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2021 Mercedes-AMG GT – base model gets upgraded to 530 PS, more equipment; AMG GT S discontinued

 

Mercedes-AMG has launched the updated 2021 GT Coupé and Roadster, featuring more power, equipment and options. For model year 2021, the base model GT gets 530 PS as standard, which is 54 PS more than before. This update also sees the discontinuation of the GT S Coupé and Roadster.

Standard equipment for the GT includes AMG Ride Control suspension with adaptive damping, electronic locking differential on the rear axle, AMG high-performance composite braking system with red calipers, lithium-ion starter battery, and “Race” drive mode.

There’s also the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package, active rear axle steering, and Night Edition. The Night Edition pack comes with black brake calipers, dark chrome AMG radiator grille, tinted LED headlights, and mixed-size matte black Y-spoke wheels (19-inch up front, 20-inch at the back).

Extras include carbon-fibre roof with dark-tint accents on the Coupé, while the Roadster gets a black soft top. New exterior colours include obsidian black metallic, selenite grey metallic or designo graphite grey magno.

For the cabin, the Night Edition comes with AMG Performance seats wrapped in Nappa leather with diamond quilting, AMG interior night package, AMG steering wheel wrapped in Dinamica microfibre, black shift paddles, and gloss black trimmings. These can be swapped out for carbon-fibre elements as well.

In Europe, the refreshed GT carries a starting price of 119,079.80 euros (RM595k) for the Coupé and 130,679.80 euros (RM653k) for the Roadster. The cars will hit showroom floors in November 2020.

August 13, 2020 / by / in
Loan moratorium extended by 3 months for jobless, reduced monthly installments

 

Prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has announced a three-month extension to the bank loan moratorium, which was supposed to be for six months ending September 30. However, this bantuan is not across the board, but only for those who have lost their jobs this year, without getting a replacement job.

The PM said in a live address that after the three months (which will be the end of 2020), it will be up to the banks to grant further extension based on the borrowers’ situation.

For those who still have jobs, but have had pay cuts due to Covid-19, monthly instalments will be reduced in tandem with the quantum of pay cut – for instance, 20% pay cut, 20% reduction from the instalment amount, and so on. This is for home loans and personal loans only, and will be in place for at least six months. Extensions might be granted based on the pay situation of the borrower.

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As for small medium enterprises (SMEs) and individuals who run their own businesses, the type of assistance available from the banks include paying only the interest for a certain period, lengthening the tenure of the loan to reduce the monthly instalment, or other deductions until the financial situation of the borrower stabilises.

As for hire purchase loans, which are the type we take on to purchase cars, banks will also give the option of rescheduling your instalments accordingly, in accordance to the Hire Purchase Act. For example, your loan tenure can be extended in exchange for lower monthly payments.

Muhyiddin says that all these measures are set to benefit three million individuals and SMEs. If you fall under the above categories and are entitled to the this targeted moratorium, contact your banks and apply from August 7

August 13, 2020 / by / in
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV gets N Performance Parts

First unveiled in June, the new 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe is a very handsome SUV and it’s as heavy as facelifts come too, as there’s a new platform underneath. Now, it seems that the big SUV will get a range of N Performance Parts in its domestic market of South Korea.

The catalogue of parts include a new grille with vertical slats and a unique bumper, which combine for a more aggressive face. The original grille design has a geometric patterned inlay that appears like cascading scales, and there’s also a chain link style version, so this aftermarket one stands out.

Instead of a straight front lip, the N Performance bumper has an upturned centre section and the visual effect of two square vents at the sides. Copper highlights are found on the grille slats, the lower border of the full-width grille and the lip.

At the side, there are unique 21-inch wheels with N centre caps and more copper accents. The wheels are paired with Michelin Pilot Sport UHP rubber and behind the spokes are red brake calipers with N Performance branding. The largest stock wheels are 20-inch items, so this is a step up. This black example also sports side skirts and roof rails.

At the back, there are double rear spoilers (!) and a new rear bumper made aggressive by a carbon finish rear diffuser. There are four visible tail pipes here compared to none on the standard car. Not quite obvious in these images are a carbon caps for the wing mirrors and a bonnet carbon garnish.

