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  • SPYSHOTS: New Chery Eastar MPV spotted in JPJ


    There’s a new Chery Eastar MPV in town. We’ve seen it on the road last month, and here it is again at JPJ Putrajaya, courtesy of pictures sent in by regular contributor ApexKit. Thanks, buddy! Already going through the type-approval process, looks like the new seven-seat people carrier will make its debut here sooner, rather than later.

    A quick recap on looks: the front is all new, with large wrap-around lamps and separate LED daytime running light strips. Round the back, we’ll let you decide whether the new taillamps look more like that of the Honda Civic Tourer, or a reversed Toyota Previa/Estima. Either way, it’s a lot better than the car it will replace.

    This spot also affords us a first glimpse of the new model’s dashboard. The interior makeover is even more dramatic than the exterior’s, by the look of it. There’s now a much more modern looking multi-tiered dash layout, though the centre-mounted instrument cluster design of the outgoing model has been retained.

    While details are scarce, we’d be surprised if the new Eastar doesn’t carry over the existing 134 hp/180 Nm 2.0 litre ACTECO engine and four-speed automatic combo. We’ll have more details when we have them. For now, let’s just hope it doesn’t run too far away from the current Eastar XT’s RM94,040 price.

  • 2015 Toyota Camry facelift to feature new 2.0 litre engine with VVT-iW technology, 6-speed automatic


    Following its unveiling at the Moscow motor show recently, we now have more details of the global-market Toyota Camry XV50 facelift and in particular, its new 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine. Seems there’s much more to this facelift than we think…

    New 2.0 litre engine with VVT-iW, D-4S and EGR, mated to six-speed Multi-mode auto

    The 1,998 cc, Euro 5-compliant engine features VVT-iW (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Wide). VVT-iW debuted on the Lexus NX 200t’s direct-injected 2.0 litre turbo 8AR-FTS engine, enabling it to run in both Otto and modified-Atkinson cycles.

    At low loads, the VVT-iW-equipped engine is capable of switching to a modified-Atkinson cycle to boost fuel economy. At higher revs, the engine can return to the Otto cycle for enhanced power delivery and performance. VVT-iW features standard VVT-i on the exhaust valves and VVT-iW on the intake side. The latter features a mid-position camshaft lock mechanism which retards the continuously variable valve timing.


    For the new Camry, combined with a new six-speed Multi-mode automatic gearbox (bye bye four-speed auto!), Toyota claims a fuel economy figure of 7.2 litres per 100 km – a 13% reduction over the outgoing 2.0 litre engine. The new Multi-mode six-speeder is electronically controlled, and features Flex Lock-up Control, AI-Shift Control and an Eco indicator. All three engines – 2.0, 2.5 and 3.5 V6 – will utilise this gearbox.

    With a 12.8:1 compression ratio, the new 2.0 litre engine develops 150 PS at 5,600-6,500 rpm and 199 Nm of torque at 4,600 rpm. As a result, the new Camry sprints to 100 km/h from rest in 10.4 seconds before hitting a 210 km/h top speed.

    There’s D-4S too, which means separate twin injectors for both direct and port injection. Depending on engine speed, high-pressure direct injection into the cylinder and conventional intake port injection, or direct cylinder injection only. Hence, intake air and fuel are mixed evenly at all engine speed ranges, increasing throttle response, power and torque over a wide range of engine speeds without sacrificing fuel efficiency and environmental performance.


    The engine is also fitted with a water-cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system, combining an EGR cooler with an electronically-controlled EGR valve to give optimum control of the EGR gas flow volume for equal distribution to each cylinder, enhancing fuel economy.

    Other improvements include optimised shapes of the cylinder head intake port and piston (creating tumble flow for better combustion), better cooling for the cylinder block, cylinder head and piston oil jet, plus an optimised taper squish shape to improve anti-knock performance.

    An offset crankshaft reduces the piston thrust load to lower friction losses. Allied to enhanced cylinder bore roundness, a resin coating to the piston skirts and lower tension piston rings reduce friction losses from the rotating parts. The adoption of roller rocker arms and a low friction timing chain further reduce valvetrain friction losses.


    New preload differential on front axle, retuned suspension and steering

    The new Toyota Camry is fitted with a preload differential on the front axle – its first application in conjunction with an automatic transmission. A plate spring located between the side gear and side gear washer within the differential adds preload by generating frictional force in the sliding parts under light loads or low rotational speed differences.

    This provides torque to limit the differential motion between the right and left driven wheels. Under mid to high loads that exceed the plate spring pressure, system operation is identical to an open differential. The result? Improved vehicle control and straight-line stability.

