite challenge to many public transport regulators around the world, so much so that some cities such as Miami, Berlin and Seoul have banned it.

The claim by SPAD that Uber utilises private cars, which have no operating licence and as such contravenes existing public transport laws, might have a ring of truth to it. Many of the team here at paultan.org have utilised Uber in their daily travels, and we’ve talked to some of the service’s drivers who used to work in the Uber system as part of limo companies but who are now working in the Uber system on their own. We didn’t go into detail with them on what this meant, and whether the vehicles they were driving were private cars.

So, loopholes exist, and they should be plugged to bring compliance about, but how will it pan out, and how will Uber respond in terms of compliance to the law? The service only supplies the technology and the system to connect customers to transport providers – the cars are all provided by third-party partners.

More importantly, it remains to be seen how the authorities will go about things, and whether they will curtail its growth. Shutting it out, if it comes to that, would be a travesty – the point is, something like Uber is a godsend to many public transport users in the Klang Valley, given the efficiency of regular taxi operations.

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It’s not like we have a truly efficient taxi service, despite having 60,000-plus taxis in the Peninsular – as many will undoubtedly agree, it’s a challenge to get a cab most times, whether on foot or by phone. On one occasion, this writer stood outside his taman for 43 mins attempting to flag a cab down, simply because calling in for one got the usual “No teksi” reply. Two did stop, but didn’t want to go the intended route.

So yes, the livelihood of taxi drivers is important, of course, and something like Uber naturally challenges it, but the idea is that you need to compete, not just discredit it and whinge that it’s taking away your income. How to go about it, well, how about improving the attitude and approach towards users – the very people you depend on for your livelihood – for a start? We won’t even begin to go into the condition of some of the rides.

Until taxi operators can show users that their service is efficient and accessible, without us having to listen to those tired, familiar “tak mau pergi” and “no teksi” lines or asked to pay a flat rate because there is no other option, something like Uber will always be the better choice. To ban or eliminate it would be taking a few significant steps back in public transport – hopefully, it won’t come to that.

As Syed Hamid put it during the briefing with the press, “SPAD would also like to take this opportunity to urge the taxi industry to use these current developments as an opportunity to enhance the level of service provided and improve the reputation of the domestic taxi industry, in order to further gain public confidence.” Time then for everyone to wake up – getting Uber to play by the rules is just one part of it.

What are your thoughts on the Uber topic? Share your views with us in the comments section.

Learn more about Uber here:

The post Uber service in Malaysia not deemed “illegal,” but will need to fully comply with local transportation laws appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Author: "Anthony Lim" Tags: "Cars, Local News, Public Transport"
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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 10:10

55 Edition MINI Countryman-01

Say hello to the 55 Edition MINI Countryman, a limited edition that commemorates MINI’s 55th anniversary as well as Hari Merdeka and Hari Malaysia. Limited to 55 units, the exclusive-to-Malaysia special edition is priced at an attractive RM188,888 on-the-road without insurance.

RM189k is a full RM30k cheaper than the RM219k CKD locally-assembled Cooper Countryman that the 55 Edition is based on, and there are reasons why.

The 55 adds on a “Sports Stripe” that runs across its bonnet, side skirting and rear tailgate as well as a 55 Edition badge on the grille. Another sign that it’s a 55 are the 16-inch five-spoke alloys. The regular Cooper Countryman sits on 17-inch wheels.

Inside, the 55 Edition comes with Cosmos Carbon Black cloth upholstery in place of the regular Cooper’s leather. Door trim sees a mix of Piano Black glossy plastics and Polar Beige inlays, a slight variation from the Dark Silver/Polar Beige combo in the Cooper.

Not listed in the press release, but the automatic air-con of the Cooper has been deleted for a manual unit; the round display making way for a rotary air-flow control knob. Things like auto lights and wipers, anti-dazzle rear view mirror, six-speaker audio with Bluetooth and multi-function steering remain. Speaking of steering, the 55′s wheel is still the Sports unit, but the Cooper’s shift paddles have been omitted.

No changes under the skin, so the 55 Edition is powered by a 1.6 litre naturally-aspirated engine with 120 hp and 155 Nm. Power goes to the front wheels, no ALL4 here. The 0 to 100 km/h sprint is done in 11.6 seconds and top speed is 182 km/h. Claimed combined fuel consumption is 7.6 litres per 100 km, or 13.2 km/l.

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The 55 Edition MINI Countryman is available in five colours, and they are Blazing Red, True Blue, Royal Grey, Light White and Brilliant Copper. Roof and mirror caps in black are available with all colours, but white can be had only for red, blue and grey.

