Latest Stories

  • Cycle & Carriage Mercedes-Benz Autohaus in JB upgraded: new CI, only B&P centre in southern region

    Cycle & Carriage has opened the doors to its upgraded Mercedes-Benz Autohaus in Johor Bahru. Featuring the latest Mercedes-Benz Brand Presence corporate identity, the showroom gets revamped sales and service areas to deliver a customer-first experience, the company says.

    The Johor Bahru outlet is the largest Autohaus in the southern region, spanning 142,000 square feet of built-up area over a land area of 224,000 square feet. The facility is said to boast state-of-the-art technology and a contemporary retail experience to address the customer’s individual needs.

    Taking centre stage is a redesigned entrance, where every customer is greeted by a “Star Assistant”. Inside, there are multiple touchpoints that are supported by digital tools, showcasing various media from the brand. The showroom is designed to provide more face-to-face interaction between customers and the service team.

    A showroom is nothing without the cars, so the Autohaus has a large open area that utilises custom daylight-emitting spotlights, allowing visitors to see the display units in their true colour. You’ve also got a number of seating and discussion areas that provide varying amounts of privacy to facilitate individual sales and service consultations. A hospitality lounge and a merchandise area are also incorporated.

    New owners will be able to collect their cars through the vehicle delivery room, which is designed with a “black box” concept in mind. It’s said to provide a personal and memorable handover process as the car is unveiled to the customer.

    On the aftersales side, the Johor Bahru Autohaus houses the only accredited and authorised Mercedes-Benz Certified Body & Paint Centre in the southern region. It’s fitted with the latest automotive technologies and employs experts in structural repairs for Mercedes-Benz vehicles, adhering to global safety standards. With 35 work bays, the service area is able to service 850 cars a month; the centre also provides Drop & Go and Door-to-Door servicing for increased customer convenience, with a quick turnaround time promised.

    “With three upgraded Autohaus and a fourth one by the end of the year, we believe our customers will appreciate the luxurious experience, advancements and services that contribute to our guiding promise of providing an exceptional journey for all current and future Mercedes-Benz owners,” said Cycle & Carriage chief operating officer Wilfrid Foo.

    Mercedes-Benz Malaysia president and CEO Claus Weidner added, “The future of automotive retail represented here is a concept that weaves the key elements of our design philosophy – sensual purity and spaciousness; it is more than just architecture. It creates an experience that seamlessly blends simplicity and craftsmanship that are unique to the brand.”

    The revamped Cycle & Carriage Johor Bahru Autohaus is located at No. 102, Batu 5 1/2, Jalan Skudai, Tampoi, 81200 Johor Bahru. Appointments can be made by calling 1-800-88-0000.

  • McLaren Group headquarters sold to property firm for RM968 million, continues operations on 20-year lease

    In a bid to secure more short-term funding, the McLaren Group has sold its headquarters in Woking, Surrey in England to property firm Global Net Lease for GBP170 million (RM968 million).

    This is for the combined 840,000 square-foot campus that consists of the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC), McLaren Production Centre (MPC) and the McLaren Thought Leadership Centre. The transaction is expected to be finalised in the second quarter of 2021, and McLaren has signed a 20-year lease and will continue to operate from the premises.

    Designed by architects Foster and Partners, the campus was opened in 2004, and is home to McLaren Racing, the constructor of the brand’s Formula 1 cars, McLaren Automotive, its road car division, and McLaren Applied, which develops data capture and control systems for automotive, health and fitness as well as other industries.

    McLaren had previously been in talks to sell a share of its Formula 1 team to improve its financial standing, after being hit hard by the pandemic. In May 2020, the group had planned to lay off 1,200 employees from its road car and Formula 1 divisions from a total of 4,000 staff employed at the time.

    In July last year, McLaren received US$184 million (RM788 million) in funding from the National Bank of Bahrain, and later on in September that year, listed its headquarters for sale.


