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It’s official. The Aston Martin AM-RB 003 project will formally be known as the Aston Martin Valhalla. Just as a refresher, the Valhalla is an upcoming mid-engined hypercar that is developed in collaboration with Red Bull Advanced Technologies.

The name Valhalla literally means ‘the hall of the fallen’, which is an enormous and majestic hall in Asgard, one of the Nine Realms. In ancient Norse mythology, Valhalla is described as a warrior’s paradise, where souls of those who are slain in battle go to rest. These souls are chosen and guided by the Valkyries, a group of warrior maidens who gather the fallen at the behest of Odin, All-Father of Nordic Gods.

Myths aside, the Valhalla sits below the Valkyrie (the production of which is limited to 175 units) in Aston Martin’s range of ultra high performance cars. Just 500 units of the Valhalla will be made, and most of the car will be made out of carbon-fibre. It will be powered by a hybrid V6 powertrain that makes up to 900 hp, offering performance levels close to the Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder.

Aston Martin Lagonda president and group CEO, Andy Palmer said: “Aston Martin model names always attract a lot of attention. They do so because they invariably capture an emotion or tell a story. In following the Valkyrie we knew the Aston Martin Valhalla needed to make a strong statement of its own, yet also offer continuity and a clear connection.”

“Norse mythology contains such powerful language and rich storytelling it felt only right that the AM-RB 003 should follow the Valkyrie’s theme. For those fortunate enough to own one I’m sure they will recognise and appreciate the name’s connotations of glory and happiness, for there can be few more hallowed places than the driver’s seat of an Aston Martin Valhalla,” he added.

The post Aston Martin Valhalla – official name for Project 003! appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Proton is introducing a new insurance product that provides additional benefits to its consumers. Called the Proton Insurance Programme (PIP), the service is applicable for new car buyers as well as existing owners that insure their cars through the national carmaker’s panel of insurers.

Owners who renew their insurance with PIP are eligible for a free key replacement up to RM1,000 in the case of theft, plus a RM1,000 flood relief allowance, coverage for all drivers (unless the driver is under 21 or holds a provisional or learner’s driving licence) and personal coverage of up to RM15,000 for private car owners.

Also provided is a waiver of betterment costs for up to 10 years (provided the car is repaired at authorised Proton body and paint centres) and an agreed value coverage that guarantees a full reimbursement of the sum amount insured for the first 12 years, in the event of a total loss or theft. These benefits were already included with the facelifted Iriz and Persona, which were launched in April.

The six panel insurers are Allianz General Insurance Company, Liberty Insurance, AmGeneral Insurance, Zurich General Insurance, Etiqa General Takaful and Zurich General Takaful. The PIP scheme is available at all authorised Proton outlets nationwide.

“Proton is constantly looking for ways to deliver more value and with the Proton Insurance Programme, we are able to ensure that old, current and new customers alike are eligible to receive the same benefits just by renewing their insurance policy with us. The programme is backed by six of the strongest names in the insurance industry, so our customers can have peace of mind that Proton’s partners in this venture are able to deliver on their promises,” said CEO Li Chunrong.

The post Proton Insurance Programme provides extra benefits appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Though the forthcoming Ford Puma follows current trends in new crossovers adopting past sporty car nameplates, the Blue Oval aims to re-inject some sportiness back into proceedings with the development of an ST model for the SUV, which has been spotted testing on the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

The compact crossover is likely to share its powerplant with the current Fiesta ST, which means the use of a 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol with 200 PS and 290 Nm of torque. Transmission choice is perhaps less clear, as the Fiesta ST engine is mated solely to a six-speed manual transmission; crossovers and SUVs in recent years typically use automatic transmissions exclusively, so it remains to be seen if it will be a wholesale carry-over of the hatchback’s driveline.

The adoption of the Fiesta ST’s powertrain opens up the likelihood of carrying over features such as driver-selectable drive modes, featuring Normal, Sport and Track modes in the Fiesta ST. On the hatchback, drive modes control parameters such as traction control, stability control, electronic sound enhancement and power steering assistance.

What’s certain is that the Puma will receive a suitably upgraded chassis to better harness the added performance from the stronger engine in ST guise – the suspension can be expected to be lower and stiffer, while wheels and tyres should be ST-specific items to maximise purchase on the road.