Inside, there are sports seats with a quilted pattern, Alcantara bolsters (also on the dash) and a red centre line. The seat backs have CF trim and there are screens attached to them for the rear passengers.

Speaking of the interior, the 2021 Santa Fe’s twin-cowl dashboard is familiar, but the high centre console is new and now sits on a sloping angle. On the “floating panel” the controls are new and the traditional shifter has been replaced by buttons. For the first time, the Santa Fe comes with a Terrain Mode selector – a control knob for Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart drive modes, as well as the HTRAC all-wheel-drive system’s sand, snow and mud presets.

As mentioned earlier, this is no mere facelift, as the 2021 Santa Fe is built on an “Integrated Architecture” with ‘Smartstream’ hybrid and plug-in hybrid options available for the first time. The carmaker says that the new Santa Fe will be the first Hyundai model in Europe (launching there in September) and first Hyundai SUV globally based on the new third-gen vehicle platform, which allows for improvements in performance, handling and safety, as well as facilitating electrified powertrains.

The new platform improves air movement through the engine bay and allows heat to dissipate. This enhances stability in the lower part of the vehicle, which is further enhanced by the lowered position of heavy equipment within the platform. The fixed points for the steering arms have been positioned closer to the middle of the front wheels, allowing for more agile handling, Hyundai says. NVH has also been worked on.

More on the new 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe here.

GALLERY: 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

GALLERY: 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe in Malaysia

 

August 9, 2020 / by / in
Every car company should pay duties at the same level, – MAA

 

“We definitely agree that it should be a level playing field, and that every car company should be paying duties at the same level,” said Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) president Datuk Aishah Ahmad on a query that national car companies Proton and Perodua enjoy an unfair advantage in the industry.

Speaking after the association’s 1H2020 market review briefing earlier today, she added that “we have highlighted this to the government many times to say that duties on automobiles in Malaysia are very high, and it should be re-looked into. But, it always falls on deaf ears, that’s all I can say.”

This, of course, rides on the common assumption that Malaysia’s two national car companies are subjected to a different set of taxes and duties compared to other foreign brands. That’s not exactly accurate, at least not anymore, as the industry has moved on to an updated system with “customised incentives” rather than outright lower taxes for Proton and Perodua.

 

Under the current system underlined in the National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2014, all car companies are subjected to the same set of duties and taxes (Proton and Perodua included). However, a “localisation” approach known as Industrial Linkage Programme (ILP) does offer additional customised incentives and rebates that would give certain companies an edge over others.

Designed to spur investments in the sector, the ILP scheme is open to all car companies operating in Malaysia. However, as it involves requirements such as local investment commitments, local content percentage and a few other details not publicly known, it will, quite naturally, benefit the two local players – they would obviously have the highest levels of localisation among all. Foreign brands that have invested heavily also enjoy substantial incentives, or are at least open to.

The ILP may seem to some as a form of a protection mechanism, but as it’s open to all car companies, technically we have already achieved a level playing field for all in Malaysia. This, of course, is up for interpretation and debate among industry players and others looking in, especially on the “customisable” nature of the incentives.

 

The MAA president also chimed in on this issue. “There were a lot of things that were said at the NAP 2020 announcement that we did not have any clarification for. What we wanted is instead of the incentives being customised, we would prefer it if the incentives are made known to the industry, so that it’s better for us to know what exactly the government requires,” Aishah explained.

With questions moving on to the new national car project (NNCP) and how it would affect the sector, Aishah commented that “the industry’s stance is that having two national cars in Malaysia is already too many. To have a third national car project, I don’t think we need it. But we don’t know the details of the plans for the third national car, so we cannot comment on that.”

“Having national cars is a political decision, so it’s very difficult for me to comment on. We have always lobbied that it should be a level playing field,” she concluded. The government has said that the NNCP is set to continue, and has asked to be briefed on its development and progress.

So, what do you think of all this, folks?

