Stories you can't miss

Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet
There was a time when the America's Cup was fought between high-tech single-hull yachts that were as majestic in slicing through the waves as they were beautiful in sight. If the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet drew inspiration from that, we’d believe it, even if the concept itself is an extension of the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Coupe shown at last year’s Concours d'Elegance.

Whether this jaw-dropping concept becomes reality is still anyone’s guess, but the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet is proof that Chief Design Officer Gorden Wagener’s ‘Sensual Purity’ design philosophy has the substance and legs to cater to the next generation of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Now, if the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet ever does make production, it will be electric powered, has 750hp from its floor-mounted batteries and able to dip under four seconds in the 0-100km/h benchmark, along with a range of over 500km.
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Prepare for the avalanche of superlatives as BMW fans celebrate the unveiling of the Z4 concept which is set to go into production next year. In so many ways, this was a car that BMW had to build to pander to petrol-heads so to speak, yet it probably very nearly didn’t happen if not for an unlikely partner willing to share the cost of engineering a class of vehicle that’s fast becoming extinct (sadly). Enter Toyota.

According to Autocar UK’s Greg Kable who (pardon the pun) has strong cables with German manufacturers, the new Z4 will only be available as a soft top, thus leaving Toyota the honour of a hardtop coupe, i.e. the spiritual successor to the Supra, with both cars to be made in Austria. 

What’s more interesting is that the Z4 concept is a much clearer expression of BMW’s new design language – slim-cut lighting equipment, low-slung kidney grilles with more complexities, highly sculptured body surfaces, even a new interior layout. It’s flashy, eye-catching and bodes well for forthcoming models, but we’ll have to see how much of this makes it to production. Carry on. #BMWZ4

countersteer.my added 8 new photos.

Prepare for the avalanche of superlatives as BMW fans celebrate the unveiling of the Z4 concept which is set to go into production next year. In so many ways, this was a car that BMW had to build to pander to petrol-heads so to speak, yet it probably very nearly didn’t happen if not for an unlikely partner willing to share the cost of engineering a class of vehicle that’s fast becoming extinct (sadly). Enter Toyota.

According to Autocar UK’s Greg Kable who (pardon the pun) has strong cables with German manufacturers, the new Z4 will only be available as a soft top, thus leaving Toyota the honour of a hardtop coupe, i.e. the spiritual successor to the Supra, with both cars to be made in Austria.

What’s more interesting is that the Z4 concept is a much clearer expression of BMW’s new design language – slim-cut lighting equipment, low-slung kidney grilles with more complexities, highly sculptured body surfaces, even a new interior layout. It’s flashy, eye-catching and bodes well for forthcoming models, but we’ll have to see how much of this makes it to production. Carry on. #BMWZ4
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Honda CR-V sets marker for new ASEAN NCAP rating

Instead of the previous rating system that presented separate scores for Adult Occupant Protection (AOP) and Child Occupant Protection (COP), crash worthiness under the ASEAN NCAP will now show a combined score with AOP (50% weightage), COP (25% weightage) and SAT (for Safety Assist Technology, a new category based on active safety features with 25% weightage) being the three main areas of assessment.

The new Honda CR-V is the first vehicle to have undergone this new scoring system and have emerged with a 5-star rating, accumulating an overall score of 88.8; with a breakdown of 47.5 for AOP, 22.84 for COP and 18.71 for SAT. Under the updated system, a score of 75 points and above qualifies for a 5-star rating.

Do note that the CR-V unit tested by ASEAN NCAP was a Thailand-spec 2.4-litre Honda Sensing-equipped three-row model that’s not sold in the Malaysian market. Apart from the seat structure being different from the two-row model, the kerb weight of the 2.4-litre variant (1,674kg) is also heavier than the variants offered in Malaysia (which are all under 1,600kg). That said, the overall score was also impacted by the absence of ISOFIX child seat anchors in the third row of the Thai-spec model which would not have concerned the variants sold in Malaysia.

Click the following link for more details: https://goo.gl/koBRFY

Honda CR-V sets marker for new ASEAN NCAP rating

Instead of the previous rating system that presented separate scores for Adult Occupant Protection (AOP) and Child Occupant Protection (COP), crash worthiness under the ASEAN NCAP will now show a combined score with AOP (50% weightage), COP (25% weightage) and SAT (for Safety Assist Technology, a new category based on active safety features with 25% weightage) being the three main areas of assessment.