The post SPYSHOTS: Ford Puma ST testing at the Nurburgring appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Following on from the Alpine A110 – which made its debut in 2017 – is a hotter version of the mid-engined two-seater, seen here pounding the laps around the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife. In standard guise the A110 puts out 252 hp and 320 Nm of torque from its turbocharged 1.8 litre inline-four petrol mill, the same as that which resides in the latest Renault Megane RS Trophy-R.

The hotter A110 is likely to adopt the 299 PS/420 Nm engine tune from that car, itself representing a 20 PS over the ‘standard’ Megane. The uprated outputs will aid in improving upon the standard A110’s 0-100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds, though top speed may continue to be limited to 250 km/h.

The GT4 moniker will most likely also bring chassis upgrades to the A110, where the eventual ‘GT4’ road car could wear rolling stock larger than the 205/40R18 fronts and 235/40R18 rears that serve on the base road car. The double-wishbone suspension setup is likely to gain uprated springs and dampers, as well as larger brakes to better harness the model’s stronger engine output.

The increase in engine output to the 300 hp region will also see the Alpine A110 step up to competition such as the Porsche Cayman, Toyota Supra and, for a limited time frame, the Audi TT.

The post SPYSHOTS: Alpine A110 GT4 – more power, grip? appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Tesla has apparently discontinued production of the original Model 3 long Range RWD, a version of the electric sedan that was first introduced in mid-2017. According to InsideEVs, the Model 3 LR RWD and Standard Range RWD were taken down from the online design studio, but customers can still order the cars through direct call or in-store visitations.

The actual news came from customer Jeremy Judkins’ video, who received info about the production stoppage. It seems that the move may be temporary, perhaps to simplify the production process.

To recap, the full-electric Tesla Model 3 is priced from US$35,000 (RM145k) and comes with a range of 354 km. It has a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 209 km/h. An extra US$9,000 (RM37k) buys a long-range model which can stretch to 499 km, do 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds and top out at 225 km/h.

A higher performance AWD model with the dual motor all-wheel drive is also available, which accelerates from 0 to 98 km/h in 3.5 seconds. It has a sportier look, wearing huge 20-inch wheels with bigger brakes and lowered suspension. There’s also a carbon-fibre spoiler that helps improve stability at higher speeds.

The post Tesla Model 3 Long Range rear-wheel drive axed appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Bentley has announced that it will electrify all of its models by 2023, according to a report by Roadshow. This bit of news came from company board member Chris Craft, who spoke to the publication at a media event in California recently.

However, it’s unclear whether the new electrified models will use a version of the Bentayga’s plug-in hybrid powertrain. The SUV is equipped with a new 3.0 litre V6 petrol that’s paired with a high-efficiency electric motor that also doubles as a generator to recharge the 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery. In total, the system produces 449 PS and 700 Nm of torque, enough to send the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds.

Plug-in hybrid is not the endgame for Bentley, though. Chris said “the next big focal point is to launch our first full electric car, which we will do by 2025.” He believes the hybrid/electric vehicles will fit nicely in the automaker’s portfolio, and sees a huge opportunity in this space.

“Over 30% of luxury buyers are interested in electric cars,” he said. “That will be a big part of our future.” For now, Bentley’s plug-in hybrid system enables a full electric range of 50 km, as per the Bentayga’s case. Like the idea of a plug-in hybrid Flying Spur, or a full-electric Continental GT?

GALLERY: Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

The post Bentley’s full range of cars will be electrified by 2023 appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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The Borgward BX5 first made its appearance in Malaysia in left-hand-drive form last April, and was initially set for a launch that following September. The firm announced the BX5 was in the process of obtaining final approval from the government, and its most recent Facebook post says that the Malaysian market will see locally-assembled units of the SUV in the fourth quarter of this year.

Borgward’s engineers, technical support and production workers have commenced semi-automated test runs for the assembly of the BX5, the social media post said. The BX5 is a five-seater SUV which measures 4,490 mm long, 1,877 mm wide and 1,675 mm tall with a 2,685 mm wheelbase.