 

August 9, 2020 / by / in
Mercedes-Benz aims to be most-loved lifestyle brand

Mercedes-Benz seems to be fully embracing its repositioning as a lifestyle brand, capitalising on the transition to electric mobility and its expanding range of products and connected services. In an interview with Forbes, Daimler chief design officer and golden boy, Gorden Wagener said “I don’t see us as an automotive company so much but more of a lifestyle and luxury brand, as our work goes way beyond cars.”

“We already feature in the list of the most influential lifestyle brands and our vision, for the next 10 years, is to make Mercedes the most loved luxury brand. We know we have the potential and to do so will come from design, from creating emotion. This doesn’t just come from the products, but the ecosystem around it.”

Currently, Wagener said everything the company does for its brands – EQ, Mercedes-Benz, AMG, Maybach – is moulded under the “Sensual Purity” philosophy. “We treat this as an operating system with different interpretations of the theme for our various brands since each one stands for a very different kind of luxury,” he explained, adding that “there is a big sustainability component to all of this, as luxury has to show responsibility for the environment.”

With vehicles becoming more intelligent and modern car design increasing in complexity, Wagener said every skill plays a role in creating a product with cohesion. “We have exterior stylists, sculptors, interior designers, product designers, fashion designers for colour and trim, specialists for operational elements, steering wheels and buttons, product designers making the luxury accessories.”

“Then there are coders and digital designers creating the user experience, the systems we see on and beyond the screens. We even work with our marketing colleagues on advertising campaigns. It works a bit like an orchestra with all these elements coming together,” he added.

As for its cars, Wagener assured that the company’s Vision cars are around 80% reality, so much of what we see in the Vision concepts will be available in the production EQs. “This will include the face, which seamlessly blends the headlights and grille into one panel surface,” he said.

August 5, 2020 / by / in
F40 BMW 1 Series launching in Malaysia on July 24

 

It looks like we are set to welcome the all-new F40 BMW 1 Series really soon, as BMW Malaysia has teased the W177 Mercedes-Benz A-Class rival on its official social media accounts. We really mean soon, as an official launch date has been set for July 24, which is tomorrow!

The third-generation 1 Series first made its global premiere back in May 2019, marking a big shift for the model as it now rides on a front-wheel drive platform for the first time, specifically the FAAR (Frontantriebsarchitektur). This is different from the first two generations, which adopted a rear-wheel drive layout instead, but BMW says there are benefits to be had with this change.

The new architecture allows for 33 mm more kneeroom and 19 mm more headroom in the rear, while elbowroom is improved by 42 mm at the front and 13 mm at the rear. As for dimensions, the new 1er is now five mm shorter compared to the F20 at 4,319 mm. Additionally, the width is now 1,799 mm (+34 mm), the height now measures 1,434 mm (+13 mm), while the wheelbase has shrunk by 20 mm to 2,670 mm. It’s also lighter by some 30 kg, while boasting improved rigidity.

You won’t mistake the new 1er for any of its predecessors, as the switch to a transverse engine layout results in a shorter bonnet, giving the car less of a “bread van” look than before. For a better look at what’s new, BMW has already released a helpful comparison video, where we get to see the F40’s redesigned headlamps, a conjoined kidney grille, sleeker taillights and modernised interior.

In terms of variants, it looks like we will be getting the 1 Series in its range-topping M135i xDrive guise, based on what is shown in the teaser video. This uses BMW Group’s most powerful four-cylinder engine: a B48 2.0 litre turbocharged unit that develops 306 PS (302 hp) and 450 Nm, paired with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. The M135i xDrive takes just 4.8 seconds to complete the zero to 100 km/h, with an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h.

Should that be the case, it will go up against the Mercedes-AMG A 35 4Matic that is offered in both hatchback and sedan body styles. Performance-wise, the A 35 takes 4.7 seconds (hatchback) or 4.8 seconds (sedan) to complete the century sprint, both with the same 250 km/h top speed. Like the BMW, the A 35 cars feature a 2.0 litre turbo four-pot with 306 PS (302 hp) and 400 Nm and all-wheel drive, but with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission instead.