As mentioned, this 55-unit special is going for RM188,888 OTR without insurance, which includes three years of MINI Service Inclusive. Read our review of the maxi MINI, learn more about the MINI Countryman range, and compare the 55 Edition with the regular Cooper on CarBase.my.

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The post 55 Edition MINI Countryman – Malaysia-only limited edition, lower spec and lower price – RM189k appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Author: "Danny Tan" Tags: "Cars, Local News, MINI"
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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 08:16

Official Rollout of the Hyundai Elantra for export (L-R Hideki Yanagisawa, Rizal Jailan and HK Kim)

In a follow-up to the launch of the Malaysian-assembled facelifted Hyundai Elantra in Thailand, Inokom has announced that it has indeed been assembling the refreshed Korean sedan in its plant in Kulim, Kedah and exporting it to the Thai market. As we reported earlier, the move was made due to favourable tariff rates as a result of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA).

Around 1,000 units of the new Elantra are expected to be shipped to the Land of the Smiles in the first year. So far, the company has already exported 200 units since June, and will ship another 200 units early next month. The number of cars exported is expected to increase to meet an anticipated increase in market demand due to the significant price drop over the previous Korean-built model.

How significant? Prices for the new Elantra start at 749,000 baht (RM74,800) for the base GL model, rising up to 819,000 baht (RM81,800) for the GLE and 898,000 baht (RM89,600) for the top-spec GLS Navi. This is in contrast to the outgoing model, which came in at between 899,000 baht (RM89,700) and 1,198 million baht (RM119,600).

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“Though this is our first collaboration with Inokom, we look forward to future collaborations and possibly, for the other Hyundai models as well,” said Hyundai Motor Thailand president Hideki Yanagisawa.

Inokom’s managing director Rizal Jailan said that this collaboration may grant the company more export business avenues, particularly through the assembly of Hyundai models.

“We have proven our capabilities and we have vast experience in producing high quality vehicles,” he said. “We place emphasis on quality, productivity and efficiency and this will ensure that we remain competitive in both the domestic and export markets. We are confident that our track record and reputation in producing quality vehicles will help the product’s success in Thailand.”

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Rizal also mentioned that Inokom was looking to establish a long-term working relationship with Hyundai Motor Thailand, as well as looking and evaluating other business opportunities in ASEAN. In addition, the company is hoping to further cement its support for the new National Automotive Policy (NAP) through the development of new vendors and the increase in participation of current local vendors.

Now that we are already assembling the facelifted Hyundai Elantra for other markets, how long more until we can have the spoils for ourselves?

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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 07:00

Proton-Raya-06

It’s exciting times ahead in Malaysia, at least where the automotive industry is concerned. The upcoming Proton PCC (or Proton Iriz, if you must) is just around the corner, and we’ve been given a short tour of the new car’s birthplace to see the efforts Proton has made to improve its quality, reliability and of course, safety.

Before we start, a short side note. Proton has kindly asked that until the car is launched, we refer to the new model as the PCC (Proton Compact Car) instead of the old GSC (Global Small Car) codename. Why? Because it’s not so small, apparently. Right, then, on to the good stuff.

Some of you may have spotted camouflaged fleets of the B-segment hatchback being driven around recently. No, there are no last-minute fine-tuning shenanigans here, just plain old on-road durability testing. All variants of the new model are each on the tail end of planned 100,000 km durability tests. Here, four production-spec cars cover around 1,000 km daily, through mixed driving conditions.

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Throughout the development of this model, specific parts of the car have undergone strict comfort and longevity evaluations too. The headlights, for instance, have gone through a 1,000-hour heat ageing test.

Another one of the 671 component tests measure the effort needed to close the car’s doors using specially-designed jigs (imagine Ikea’s fancy durability test machines and you’re not far off). The result, in this case, is excellent “door effort” levels – on par with European vehicles, claimed Muhammad Aris Anuar, Proton’s director of manufacturing.

The production schedule of the Proton PCC is well under way. Line consistency trials will start as soon as next week, and pre-production runs are set to commence in the coming month. Full mass production is set to follow shortly, and the new cars will be available in showrooms by the time the model is launched, which we have been re-affirmed will happen very soon indeed.

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In the state-of-the-art Proton Tanjung Malim plant, the PCC will be produced in the same line as the larger Preve and Suprima S models. The Persona and Gen2 (for export markets) are run on a separate production line in the same facility, while the Saga and Satria Neo are built at the main Shah Alam plant, and the Exora and Inspira at the MVF (Medium Volume Factory) plant, also located in Shah Alam.

New for the PCC production line is the inclusion of a main body robot inspection. Yet another quality check gate, this addition is said to improve production consistency and speed. As it is, Proton Tanjung Malim operates with up to 80% automation level, using 205 robots at various stages of the production process.