    Also, Toyota says the suspension’s damper characteristics have been fine-tuned to improve ride comfort, and the speed-sensitive electric power steering has been tuned for more accuracy and control. Reducing NVH is the presence of more insulation material within the front doors and underneath the carpet.

    Exterior: “Under Priority” design philosophy, 25 mm longer

    Distinct from the US-market Toyota Camry facelift, the global-market car gets a new face with added aggro, comprising a slim front grille with a big chrome slab on top, plus a huge trapezoidal lower intake with integrated, deeply-recessed fog lamps.

    The new, slimmer headlamp clusters combine a high-beam reflector, low-beam projector, turn indicator and integral LED DRLs. A chrome strip wraps around the lower intake to underscore the fog lamps, which are bridged by a front spoiler. Aft of the fog lamps sit sharply-sculpted intakes which help to cool the brakes and engine bay.

    A slight increase in front and rear overhangs means the global-market XV50 Toyota Camry facelift is 25 mm longer than before. There’s a new 17-inch alloy design. Round the back, there’re new LED combination lamps bridged by a chrome strip, and a reshaped rear bumper.

    At the low extremities of the rear bumper are reflector inserts. Seven body colours will be available, of which two are new – Grey Mica metallic and Dark Blue Mica metallic.

    Interior: New steering wheel, instrument panel, illumination and colour schemes

    Apart from a new three-spoke steering wheel, the 2015 Toyota Camry features a redesigned instrument panel with blue backlighting, with a 4.2-inch TFT display sitting between the Optitron rev counter and speedometer. The TFT can show navigation, driving stats, warning messages, plus phone and audio presets, amongst others.

    The centre stack houses either a 6.1- or 7.0-inch full-colour screen, and the climate controls beneath it have been “completely redesigned with improved switchgear functionality and tactility.”

    The gear lever base is now finished in dark grey, the A-pillars in a new fabric and the dashboard, centre console and door panels in a new Crotch wood finish. Moreover, driver and front passenger footwells gain blue illumination.

    New colour schemes are also available – Black with fabric or perforated leather upholstery, and a new Flaxen finish with full leather upholstery.


    Wireless charging, tri-zone air-con, rear armrest with control panel, JBL sound, active safety systems and up to nine airbags

    The 2015 Toyota Camry features wireless charging, which allows one to recharge compatible mobile phones simply by placing them on a pad on the centre console (Qi wireless charging debuted on the 2013 Toyota Avalon).

    There’s also tri-zone air-con with nanoe technology, so driver, front passenger and rear passengers can enjoy independent temperature control. A new Memory Pack gives you memory settings for the driver’s seat, steering column and wing mirrors.

    The rear centre armrest features a control panel, like something out of a Lexus. Here, you can control heating and reclining of the rear seats, adjust rear air-con temperature and control audio. A powered rear blind is operable via switches in the front and rear of the cabin. Of course, the rear doors feature pull-up side blinds.


    Also on are Toyota’s Touch 2 and Touch 2 with Go Plus infotainment systems. In addition to CD, MP3, Bluetooth and USB compatibility, and a reverse camera display, Touch 2 now has MirrorLink, so you can connect your smartphone and operate it entirely from the touch-screen.

    Touch 2 with Go Plus adds navigation and a range of connected services including Toyota Real Time Traffic, Google Street View and Local Search. For the audiophiles, there’s a 10-speaker JBL Matrix Premium Sound System.

    Active and passive safety features include TRC, VSC, whiplash-mitigating front seats and up to nine airbags. There’s also a Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Auto High Beam.

    So how much of all of these lovely new features will Malaysia get? =)

  • Land Rover Discovery Sport – 7-seat small SUV debuts

    Land Rover has finally unveiled the replacement for the eight-year-old Freelander 2 – the Land Rover Discovery Sport. The first in a new line of Discovery-badged SUVs, it will be offered with seven seats for the first time in a small Land Rover.

    The Discovery Sport takes several cues from the recent Discovery Vision concept, including the head- and tail lamp shapes, bulging wheel arches, fender vents and upswept C-pillars blacked out at the top. “Discovery” badging replaces the traditional “Land Rover” script across the bonnet and tailgate.

    The inside will be familiar to anyone who’s stepped inside a modern Land Rover, with a straight horizontal dashboard punctuated by a strong vertical centre console, although the design appears plainer than the car’s plusher Range Rover siblings. A new eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system takes centre stage, and buyers can specify up to four 12V power sockets and six USB ports across all three rows of seats.

    Land Rover calls the new seating configuration “5+2″, which indicates that the rear-most seats – standard in some markets, optional on others – are only suitable for children or occasional adult use. The 60:40 second row seats can slide and recline individually, however.