In other markets, the 1 Series comes in a few diesel variants and a lesser 118i with a B38 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol unit rated at 140 PS (138 hp) and 220 Nm of torque. This can be paired to either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed torque converter Steptronic automatic.

With a launch date set, the only missing details are the exact specifications that we will get and most importantly, pricing. We clearly won’t need to wait long for an answer, but in the meantime, would you pick the new 1 Series over the A-Class? Discuss in the comments below.

 

August 5, 2020 / by / in
Rolls-Royce coupe – patent for one-off model seen?

A patent filed by BMW with the intellectual property office of Brazil for what appears to be a Rolls-Royce coupe has been sighted, according to Taycan EV Forum. This could be a one-off commissioning in the vein of the Rolls-Royce Sweptail from 2017, and likely intend for the postponed Concorso d’Eleganza.

The patent was filed in Brazil in March, following an early filing in Germany last September, according to the website. The car in the illustration appears to be a variation of a Phantom coupe, with a pair of slimline headlamps located above a pair of round ones, as on the Phantom Coupe from 2008. The pantheon grille remains as a Rolls-Royce frontal signature, along with its cab-rearwards stance when viewed in profile.

Compared to the Sweptail, the side profile takes on a more pronounced three-box shape instead of the 2017 car’s sloping fastback, and here the upcoming car has what appears to be wooden decking from the base of the rear windscreen, along the length of the boot and continued along the top of the rear bumper. The longitudinal orientation of panels recall the teak decking from the 2006 Phantom Drophead Coupe.

A closer look at the car’s rear deck reveals a centreline that runs the length of the surface, which indicates a longitudinally oriented pair of doors. This could possibly be hinged in the middle, for access to goods from the sides of the car, though the aperture’s actual configuration should be evident later on when the car makes its public debut.

Its tail lamps dispense with Rolls-Royce tradition, however, doing away with the vertically oriented lamp housings and here instead featuring slimline units which mimic the car’s headlamps. A rather more modern touch, for a marque steeped in tradition. What do you think of these design cues for a Rolls-Royce?

August 5, 2020 / by / in
Mercedes-Benz EaseProtect Financing With benefits and full protection coverage
 

If you’re thinking of getting behind the wheel of a new Mercedes-Benz, financing that dream ride is now more attractive than before with the introduction of EaseProtect Financing, a new, comprehensive programme tailored by Mercedes-Benz Financial to offer unbeatable value, unrivalled benefits and peace of mind.

Unlike a typical financing plan, EaseProtect Financing has exceptional scope, and incredibly offers more than the already impressive Agility Financing, adding on quite a bit for just a little bit more per month.

Like Agility Financing, the new financing plan offers lower monthly instalments than with conventional hire purchase loans as well as flexible end of agreement options and a Guaranteed Future Value of your car, in which your car’s value will remain the exact same as what’s agreed at the very beginning, not a single sen less.

EaseProtect Financing adds on to everything offered in Agility Financing with an extra layer of security and protection. With EaseProtect Financing, you’ll get inclusive comprehensive motor insurance as well as a Tyre and Rim replacement service in the first year of ownership.

The Tyre and Rim replacement provides cover for accidental damage to tyres and wheels caused by road debris or curbing, which saves you from having to pay to replace these costly items should the need ever arise.

Also included in EaseProtect Financing the StarProtect Plus plan, which covers you should there ever be a need to repair your Mercedes-Benz due to unforeseen circumstances. Benefits include immediate policy issuance and fast claim approvals, with all claims up to RM30,000 being approved online for immediate repairs.

Other pluses include waiver of excess/betterment charges, cashless replacement for a damaged windscreen claims as well as and the use of genuine spare parts for repairs to make the car as good as new. Towing and breakdown services are also covered too.

There is also MobilityPlus, which guarantees a replacement car should your Mercedes-Benz need to be in an authorised workshop for 48 hours or more due to service and maintenance, warranty claims or accident repairs.

The programme offers the guaranteed, unquestioned use of a replacement Mercedes-Benz as your vehicle is being repaired or serviced. MobilityPlus offers nationwide coverage and allows up to 20 days per year of use for a replacement vehicle.