  • Tesla Autopilot continues to operate without anyone in the driver’s seat, Consumer Reports demonstrates

    Tesla fell under renewed scrutiny again when a 2019 Model S struck a tree in Texas on April 17, killing the vehicle’s two occupants. According to authorities, neither of the men were behind the wheel of the car when the accident took place, which led some to believe that they were “testing” out the Autopilot feature that is standard on all Tesla models.

    Since then, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have launched an investigation into the crash. On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that data logs recovered from the crashed Model S revealed that the Autopilot was not enabled, refuting claims that the company’s driver-assistance system was involved in the crash.

    He also noted that the crashed car did not have the Full Self-Driving (FSD) suite enabled, which requires a payment to access features such as Navigate on Autopilot, automatic lane changing, Autopark, Summon and others. Furthermore, the standard Autopilot would require clearly visible lane lines to be allowed to function, which the winding road in Spring, the site the accident occurred, did not have.

    Tesla has made it clear that none of its cars are fully autonomous today and still require active driver suspension. This is despite the Autopilot and FSD system being marketed in a way that consumers believe otherwise, which is why you see plenty of videos of customers apparently falling asleep or trying out dangerous (and stupid) stunts with the systems active.

    While the investigation into the fatal accident in Texas is ongoing, Consumer Reports (CR) decided to find out if it was possible to drive on Autopilot without anyone in the driver’s seat. This, in a way, is a recreated scenario where the two men were indeed toying with Autopilot while sitting anywhere else in the vehicle except behind the wheel.

    In their experiment that involved a 2020 Model Y on a closed test track, Jake Fisher, CR’s senior director of auto testing, sat in the driver’s seat on top of a buckled seat belt, while Kelly Funkhouser, CR’s programme manager for vehicle interface testing, sat in the rear seat.

    With the car in motion, Fisher engaged Autopilot and set the speed dial to 0 mph, which brought the car to a complete stop. He then placed a small, weighted chain on the steering wheel to simulate the weight of a driver’s hand, before climbing over to the front passenger seat – opening any doors would disengage Autopilot.

    While in the front passenger seat, Fisher then adjusted the speed dial and was able to accelerate the vehicle before bringing it to a stop again. “The car drove up and down the half-mile lane of our track, repeatedly, never noting that no one was in the driver’s seat, never noting that there was no one touching the steering wheel, never noting there was no weight on the seat,” Fisher said.

    “It was a bit frightening when we realized how easy it was to defeat the safeguards, which we proved were clearly insufficient,” he added. It’s certainly a little unsettling just how easy it is to “trick” the system, and you can watch the entire demonstration here.

    Repeating what Tesla has mentioned before, CR stated that Autopilot is not perfect and truly self-driving cars do not yet exist for consumers to buy. “Autopilot makes mistakes, and when it encounters a situation that it cannot negotiate, it can immediately shut itself off. If the driver isn’t ready to react quickly, it can end in a crash,” he commented.

    Funkhouser added that it might be possible to abuse the active driving assistance systems of other manufacturers’ cars in the same way if they lack technology that monitors whether a driver is present and paying attention. He also suggested that Tesla should use the weight sensor in the vehicle’s driver’s seat to determine if there is a human sitting behind the wheel in order for Autopilot to work.

    Certain brands use camera-based systems that can track the movements of a driver’s eyes and/or head position to ensure that they are paying attention to the road as further safeguards. These driver monitoring systems are required for Europe’s Euro NCAP programme as of 2023.

  • Theon Design HK002 – restomodded 964 Porsche 911

    Theon Design, a UK-based firm that specialises in reimagining the 964 Porsche 911, has revealed its latest bespoke commission. This HK002 is only the company’s third project since it was founded in 2016, and the car is the second model destined for Hong Kong, hence HK002.

    The man behind the company is Adam Hawley, a diehard Porsche obsessive and car designer who used to work with BMW, JLR, Lexus and Lotus. Hawley also had a hand in designing the Airbus A380.

    All Theon Design bespoke commissions go through the same meticulous rebuild process. First, a customer will ship his or her Porsche 964 to Hawley, before being completely stripped down to bare metal. Then, each component is digitised and 3D-modelled in order to meet the tightest tolerances.

