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The Fastest, Baddest Ferrari Is Now A PHEV - 2020 SF90 Stradale
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The Fastest, Baddest Ferrari Is Now A PHEV - 2020 SF90 Stradale

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Last Friday, Naza Italia introduced the most powerful Prancing Horse to Malaysia - the 2020 SF90 Stradale and it's a PHEV. 


You like it or hate it but you'll have to get on with the programme. PHEV's are the current, not the future which brings us to Ferrari's first series production PHEV - it promises to turn the page in Ferrari's history - the 2020 SF90 Stradale.

2020 Ferrari SF90 Stradale Front View

The name SF90 is an homage to Scuderia Ferrari, Ferrari's Formula One outfit, the 90 refers to the 90th anniversary of its foundation which was last year in 2019 and Stradale translates to road. Why Ferrari would decide to link their first significant move into electrification with a team that has been quite dismal in recent seasons is anyone's guess. Apparently it's to underscore the distinct link that has always existed between Ferrari's track and road cars. Okay.

2020 Ferrari SF90 Stradale Rear View

But I digress, here are the SF90 Stradale's topline features:

  • Turbocharged V8 with three electric motors, two in the front axles and one housed between the engine and gearbox 
  • 780PS (petrol engine)
  • 800 Nm of torque at 6,000 rpm
  • The three electric motors contribute a further 220 PS
  • 25km all-electric range - at a top speed of 135 km/h
  • 8-speed wet dual-clutch transmission
  • 4 drive modes - eDrive, Hybrid, Performance and Qualify
  • 0-100 km/h in 2.5 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 6.7 seconds, 340 km/h top speed

All of the above and more is yours for only RM1.908 million (tak kira lagi duties, tax, insurance and of course your customisation options).

2020 Ferrari SF90 Stradale Cockpit

Due to the fact that this is a PHEV, you could drive silently through a graveyard and not risk waking the dead in eDrive mode. That does make me a little sad however, we are watching the death of the signature growl from the V10's and V12's of yore. I mean quite honestly, shouldn't everyone hear a Ferrari before they see it? There is no place for nostalgia in 2020 though.

Because the SF90 is a range model, meaning it does not have a limited production run, you actually could get your hands on one should you be able to afford it. This is unlike the 488 Pista where you had to first be a Ferrari owner before qualifying to own a Pista. According to Naza Italia, there are currently about 20 bookings for the SF90 Stradale and Malaysians should be receiving their cars in the first quarter of 2021. What economic slowdown?!

2020 Ferrari SF90 Stradale Electronic Instrument Cluster

So a Ferrari PHEV. There are more pros than cons to it really as you'll witness in a little video we made here

Now where to cari RM2 million? 

Oh yes, one more thing, the Reverse gear is powered by the two electric motors at the front axles and not the 8-speed DCT transmission.  Neat. 

 

 

Brembo Greentive: Disc Brakes That Shine Bright Like A Diamond
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Brembo Greentive: Disc Brakes That Shine Bright Like A Diamond

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With the Brembo Greentive, not only will your discs always look good, but it will also last longer.


One of my pet hates is rusty or gritty looking brake discs. They occur when brake rotor surfaces are exposed to moisture which builds up a thin film of rust on the surface of the disc. 

Rusty brake disc

Oxidisation is annoying, and we all know what brake discs look like after a long period of rest. Aesthetically it just doesn't look nice, especially when your wheels are all blinging and your paint job is all shining. 

But annoyance be gone, because thanks to Brembo, this might be a thing of the past because not only have they created a disc which has a mirror-like finish, but they have also created a disc which has increased corrosion resistance. 

Brembo Greentive

Called the Brembo Greentive, the rotor features a new layer of coating applied to its ring, using High-Velocity-Oxy-Fuel (HVOF) technology, which not only adds a high level of corrosion resistance but also ensures very low wear, significantly extending the disc life cycle and reduction of brake dust which helps to keep your rims clean.

We're quite particular with how our callipers look like, and with the Greentive, and in regard to style, you can now stand out thanks to a mirror effect that exudes elegance - we're not sure if it is elegant, but it'll definitely stand out. 

