The imminent removal of petrol subsidies has had many Malaysians on edge. With the government holding their cards close to their chest, the eventual price of unsubsidised petrol is anyone’s guess at the moment.

There is no telling who will receive subsidies either, and that has resulted in some pockets of discontent. Some are already planning on what to do next once subsidies are lifted. Some strategies include shifting their mode of transportation to riding a motorcycle and relying on public transportation.

Some are even considering shifting to electric vehicles, but that may not be to everyone’s appetites. EV’s work great if one has easy access to a charger, whether at home or in a public place. If recharging requires going out of one’s way, then it will only be a matter of time that the convenience becomes an inconvenience.

On the other end of the spectrum, hybrids are becoming increasingly popular as well, driven by Japanese marques that have shown that a properly engineered hybrid system can offer efficiency levels that make more sense than having to invest in home charging. Or wasting time plugged in for about an hour or so while the car recharges.

Honda is one of those said marques, and though it does have an impressive line-up of electric vehicles with up to one of them rumoured to be making its way to Malaysian shores very soon, its line-up of hybrid models is also some of the most efficient in the market.

The Honda City and Civic hybrid models (called e:HEV in Honda lingo) have been in the market for a while already and are both capable of some astonishing mileage. The City hybrid for example is theoretically capable of travelling 28km per litre of fuel while the Civic hybrid on the other hand is said to be capable of a range of 25km per litre.

That is some impressive mileage per litre, and even if you subtract five to seven kilometres from that range just to factor in real world challenges, that would still be remarkable.

Honda Malaysia expanded its hybrid line-up late last year with the introduction of the Honda CRV e:HEV RS, or CRV hybrid in short. It is also quite efficient and can travel a claimed 20km on a litre of fuel. And during a recent road trip to Ipoh, we got quite close to that figure, achieving 19.7km on a litre of fuel, and this was on a highway drive over a long weekend. Including the stop start traffic that our highways are infamous for so that means plenty of fuel guzzling acceleration as well.

The all-new sixth-generation Honda CRV has undoubtedly improved by leaps and bounds over its predecessor with an all-new design and technologies that can put some of its more expensive competitors to shame.

In fact, after driving one for a few days, I am of the opinion you don’t really need anything else if fuel efficiency, comfort, tech and seats for five is what you want in a car.

But before we dive into that, let’s get the basics out of the way first. The design of the car has obviously changed tremendously but there are also elements that are a nod to CRV’s of past. Such as the rear lights that stand vertically at the edges of the car, just like that of the first CRV.

It is also bigger in every sense of the word, and Honda did not try very hard to hide that fact. The a-pillars for example have a steeper rake and are placed further back, this makes the bonnet look exceptionally long.

But if you need further confirmation of its size, the numbers don’t lie. As compared to the previous model, the new CRV is 80 millimetres longer, 10 millimetres wider while the wheelbase is longer by 40 millimetres. This does not only make the car look big, but it also results in improved interior acreage.

Besides feeling more premium with high quality materials, the seats are one of the biggest improvements inside the car. The previous generation CRV had smallish and rather hard seats, and this made it difficult for plus sized people to get comfortable.

The new seats however have improved on that and are bigger and better than before with plush padding that give you the sensation of sinking into the seats rather than sitting on them. Both front seats in the hybrid model also offer electronic adjustability with the driver’s seat offering memory function.

The rear has 16 millimetres more legroom than before and are also reclinable by 10.5 degrees for added comfort over long distances. For real-world reference, my four-year old kid’s legs will be kicking the back of the front seat every time he is in his tethered child seat in the family’s Mazda CX-5. He couldn’t reach the front seat in the CRV, how’s that for perspective?

The dashboard of the CRV is almost identical to the one in the Civic, but that’s not a bad thing as it does not feel like it is lacking on anything. In fact, there are features that more expensive cars don’t have, such as the 12-speaker Bose sound system that brings out the best in classics like Metallica’s S&M album.

The nine-inch centrally mounted infotainment system provides all the necessary updates and access to navigation and entertainment. The 10.2-inch instrument cluster on the other hand provides crystal clear read outs and is also fully customisable, so you can have it show your real time consumption and remaining range on the right while the left shows you what you are listening to. And Google Maps could be displayed on the infotainment screen. That’s how I had it set up and it was perfect.

However, the real magic of the CRV hybrid lays underneath and ahead of you. The CRV hybrid utilises a pairing of an internal combustion engine together and an electric motor. Honda calls it the Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) and it is quite an intelligent powertrain.

The engine is a 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated, Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder plant that produces 148PS and 190Nm of torque. The electric motor bumps that figure up to a total of 184PS and 335Nm.

There is no transmission in the traditional sense so both mills can send power independently to the front wheels through a lock up clutch. At lower speeds the electric motor provides propulsion while the petrol driven engine takes over at higher speed. They can also each send it concurrently for extra hauling power. Honda calls it e-CVT since it is easier to name it rather than explain the complicated tech behind it.

It is this ability to switch between the electric motor and engine or utilise both that makes the CRV hybrid such an efficient car. And it does so seamlessly without you even feeling the system switching. There is only that occasional whir of the engine that gives it away, but you will be hard done to notice that too.

You can barely hear the engine working from the inside of the car because the interior is unbelievably quiet. This silence is courtesy of three features that work together to keep noise and vibrations down to a minimum.

The first is the usage of double pane windows all around the car. This means the CRV hybrid utilises two layers of glass rather than just one and this works wonders for sound insulation and noise reduction.

The second is the Active Noise Control feature that works by emitting noise cancellation frequencies. This suppresses ambient sounds before it reaches the human ear, but it is not new technology, just a very good one used in the right car.

And finally, the CRV hybrid utilises noise reducing wheels. The 18-inch wheels of the hybrid variant uses hollow resonators placed inside the wheels to suppress unwanted resonance such as road surface sounds, before it reaches the cabin. The CRV hybrid is the only model in Honda Malaysia’s line-up to come with such wheels.

So, the Honda CRV hybrid has truly matured to become arguably the finest SUV in its segment. However, it is not quite a perfect package, yet. It has one feature that, when offered, would be the icing on a very fine cake.

Hondas sold in Malaysia still do not come with a Blind Spot Monitoring system, and in its place is the Honda Lane Watch Camera. This shows you what is on the left of the vehicle through a grainy video image that is displayed on the infotainment system. It does not show you what is on the right of the car though, so looking over your right shoulder is still recommended.

But considering that Hondas sold in some markets are beginning to offer Blind Spot Monitoring, it is just a matter of time for such a feature to make its way to Malaysia. And when it does, the Honda CRV hybrid would be impossible to fault.

At RM195,900, it is considered a bargain as well for all that you are getting. And with the removal of petrol subsidies around the corner, I suspect that demand for such fuel-efficient cars is bound to increase. So, will we see more Honda CRV hybrids on our roads? I believe so, and now would be a great time for Honda Malaysia to start playing up the fuel efficiency levels of its hybrid range.

Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, 16-Valve, i-VTEC (Atkinson Cycle) with electric motor
Power:184PS @ 5,000rpm (Combined)
Torque: 335Nm @ 0-2,000rpm (Combined)
Transmission: e-CVT
Suspension: MacPherson Strut (Front) / Multi Link (Rear)
Price (as tested): RM195,900

We like: Interior look and quality, sound system, fuel efficiency
We don’t like: No blind spot monitoring system

There are a handful of cars that have come to define the enthusiasts of the 80s and 90s, and among the Skyline’s, Evolution’s and Impreza’s is the Supra.

Of course there are others as well such as the Mazda RX7 and Honda NSX, but one could argue that the four mentioned above are the ‘four heavenly kings’ of the era.

The Nissan Skyline needs no introduction and even the most self-confident Ferrari or Porsche driver will overtake one with caution. You don’t ever risk upsetting Godzilla, which, for the unaware, is what the Skyline GT-R is fondly known as.

The Skyline GT-R even dominated race series in Japan, America and in Europe. It was so quick that there are instances of race officials having to force the car to carry weight ballasts of up to 140kg just so that the competition had a chance of winning. Such bending of rules would have made the Verstappens proud.

The Mitsubishi Evolution and the Subaru Impreza made their name in the amazing world of rallying. In the hands of such legends as Colin McRae and Petter Solberg (among many others of course), Subaru was nearly untouchable in the World Rally Championship.

But Mitsubishi gave them a proper headache with the three-diamond marque having had its fair share of legends behind the wheel as well, such as Ari Vatanen and Tommi Makinen.

The Toyota Supra also made its name in motorsport but just like the Skyline, it competed in track events rather than in rallying. Though there have been instances where the Supra competed in rallying, however, it made a name for itself in sports car racing, particularly in the Japanese GT Championship, Super GT and even the iconic 24 hours of Le Mans.

The iconic sports car was born in 1978 as the Celica Supra. It got its name from the Toyota Celica, from which it also received its design inspiration. However, the Supra that gripped the world is the fourth-generation model which enthusiasts know as the Supra A80.

Despite its capabilities, the model was immortalised by pop culture when it appeared in the first instalment of the Fast & Furious movie franchise back in 2001. In the hands of Brian O’Conner (played by the late Paul Walker), the modified Supra out dragged and outclassed a Ferrari 355, and that not only sealed the Supra’s reputation, but also introduced it to a whole new generation of fans.

The fourth-generation Supra, or Mk4, was one of the finest sports car the world had ever seen, and just like the Nissan Skyline GT-R, it could do no wrong. Until the fifth-generation model was introduced in 2019, which is when all hell broke loose and the Supra went from the darling of sports cars, to arguably the most hated.

The fifth-generation Supra has been the subject of taunts, jokes and online hate ever since it was introduced. The negativity does not stem from the car or how it drives, in fact it drives rather nicely, and the design has aged quite well. But the hate stems from what underpins the car rather than the car itself.

Fans loved for the Supra for its design, the powertrain and of course, its performance. All of which was engineered and built in-house by Toyota.

And this is where the hate for the fifth-generation model stems from, the fact that it is not entirely made by Toyota but is a result of a collaboration between BMW and Toyota. The underbody for the Supra, the drivetrain, the electronics and even the interior fittings are all BMW. Only the design of the car and some of the performance bits are by Toyota.

In the modern world where billions are needed to create an entirely new model from scratch, it is quite understandable why Toyota would take that route. But for the enthusiast and keyboard warriors at home, it does not make sense. For some of them, it is more of a “make it a pure Toyota, or don’t make it at all”.

And after driving it quite extensively, I can see where the irritation comes from.

Toyota did very little to mask BMW’s presence around the car. You can spot BMW logos around the engine bay without breaking a sweat, the entire dashboard is identical to a Z4, the gear shifter and even the seats and their memory switches are by BMW.

Some argue that buyers are effectively paying for an over glorified BMW Z4, which curiously is built alongside the Supra in Austria by Magna Steyr.

However, it has been five years since the fifth-generation Supra was launched, and though there is still some glimmers of hate online in forums and comment sections, the Supra may just be starting to win some hearts.

The GR Supra is the second coming of the fifth-generation Supra, and while the first was available with a two and 3.0-litre straight-six engine, the GR is only available with the six pot engine but now offers a choice of manual or automatic transmission.

I recently drove the automatic version of the GR Supra, and I believe people should just get over the fact that it is a BMW in a Toyota suit. Because it is not just a suit, it is an MMA fighter in a sharp suit. For all you movie buffs, think of it as Jason Statham in the Transporter movies.

When I first drove the Supra some years ago, the design was not to my liking. It was too outlandish, and my mind kept thinking about the fourth-generation Supra and tried hard to find some connection between the two. There isn’t, and that led to some disappointment.

This time, I tried to forget that it was a Supra or a BMW underneath and approached it for what it is – a modern sports car. And it began to make sense.

The design, though unchanged, is still rather outlandish, but the Dawn Blue Metallic colour that you see here is just the right colour for the Supra’s curves. The blacked out 19-inch wheels suits the car as well, and are 1.2kg lighter at all four corners to reduce un-sprung weight, giving the GR Supra more ferocious acceleration than before. The car now sees off the 0-100kmh sprint in 4.1 seconds, which is faster than its German cousin.

The interior feels small and cramped, and taller drivers may find it difficult to get in and out of. But once inside, the sitting position is spot on, and you feel like your spine has been livewired to the car. That is something that I love, particularly the GT style driving position with the long front end.

But the interior is small, it does not have space to store something as simple as a smart tag. You could keep it in the glove compartment but that is quite a stretch away. Mix that up with storage for your phone and the cables to charge your devices, and suddenly the interior feels too cluttered. And that wreaks havoc for my OCD.

All that disappears as soon as you start the car and listen to the sweet melody of the 3.0-litre, inline six-cylinder turbocharged engine. It is a sound that is slowly being relegated to the ages of history, so I always allowed myself a minute or two to properly absorb it. You know, in case I wake up tomorrow to find that the Europeans have decided that anything more than four-cylinders are bad for their earth worms and have had no other choice but to introduce an overnight ban on new multi-cylindered engines.

The world is a weird place these days, so multi-cylindered engines are a great way of reconnecting with the good old days.

The engine creates 388PS and 500Nm of torque, which may not seem like much, but the joy is in the way the power is delivered. The steering wheel feels alive in your hands with tiny nuggets of information telling your palms exactly what is happening with the tyres at ground zero.

The suspension is also remarkably clinical, and the car reacts to every twitch of the steering wheel. However, your spine also picks up on all the tiny bumps, dips and ruts that litters our roads. You can say that that is the character of a sports suspension and I would agree with you, but when you’re a 40-year-old with a back problem, that is not a lot of fun.

Performance is, simply put, brilliant. It is not blinding or mind numbing, and the fact is some EV’s with their lightning quick sub-four second acceleration might put you to shame. But the car comes alive in the corners with its perfect 50:50 weight distribution. That means that you can dive late into corners and get on the power early without risking any under or oversteer. In the right hands and on the right roads, the GR Supra could put some supercars to shame. Particularly some fast EV’s like a Tesla Model 3 Performance.