    The digital scans would then be used to create moulds for the bespoke body, and the contours later perfected via the age-old process of hand-beating. The HK002’s body is predominantly steel, but parts like the bumpers and spoiler were made from carbon-fibre, courtesy of an F1-supplier. Customers can specify a body made completely from carbon-fibre, if they so fancy.

    The machined billet aluminium side mirrors are electrically adjustable, and its construction was inspired by the 2018 Porsche 991 Speedster concept. “Our philosophy is that every detail matters,” Hawley said. “And that goes for beneath the skin, too. An owner may not see 90% of the car, but the same level of attention to detail goes right the way through, regardless. We treat every single component as an ‘A-surface’.”

    Inside, customers can also go to town with personalisation. The HK002 gets Recaro front seats wrapped with semi-aniline green leather with a Spinneybeck weave and yellow contrast stitching. There’s also carbon-fibre components, some wrapped in leather (like the centre console) while others are left exposed. Gorgeous.

    Nardi, a famous classic steering wheel and parts maker, custom-stitched the wheel to match the rest of the interior. Even the ‘frunk’ is finished to the same level of detail as the cabin, featuring exposed carbon side pods and a leather-wrapped carbon-fibre fuel tank cover. A strut brace taken from the 964 RS is featured here as well, and is wrapped in woven leather.

    Other modern appointments include a hidden reverse camera display, which flips down when the reverse gear is engaged. The stereo unit is also hidden for a cleaner look, and a magnetic wireless charger is mounted behind the dashboard.

    The 964’s original air-conditioning and power steering system have been replaced with more modern, power-efficient units. They are also positioned lower than the factory placement, which helps create a near ideal 50:50 weight distribution. All in, the HK002 tips the scale at just 1,248 kg.

    In terms of engine options, Theon Design offers a selection of powertrain, ranging from 3.6 litre to 4.0 litre Boxer engines. These are either naturally aspirated or turbocharged, but in the case of the HK002, a 3.8 litre flat-six was the weapon of choice.

    The air-cooled NA unit has been upgraded with independent throttle bodies, flowed and ported heads, a lightened and balanced bottom end, Mahle barrels and pistons, Carrillo rods and custom profile camshafts.

    It outputs 376 PS and 407 Nm of torque, with drive sent to the rear wheels through a fully rebuilt G50 six-speed manual gearbox lifted from the 993. The HK002 sits lower as well, thanks to KW Variant 3 dampers taken from the 964 RS.

    So, if you own a 964 Porsche 911 and want it to be a little bit more modern, consider contacting Theon Design. Prices for a bespoke commission start from £300,000 (RM1.7 million; minus the cost of the actual car, of course), and each car is totally unique, built in close collaboration with the customer. The rebuild process takes about 18 months to complete. So, what do you think?

  • Toyota Crown Kluger debuts at Auto Shanghai 2021 – 2.5L hybrid powertrain with E-Four all-wheel-drive

    Following its appearance in homologation documents for China, the 2021 Toyota Crown Kluger has officially made its debut at the 2021 Shanghai Motor Show.

    The Crown Kluger features a 2.5 litre hybrid powertrain with E-Four all-wheel-drive, according to Toyota, though further specific details remain undisclosed for now. For reference, the Crown Kluger is underpinned by Toyota’s TNGA-K platform, which serves as the base for the similarly sized US-market Highlander SUV.

    The previously sighted homologation documents for the Crown Kluger’s entry into the China market revealed that the three-row, Highlander-based SUV measures 5,015 mm long, 1,930 mm wide, 1,750 mm tall and with a wheelbase of 2,850 mm. Those also show that the SUV will wear 18-inch alloy wheels, though 20-inch items are also available.

    2021 Toyota Highlander for China – click to enlarge

    As with the Crown Kluger, the 2021 Highlander for the China market gets the same hybrid powertrain and E-Four all-wheel-drive, with three rows of seating. The earlier report on the China-market Crown Kluger indicated that its 2.5 litre hybrid powertrain is rated at 189 hp, which is considerably less than 240 hp output from the US-market Highlander which sports a similar powertrain configuration.