The Malaysian Borgward website shows three trim levels for the right-hand-drive BX5, namely Fashion, Luxury and Special Edition. The former lists a 1.4 litre turbocharged petrol engine with 150 PS at 5,500 rpm and 250 Nm from 1,750 – 4,000 rpm with a six-speed automatic gearbox in a 2WD driveline, with the latter two trim levels featuring a 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol unit with 224 PS at 5,500 rpm and 300 Nm of torque from 1,500 – 4,500 rpm; this is mated to a six-speed auto and all-wheel-drive.

Kit list includes automatic halogen headlights for the Fashion and auto xenons for the Luxury and SE, and all three include LED daytime running lights, turn signals and tail lights. Side mirror adjustment is automatic across the board, with the Luxury and SE gaining power folding mirrors and a powered tailgate.

Left-hand-drive preview version shown.

Inside, seat upholstery is pleather on the Fashion and genuine leather on the Luxury and SE, and all three get powered, six-way adjustable driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support. All also get a panoramic sunroof as well as an automatic anti-glare rear-view mirror.

Also standard across the board is a leather, height-adjustable multifunction steering wheel, while an eight-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is listed as present on all variants. Voice recognition and local GPS in English is also listed. There is also Bluetooth, two USB ports (one for charging only) and auxiliary audio. Speaker count is six on the Fashion, and eight on the Luxury and SE.

All power windows get one-touch raise and lowering, with the Luxury and SE gaining anti-pinch on all windows; the Fashion is anti-pinch on the driver’s door only. The Luxury and SE also gain dual-zone air-conditioning and second-row air vents. For parking convenience, the base Fashion trim gets a reversing camera, while the Luxury and SE trims add front park assist and 360-degree park assist.

GALLERY: Borgward BX5 (LHD) in Malaysia

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Proton has organised a nationwide competition for university students, challenging them to come up with the most creative way to market the Proton X70. The automaker says that it is seeking to find students with leadership qualities to lead meaningful marketing campaigns for the SUV.

The “Intelligence that Inspires Challenge” competition aims to find out not just how creative young minds are at coming up with marketing ideas for an automotive subject, but will also explore their execution capabilities with regards to large-scale marketing campaigns.

The contest – which is organised in partnership with the education ministry – began in April and will run until end-July, and is divided into three stages – an Elimination Round, Semi-Final and Final. A total of 51 teams from 20 institutions of higher learning across the country registered for the competition.

The initial stage required the teams to develop a marketing plan to maintain the leading market position of the X70 as well as explore how the automaker can create a better engagement with the public. The number of teams were whittled to 19 for the second stage of the competition.

The finale will take place on July 23 at the automaker’s Centre of Excellence in Shah Alam, where competitors will be judged by a panel of experts, which includes our man Hafriz Shah.

To be crowned as champions, contestants will have to plan and deploy their campaign for the X70 in the city where their university is located in, as well as organise and execute an entire community relations event in their respective city and/or districts. In addition, they are also tasked with preparing an executable sustenance plan that cements the SUV’s sales leadership in various cities across Malaysia.

Proton CEO Li Chunrong is looking at the competition to unearth hidden gems. “I strongly believe that leadership is cultivated from a young age, and so through this competition we hope to provide the opportunity to our next generation of leaders from established universities in Malaysia to shine on a national level and equip them with the skill-set to excel in the corporate world,” he said.

“We also hope to instil strong communication skills among our young contestants as this is the foundation to working effectively in a team,” he added.

The post Proton organises marketing competition for university students, centred around the Proton X70 SUV appeared first on Paul Tan's Automotive News.

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Lexus Malaysia has officially launched the 2019 Lexus NX 300, an updated version of the facelifted first-gen SUV that first surfaced in 2017. The facelift has been here since early last year, but the 2019 Lexus NX now combines lowered prices with improved equipment levels (majoring on active safety kit), making it a more attractive proposition.

The company has dropped the hybrid NX 300h, leaving the Urban, Premium and F Sport as the available trim levels here. All are powered by the familiar 2.0 litre turbo-four with 235 hp and 350 Nm of torque from 1,650 to 4,000 rpm (the NX 300 name replaced NX 200t in the facelift). The twin-scroll turbo 8AR-FTS is paired to Dynamic Torque Control AWD and a six-speed conventional automatic transmission with shift paddles. 0-100 km/h is done in 7.1 seconds and top speed is 200 km/h.