Final inspections before delivery are all done manually, of course, which include shower (apparently one of the most severe of its kind, to simulate our brutal downpours), running (on a private test track) and radio reception tests – all done within the 240-acre facility (spread over 1,280 acres, as part of the 4,000-acre Proton City project).

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The manufacturing process in the Proton plant uses the biggest stamping equipment in South East Asia. Also a region-first is the use of Hot Press Forming (HPF) technology for vital components of the body-in-white. More commonly used on European vehicles, HPF parts have three times the strength of mild steel, opening up doors for improved safety (self explanatory) as well as weight reduction (less material needed).

First introduced in the Preve and Suprima S, Proton’s upcoming B-segment hatchback will also benefit from this technology. The PCC will incorporate four HPF parts, plus another four cold roll-forming high tensile strength steel components for much improved safety.

For a simple comparison, Proton pointed out that the Volkswagen Polo, Audi A4 and BMW 5 Series use five, nine and 13 HPF parts respectively, while both the Preve and Suprima S have 12 each (the red bits below). Japanese automakers, on the other hand, have not adopted such a technique.

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Just like its big brothers, the PCC has received a 5-star crash test rating by Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) – we’ve seen the crash test video; the small car looks mighty strong. Closer to home, it will be tested by ASEAN NCAP next month, and Proton is confident of a 5-star safety rating as well.

With improved quality and safety, Proton is clearly moving in the right direction with the PCC. Deputy CEO Khairuddin Datuk Hj Yusoff himself added, “there are many challenges that we need to overcome in this highly competitive industry. There is the need to address negative past experiences of our customers, as well as correct market perception and show that Proton offers good quality and value for money cars.

“Ultimately, we want to win the customer’s heart and mind,” he concluded. Time will tell, then. Time will tell.

The post Proton PCC – Tg Malim plant ramps up quality checks; all variants to pass 100,000 km durability tests appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 06:45

bmw-gpec-0020

Last year’s BMW X5 Security Plus Concept has made it to production, and will go on show at the biennial General Police Equipment Exhibition & Conference (GPEC) fair in Europe after making its world debut at the Moscow International Automobile Salon 2014 this week.

The special F15 X5, based on the xDrive50i model, has been built up to VR6 ballistic protection, featuring an armoured passenger cell that provides protection for up to four occupants and can thwart attacks by the world’s most popular firearm, the AK-47.

To prevent bullet or fragment penetration, it features sealed joints, which provide protection in critical areas such as around doors or where panels adjoin body pillars. The car’s security glass is also resistant to attack by blunt weapons. The polycarbonate coating protects the interior from flying splinters.

Run-flat tyres ensure the car can still move in situations where the tyres are shot at or punctured by sharp objects. An intercom system allows vehicle occupants to communicate with persons outside the vehicle, even when all windows and doors are closed. An assault alarm function automatically locks the windows and doors and emits audible and visual alarm signals.

BMW will also showcase other products at GPEC such as a BMW X3, a BMW R 1200 RT and a BMW F 800 GT, all equipped for police usage.

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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 05:38

datsun-mi-do-russia-g

The Datsun mi-DO has been unveiled at the ongoing Moscow motor show – it’s essentially a hatchback version of the Datsun on-DO, which is a sedan based on a Lada platform. Parallels may now be drawn between Datsuns on-DO/mi-DO and Ladas Granta/Kalina.

Measuring 3,950 mm long, 1,700 mm wide and 1,500 mm tall, the mi-DO hatch is 387 mm shorter than the on-DO sedan. Width, height and wheelbase are shared between the two, as is the interior, although we see a neat touch-screen-like display on the centre stack.

Their faces are slightly different as well – front bumper and headlamps are more angular, the latter looking quite Audi-ish and featuring projectors. Round the back, you’ll see unique d-shaped tail lamps with clear lenses on top. More coherent-looking overall than the sedan, we think.

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As on the on-DO sedan, a 1.6 litre petrol engine feeds 87 hp to the front wheels through a five-speed manual or optional four-speed auto. ABS, two airbags, heated seats and heated door mirrors.

There’s visibly less boot space than you get in the sedan, but the rear seats – besides being able to fold, the seat bases can be tumbled forwards, so presumably the seats can fold flat to be flush with the boot floor.

Engineered and built in Russia, the mi-DO is set to go on sale there next year. Meanwhile, the on-DO sedan, which debuted in April, has received more than 2,000 enquiries since order-taking began in July.

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Author: "Jonathan James Tan" Tags: "Cars, Datsun, International News"
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