    The 2021 Highlander wears a slightly different front end to that of the Crown Kluger; while the headlamps appear similar on both, the Highlander sports a trapezoidal grille with a Toyota emblem on a chrome spar near the top of the grille, while the Crown Kluger gets the crown emblem as used on the large sedan that gave its name. Each model gets different wheel designs.

    Equipment specifics also have yet to be detailed for the China market Crown Kluger and Highlander, though using the US-market Highlander as a reference, that model’s safety kit list includes Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 which packs Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beam (AHB), along with Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Road Sign Assist (RSA).

    Both the Toyota Crown Kluger and the fourth-generation Highlander for the Chinese market are set for their market arrivals in the middle of 2021, says Toyota.

    2021 Toyota Crown Kluger – China market homologation images

    2020 Toyota Highlander, US market

  • Hongqi S9 PHEV hypercar – 1,400 hp, 0-100 in 1.9 secs

    Remember the Silk-FAW tie-up that was announced earlier this year? Well, the fledgling firm has just released the Hongqi S9, an ultra-luxury hypercar designed by the famous Walter De Silva. The S9 is the first of many ultra-luxury S series to come, and the automaker will begin taking orders for it very soon.

    Silk-FAW have yet to release the full technical details of the car, but the midship plug-in hybrid hypercar is tipped to get a highly electrified 4.0 litre V8 engine. The expected total system output is 1,400 horsepower, and the all-wheel drive beast is said to do the zero to 100 km/h sprint in 1.9 seconds before topping out at an insane 400 km/h.

    At launch, the company said the S9 will feature the most compact, lightweight and efficient e-axle in the market. There will be at least three drive modes available, including a pure electric mode for city driving. The battery pack supposedly provides up to 40 km of range on a full charge, but this figure has yet to be confirmed.

    Design-wise, the car seen in this set of pictures looks almost nothing like the concept that was previously shown. Other than the stretched bubble canopy, everything else appears to be brand new. It has a long tail with adaptive rear spoiler, air extraction ports around the LED tail lights, carbon-fibre air intakes integrated into the headlights, and a space frame underneath it all.

    No photos of the interior have been released, but Silk-FAW said the cabin has been designed to provide maximum comfort. Luxury appointments include three touchscreen displays – two for the driver and one for the passenger. There’s also a low speed air humidifier-purifier system, variable LED ambient lighting, as well as smart electrochromic windows that can vary tint intensity!

    “The Hongqi S9 brings to life the dreams of those who design and drive it. With people who seek exclusivity in mind, my team and I designed this forward-thinking hypercar, linking functionality and aesthetics that looks toward the future. I wanted to pay tribute to China at Auto Shanghai by unveiling my design for the Hongqi S9 under the Hongqi ‘S’ Series, which represents an awakening of innovation from China and Italy,” De Silva said.

    Now, only 99 units of the hypercar will be made, with the first batch of cars expected to be delivered in 2022. If you want one, the base price reportedly starts from around 10 million yuan (RM6.3 million). Production will take place either in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy or Jilin Province in China. What do you think of Walter De Silva’s latest creation?

  • Thailand plans to ban petrol, diesel car sales by 2035

    Over the past year, there has been no shortage of activity regarding electrification coming from Thailand and Indonesia, with both countries highlighting their intent to embrace that path in strong fashion. That ambition has been outlined via plans for electric vehicle (EV) production to that of battery manufacturing and infrastructure development, made with great regularity.

    The latest broadcast comes from Thailand, which says it is aiming to only sell zero-emission vehicles domestically from 2035. The intended move to go all-electric by then is very much aligned with the country’s plan to become a Southeast Asian hub for the production of EVs, Bloomberg reports.

    That aspiration is not new. Last year, the country announced a policy aimed at making it an EV production base for the region within five years, and now, movement is being accelerated in order to gain high ground.

    “We can see the world is heading in that direction, so we have to move quickly. We want to capture that growth post-pandemic, and we have the ambition to be the production centre because we already have the existing supply chains,” said Kawin Thangsupanich, an adviser to the energy ministry’s national policy committee.