And that is the point of the GR Supra. You may not like how it came about or how it looks like, but when it comes to driving it, the driving experience is still intoxicating, like that of the original Supra. Different of course but still intoxicating.

Having said that, just like the Supra’s of the past, the fifth-generation Supra is already proving its worth in motorsports around the world. In fact, it is not only racing, but it is also winning entire championships, and though haters may not like it, but the new GR Supra is definitely making its ancestors proud.

Engine: 3.0-litre, turbocharged, inline-six cylinder
Power: 388PS @ 6500rpm
Torque: 500Nm @ 5000rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Price (As tested): RM655,000

We like: Driving position, styling
We don’t like: Small interior

Every kid has had a poster of some sports or supercar hung in their bedrooms at some point in their lives. Some had a Lamborghini and some Ferrari and they grew up to live ordinary lives. The ones that grew up with petrol running through their veins and an engine for a heart had posters of Porsches. 

Now we are not saying other sports cars are lesser, it’s just that Porsche does it better. Every detail and thought has gone into crafting a supercar with the perfect balance of speed, handling and braking.

This writer grew up watching the Bad Boys movies and in the first one, besides Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, the star of the show was the 911 Turbo 3.6 (Type 964). Just the thrill of seeing that beauty in action as a kid strengthened my love for Porsche. We also got to see the 911 Carrera 4S (Type 992) and the 911 Turbo S (Type 992) in the franchise.

I grew up dreaming of the day where I could get my hands on any one of those cars. Just recently, Porsche Malaysia made my dreams come true. We got to attend the Porsche World Roadshow 2024 where we did not only get to drive the 911 Turbo S, but also drive the GT3 RS, GT4 RS, Targa 4 GTS, Carrera 4 GTS, Spyder RS, Taycan Cross Turismo, the new Panamera, Macan and Cayenne.

Stepping into Sepang and seeing this lineup had me jumping like a kid. We were given a few tests to do which consisted of full circuit laps with the whole lineup, acceleration and braking tests with the Turbo S, a slalom test with the Spyder RS and off-roading with the Cayenne S.

Now Porsche said the reason for using the Spyder RS for the slalom test was because of its mid-engine configuration. It gives the perfect balance when shifting rapidly from one turn to the next and when we got to try it, we could feel what Porsche was talking about. Just the immediate response of flicking the steering wheel gave the car just the right amount of time to execute the corners. But of course, for safety reasons, we had to keep the roof up.

The acceleration and braking were done in the Turbo S and it was the perfect choice to showcase the raw power, sound and braking capabilities of a Porsche. We did one with and without the launch control for comparison. Without launch control, the rpm goes up to 4,000 before shooting off but with the launch control, it goes up an additional 1,000rpm. It might not sound like a lot, but it was a whole new world. The force that pushes you back and makes you know that you’re in a Porsche was a whole different experience. Yes, electric cars do it too, just like the Taycan Cross Turismo that we drove but something about that engine noise roaring just gives me the chills.

According to Porsche, the difference between Porsches launch control system and other manufacturers is that the ones in Porsche are limitless. This means you can launch it a hundred times and will not need to go in for a service or damage the car. One of the instructors there who has been testing cars for Porsche noted that before this, the car was launched over 900 times in two weeks. Only a tyre change was necessary. There are cars out there that will need a gearbox rebuild after just three launches.


Speaking of the Taycan, we were really impressed by it and IF, only IF, we decide to crossover to the “Greener” side of the automotive world, it would be for a Taycan. The car weighs over 2000kgs but the amount of power and torque that is being delivered, makes it feel like a feather. In the words of Muhammad Ali, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. And sting like a bee it did on straight roads and it floated like a butterfly in the corners. 

The star of the show there was the GT3 RS, which everyone wanted to get their hands on. We drove the GT3 RS first and then the 911 Turbo S and honestly, I would rather have the Turbo S. I’ll explain why in a bit but for now let’s talk about the star of the show.

More refined than the GT4 RS, quieter, and aerodynamically improved with lots of airflow and that huge swan neck rear wing and for the first time in a production Porsche, a drag reduction system (DRS) is incorporated. The GT3 RS felt like it would keep you alive at high-speed corners and when you stepped on the gas again there was a thrilling sensation because of how refined the stability is.  

Why is it so stable? Well because the suspension system receives aerodynamic consideration as well. Due to the significant airflow around the wheel arches of the new 911 GT3 RS, the elements of the double-wishbone front axle incorporate teardrop-shaped designs. These streamlined components, typically found in motorsport contexts, contribute to an 40kg increase in front axle downforce at maximum speed. Notably, the wider track of the 911 GT3 RS (29mm wider compared to the 911 GT3) necessitates longer double-wishbone front axle links.

The GT3 RS was a beast on the track but at the same time, it was a very sensitive car in the sense that, if you’re not a trained racecar driver, flicking the steering wheel too hard might cause the car to either over or understeer which may lead to a disaster. It was all about understanding the connection between you and what the car wants. If that understanding is not there, it would not be drivable. It’s best driven on track and in a controlled environment.

The reason I stated that I would rather have the Turbo S is because this monster is straightforward but could get you into a lot of trouble. It was fun to drive without the worry of flicking the wheel too hard because it pulls you back and stabilises the car with no drama whatsoever. We were so confident in this that we managed to take corners at 170km/h and hit a top speed of 230km/h! We threw it around corners and the car understood what we were trying to achieve and gave us what we wanted.

Another plus point is that the Turbo S can also be used as a daily car yet it can be a track monster as well.

Moving on, if you’re in the market for a mature family SUV, the Cayenne is the way to go. It was fun around the track and could handle the offroad challenges without any hesitation. All done with performance tyres, yes even the offroad section. It felt steady around corners on the track, and the power delivery was exceptional for an SUV. 

However, if you want an SUV for yourself and not to bring the family in, the naughty little Macan is what you’re looking for. Now this is slightly slower than the Cayenne but the thrill it gives will keep you awake. This is if you’re throwing it around corners like we did. The Cayenne was stable and comfortable around bends at 130- 160km/h and you could not even feel it. The Macan will have you praying for your safety. But we enjoyed the Macan more because it was just so much more thrilling to drive. The thrill, the excitement, the crazy corners that we took and we managed to do all that and come out fine because, well, it is a Porsche!

We also got to experience a hot lap. This means we took the passenger seat, and these monsters were being driven by professional racers who flew in from Germany. We thought we were fast around the track, but we have never been so wrong before. Regardless of which car you’re in, you will be saying your prayers and holding on for dear life as the race drivers showed us how these cars were meant to be driven.

At the end of the day, Porsches are meant to be driven and not to be parked for show or to impress others. When someone buys a Porsche, they are buying it for themselves and not to show off. The only thing I can say is that when I was driving that Turbo S, I looked over to the passenger side and I could see the kid version of me laughing and smiling in excitement and joy.

Like them or not, electric vehicles are now an important part of the vehicular ecosystem. Not only in Malaysia but across the world, and they are here to stay.

But let’s get one thing clear, contrary to popular belief, EV’s are not here to replace cars that run on an internal combustion engine, they will simply co-exist.