Bremobo Greentive

This is further emphasised by the clear Brembo logo featured on the rotor surface, which not only enhances its Brembo identity but also signals when the disc needs to be replaced. Simple, Brembo logo there - still good, Brembo logo not there - time to replace it. 

However, there is no mention of added braking power, so it's pretty much a pretty looking and long-lasting brake disc, but then again, Brembos have always had good stopping power.

Price in Malaysia?

A Closer Look At The Proton X50’s Infotainment and Connectivity Systems
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A Closer Look At The Proton X50’s Infotainment and Connectivity Systems

Insights

There’s been a lot of fanfare surrounding the Proton X50 infotainment system – for one, it is capable of some functions only cars in excess of RM250k offer (if you discount its X70 sibling). So let’s take a closer look at the highlight of the X50’s snazzy new infotainment system.


  • There are two different infotainment units

The Standard and Executive variants are offered with an 8-inch touchscreen, whereas the Premium and Flagship variants get a larger 10.25-inch screen which houses additional functions.

2020 Proton X50 Interior

In both cases, these infotainment units are powered by Geely’s own ‘ECARX’ E01 Quad-Core Central Processing Unit (CPU). The E01 is the first independently developed chip from ECARX (a subsidiary of Geely) and utilises a high-speed 64-bit Quad-Core Central Processing Unit (CPU) combined with a dedicated Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) supporting HD 1080p dual-screen display and a 4G modem which provide seamless capable connectivity and content delivery within equipped vehicles.

Crucially, the new E01 CPU offers five times faster computing performance and 33 percent faster boot-up speed compared to the unit in the Proton X70.

2020 Proton X50 Infotainment

This means that system activates at breakneck speeds, and loads user applications and Navigation maps quicker. As with smartphones, the system is also able to cycle between apps and screens much smoother.

  • A new operating software

The E01 is augmented with the latest GKUI 19 operating software, unlike other Android or Apple-based infotainment systems - the GKUI 19 adds greater Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. The GKUI 17 connects to an AI cloud, while a ‘smart desktop’ setup utilizes the systems AI to intuitively configure itself depending on the user’s needs.

2020 Proton X50 Infotainment

The other aspect is that the software, its applications, screen layouts and overall operation is guided by UI/UX (User Interface/User eXperience) principles that are claimed to offer an intuitive experience when using the system.

Other highlights include the standard 4G Connectivity – in the case of the Standard and Executive variants, the embedded-SIM (eSim – programmable SIM ‘card’) is directly integrated into the head unit, whereas in the Premium and Flagship variants, it is embedded into the Telematics Box (a vehicle Black Box).

2020 Proton X50 Infotainment Proton link app

This latter system allows the integration of car control functions such as operating the Climate Control, and Windows. These can be augmented using the “Hi Proton…” voice-controlled functions, such as on the X70.

The Premium and Flagship variants offer the X50 Proton Link app. Through the app, users can remotely start the car (for a maximum of 10 minutes; the car will shut off automatically if the driver does not get in by then), pre-set the climate control to their desired temperature settings, and even send a location/destination to their X50, which can be accessed to begin guidance, once in the car.

Separately, the X50 can also be started using the keyfob, how’s that for comprehensive equipment!

2020 Proton X50 Infotainment

Other proprietary features include the Joox music application, which works much like Spotify, first introduced in April 2020. The Joox app, however, is best described as a work in progress, as song selections are limited compared to other more established audio streaming services.

  • Class-leading features

Until not too long ago (more specifically the X70), features such as this were reserved only for premium cars from BMW (Connected Drive) and Mercedes-Benz (Mercedes Me) – which you might surmise are far more pricey than what the X50 will eventually cost.

It is for this reason as well, we must expect the price variations between the separate X50 variants to be larger than usual, give these innovative features are not offered anywhere else in the B-Segment market.

First Drive: Volkswagen Arteon R-Line
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First Drive: Volkswagen Arteon R-Line

Reviews

After many, many months of waiting, the Volkswagen Arteon has finally showed up here. We take the R-Line variant for a short spin and see what it’s like.