    The new plan also sets a target of having electric vehicles account for 50% of all new car registrations by the end of the decade, up from the 30% that was set previously, when the country announced its intention to build 750,000 EVs a year by 2030. That total includes commercial applications and two-wheelers.

    Now that the country has set a target date for phasing out combustion-engine cars, the next step for the government will be to facilitate that transition. According to Kawin, this can be done by offering tax incentives, building out the appropriate infrastructure and developing regulations that promote EV manufacturing as well as incentivising consumers to buy such cars.

    While full EVs currently make up less than 1% of cars in Thailand, the setting up of a deployment timeline is a necessary move to ensure that there is growth, according to Yossapong Laoonual, honorary chairman of the electric vehicle association of Thailand. ”If we let the EV adoption happen naturally, it could take too long. As a producer, setting a clear target makes the country more attractive for investment,” he explained.

    Meanwhile, we continue to await our EV policy, the outline of which has been hinted at in the Low Carbon Mobility Blueprint revealed earlier this week.

  • FIA reveals regulations for new electric GT category

    The FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) has announced the creation of a new electric GT category, which will see cars compete at full-length permanent circuits and operate in a similar performance window to the current GT3 class.

    However, the motorsport governing body says cars in the new electric GT category will exceed their combustion engine-powered counterparts in areas such as acceleration and qualifying pace. For now, there’s no introduction date for a new race series featuring the new category just yet, although we do get some technical details.

    According to the FIA, cost control and cutting-edge technology are the primary focal points with the new class, which is open to specialists in electric vehicle construction. Additionally, manufacturers that are already committed to GT3 racing can also participate and will be able to utilise the architecture and certain design elements of their existing cars and convert them to electric power.

    Depending on the base model, the minimum weight of the cars will vary from 1,490 to 1,530 kg, with a maximum power output reaching 430 kW (585 PS or 577 hp). The association notes that setting a weight threshold beyond that of the GT3 class will limit the use of expensive materials to keep costs down.

    The FIA’s new electric GT category will not rely on standardised batteries and teams are free to design their own architectures with different spaces available to install key components. However, their bespoke battery layouts with a total energy capacity of 87 kWh must be based on lithium-ion pouch cells supplied by Saft, a subsidiary of Total.

    The Saft-supplied cells are designed to allow for 700 kW of peak regeneration and fast charging, the latter allowing for a 60% state of charge to be reached within a few minutes during a mid-race pit stop. All necessary infrastructure to support this level of fast charging will be readied at race venues.

    Aside from battery layouts, teams will have the freedom to choose their own powertrain setups, be it two or four electric motors, with two or four-wheel drive allowed. Race cars under this category are expected to have a zero to 100 km/h time of 2.4 seconds and hit a top speed of 300 km/h.

    Furthermore, dynamic vehicle control – essentially torque vectoring – will automatically adjust the torque of each wheel independently based on speed, acceleration, traction and steering angle for “supreme handling characteristics.” The reason for this is to allow technology transfer derived from on-track innovations.

    “The FIA’s vision is to make motor sport a laboratory for sustainable mobility. The announcement of this new electric-powered GT car category is a key milestone serving this goal as it will pave the way for new battery and fast-charging technologies. A perfect illustration of our race-to-road approach,” said Jean Todt, president of the FIA.

    “The market for high-performance electric road supercars is on a constant rise, hence a platform to allow manufacturers to develop and showcase their technology was much needed. Creating these technical regulations has been a key project for the FIA GT Commission over the last eighteen months,” said Leena Gade, president of the FIA GT Commission.

    “We’ve held regular discussions with GT manufacturers through our technical working groups and there’s keen interest in this new category. It also widens the FIA’s GT portfolio, coexisting alongside with GT3 which will remain the focus of the customer racing market worldwide for the time being,” she added.

    “The role of electric propulsion in automotive industry is ever-increasing, as we want motorsport to be relevant to our industry, more and more competitions are going in this direction. The main technical challenges are battery development, battery integration in the cars and fast charging technology,” commented Xavier Mestelan Pinon, FIA’s technical director.