The new Honda CR-V is the first vehicle to have undergone this new scoring system and have emerged with a 5-star rating, accumulating an overall score of 88.8; with a breakdown of 47.5 for AOP, 22.84 for COP and 18.71 for SAT. Under the updated system, a score of 75 points and above qualifies for a 5-star rating.

Do note that the CR-V unit tested by ASEAN NCAP was a Thailand-spec 2.4-litre Honda Sensing-equipped three-row model that’s not sold in the Malaysian market. Apart from the seat structure being different from the two-row model, the kerb weight of the 2.4-litre variant (1,674kg) is also heavier than the variants offered in Malaysia (which are all under 1,600kg). That said, the overall score was also impacted by the absence of ISOFIX child seat anchors in the third row of the Thai-spec model which would not have concerned the variants sold in Malaysia.

Click the following link for more details: goo.gl/koBRFY
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While Ford may not be blazing the sales charts in Malaysia, the CSR programmes which the American brand and local distributor Sime Darby Auto Connexion champion are probably the most noteworthy in the industry. Take for example the Driving Skills for Life Programme (DSFL) which aims to raise awareness of road safety among young drivers.

Though the number of participants catered to isnt large in each workshop (e.g. 50 students of Han Chiang College in the most recent installment), Ford has over the last 10 years equipped more than 85,000 young drivers across six ASEAN nations (Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia) with the know-how, best practices and car control so that they are able to identify the dangers and make the right decisions.

With blasé, devil-may-care attitudes becoming a norm rather than the exception among drivers in Malaysia, its good to know that Ford is channeling resources and money to curb this worrying trend. You never know, the next time you hail a ride or feel thankful to a fellow motorist for diffusing a potentially dangerous situation on the road, it could be a DSFL graduate behind the wheel. Han Chiang College Official Page

While Ford may not be blazing the sales charts in Malaysia, the CSR programmes which the American brand and local distributor Sime Darby Auto Connexion champion are probably the most noteworthy in the industry. Take for example the Driving Skills for Life Programme (DSFL) which aims to raise awareness of road safety among young drivers.

Though the number of participants catered to isn't large in each workshop (e.g. 50 students of Han Chiang College in the most recent installment), Ford has over the last 10 years equipped more than 85,000 young drivers across six ASEAN nations (Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia) with the know-how, best practices and car control so that they are able to identify the dangers and make the right decisions.

With blasé, devil-may-care attitudes becoming a norm rather than the exception among drivers in Malaysia, it's good to know that Ford is channeling resources and money to curb this worrying trend. You never know, the next time you hail a ride or feel thankful to a fellow motorist for diffusing a potentially dangerous situation on the road, it could be a DSFL graduate behind the wheel. Han Chiang College Official Page
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Whether you’re expressively patriotic this Merdeka, celebrating your 60th birthday or wedding anniversary, scored an unbelievable 60 on a round of golf or born in the year 1960, you could be interested in a Volkswagen Beetle 1.2 TSI stickered up in the famous red, white and blue livery of Herbie -- the original Beetle that had a mind of its own in Walt Disney’s ‘The Love Bug’. We aren’t sure if this 60th Merdeka Edition Beetle is capable of artificial intelligence, but it does look fetching with the stripes and racing number. Price is RM136,888, inclusive of a limited-edition Beetle suitcase and complimentary road tax worth 60 months. #VWFest

countersteer.my added 4 new photos.

Whether you’re expressively patriotic this Merdeka, celebrating your 60th birthday or wedding anniversary, scored an unbelievable 60 on a round of golf or born in the year 1960, you could be interested in a Volkswagen Beetle 1.2 TSI stickered up in the famous red, white and blue livery of Herbie -- the original Beetle that had a mind of its own in Walt Disney’s ‘The Love Bug’. We aren’t sure if this 60th Merdeka Edition Beetle is capable of artificial intelligence, but it does look fetching with the stripes and racing number. Price is RM136,888, inclusive of a limited-edition Beetle suitcase and complimentary road tax worth 60 months. #VWFest
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MItsubishi Xpander
For Mitsubishi fans who are perpetually at rage due to the lack of brand new models, this is no mirage. Say 'Konnichiwa' to the Xpander -- a courageously styled compact MPV that takes Mitsubishi's 'Dynamic Shield' design language to the next...solar system. If you’re wondering why the headlamps look so impossibly slim, they are in fact daytime running lights; the headlamps are actually located under the DRLs in the oversized bumper cutouts that resemble gills, seemingly inspired by the Toyota Mirai. To quote Mitsubishi's press release, 'the Xpander’s design and features are based on many long discussions with customers. “The Xpander actually was designed by our customers,” said Tsunehiro Kunimoto, Corporate Vice President, Design Division. “I simply turned their thoughts, needs and desires into shapes." You can't fault Kunimoto-san for not giving it a go.