The biggest news is the addition of Lexus Safety System + (LSS+) on all variants. Lexus says that the suite of safety systems addresses three key areas of accident protection: preventing or mitigating frontal collisions, keeping drivers within their lane and enhancing visibility during night driving.

LSS+ includes Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Brake Collision Assist, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Active Cornering Assist (ACA) and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC). The latter, which is a radar and camera-based active cruise control, operates from 0 km/h and has low-speed follow, which means that it can be used in city crawls as well.

Also new and available across the board is an Adaptive High Beam system (AHS) for the three-beam LED projector headlamps that came with the facelift. AHS has 11 independent LED chips that will turn on/off as and when required to maintain maximum brightness while reducing glare for other motorists. Customers won’t notice this in the showroom, but they would definitely catch the sequential signal lamps (front and back), which moves along the NX’s signature “tick” LED daytime running lamps.

As for the rest of the safety kit list, the 2019 NX comes with eight airbags (including driver’s knee airbag and front passenger cushion airbag, the latter supports seatbelt restraint by lifting the front edge of the seat cushion) and a reverse camera with dynamic guidelines. However, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert is only available on the Premium – the Urban and F Sport don’t get these.

We move on to equipment. Besides LSS+ and the LED headlamps with AHS, the NX 300 range gets 18-inch two-tone alloys (225/60 tyres), front LED fog lamps with cornering function, powered steering adjustment, dual-zone auto air con with rear vents, electronic parking brake, eight-inch screen with remote touch controller and the Lexus Premium Audio system. The latter has eight speakers, an eight-channel Class D amp and Miracast/Bluetooth compatibility.

Going for the Premium over the Urban nets one a handsfree foot-activated rear hatch, smart card key, leather and wood interior trim (silver trim for Urban), electrochromic side and rear view mirrors and smooth leather (synthetic NuLuxe leather for Urban).

As for the seats, the Urban comes with eight-way powered front seats, while the Premium upgrades the driver’s chair to a 10-way powered one. The Premium also gets ventilated/heated front seats and power 60:40 folding and reclining rear seats. Buttons for the latter are located on the boot wall and below the driver’s AC vent. As mentioned above, BSM and RCTA are reserved for the Premium.

Colour options include Amber Crystal Shine (dark brown), Red Mica Crystal Shine, Sparkling Meteor Metallic (blue), Sonic Quartz, Sonic Titanium, Graphite Black Glass Flake and Blazing Carnelian. The latter is the new orange-like colour you see in these pics.

The NX 300 F Sport gets a more sporty appearance, plus a slightly different set of equipment. It does without the Premium’s smart card key, powered rear seats, foot-operated rear hatch, electrochromic side/rear view mirrors and BSM + RCTA.

What it gains is exclusive F Sport kit, which includes “performance dampers” and Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS, with 650 auto levels instead of 30 in the pre-facelift), which always comes with an additional Sports S+ mode on the Drive Model Select dial (Custom mode also available). Looks wise, look out for the jet black spindle grille with F-mesh pattern, and the 18-inch rims with Dark Premium Metallic finish, wrapped with wider 235/55 tyres.

The F-Sport also comes with exclusive colour options, in and out. The cabin comes with “Naguri-style” F-Sport Metal Film trim and can be had in black, Flare Red or Mustard Yellow. F-Sport-only exterior paint options are Heat Blue and Lava Orange. Lastly, this sporty range-topping trim comes with special F-Sport seats; perforated leather for the steering (with F-Sport logo), gear knob and seats; and a unique meter panel with boost gauge and g-map.

Prices for the CBU Japan-made SUV have been revised downwards. The NX 300 Urban is now priced at RM313,888 (it was RM326,000), while the NX 300 Premium is yours for RM333,888 (previously RM345,000). The NX 300 F Sport gets the biggest price reduction – from RM404,000, it now goes for RM349,888, a drop of more than RM54,000. All prices are on-the-road without insurance. Lexus Malaysia offers a five-year unlimited mileage warranty.

Understandably, some equipment had to be sacrificed for the lower RRP and addition of new kit. The glass roofs have been deleted (previously, the Urban and F Sport came with a full panoramic glass roof, while the Premium featured a moonroof) and wireless charging in the old Premium and F Sport are no more. The previous RM404k F Sport had a 10.3-inch screen and Mark Levinson audio system, this one doesn’t. Overall, a good trade, we think.