If it sounds like an immense deal, it is, and the choice is clear why this is the only financing plan you should take for your Mercedes-Benz. Register your interest here. Alternatively, contact the Mercedes-Benz Customer Care line at 1-800-88-1133 or speak to a finance and insurance executive at your nearest Mercedes-Benz Autohaus.

August 5, 2020 / by / in
Mazda to resume normal production from August

Mazda has made the decision to return to pre-pandemic levels of operation beginning in August, the Japanese automaker said in a statement. Its manufacturing plants in Japan, Mexico and Thailand will resume normal operations, and “all adjustments implemented due to the spread of the novel coronavirus will end in July 2020,” it said.

For its operations in Japan, overtime hours and work on holidays will be resumed, the company added. Both Ujina plants in Hiroshima, as well as both Hofu plants in Yamaguchi will run on double work shifts, with no operation suspension days at all four plants. As of today, ‘almost all’ of its dealerships worldwide, including in Europe, have also resumed sales operations, said the carmaker.

Mazda began the gradual resumption of its operations from June, with its Ujina and Hofu production plants beginning with just day shifts and its Mexican operations also coming back online that month. The coronavirus pandemic has hit many manufacturers hard and Mazda is in the same boat, having requested 300 billion yen (RM12.1 billion) in financing from three of Japan’s megabanks.

The Hiroshima-based carmaker sustained a 14% drop in February sales and a 33% drop in March compared to the same months last year, compounding the brand’s struggles as it had been weathering tough times even before the pandemic hit. In November, it revised its operating profit outlook for the financial year that ended in March to 60 billion yen (RM2.4 billion), down 27% from the previous year.

Further afield, other automakers hit by the financial effects of the pandemic have requested aid as well. Toyota requested for 1 trillion yen, or RM40.4 billion in financing, and so have Nissan (500 billion yen, or RM20.2 billion), General Motors (US$16 billion, or RM69.4 billion) and Ford (US$15.4 billion, or RM66.8 billion).

August 5, 2020 / by / in
Porsche 1H 2020 sales down 12%, Cayenne best-seller

After going through a relatively stable first quarter, Porsche’s global sales have taken a hit as the coronavirus forced many countries, as well as Porsche’s core markets, to go into lockdown. As such, its sales for the first six months of 2020 slid -12% compared to the same period last year.

As of June 30, 2020, Porsche sold a total of 116,964 cars worldwide (133,484 units in 1H 2019), with the Cayenne being the most popular model with 39,245 deliveries. The Macan, which was the best-selling model for 1H 2019, trails behind with 34,430 units sold. Sales of the 911, meanwhile, increased 2% as compared to 2019 with 16,919 deliveries, whereas the Taycan – recently named the world’s most innovative car – found 4,480 new homes.

Unsurprisingly, China remains the automaker’s largest single market by way of volume, selling 39,603 vehicles in the country alone. That’s only a -7% contraction compared to the 42,608 cars it shifted in the first half of 2019, which pales in comparison to the double-digit slump in other major markets.

For example, in Europe, it’s second strongest region, Porsche shifted 32,312 cars – a -18% decline from 2019’s tally of 39,243. Sales in its home market, Germany, took a relatively big hit, having sold just 10,702 cars versus 14,186 from the year before. That’s a 25% dip, but that’s primarily because nearly all Porsche Centres in Germany and Europe were shut throughout April.

Porsche AG board member for sales and marketing, Detlev von Platen said: “We see positive tendencies, although we continued to feel the effects of the coronavirus crisis in the second quarter, especially in the US and Europe. A crucial factor here was the month of April, when almost all Porsche Centres in these markets were still closed.“

“In addition, this was a very strong second quarter in 2019 as the comparative period. We remain confident, however, and are full of energy as we tackle the challenges in the second half of the year. The continuing positive development in China and other Asian markets will help us here, too,“ he added. Speaking of Asian markets, Porsche’s sales in Korea and Japan showed double-digit growth rates, having sold 4,242 and 3,675 units respectively.

August 5, 2020 / by / in