Now before you dismiss this as nonsense, let’s just give this a thought.

Internal combustion engines have been around for decades. Car makers and governments realised a long time ago that engines and fossil fuels are dirty, and they are no good for the environment.

Fossil fuels have been blamed for global warming and this has in turn forced governments to introduce laws that will ensure car makers only introduce cars, bikes and trucks that do little to no harm to the environment.

In turn, car makers have responded by introducing technologies that were unfathomable not too long ago. Technologies such as hybrid systems, thermal management systems, regenerative braking systems, and even the humble stop/start system are all products of the continuous search for the holy grail of modern transportation – zero emissions.

Could you have imagined 10 years ago that cars could would one day be able to travel up to 100km on just 3.6 litres of fuel? Honda achieved that astonishing feat with its City hybrid, and that tech is just going to get better.

Cars that run on fossil fuels today have never been more efficient. In fact, one could even argue that EV’s themselves are not very clean either since the source of power itself might be dirty, i.e., nuclear, coal or even wind turbines and solar farms that disrupt landscapes and require cabling systems to transfer powers to homes and industries. These cables run under or above ground which in turns disrupts precious habitats and such.

You could also argue that the massive amounts of mining that is needed to produce energy storing batteries is equally as disruptive to nature as the oil industry is.

There is obviously no winning here. But it is hard for some people to accept this fact.

Some argue that EV’s are the only way for the planet to be saved and that cars that run on internal combustion engines are as bad for the world as Lucifer himself.

All you have to do is visit any discussion page on Facebook or an online forum and you could be entertained (or irritated) for hours just reading comments from netizens having a go at each other about which powertrain is better.

Friends, like it or not the fact is that they are both good. Internal combustion systems are needed because a petrol- or diesel-powered engine turns the wheels of our economies. The day the final truck, container ship and cargo plane stop running on fossil fuel is the day you could argue that an engine that runs on fossil fuel is obsolete. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

On the other hand, EV’s are great for the urban jungle. If you travel about 50 to 100km’s a day and have access to a charger at home or at the office, an EV is perfect for you. Before you think about arguing that you can also travel outstation in an EV, I agree that you could, in fact you could also ride a bicycle to Penang, but you wouldn’t because it is too far and too inconvenient.

There are plenty of charging stations already, but there aren’t enough. Especially not for festive seasons or long weekends where the number of EV owners sourcing for a charging station is more than usual.

Stories about EV owners having to wait their turn for hours on end while the cars ahead of them charges are not uncommon.

I do have to acknowledge that new charging stations are being introduced on a near weekly basis. And this might soon improve the waiting time and all its associated horrors.

Some car makers have responded to this by introducing cars at both end of the spectrum, makers like Great Wall Motor or affectionately known as GWM.

The Chinese car maker made its debut in Malaysia with the Ora Good Cat back in 2022. The cutesy EV was well received but it was the sole model for GWM Malaysia.

Recently the company made waves once again when it previewed the Tank 300 at the 2024 Malaysia Auto Show. With a speculated price tag of RM260,000, the jeep lookalike with a Mercedes G-Class inspired interior was once again well received. According to GWM Malaysia, the Tank 300 already has close to 200 bookings, and it has not even been officially launched yet.

The Tank 300 runs on an internal combustion engine that is both refined, efficient yet powerful – the holy grail of engines for car makers.

But that’s not to mean that GWM Malaysia is shifting its focus away from EV’s, quite the contrary actually.

In March of this year, GWM Malaysia reiterated its commitment to the Malaysian market with the introduction of its second EV model – the 07 (pronounced as zero seven).

The 07 is available in global markets in two variants – the Long Range and the Performance. So far, the latter has only been previewed in Malaysia with an official launch set to happen in the coming months.

We drove the Long Range model recently and only have good things to say about it. Well, almost.

Design is always subjective and the 07 has a love it or hate it design. For the uninitiated, the design of the 07 may seem fresh and original. But for those who are familiar with the automotive industry, the 07 seems to have borrowed some elements from other car makers.

The exterior looks like it has been inspired by the Porsche Panamera, especially the headlights and the way the roof line swoops down and merges to the rear of the car.

There is also an active rear spoiler that sits tucked away neatly right about the point where the boot lid meets the rear window. Just like the Panamera.

And just like the big Porsche, the spoiler aids aerodynamics when it is in place and actively produces downforce when raised. So, it is not just for show.

But to GWM’s credit, the overall design does look like an evolution of the Ora Good Cat, so the 07 looks very much like it belongs in the GWM family. Afterall, both are built on GWM’s own Lemon platform, so there are bound to be similarities.

Design continuation is important in the automotive industry yet so is originality. Mercedes-Benz for example seems to have forgotten this with its latest models where the C-Class looks like the E-Class which in turn looks like the S-Class.

GWM on the other hand has hit the nail on its head with its design of the 07, though it may not be to everyone’s palette.

The interior too borrows inspiration from other car makers. Such as the centre panel that drops dramatically to merge with the centre armrest. This looks like it came off a Bugatti. But since 99% of the world’s population will never be able to afford a Bugatti, the design is not a bad thing.

The Porsche inspiration is also evident inside as well, specifically the circular meter panel. But that is about it.

The interior looks and feels like it has been properly thought out. It feels expensive yet simplistic at the same time. And while a number of car makers have a nasty habit of placing all the essential controls in the touchscreen infotainment system, the 07 still uses physical dials and buttons, except for one key thing, which I will get to shortly.

Speaking of the infotainment system, the 12.3-inch touch screen system dominates the centre of the dash and provides access to wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Music is played back to the cabin through a brilliant 11-speaker Infinity sound system.

Back to what could have been better – as good as the 07 is, there are just two things that should have been better though out. The air-conditioning vents cannot be adjusted manually and need to be adjusted electronically through the touchscreen system, like you would in a Tesla. This is very annoying especially when you share the car with someone else and need to constantly change the placement of the vents. Or when you’re driving and don’t want the cool air blown to your face.

And secondly, the massive panoramic glass roof is made from a single, very large piece of glass which also merges into the rear window. This looks nice and makes the interior feel much more spacious than it is, but it also means that the interior can get very hot. The way to counter this would be to tint the roof but this would mean that you need to sacrifice the aesthetics of the panoramic roof. Unfortunately, there is no shade that you can draw to keep the heat away.

But that’s about it for the GWM 07 Long Range. The interior is a fantastic place to be in and if you don’t like the design of the car, the interior will soon make you forget that.

It is also a very capable car with a single electric motor that puts out 204PS and 340Nm of torque. This may not seem like much but it allows the car to see of the sprint to 100km/h in just 7.9 seconds and tops out at 170km/h.

As for range, the 83.5kWh nickel manganese cobalt battery gives a range of 640km on the NEDC cycle. We saw a real world range of about 540km, which is plenty considering that you can charge the car in just 32 minutes with a 88kW DC charge which are easy to come by.

An 11kw home charger will require 15 hours to fully juice up, but there is also regenerative braking that lets you send power to the battery while you drive.

At RM169,800 the Ora 09 Long Range sits squarely in the crosshairs of the likes of the Tesla Model 3 and the BYD Seal.