Changes in government, tax structure, and an entire pandemic have been massive roadblocks for the Volkswagen Arteon’s local launch, but after a tonne of hard work by the good folks at Volkswagen Passenger Car Malaysia (VPCM), the successor to the Volkswagen CC has arrived. It’s perhaps not the car we thought we would be receiving, but it is very exciting nonetheless.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Tail Light

First, let’s look at where the Arteon came from. The Arteon’s namesake may not exist in Volkswagen’s history, but spiritually the model is derived from the Passat CC – roughly three model generations ago. The Passat CC was a sleeker, larger, better equipped version of the Passsat available at the time, and it came with either a 2.0 TSI powertrain or the ever interesting 3.6-litre VR6 powerplant in the Passat CC R-Line.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Cluster

The next generation to be made available here was known simply as the Volkswagen CC, and was offered with just a 1.8-litre TSI engine. It wasn’t vastly different from the regular Passats available at the time, save for the fact that it had frameless windows, so perhaps it was a bit of a letdown. The arrival of the Arteon steps things up – perhaps in the right direction as well.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Interior

For starters, at the RM 221,065 sticker price you get an impressive level of equipment. The 2.0 TSI engine at the heart of the Arteon R-Line may have a slightly lower output than other 2.0 TSIs in the Volkswagen range at 190 PS and 320 Nm, but paired with a 7-speed wet-clutch DSG you hardly feel the difference in performance.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Front Rolling

Our test drive route for the car was the return journey from Janda Baik to Kuala Lumpur, and unfortunately we were met with some pretty incredible precipitation that meant we were barely doing faster than a crawl for most of the journey. Thankfully though, we had spent time going through the same dynamics and handling course that we did with the Tiguan Allspace R-Line, and as is characteristic of Volkswagen models the Arteon can execute emergency braking, lane changes, or slaloms without missing a step.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Rear Three Quarter

A short blast up to Gohtong Jaya and back also revealed that the Arteon is highly competent in the damp, although one still needs to be a little careful when accelerating out of tighter corners as the immense torque can overload the front wheels. Weight transfer and directional changes are nice and progressive, letting you feed inputs through the steering wheel and pedals without fear of the car suddenly losing grip. It would perhaps have been a little more pleasant with a 4MOTION system, but understandably the percentage of customers who would notice it doesn’t justify bringing the price up for everyone else.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Tailgate

As mentioned earlier, the majority of our time with the Arteon was in bumper to bumper traffic – which gave us a little time to explore the interior and functionality. One thing that really puts a smile on my face is the lift-back style tailgate which allows for extremely easy loading and unloading of cargo, as well as plenty of actual cargo space. It’s such a practical feature, and one that bridges the gap between wagon and sedan, but one that is seldom found with passenger cars today.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Head Unit

The infotainment system is as you would expect with a modern Volkswagen – crisp, clean functionality and responsiveness in an unassuming, minimalist package. With the Dynaudio 11-speaker, 700-watt setup sound is reproduced with good clarity, even above the din of a rainstorm outside. Very rarely do we actually get to test these functions out on a drive as we’re always heading from one location to the next.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Shift Lever

The Dynamic Chassis Control system is a welcome addition, especially when paired with drive mode functionality as it lets you flit between comfortable economical drive modes when you want to cruise, and sharper, more responsive settings for spirited driving. There is a noticeable difference in how the car rides between the various suspension settings as well, being noticeably more plush in Comfort mode.

First Drive Volkswagen Arteon R Line Rolling

To find out more about the Arteon R-Line, check out our launch story here.

What On Earth Is TNGA – And Why Do We Love It?
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What On Earth Is TNGA – And Why Do We Love It?

Insights

 

If you’ve been paying attention to Toyota in the last two years or so, you may have noticed the TNGA acronym show up. But what does it mean?


Toyota New Global Architecture. That’s what TNGA stands for, and it refers to the platform (or backbone) on which most new Toyota models are built on. TNGA made its debut with the Toyota C-HR crossover, and eventually formed the basis of the range-topping Toyota Camry. Now it’s here with the Toyota Corolla, and it is as downright impressive as ever.

