Friday, 27 April 2007

2008 All-New Mitsubishi Evolution X

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has released the official production model pictures of the new Lancer Evolution X. In a surprising announcement, its ever-popular Lancer will be renamed – rather uninspiringly - Galant Fortis for the Japan domestic market. Mitsubishi's rally-inspired and ‘iconic’ high-performance 4WD sedan will carry on with the EVO badge - with a higher Roman numerical, and thus ‘LANCER EVOLUTION X'.

The all-new Lancer Evolution X is a new-generation high-performance 4WD global sports sedan that allows even novice drivers to enjoy the car's speed and handling with ease and in safety. The new model features Mitsubishi's S-AWC traction and handling system, that integrates the control of drive torque and braking management with its famed all-wheel drive (AWD) system. The result is highly responsive and intuitive handling in addition to outstanding vehicle stability.

Mitsubishi Motors' latest automotive technologies to be featured in the new model include a new lightweight and high-performance 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged MIVEC engine, with aluminium cylinder block and a 6-speed robotised manual transmission (ala VW’s DSG) that contributes to exceptional performance with improved fuel economy. Expect engine output to be in the region of 300bhp driving standard 18-inch light alloys all around, shod with 245/40 R18 high performance tyres.

Source: Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Press Release

Thursday, 26 April 2007

New 2008 Lexus LX 570

By Dr Long

Replacing the brawny-looking LX 470, the even-bulkier new LX 570 was unveiled for the North American market recently. With a larger 5.7L V8 and a new sequential 6-speed Auto 'box, this new Lexus luxury SUV promises more power and torque, with emphasis on enhanced off-road capability. A new feature called Crawl Control plus Multi-Terrain ABS ensure proper throttle control and stable composure over rough and uneven off-road paths.

Larger in all dimensions, this new Lexus SUV promises more space, comfort, safety features, luxury amenities and driving pleasure.

The smart and neat-looking 5.7L V8 (as pictured above) is capable of a punchy 381hp and 542Nm worth of torque. Rest assured these figures are more than adequate to drive those monstrous 20-inch wheels all around, via permanent 4WD.

Owing to the sky-high taxes at all levels for a big capacity SUV like the LX 570, it is unlikely that Lexus Malaysia will park one of these (ex-stock) at their flagship showroom floor in Mutiara Damansara, PJ. However, one may spot that occasional few units a couple of years down the road, as reconditioned parellel imports from Japan.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

New Ford Ranger 2.5TDCi in Malaysia

By Dr Long

Ford Malaysia has launched their new Ford Ranger yesterday. The improvements highlight of this replacement model is the new 2.5L DuraTorq turbodiesel capable of 141bhp @ 3,500rpm and 330Nm at a low 1,800rpm. Better still, Ford claims a 22% improvements in fuel efficency despite higher power and torque! Pioneering a first in the history of pick-ups in Malaysia, is a full 5-speed A/T 'box, with only the 5th cog being an overdrive ratio, unlike the popular Honda saloon cars available locally.

The new 2007 Ford Ranger TDCi is priced at RM88,639 for the 4X4 XLT Auto while the 4X4 XLT Manual is a more affordable RM83,739. Bookings are open in May 2007 and deliveries will begin soon after.

It is the newly-crowned 'King of Pick-Up' - with the highest power output/torque and seemed destined so for some time to come...
(The 172bhp New Nissan Frontier Navara is nowhere to be seen yet...not even on the distant horizon)

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To view the new Ford Ranger video ad:

Monday, 23 April 2007

2007 Nissan Grand Livina

By Dr Long

These are the official pictures of the Nissan Livina Geniss for the ASEAN region. Renamed Grand Livina for the Indonesian market, this mass-market budget people carrier will likely wear the same nameplate in Malaysia. Chips of MTM had tested both the 1.5 and 1.8 variants in Bali and have found them worthy consideration as MPV alternatives to the usual suspects currently available.

Edaran Tan Chong Motors (ETCM) will launch this model sometime Q3 2007 with prices expected to be in the range of RM75k to RM100k. Let's hope we get better spec/trimmed versions and hopefully, a Livina 1.6 CVTC (HR16DE engine) as the entry-level variant instead of the 1.5L base model.

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Thursday, 19 April 2007

New SsangYong Actyon

By Dr Long

The new SsangYong SUV called Actyon is one of the other few truly new vehicles on display at the Bangkok Motor Show 2007. At 20cm shorter than its elder ugly-‘duckling’ sibling Kyron, plus a coupe-like rear profile, this reskinned model is much fresher, sportier and more desirable. It is also lighter than the Kyron – 1,870kg against 2,004kg. Wheelbase is the same for both models, so likely they are riding on the same platform, though SsangYong isn’t telling on this. Even the engine is the same as the Kyron’s, a 1998cc 4-pot common-rail turbodiesel punching out 141bhp and 310Nm. The turbocharger has been updated with an improved turbine geometry called XGT, instead of the previous VGT. The engine now is also greener now, being Euro-4 compliant (previously Euro-3). Once again, whether all these are all applicable for the Malaysian oil-burners scenario remains a big question mark, since we are pathetically still Euro-1 at the pumps!

Actyon is visibly targeted at a younger audience. The moniker is a word-play between “action” and “young or youth”. Even though categorized as a small-sized SUV, there is enough space and versatility for most sports and lifestyle activities. Performance figures should approximately be the same as the Kyron, but by weighing 130kg lighter, this new Korean SUV will likely be quicker off the block. Possibly having better agility and handling too. Practically even better mileage to every tankful of diesel as well.