    The body is made from a blend of ultra-high-strength steel and aluminium, and a new multi-link rear suspension is said to improve both the driving dynamics as well as space behind the second row. Safety has been bolstered with a Volvo V40-aping pedestrian airbag as well as autonomous emergency braking.

    As with any Land Rover, the Discovery Sport has been designed to hold its own off the beaten track, with 25-, 31- and 21-degree approach, departure and breakover angles respectively, a wading depth of up to 600 mm and the fitment of the company’s Terrain Response system.

    At launch, the car will be offered with Jaguar Land Rover’s staple 240 PS 2.0 litre direct-injected turbo petrol and 190 PS 2.2 litre turbodiesel four-cylinder engines, both featuring stop-start technology, low-friction internal components and regenerative charging.

    A “highly efficient” ED4 turbodiesel emitting 114 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre will be offered later in 2015. A choice between a nine-speed automatic and a six-speed manual transmission, as well as two- and four-wheel drive, will be available.

    The Land Rover Discovery Sport will be built at the company’s Halewood plant before going on sale in over 170 markets worldwide early next year.

  • Thailand set to approve Volkswagen factory – report

    vw production

    Reuters has reported, citing German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, that Thailand is set to approve the construction of a Volkswagen factory near the port of Bangkok, and that a decision from the Thai investment authority BOI could come as early as next week.

    The investment, under Phase 2 of Thailand’s Eco Car programme, would give Volkswagen tax and customs breaks if it produces fuel-efficient cars, provided the facility builds upwards of 100,000 vehicles a year and comes on stream by 2019. BOI officials told the German publication that Volkswagen plans to export cars from Thailand.

    The German carmaker has wanted to do this for the longest time – we reported its intention as early as 2008, before it applied to set up a Thai plant earlier this year. Carmakers reportedly had until March 31 to apply for Phase 2.

    vw paint shop robots

    The requirements of Phase 2 of Thailand’s Eco Car programme include (for the vehicle) a fuel economy under 4.3 litres per 100 km, CO2 emissions under 100 grams per km, engines displacing 1.3 litres and under (petrol) or 1.5 litres and under (diesel), along with Euro 5, R94 and R95 compliance.

    Throw in a minimum investment of 6.5 billion baht (RM643 million) and a minimum production of 100,000 units per year by the fourth year of operation, and the excise duty incentive given is 14% (normally 30%); dropping to 12% if the engine is E85-compatible.

    Phase 1 Eco Cars include Hondas Brio and Brio Amaze, Mitsubishis Mirage and Attrage, Nissans Almera and March, the Toyota Yaris and the Suzuki Swift. All have 1.2 litre petrol engines in Thailand.

  • Nissan CPO Andy Palmer to become Aston Martin CEO


    Nissan chief planning officer Andy Palmer will be leaving the company to become CEO of Aston Martin, the British carmaker has announced.

    The 51-year old, who also has been running Infiniti since Johan de Nysschen moved to Cadillac in July, was reportedly the main target of Aston Martin for recruitment. Former Aston boss Ulrich Bez stepped down late last year.

    “After he completes a transition period from his current employer,” Palmer will pass the baton to Philippe Klein, product planning chief of Renault. Klein will then report directly to Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

    Palmer started his professional career in 1979 at the age of 16, as an apprentice at Automotive Products Limited (UK). In 1986 he joined Austin Rover to eventually become Rover Group’s transmissions chief engineer. Palmer joined Nissan in 1991 and has been based in Japan for the past 13 years.


    “We’re delighted that Andy will join us as our new CEO at this important time at Aston Martin,” said a statement from Aston Martin’s shareholder board.

    “Andy’s wealth of experience on the global automotive stage in marketing and sales, engineering and technology, and luxury and brand management will be instrumental in taking Aston Martin forward through its most significant and ambitious period of investment to date.”

    We had the opportunity recently to catch up with Palmer at the launch of the Nissan NP300 Navara in Bangkok, where he shared with us Nissan (and Datsun’s) plans for our region.

  • Audi Malaysia gets its first MD – Immo Buschmann?


    It looks like the man who will be leading Audi Malaysia is a certain Mr. Immo Buschmann, who according to his LinkedIn profile has been the Managing Director of Audi Malaysia since July 2014.

    According to his profile, prior to this new role he was a Regional Director for Asia Pacific with Volkswagen AG for the past four years. He seems to be a marketing man, having held GM of Marketing roles at Audi Australia and Audi Japan in the past, according to his profile.

    The new Audi Malaysia company will at the moment be situated in the same building as the Volkswagen Group Malaysia office in Bangsar. There is a newly renovated office on the left side of the lobby. Word is that Audi Malaysia will probably take over the distributor role from DRB-Hicom’s Euromobil, who has been the Audi distributor since February 2010. Euromobil is likely to continue operating as an Audi ‘master dealer’.