Toyota TNGA Rigidity

As cars evolve from generation to generation, they grow in size and strength – and the TNGA is no different in that it provides a much stiffer body with a lower centre of gravity to aid with handling dynamics, while also being stronger and safer as a result. After all, you always want to protect your loved ones and a good, solid chassis is the best place to start. That being said, torsional rigidity and strength isn’t the real crown jewel of the TNGA platform.

Toyota TNGA Reduced Suspension Friction

What makes the TNGA so special? In the case of the C-HR, Camry, and Corolla, the platform comes with MacPherson strut front suspension, and double-wishbone rear suspension – a combination that’s used even at the highest levels of luxury vehicles. The terms may sound a little alien to you, but we’ll try our best to explain them! The front suspension is really simple (it’s just the suspension strut connected to the wheel hub and lower arm), but it is carefully calculated and optimized to give you great steering response and feel.

The rear is where the real magic happens. It’s a little strange to imagine, but the back of the car is where most of the discomfort comes from when you go over bumps and undulations – which is why it’s more important that the back of the car takes bumps smoothly. Double wishbones are pretty complicated, but they are also really good at controlling what the wheels do precisely – which is great for both hard driving and gentle cruising.

Toyota TNGA Lower Center of Gravity

With the front and the rear working in harmony, the result is a car that handles with high agility and responsiveness at a level you don’t find even in higher end cars, while also being extremely comfortable to drive. The steering is crisp and precise in your hands, the nose turns in eagerly but not in a way that scares you, and the car stays super flat when you take a corner. You usually need a car’s body to roll in a corner for stability, but the Corolla manages to get away with very little body roll, without causing any funny problems.

The way a car handles is something people rarely consider when it comes to what will probably be the second largest purchase in their life. Handling can be such a subjective topic – but it raises the question of what makes a car handle well, and why it even matters.

Toyota TNGA Toyota Corolla

When handling is assessed, it’s more than just how fast a car can drive around in a circle (yes, there is an actual test that’s like this). The way a car handles is a whole bunch of different things in a single, interconnected package. From the way the steering feels in your hands, to how smoothly a car turns as you enter a corner, to how a car behaves when you have to brake hard in an emergency – these are all a part of handling too, just a little more based on feel than hard data.

But there is a point where the two worlds converge, and that’s in driver confidence and electronic driving aids. A car that handles well gives the driver confidence when driving in any situation – rain or shine – and the driver will know with certainty how a car is going to behave when they steer, brake, or accelerate. Knowing how a car is going to behave is important when dealing with unexpected situations on the road.

On the other hand, electronic driving aids like Vehicle Stability Control are there to try and save you if your tyres lose grip or the car becomes unstable. If a car handles well, these systems don’t have to intervene until much later – so one of the hallmarks of a great handling car is one that rarely needs to wake up those electronic nannies to stop you from careening off the road.

Toyota TNGA Stronger Cabin Structure

But what if you really aren’t the kind of person who layan corners or go for a Sunday drive down some twisty back roads? As we mentioned earlier, the other benefit of the TNGA layout is that it is super comfortable as that rear suspension can take the shocks and undulations of the road in stride. Again, this is a place where the Corolla punches far, far, far above its belt and price-tag.

You could read all of this and still not be convinced – and that’s a good thing, because we encourage scepticism in anything that you read or hear. The best way to understand this is to go to your nearest Toyota showroom and test drive the Corolla – or C-HR, or Camry – for yourself. Any of these cars will show you just how great the TNGA platform is, whether you’re driving slow or quick, on smooth or rough roads.

Toyota EZBeli

With the EZ Beli Auto Financing Plan that is currently available, you get a 9-year financing plan that progresses in instalment amount as you progress with your career. For the Corolla, you pay just RM 978 for the first three years of the loan. This then goes up to RM 1,418 for the fourth to sixth year, and finally RM 1,858 for the last three years of the loan. Check out the details here

There’s also the Toyota Service Savers campaign that is currently ongoing which lets you pre-purchase your services ahead of time – up to 5 years for a brand-new Toyota Corolla. For the program, you need to fork out RM 3,410 – which lets you save up to RM 511 over the next five years as you get a preferential rate on pricing for parts and other components.

Time for a Corolla maybe?