While the competition may seem like goliaths, the 07 Long Range is one that needs to be seen and driven to be appreciated, and if you do, keep a look out for the supple suspension damping and the impressive refinement of the interior. This writer has a sneaky suspicion that you may be impressed by that.

Motor: Single motor
Power: 204PS
Torque: 340Nm
0-100kmh: 7.9 seconds
Top speed: 170km/h
Battery: Nickel Manganese Cobalt
Charging: 32 minute with 88kW DC / 15 hours with 11kW AC

We like: Interior, refinement, features
We don’t like: Design may not be to everyone’s taste

When it comes to Malaysian B-Segment cars, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that the Honda City and the Toyota Vios are the standout choice. The sales volumes speak for themselves, and the choice is clear, Malaysians prefer Hondas and the Toyotas.

But despite that, there used to be a time when the segment had another clear contender, the Nissan Almera.

Launched in 2020, the then new, fourth-generation Nissan Almera was introduced to Malaysians at the beginning of the pandemic. After what the world experienced through 2020-2022, we can all agree It is never a great idea to launch a new car when everyone is tightening their purse strings. In fact, no one could even come out of their houses so how were they going to be convinced to buy a car?

Yet, Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) launched the Nissan Almera anyway and it worked out for them. Perhaps it was because of the loan moratorium where banks allowed a repayment freeze for a maximum of six months.

Car companies, financial institutions also worked with the government to reduce interest rate and taxes on cars, and this allowed companies to sell their cars for cheaper than usual. This also resulted in record car sales for Malaysia.

But this would be stealing the Almera’s thunder because after all, it is quite a nice car, as we found out recently.

Just to make it clear, we had never sat in a latest-generation Nissan Almera let alone drive one prior to this, so the new Almera was a revelation of sorts for us. Among the many B-segment reviews that we have done, the common comments usually centre around how a car compares against the Almera.

You see, the Almera has made quite a name for itself as a good-looking, reliable and comfortable car. One that can pass of the best middle ground between the Honda City and the Toyota Vios.

The design of the Almera deserves a special mention because it is the first time that an Almera has looked this good in the past two decades. And despite already being four years old, the design seems to have stood the test of time quite well.

In fact, it does not only look good, but it also seems to have improved despite being largely the same. The car that you see here is the Almera Kuro Edition, which is basically Japanese for the ‘Black Edition’.

To this writer’s eyes, the Almera Kuro Edition brings out the best in the Almera’s design. It looks a lot sportier thanks to a new blacked out front grille, black 16-inch wheels, and an aero kit that include front and rear bumper spoiler, and side skirts. The Glacier Grey colour also looks like it set out to make a 60-year old feel 20 again.

The Nissan Almera is the grand child of the Nissan Sentra, which many of us will probably know and love. Malaysians will also remember the Sylphy and the Latio, both of which sold in fairly well numbers.

The common theme that all these cars have, is that they are all comfortable, easy to drive and are all spacious. You will have to sit in an Almera to experience this for yourself, but the seats in the Almera are the best in the segment. No probably or maybe here, they just are the best.

The seats offer better bolstering while the padding is plush. This segment does not offer electric seats due to the cost factor, but no one else but Nissan got the memo about comfortable seats being a plus point for B-segment buyers.

The only thing that is a bit of annoyance is the black and white leatherette interior. It looks like an afterthought by someone who reckoned the Almera Kuro Edition didn’t look sporty enough and believed whole heartedly that a contrasting interior would do the trick. Well, it does not and the white edges around the seats will very quickly off-white as the driver and passenger slide on them every day.

But once inside, the spaciousness of the interior will immediately impress you and you will notice that the white around the seats is also present on the dash as well. Except that this time it does not look as bad.

The flat-bottomed steering wheel adds some character to the car while the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Both of which are considered essentials in the modern era.

The interior generally feels good and well thought out with comfort and spaciousness being the main theme at play here.

The Nissan Almera may be well-known for its interior, but it is also popular for being the only car in its segment to be powered by a three-cylinder turbocharged engine. While the competition utilise 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, naturally-aspirated engines, Nissan took on an entirely different path.

Rather than relying on good old displacement (which some say has no replacement), Nissan chose to utilise a small 1.0-litre engine and force feed it some air through a turbocharger to help it produce 100PS and 152Nm of torque.

When Nissan first introduced the Almera, some Malaysians got excited when they heard that the Almera used a turbocharger. Many believed that this will make the Almera significantly more powerful than the competition. But just for reference, the Honda City makes 121PS and 145Nm of torque, which makes it significantly more powerful than the Almera.

The Almera’s turbocharger is not designed for gargantuan power, but rather it makes the Almera one of the most economical in its class. Official fuel consumption figures say that the Almera can travel an astonishing 18.4km per litre, which gives it a theoretical range of 650km per tank. Considering that the Almera uses a puny 35 litre tank (which is a lot cheaper to fill up), that range is hugely impressive.

You are going to be left hugely disappointed if you think the Almera is going to be a lot of fun to drive because it has a turbocharger. But if you manage those expectations and approach it as the car it truly is – a comfortable, convenient b-segment slinger, then the Almera is bound to impress.

On the move the Almera feels like a typical B-segment car, it does a decent job at keeping the interior hushed with the passengers insulated from the noises and vibrations underneath the car.

But it does not have the refinement levels of a Honda City and the suspension is also on the stiffer side as well, preferring instead to roll over bumps rather than to absorb them. In that aspect, the City and the Vios feel better.

That aside, the Almera can hold its own when it comes to safety systems and features. In fact, it even trumps the mighty City with its Blind Spot Monitoring System, another feature that has become a necessity today. The Honda City still trudges along with its dated Lane Watch system.

The Nissan Almera is undoubtedly a fantastic car and while the competition has moved along with refinement, power and features, the Almera is still one of, if not the most efficient car in its segment.

The Kuro Edition lends some much needed character but that does not come for free. There are three variants with prices starting from RM83,888 for the VL variant, RM89,888 for the VLP and the model you see here is the VLT which costs RM95,888.

The Kuro Edition Package which includes all of the items mentioned above will set you back a further RM8,000. And that includes tint, door handle protectors and scuff plates. And if you want that good-looking rear wing, that will set you back a further RM1,400.

Is the extra premium for the body kit worth forking out for? You can’t put a price on a good-looking yet efficient car. If you need further convincing, think about it this way – the Almera is so fuel efficient that the savings can pay for the body kit over time. It may take some time, but savings always pile up.

Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged
Power: 100PS @ 5000rpm
Torque: 152Nm@ 2400rpm
Transmission: X-Tronic CVT
Suspension: Independent MacPherson Struts with Stabiliser (Front) / Torsion Beam with Stabiliser (Rear)

We like: Good looks, comfortable interior, fuel efficient
We don’t like: Ride quality, noisy CVT transmission

SUVs have undeniably evolved significantly in recent years and we have seen some good models for each segment. The demand for SUVs is also undeniably booming and everybody wants one, to the point that some car makers have stopped offering sedans, case in point – Honda Malaysia has dropped the legendary Accord from its line-up because buyers now prefer SUVs. 