    “This is crucial to the manufacturers who want to develop road-relevant technology rather than relying on standard components. Also, being able to utilise and adapt GT3 platform ensures that costs are under control,” he added.

  • Akrapovic Evolution Line Titanium 30th Anniversary limited edition for Kawasaki ZX-10R and ZX-10RR

    Celebrating 30 years of exquisite performance motorcycle exhaust systems, Slovenian exhaust maker Akrapovic has released the Akrapovic Evolution Line Titanium 30th Anniversary exhaust. Designed for the Kawasaki ZX-10R and ZX-10RR, this limited edition exhaust will be made in an exclusive production run of 30 units.

    Selecting the Kawasaki ZX-10R for this special edition is deliberate on Akrapovic’s part. Akira Yanagawa won a world superbike championship (WSBK) race on a factory Kawasaki in 1997 while Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea garnered six championships in a row on an Akrapovic equipped ZX-10RR.

    Each Evolution Line Titanium is individually numbered and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, with the exhaust can featuring a engraved Akrapovic logo and edition number. The exhaust is made from lightweight titanium, with titanium outer sleeve, link pipe and headers.

    The exhaust end cap is finished in gold, replicating the system used on Rea’s championship winning ZX-10RR after his sixth championship win. 09 mm tubes are used for the exhaust headers, identical to the WSBK race bikes with CNC-machined exhaust bushes, with the whole system topped off with a hand-made carbon-fibre end cap.

    In case you’re wondering if the Evolution Line Titanium 30th Anniversary actually performs as opposed to being a piece of engineering jewellery, the exhaust system is 6.6 kg lighter than the stock exhaust. Installing the exhaust gives a power gain of 11.1 hp at 8,000 rpm and 13.4 Nm of torque at 3,600 compared to the original during comparison testing on the dyno.

  • 2021 Toyota GR Yaris in Mexico – sold out in 24 hours!

    It looks like the Toyota GR Yaris is flying off the shelf in every market it is introduced. On April 15, Toyota Mexico announced that it will be taking pre-orders for the hot hatch. The GR Yaris is priced at 699,900 pesos (RM145k), and customers only need to pay 20,000 pesos (RM4,133) for the pre-order.

    In just 24 hours, all 300 units of the hot hatch were snapped up. Other prospective owners can still put down their bookings, but they will be put on a waiting list.

    Guillermo Diaz, the vice president of operations for Toyota Motor Sales of Mexico said: “Mexico joins Japan, Australia, Argentina, and Spain as some of the countries that will be able to enjoy that sense of excitement that the Japanese describe as Waku Doki, because next summer it can have the exclusive GR Yaris on its streets.”

    “It is a limited edition worthy of collectors and adrenaline lovers,” he added. Unfortunately, the GR Yaris continues to elude the North American market.

    To quickly recap, the critically acclaimed performance hatch is powered by a bespoke G16E-GTS 1.6 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine, touted as both the largest and most powerful three-cylinder in production. It’s also tipped to be the smallest and lightest 1.6 litre turbo around. It comes with D-4S port and direct injection, as well as a single-scroll turbo integrated with the exhaust manifold.

    The engine produces 261 PS at 6,500 rpm and 360 Nm of torque from 3,000 to 4,600 rpm, or 272 PS and 370 Nm, depending on the market. It’s available exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission (with rev-match function), enabling a century sprint time of 5.5 seconds. The top speed is limited to 230 km/h.

    There’s also a special GR-Four all-wheel drive system that’s specifically developed for the car. In Normal mode, the car sends around 60% of drive to the front wheels and 40% to the rear, whereas Sport mode has a 30:70 split to add some RWD handling characteristics. Track mode dials it back to 50:50 for maximum performance. The system also comes with a rear-axle disconnect function that allows drivers to yank the (manual) handbrake to slide into a corner.

    GALLERY: 2021 Toyota GR Yaris


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Last Updated 22 Apr 2021