Seeing the Kyron and Actyon parked side by side, both designs are quite similar, especially the side profiles. While the front share just a subtle resemblance, the butt of the Actyon is like ‘heaven and earth’ when contrasted with the sagging-bum of the Kyron.
The shapely and sharp big-eyed headlights are very modern, with a single inward-slanting grille (phew! no more double-layered grilles), drawing inspiration from the SsangYong SV-R concept. Even the creased-ribs on the shark-nosed bonnet are the same of the concept car, successfully rendering a muscular stance up front.

The rear screen is very sloping, much like a sports coupè, but the Actyon is tagged as an SUV. A little paradox here but all design elements gelled-together rather well when witnessed in the flesh, or rather metal. What remains to be seen however, is whether Competitive Supreme will launch this leaner, sleeker and more athletic looking SUV-Coupe-Crossover in Malaysia anytime soon.

Pictured above is a jacked-up SsangYong Stavic MPV, displaying its mechanical drivetrain, suspension and floorpan. While below are the equally inspiring dancers after a show routine. Last but definitely not the least are the other - more elegant - SsangYong models at the Bangkok Motor Show 2007!

Test Drive: Volkswagen Touareg 3.6 V6 FSI

By Dr Long

Sporting the unique moniker of Touareg, named after a nomadic tribe of the Western Sahara, this Volkswagen originating from Slovakia (not Germany) is far from looking as exotic as its namesake. High ground clearance plus equally tall wheel arches’ gaps gave a first impression of doubtful stability or just-average handling, but the driving experience over a weekend proved the writer wrong…



Engine: 3597cc, V6 Direct Gasoline Injection
Power: 276bhp @ 6200rpm
Torque: 360Nm @ 2500-5000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
Acceleration: 0-100km/h: 8.5secs (as tested)
Top speed: 215km/h (claimed)
Price: RM433,888 w/o insurance and road tax
Verdict: A value choice in the company of the ML350 and X5 3.0i. Like a capable budget-Cayenne V6, by a further stretch of imagination.

The full report was published in NST-CBT on the Sunday of 22nd April 2007.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Mercedes-Benz at BKK Motor Show 2007

By Dr Long

The Mercedes-Benz stand looked impressive and decidedly classy at the just concluded Bangkok International Motor Show 2007. However, the absence of the new W204 C-Class is disappointing for a motor show hailed as the best in South East Asia. Even a left-hand drive model would do DC AG good in terms of PR and marketing advantage. Instead, the outgoing W203 slogged on, doing its final bow at the prestigious annual motoring event.

Mercedes-Benz Thailand seemed bent on promoting the New Generation (W211 Facelift) E-Class, with a dedicated audio-visual presentation plus even an E220 CDI on display, something DaimlerChrysler Malaysia will not be remotely associated with for this new millennium, Bluetec or otherwise. Thanks to the commercial-grade Euro-1 diesel at the pumps!

Looking stately is the W221 S300L on a pedestal, expected soon in Malaysia by Q3 2007. Equally arresting is the super up-market CL500 coupe, parked just opposite the S-Class.

Kindly note the creative and precise water-jet curtain display of Mercedes-Benz model alphabets (“e” as pictured above). The three-pointed star logo was also decently projected (in tandem) to the left of the MB display stand.

Related post:

New Nissan Frontier Navara

By Dr Long

Staying close to this year’s 28th Bangkok International Motor Show theme of “Drive Thru the Nature” was Nissan’s showcase of its new Frontier Navara, set within tropical shrubs and rainforest montage. Equally green is Nissan’s new 2,488cc common-rail turbodiesel which will set the benchmark for the highest power output of 172bhp @ 4,000rpm and a very twisty 403Nm @ 2,000rpm! In fact, modern turbodiesels are all the rage now in Europe, a truly viable alternative to the more expensive and complex petrol-electric hybrid.

As with the upcoming Ford Ranger (in Malaysia), the new Navara also has that 5-speed automatic option, in addition to a standard 6-speed manual (as pictured below). These transmissions are obviously put into service to better saviour the magnitude and spread of torque available.

Set to start another round of power race among the mainstream truck makers of Ford/Mazda, Mitsubishi, Isuzu and Toyota, the new Navara will definitely be the ‘powerhouse’ benchmark for some time to come. In comparison, the Toyota Hilux has the most dismal output of 102bhp from its 2.5L D-4D. The new Ford Ranger 2.5 makes do with 143bhp @ 3,500rpm and 330Nm starting from 1,800rpm. Mitsubishi will tweak its new Triton from 136bhp to 160bhp, while Isuzu’s D-Max will get a boost for its 3.0L turbodiesel to punch out 145bhp, a significant hike from its current 130bhp. Toyota is reported to be planning to substitute the 2.5 to a 3.0L D-4D capable of 164bhp. The horsepower mania among the pick-ups is definitely on!

What remains unclear though is whether all these awesome figures are accessible for trucks enthusiasts in Malaysia. The much-professed fuel quality (read: low sulphur) upgrade at the pump has reached a dead end, with petroleum companies locked in a stalemate with the government, leaving both parties unwilling to pick up the tab for further stages of purification at the refineries. Until then, it is unlikely that we will see a Frontier Navara churning out 172bhp, running on antiquated, inferior grade Euro-1 diesel. Secondly, local distributor Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) has not announced any further addition to its line up of the Teana, Tiida sedan/hatchback and Grand Livina launches for 2007.