This high demand has also resulted in some heated competition for sales and this has pushed manufacturers to outdo each other.  

The Proton X70 for instance shook up the market when it was introduced to the point that some of its competitors were deemed obsolete. It took some years for the competition to respond, but they responded with some formidable firepower. 

Take the new Honda CR-V for instance, it is such a radical change from the previous models that the competition has once again been left in awe. It may not have had the same impact on the market as the X70 did, but for buyers, there is almost no point in considering anything else if budget is no concern. 

To back track a little, the first-generation CR-V was introduced in 1995 and was an immediate success. The CR-V soon became a staple of the middle class and was the go-to machine for those who wanted something safe, convenient and had enough space for the family.

If you have been following these pages, you would know that we are fans of the CR-V. There is very little not to like about it and for everything that is flawed, the CR-V makes up for it in different ways. 

We have done multiple tests with the new CR-V in Thailand and Malaysia and have spoken about the visuals and performance. Now, we recently got to test its practicality as we got the chance to take one home for a couple of days to spend time with the family. 

This sixth-generation C-segment SUV measures 4,691mm long, 1,866mm wide, and 1,681mm tall and has a wheelbase of 2,700mm which makes it bigger than its predecessor. This translates into a more spacious cabin room which is good news for people of this writer’s width and height and for those who have bigger families.

Well, it’s not a seven-seater but we did try to squeeze as many people into it as possible and found that four regular-sized people can sit at the back comfortably which brings the total number of people in the SUV to six. If you have kids, the CR-V comes with rear ISOFIX child seat anchors which is a necessity. 

Now, if you have six people in the car for a road trip, you will have around six to eight luggage or bags. Does the CR-V have enough boot space for this? It has 589 litres of boot space which is more than enough to stuff the bags and as we tested just for the sake of it, a person of my size can fit in there too.

Besides that, the boot has a hands-free powered tailgate with a walk-away close function which is helpful when unloading the luggage. 

With it being this bulky, getting through tight and narrow roads is a bit of a challenge but not impossible. This variant has a multi-view 360-degree camera that assists you when it comes to these situations. 

So that’s size, but what about comfort during long drives? Let’s just say everyone, except the driver (obviously) was fast asleep comfortably. The road noise is not as quiet as the e:HEV RS variant that comes with wheel resonators but it is not at all annoying or that noticeable. We asked Honda Malaysia why the resonators were not fitted into the lower variants and Honda stated that the resonators were designed specifically for the hybrid variant for improved noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) performance. 

As always, Honda takes the small things into consideration and you see this in the CR-V which features body-stabilising seats for front passengers. This is very helpful to the driver when it comes to long drives as the seats are quite supportive, much better in fact than the previous model. 

Also included is the seat position memory function which this writer found very helpful because I did not have to keep adjusting the seats to my liking whenever someone else drove the car.

Anyhow, if your family is as fun as mine, they will be dancing and singing along to music that can be played via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on the nine-inch advanced display audio touchscreen head unit and sound is channelled through the respectable eight-speaker sound system. You don’t get Bose here as that is only available in the top of the line model.

The touchscreen infotainment system is rather easy to use compared to the other more technical and complicated ones out there. So don’t worry if you’re not tech-savvy, it will only take you a few minutes to mess around and figure out the functions.

For the driver, the CR-V comes with a seven-inch TFT instrument display and it is customisable. There are multiple views that you can set it to, such as audio info, range and fuel, and AWD power distribution. You can also adjust a few settings through it such as the cruise control settings and other safety-related features.

Another nifty feature is the tyre pressure monitoring system which comes in handy when going for long drives. Of course, when one is travelling long distance, tiredness will naturally set in, and that’s why the CR-V comes equipped with a Driver Attention Monitor which tells you to pay attention to the road if you’re feeling tired. Speaking of feeling tired, we tried out the low-speed follow and adaptive cruise control when our legs felt tired and cramped up. It does the job and is as responsive as it is supposed to be, managing the braking and acceleration seamlessly.

In case of an emergency, the CR-V has autonomous emergency braking, vehicle stability assist and eight airbags which are for the front, side, side curtain and knee.

However, the CR-V does have some things we wish were better. For starters, there is no “teh-tarik” hook available so you will have to purchase one on your own and second is one this writer has always been annoyed with from the start, which is the Lane Watch system. 

As mentioned in an earlier review, when you turn on the left indicator, the LaneWatch system just overrides the entire infotainment system which means, you won’t be able to see your GPS screen until you turn off the indicator or switch back to navigation which means you will have to take your eyes off the road for a second. And this can be particularly annoying when you need to watch out for where to turn next. 

Blind Spot Monitoring system is a necessity these days, and Honda Malaysia should be addressing this.

The final flaw is the slow wireless charging pad that takes hours to charge the phone. Yes, there are USB ports and a 12V 180W Max outlet options but that would mean more cables and a messier look. 

To conclude, for RM181,900, we would say that yes, this is an all-rounder family SUV and if we were in the market for a reliable, comfortable SUV, this would be it. 


1.5 V AWD:

Engine: 1.5 litre DOHC VTEC Turbo engine

Power: 193PS @ 6000rpm

Torque: 243Nm from 1,700 to 5,000rpm

Gearbox: CVT

0-100km/h: 10.4 seconds

Top speed: 200km/h

Price: RM181,900

We like: Comfort, space and practicality.

We don’t like: LaneWatch, its slow wireless charging and no “teh-tarik” hook

To say that Malaysians are familiar with the Haval brand would be an understatement. The brand has been in Malaysia for well over a decade and at one time offered what was considered as one of the best value for money small SUV’s you could buy, the Haval H1.

This was well over 10 years ago, and back when the Great Wall Motors (GWM) brand was in the hands of an independent custodian for the Malaysian market.

These days the brand is officially present in Malaysia with a full-fledged team with links to the headquarters in China. Not only that but the company is about to go full steam ahead with a local assembly programme as well.

GWM Malaysia has come a long way, but it still has a mountain to climb.

The recent spate of incidents involving some other Chinese manufacturers do no help GWM in building confidence for its brand among buyers. Though there have been no incidents involving GWM vehicles but sweeping statements from netizens regarding the quality of Chinese car brands tend to leave a flicker of doubt at the backs of consumers’ minds. Guilty by association, as some like to put it.

GWM Malaysia though has charted a very different path as compared to some of its competitors. It has taken its time in building its presence here, and since 2022, has only offered the Ora Good Cat as a sole product under its portfolio. The company seems to have preferred to take slow but solid steps in rebuilding its presence and brand in Malaysia.

Other Chinese companies have taken a vastly different approach, betting all their chips at once by offering a diverse product portfolio and then banking on members of the automotive media fraternity as well as influencers to help them build their brand locally. This strategy has worked for some brands, but not all. And members of the media and those influencers have been slayed on the internet for coming out in defence of the guilty brands.

GWM’s strategy though seems to have worked in its favour. After two years of researching and building, the company has now increased its product portfolio to two models – the aforementioned Good Cat – and now the 07, which has been in the Malaysian market for well over two months now.