We also think that the Lexus NX is a good alternative to the usual German SUV suspects. It has been five years since yours truly rode in this car, and a short drive to Port Dickson and back in the latest NX 300 Premium reminded me of the Lexus’ qualities.

I shared driving duties with colleagues Hafiz (BM) and Jason (CN), and we all agreed that the NX excels as a high-speed cruiser. Sure, it’s fast and responsive enough, but it was the NX’s effortless driving experience and comfort that stood out for us. Compared to its European rivals, the NX’s NVH levels are low. Between this and the similarly-priced and powered Mercedes-Benz GLC 250, the German is a fair bit stiffer, noisier and less friendly as a daily ride, IMHO. The Lexus also has a more comprehensive safety kit package and practical features such as ventilated seats.

While seat comfort is good, the NX cabin isn’t the largest around. It’s feels nice and compact in front, and while there’s adequate head- and knee-room at the back, it’s clearly not the best for lounging. The electric recline function is nice, though.

Whether you like the NX’s super sharp exterior design and button-heavy cockpit or not, will depend on personal taste. If you’re agreeable to its unique style, you’ll be happy to hear that the quality of materials used for the cabin are very good for its class. All touch-points are covered in supple leather or substantial-feeling plastics (save for the steering button shrouds), and there’s an overriding sense of solidity that doesn’t always accompany a premium badge.

The NX’s audio system is notable. There’s no Mark Levinson logo around, but it sounds great. You don’t need to be an audiophile to rate it higher than the equivalent Merc’s Burmester or BMW’s Harman Kardon systems, but I asked one anyway. According to resident ICE-man Jason, the NX’s system is among the best he’s heard in the premium segment, and that’s because it does the basics – such as the “face” – right.

The final note is with regards to the LSS+ Lane Tracing Assist function, which can tug at the steering wheel pretty hard when you’re out of line. Its tenaciousness can be quite disconcerting if you’re new to steering assist, or slightly annoying if you’re fully sober. Of course, LTA can be dialled down or turned off if you wish. The rest of the LSS suite works as advertised – it’s a good addition to the model.

GALLERY: 2019 Lexus NX 300 Premium

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It looks like the new Nissan Leaf is on course for its mid-year debut in Malaysia, as announced during the KLIMS18 preview last year – three transporter loads of the second-generation all-electric vehicle were sighted earlier today on the Shapadu Highway leaving Klang by reader Edward Koh, meaning that the market introduction should be around the corner.

Buyers will be able to pick from a variety of colours, not just the white that has been the usual message colour for the car. Aside from white, the Leaf will be available in grey, red, black and blue here.

The new Leaf, which measures in at 4,480 mm long, 1,790 mm wide and 1,540 mm tall, features significant gains in performance and range over the first-gen model, the car’s EM57 electric motor now producing 38% more power and 26% more torque than the final version of the first-gen Leaf, at 110 kW (148 hp) and 320 Nm respectively.

The local specification Leaf should be the standard variant with a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery, and it isn’t expected that the e+ 62 kWh battery version will go on sale here due to pricing constraints. No estimated pricing has been indicated as yet, but without local assembly, the Leaf won’t qualify for incentives under the current Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) scheme, so don’t expect it to be cheap.

Operating range is around 400 km (378 km on a NEDC test cycle), which is well up from the 195 km – and later, 250 km – of the original. Charging-wise, the Leaf comes with two types of connectors located at its nose, these being Type 2 (AC charging) and CHAdeMO (DC quick charging) slots. The max AC charge rate is 6.6 kW, while it is 50 kW with DC quick charge.

With AC charging through a wallbox, it will take roughly around five to seven hours for a full charge, since the maximum draw is limited to 6.6 kW from the OBC (the automaker initially listed eight hours to full from a six kW source). With a 230V/16A 3.7 kW single-phase public charge point or a 230V/13A 3.0 kW single-phase supply from a conventional domestic power socket, it’ll take roughly around 10-12 hours.

More on the Nissan Leaf when the car makes its official debut. Read our review of the new Leaf, which we drove earlier this year in Hong Kong.

GALLERY: 2019 Nissan Leaf

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