    The same thing happened to Auto Bavaria in the past – it switched roles from a distributor to a mega dealer for BMWs when BMW Malaysia was established.

    Thanks to Quan Min for the tip.

  • Suzuki Ciaz – new compact sedan to debut in India


    Suzuki will be launching its new Suzuki Ciaz – a new compact sedan in India under its Maruti Suzuki brand. The car was first previewed as the Suzuki Authentics Concept, and was later renamed to the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz Concept for the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo. It will replace the Suzuki SX4 Sedan in the brand’s line-up.

    In India, the Suzuki Ciaz will come with two engines – a 95 PS, 130 Nm 1.4 litre petrol engine, similiar to the one used in the Suzuki Ertiga MPV, and a 1.3 litre DDiS turbodiesel engine capable of 90 PS and 200 Nm of torque. The diesel model is rated at 26.21 km per litre, which is impressive economy, while the petrol variant is claimed to be able to do 20.73 km/l.

    The car sits on a 2,650 mm wheelbase, which is C-segment territory, but Maruti Suzuki aims to pit the Ciaz against the likes of the B-segment Honda City in India. The body of the Ciaz measures 4,490 mm in length, 1,730 mm in width, and 1,485 mm in height.

  • Atalanta Motors – 75 years on, a new car debuts

    Atlanta 2012

    Seventy-five years after the last one came about, a new Atalanta motor car is set to be launched. The 2014 version of the two-seater will make its official debut at the third International Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace in the UK later this week, where chassis number one will go on display.

    Featuring a traditionally hand-crafted aluminium-over-ash coach-built structure, 90% of the component parts for the new Atalanta are designed and engineered directly by the company, including fabrication, castings and forgings.

    The company adds that while the new Atalanta maintains true fidelity to its predecessor visually, the 2014 version will employ relevant modern technology to enhance both performance and safety.

    No mention of the powertrain for the new car – the previous outing featured 78 hp 1.5 and 98 hp 2.0 litre four-pots as well as a 4.3 litre V12 towards the end of production, the mills paired with three- and four-speed gearboxes. Rare too, the early beast, with approximately 20 made in all.

    This one isn’t exactly going to be flooding the marketplace either. Atalanta Motors has announced that limited commissions for the car are being taken and each will be built to individual specifications, making each one completely unique.

  • Renault Sport RS 01 – latest Trophy racer unveiled

    © Renault Marketing 3D-Commerce (mentions obligatoires)

    Unveiled at the Moscow International Auto Show was the Renault Sport RS 01, the latest in a long line of purpose-built one-make racers from Renault and the successor to the Megane Trophy.

    The design of the RS 01, penned by Akio Shimizu, references recent concepts such as the DeZir, as well as the Renault Étoile Filante that broke the land speed record for a turbine-powered vehicle in 1956. The stunning body has been filleted and peppered with an assortment of scoops, vents, flaps and spoilers to achieve near DTM levels of performance, with lift and drag coefficients similar to a Formula Renault 3.5.

    Under the skin, the RS 01 sits on an Dallara LMP1-spec carbon monocoque as opposed to the Megane Trophy’s tubular steel chassis. Power comes from a Nissan GT-R-derived 3.8 litre twin-turbo V6 which has been fitted with a dry sump system. The over 500 hp and 600 Nm of torque is sent to the rear-wheels via a Sadev seven-speed sequential gearbox with fixed ratios to keep race budgets low.

    Suspending the car is an all-around pushrod double wishbone setup with adjustable Öhlins dampers. Brakes are 380 mm carbon discs with six-piston callipers, and ABS and traction control have also been fitted. 18-inch centre-locking wheels in an original design are shod in Michelin rubber.

    The RS 01 will compete in the new Renault Sport Trophy race series that will be part of the World Series by Renault from 2015 onward. The championship will be split Professional and Amateur categories – the champion of the former will be given the chance to test with the Nismo Super GT team, while that of the latter will be able to get behind the wheel of an LMP2 prototype for the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans.

  • Mercedes-AMG GT to be unveiled on September 9

    The much anticipated Mercedes-AMG GT will be set to make its official debut come September 9. After months of teasing from Mercedes-Benz AMG, the public can expect to see the car completely undisguised at the Paris Motor Show, the following month.

    The latest video from the official channel gives us a glimpse into the car undergoing various stages of testing, from sub-zero conditions to mileage runs in over 15 different countries.

    From the video, we can gather that the new 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 will be available in two states of tune with the entry level – the basic ‘GT’, boasting 462 hp to 510 hp – sitting right between the V8 and V10 versions of the Audi R8, for the more powerful ‘GTS’ variant.


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