But 2024 is going to be an interesting year for GWM Malaysia as it solidifies its presence locally with a more diverse portfolio.

At the recently concluded Malaysia Auto Show, GWM Malaysia took the wraps off its future models, the hardcore Tank 300 and the Haval H6 Hybrid. We drove both during a trip to the Beijing Auto Show well over a month ago, and while it was not an extensive test drive since China does not allow foreigners to drive on their roads, it was good enough for us to tell you what to expect.

The GWM Tank 300 is a vehicle that sits in a class of its own and is something that no other Chinese car maker based in Malaysia has an answer to. The Tank 300 stands alone in its segment, and though no official price announcement has been made, GWM Malaysia has teased locals by saying it will be priced at around the RM250,000 region. That has been good enough for over 150 individuals to put down a booking. Such is the appeal of the Tank 300.

The Haval H6 Hybrid though is a very different car. It sits in the C-Segment so it has some rather fierce competition from the likes of the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and even the mighty but dated Proton X70. So when introduced, the Haval H6 Hybrid will be GWM Malaysia’s toughest test yet.

But the Haval H6 has its own unique appeal. While a lot of Chinese car makers sometime steal designs from other, more established car makers such as Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, the Haval H6 has its own unique design.

The front of the car is distinguished by a unique grille style called the “Star Matrix” grille. It undoubtedly looks good especially the way it merges into the front bumper and the slim Matrix LED headlights.

The rear of the car is a little more conventional with a LED light strip that stretches across the width of the car and connects both taillights. The LED light strip seems to be all the rage these days with almost every car maker having their own interpretation of it. Who can blame them though when it looks this good?

The photos may not do it much justice but the H6 Hybrid is a big SUV. While it may sit in the same size category as its competitors, it is slightly longer than the Honda, Proton and the Mazda, but that does not necessarily mean more leg room. Besides, it will be very difficult to beat the masters of interior packaging, Honda, at their own game. We will have to put together a proper wheel-to-wheel test to answer that question later on, but from what we experience, the interior of the H6 Hybrid is a comfortable place to be in.

Speaking of the interior, it features rose gold accents around the steering wheel, door panels and across the dashboard. There is too much of gold trimming for this writer’s eyes, but it understandably might appeal to some. Besides, we hear there may be two variants for Malaysians to pick from one with a more conventional black-and-white interior while the rose gold will be reserved for the flagship variant.

But besides that, the interior of the H6 Hybrid is an impressive one. In typical modern day fashion, there are twin digital screens that greet you when you step inside. A 10.25-inch digital meter panel lays directly ahead of you and provides you with all the usual information such as speed, battery state and such data.

Towards the left of that sits a mega 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is connected to an eight-speaker sound system. The seats deserve a special mention as they are not only comfortable but look great as well. Both front seats are electronically adjustable while “boss switches” located on the shoulder of the area of the front passenger seat allows rear passengers to adjust the front passenger seat for more legroom, making it an ideal car to be driven in as well.

Powering the H6 Hybrid is a 1.5-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine making 150PS and 230Nm of torque. Being a hybrid, there is also an electric motor that works in conjunction with the internal combustion engine as well, and that electric motor puts out an impressive 177PS and 300Nm of torque, effectively giving the H6 Hybrid a combined system output of 243PS and 530Nm of torque.

That is gargantuan power for an SUV of this category. But as we found out during our drive, the way it delivers its mammoth power is smooth and composed rather than the outright brutish shove in the back that is typical of such immense power outputs.

GWM says that the powertrain has been configured for efficiency rather than all out power, with a claimed fuel consumption figure of just 5.2-litres per 100km. So theoretically, you will need to spend just about RM20 on fuel for a 200km trip to Ipoh, which is super cheap. Till the fuel subsidies are removed but that is a different story altogether.

So when will the Haval H6 Hybrid be officially introduced to Malaysians? There are plans to assemble the SUV locally and according to reports, GWM Malaysia is not too far away from launching its assembly plant. And according to sources, the H6 Hybrid is slated for an official launch this year. And with it being assembled locally, expect prices to be competitive.

Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged with electric motor
Power: 243PS (Combined with electric motor)
Torque: 530Nm (Combined with electric motor)
Transmission: Two-speed Dedicated Hybrid Transmission
Fuel consumption: 5.2-litres / 100km
Price: Not available

We like: Size, good looks, comfortable
We don’t like: Too much rose gold around the interior

“They don’t make them live they used to,” that is a sentence that is commonly heard these days. Whether it is in reference to household goods, electronics or even your favourite char kuey teow, it is a sentence that is thrown around a lot these days.

But arguably, nowhere is it most commonly used than in the automotive industry. Whether it is in reference to the quality of a car or motorcycle or to the performance, we could argue till the sun goes down and comes back up again about how cars and bikes used to be better back in the day and how they are today.

However. Every once in a while, we get a car that blows it all away, that makes the world stand up and take notice and makes even those that still live in the past fall in love all over again. Cars like the Toyota GR Corolla.

If you have never heard of it, you are probably thinking that we have lost our minds. How can an everyday Toyota like the Corolla be exciting and remind us of days gone past? Well, except for the assumption that our favourite uncles and their neigbour used to drive a Toyota Corolla, the GR Corolla seen in the photos here is a very different animal. Yes, we used the word animal in the same sentence as the Corolla, now will be a good time to continue reading this article because we are not talking about a regular run of the mill Corolla.

Though the Corolla may be the underpinning car to this model, there is very little that the GR Corolla shares with its comparatively sedate cousin. From the offset, you will notice that the car is wider and looks a lot more aggressive. That may not be a big deal because you can buy such a body kit for a few thousand Ringgits from any of the back lane car shops around the country. But the one on the GR Corolla is a functional one, one that needs to be engineered rather than just fitted.

Every vent, fin and wing you see on the car plays a purpose, either to help cool the car, cool the brakes or help the car stick to the road at high speeds. This is a proper fire-breating sports car that has been purpose made and engineered in detail from the ground up, it is not a regular body kit that you buy from Sunway.

Even back at the factory, the GR Corolla together with its siblings – the GR86 and the GR Yaris, were not built on a regular assembly line. Well, perhaps the donor cars were, but they were soon shifted to a different part of the assembly plant. A top-secret area where engineers have a singular focus on chasing mega performance.

Called the Toyota Gazoo Racing motorsport division, the department is based in Cologne, Germany and supports Toyota’s racing activities in series such as the World Rally Championship and World Endurance Championship. The division also has offices in other parts of the world where it races as well.

But other than developing race cars, the division, also known as TGR or GR, is also responsible for bridging the gap between its racing activities and its road cars. That is where cars like the GR Corolla come from. In essence, the division is quite like AMG from Mercedes-Benz, BMW’s M division or Audi’s RS.

You may already know this, but motorsport is never cheap, whether it is the entry go-kart series or racing in more established competitions around the world, the world of motorsport is for the top one percent. The research and development needed to create a car capable of topflight competition can put a lot of companies out of business, and hence why cars that are born out of motorsport are never cheap.