Mitsubishi claims best-in-class interior space for the Xpander, with an SUV-like 205mm of ground clearance, overhead air-conditioning for rear passengers and 16 bottle holders so that its seven occupants will never ever go thirsty. It is powered by a 105hp/141Nm 1.5-litre MIVEC four-cylinder engine, mated to either a four-speed auto or a five-speed manual.

MPV-loving Indonesians will get their hands on the Xpander within the third quarter of 2017, with ASEAN markets to follow in 2018. Word through the grapevine is that the next generation Nissan Grand Livina is based on the Xpander, and that both models will be assembled in Malaysia for local consumption.
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Book a MINI online?

As far as we know, Malaysia is the only country in the world offering the MINI Clubman Sterling Edition, and looking at the tasteful customisation work done on the six-door MINI, some other markets may follow Malaysia’s lead, but for now the Sterling Edition is unique to this country and only 20 units of them are available…online.

Maybe the real headline here isn’t so much about the limited-edition Clubman but that you can place a booking for it online – the first time a new car is being peddled this way in Malaysia, though other sales steps and actual delivery are still done the traditional way, i.e. via a designated showroom. So, while it’s some way to go before consumers start purchasing new cars online, this little ‘experiment’ may provide an indication if Malaysians are open to the idea. 

Mechanically, the MINI Clubman Sterling Edition is a Cooper S Clubman underneath but with cosmetic customisation inside and out. It is priced at RM268,888, which is a RM11,000 premium over the standard car at RM257,888, though we are told that the extras are worth a lot more than that. Intrigued? Head on to https://goo.gl/bB5nyr to find out when (15th August 2017, from 11.00am) and how you can be the first 20 individuals to place a booking online for the MINI Clubman Sterling Edition.

countersteer.my added 5 new photos.

Book a MINI online?

As far as we know, Malaysia is the only country in the world offering the MINI Clubman Sterling Edition, and looking at the tasteful customisation work done on the six-door MINI, some other markets may follow Malaysia’s lead, but for now the Sterling Edition is unique to this country and only 20 units of them are available…online.

Maybe the real headline here isn’t so much about the limited-edition Clubman but that you can place a booking for it online – the first time a new car is being peddled this way in Malaysia, though other sales steps and actual delivery are still done the traditional way, i.e. via a designated showroom. So, while it’s some way to go before consumers start purchasing new cars online, this little ‘experiment’ may provide an indication if Malaysians are open to the idea.

Mechanically, the MINI Clubman Sterling Edition is a Cooper S Clubman underneath but with cosmetic customisation inside and out. It is priced at RM268,888, which is a RM11,000 premium over the standard car at RM257,888, though we are told that the extras are worth a lot more than that. Intrigued? Head on to goo.gl/bB5nyr to find out when (15th August 2017, from 11.00am) and how you can be the first 20 individuals to place a booking online for the MINI Clubman Sterling Edition.
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Ready, set…

This is the track layout of the Toyota Vios Challenge happening this weekend at Batu Kawan Stadium, Penang. The FIA-compliant track will have 11 corners and measures 1.65km in length, so expect the lap to be short and the racing tight, particularly in the Super Sporting Class made out of 12 seasoned racers (yeah, the pros).

Three classes will compete for honours from 12th to 13th August – Promotional (the celebs – 10 cars), Sporting (keen enthusiasts – 18 cars) and Super Sporting (proven race winners – 12 cars) with qualifying and Race 1 of the Promotional and Sporting classes happening on Saturday and the remaining races on Sunday as each class gets two races (25 minutes per race). So, make sure you don’t miss the qualifying action on Saturday as well as the activities lined up over the TGR Racing Festival weekend, the first of its kind in memory (click here for the itinerary: https://goo.gl/H9fMSx) 

We’ve also driven the specially-prepared Vios Challenge cars over Sepang’s north loop recently, and even on an F1 circuit that makes fast road cars seem slow, the Vios was thoroughly entertaining, not so much in a straight line (short gearing means many upshifts) but in how grippy the unassuming J manual felt on Toyo competition rubber and TRD sports suspension. Along with a limited slip diff on the front axle, the lightweight Vios allows the driver to carry lot of momentum into the corners and the ability to get back on the gas faster than you can say ‘Toyota Gazoo Racing’.

countersteer.my added 10 new photos.

Ready, set…

This is the track layout of the Toyota Vios Challenge happening this weekend at Batu Kawan Stadium, Penang. The FIA-compliant track will have 11 corners and measures 1.65km in length, so expect the lap to be short and the racing tight, particularly in the Super Sporting Class made out of 12 seasoned racers (yeah, the pros).

Three classes will compete for honours from 12th to 13th August – Promotional (the celebs – 10 cars), Sporting (keen enthusiasts – 18 cars) and Super Sporting (proven race winners – 12 cars) with qualifying and Race 1 of the Promotional and Sporting classes happening on Saturday and the remaining races on Sunday as each class gets two races (25 minutes per race). So, make sure you don’t miss the qualifying action on Saturday as well as the activities lined up over the TGR Racing Festival weekend, the first of its kind in memory (click here for the itinerary: goo.gl/H9fMSx)

We’ve also driven the specially-prepared Vios Challenge cars over Sepang’s north loop recently, and even on an F1 circuit that makes fast road cars seem slow, the Vios was thoroughly entertaining, not so much in a straight line (short gearing means many upshifts) but in how grippy the unassuming J manual felt on Toyo competition rubber and TRD sports suspension. Along with a limited slip diff on the front axle, the lightweight Vios allows the driver to carry lot of momentum into the corners and the ability to get back on the gas faster than you can say ‘Toyota Gazoo Racing’.
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In many ways, J.D. Power’s annual Customer Service Index (CSI) isn’t unlike Jerry Bruckheimer’s forensics crime drama, both examine the details and nuances to arrive at conclusions, only the latter is fiction while the former is grounded on feedback from new car owners who visited authorised service centres. For the 2017 study, the 15th consecutive edition, a total of 2,705 respondents were polled on topics such as service quality, service initiation, vehicle pick-up, service advisor and service facility. Only the top mainstream brands are covered due to the sample size, so you wont find Lamborghini or Aston Martin on the list.

For the second year running and the third time in four years, Toyota topped the chart once again, with Mitsubishi and Mazda completing the top three (swapping places from last year). Fourth is Nissan (sixth last year) and in an upturn of the form books, Volkswagen dragged itself up to fifth place with a score that rises above the industry average and besting even Isuzu in sixth. The performance lends weight to the notion that Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia and its beleaguered dealers are getting their acts together. So, well done to them. 

On the other end of the CSI chart lies a shocker with Honda not only falling below the industry average but also lagging behind national brands Perodua and Proton, and taking the wooden spoon. We can’t recall if Honda ever had the honour of finishing last in a CSI study, but it does appear that the sales successes of 2015 and 2016 may have have impacted Honda’s after-sales quality.

(Source: J.D Power 2017 Malaysia Customer Service Index Study)

countersteer.my added 9 new photos.

In many ways, J.D. Power’s annual Customer Service Index (CSI) isn’t unlike Jerry Bruckheimer’s forensics crime drama, both examine the details and nuances to arrive at conclusions, only the latter is fiction while the former is grounded on feedback from new car owners who visited authorised service centres. For the 2017 study, the 15th consecutive edition, a total of 2,705 respondents were polled on topics such as service quality, service initiation, vehicle pick-up, service advisor and service facility. Only the top mainstream brands are covered due to the sample size, so you won't find Lamborghini or Aston Martin on the list.

For the second year running and the third time in four years, Toyota topped the chart once again, with Mitsubishi and Mazda completing the top three (swapping places from last year). Fourth is Nissan (sixth last year) and in an upturn of the form books, Volkswagen dragged itself up to fifth place with a score that rises above the industry average and besting even Isuzu in sixth. The performance lends weight to the notion that Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia and its beleaguered dealers are getting their acts together. So, well done to them.

On the other end of the CSI chart lies a shocker with Honda not only falling below the industry average but also lagging behind national brands Perodua and Proton, and taking the wooden spoon. We can’t recall if Honda ever had the honour of finishing last in a CSI study, but it does appear that the sales successes of 2015 and 2016 may have have impacted Honda’s after-sales quality.

(Source: J.D Power 2017 Malaysia Customer Service Index Study)
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BMW Malaysia & PHEV: Fortune favours the bold?

Volvo to start phasing out ICE models in 2019, BMW is already halfway there in Malaysia.

Remember Volkswagen?

Signs of life at Proton