The GR Corolla costs a staggering RM355,000, which is a lot of money from a Corolla. This writer had a tough time explaining why this car costs so much of money to guests of a wedding in the old mining town of Tanjung Tualang. Everyone who saw the car knew it was something special, but no one could believe the price. It was after all, a Toyota Corolla. I had a tough time explaining that it was not a regular Corolla.

This is a car that needs to be driven to be appreciated, and once you do, you will wish you had that money in your bank. Powering the GR Corolla is a 1.6-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged engine making 300PS and 370Nm of torque. It is the most powerful three-cylinder engine in the world, and it demolishes the charge to 100km/h in just 5.3 seconds and does not stop huffing and puffing until it reaches 230km/h.

All the way there, there is that almost inaudible sound of the blow-off valve which enthusiasts will recognise almost immediately. Take your foot off the accelerator pedal and a faint whistle will follow. This allows the boost pressure from the turbo to escape when there is no need to use it, and this is an iconic sound that almost every self-loving car freak will recognise and love immediately. It does not only sound good, but it shows this car means business.

But the GR Corolla is much more than just big numbers, it is about how it delivers them to the wheels and ultimately leaves it to you to exploit. The car also runs on an all-wheel-drive (AWD) platform, and it is not just a regular AWD system, but quite an intelligent one.

While regular AWD systems will distribute power equally between the front and rear axles, the system in the GR Corolla lets you decide how you want the power to be transferred. You can select this by turning a knob located at the centre console, and power can be distributed either 60:40 front back, 50:50 for a more balanced feel or 30:70 for when you want the rear of the car to stick out a little bit.

And this is then further complemented by a Torsen Slip Differential that distributes power to the left and right wheels rather than just between the front and rear axles. This then gives the car huge amounts of grip, and on the right roads such as on Bukit Tinggi where we took it for some back road fun, it was easy to simply point and catapult the car to the next corner by riding the wave of torque.

No squirm, no power lag, no dramas, just your typical point and squirt fun, just like the old hot hatch’s such as the Renault Megane R26, Peugeot GTI or even the Volkswagen Golf R.

But the GR Corolla feels more engaging, it feels like it wants you to wring it by its neck and extract every gallop of horsepower. It is almost impossible to drive it slowly because all you want to do is marvel at all the performance underneath the car.

It also has something called an “Intelligent Manual Transmission” that makes you feel like a driving God every time you downshift the manual transmission. This works by matching the revs to the intended gear so there is no loss of power, and you are always within the right rev zone to maximise power delivery.

However, as quick and effectively the GR Corolla is, it has one little flaw that we feel could have been better – the gear shifter. In the world of manual transmissions, the key to getting it right is a short, precise throw in between gear cogs with a small well-weighted, preferably aluminium knob. The GR Corolla almost has it all right except that shifts can be sloppy; it is not as precise and short as the Honda Civic Type R and that is probably its biggest let down. For us at least. We can forgive the knob but having a sloppy shifter can be scary because you can easily shift into a wrong gear. And that is a very expensive bill.

Everything else about the GR Corolla is perfect. It may be a Corolla, but it can never be a proper family car like a regular Corolla can, as we found out when we had to pack up the car to attend the aforementioned wedding in Perak.

It may have four doors, and it also has all the safety systems you want in a modern-day car, including apative cruise control. It even has ISOFIX mounts for you to lock in a child seat, but it not spacious as far as family requirements go.

But the Toyota GR Corolla is great because it reminds us of how sports cars used to be – fast, engaging with pure unadulterated power. The four-doors are there so that you can tell yourself it is semi-practical, but in fact you just don’t really want to grow up.

The GR Corolla lets you indulge in your childhood automotive fantasies, while the four-doors are a great excuse for you to tell your wife it is a practical car and that it is worth the price. Until she tries to pack all her outfits for a wedding and finds out it isn’t all that.

Engine: 1.6-litre, 3-cylinder, Intercooler Turbo
Power: 300PS @ 6,500rpm
Torque: 370Nm @ 3,000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual with iMT
Suspension: MacPherson Strut with Stabiliser (Front) / Double Wishbone with Stabiliser (Rear)
Price (As Tested): RM355,000

We like: Driving experience, power and engagement
We don’t like: Sloppy gear shifts

The year is 1997 and this writer was still two years away from getting a driving license. However, my father would occasionally let me drive and one day he let me get behind the wheel of his then brand-new Isuzu Invader.

We were driving off-road near some old mining pools in Kampar, where I spent some time growing up. I am not sure how and why, but I drove too close to the pool and the sand underneath gave way and the car slid into the pool.

Partially submerged, we paddled out of the car. Back then, the front hubs needed to be locked for the four-wheel-drive system to work. But the hubs were already well under water so there was no way we could drive out of that situation.

With my father getting increasingly nervous at seeing his brand-new car sink further in, and me sweating from imagining the belting I was going to get that night, a hero appeared in the form of a tractor. The driver had chains too.

My father’s new Isuzu was pulled out in just a few minutes. The next challenge was to see if it would start, but the engine cranked at the first try and we were on our way in no time, with a soaking wet interior though. But that was a small price to pay for what could have been a very expensive afternoon, and besides, the interior dried up the following day and everything was great again.

And that is the beauty of Isuzu pick-up trucks, they are built tough and can seemingly survive just about anything.

Fast forward 27 years and Isuzu Malaysia has just introduced the cousin of the old Invader – the new D-Max X-Terrain. Ironically, we drove it on reclaimed land in Melaka where the sand was as soft as those around the mining pool which almost claimed the Invader many moons ago.

The new Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain is the refreshed model for the X-Terrain that was introduced about two years ago to much fanfare. The X-Terrain has been credited for reviving the adulation of Isuzu pick-up trucks after a few years of stagnation.

With the pick-up truck segment becoming increasingly lifestyle oriented with more of them used on the road rather than for their original purpose off-road, pick-up truck manufacturers had to change their approach, and fast.

We first saw this with the Ford Ranger Wildtrak that despite plenty of tech designed for off-road use, was purpose made for life in the urban jungle. It was a sales success for Ford, and other truck makers wanted a piece of the urban truck pie.

It won’t be far-fetched to say that Isuzu was a tad late to the game, arriving much later than the models from Nissan and Toyota.

Isuzu had long ago built a reputation as some of the toughest and reliable work horses, but they were never anything more than that. People bought Isuzus because they were dependable work machines, it was never something people lusted over.

But that changed with the introduction of the X-Terrain. It was Isuzu’s answer to the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, the Nissan Navara Pro4X and the Toyota Hilux Rouge.

Fiercely focused on the new age buyer that spends more time in cities and traffic jam’s than life off the beaten path, the X-Terrain had the recipe right from the get-go. It had the wild and bright colour options typical of trucks of this segment, it had the dramatic body kit that looked like it belonged in a rally race and the interior was something we had never seen in an Isuzu.

Inside, the X-Terrain was an elegant blend of premium features and technology. The tanned leather seats were arguably the most comfortable in the segment and looked good too. It even had a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a shockingly good entertainment system with speakers mounted on the roof!

The X-Terrain elevated Isuzu’s brand from one that contractors preferred, to one that got you the girls.

Two years after the introduction of the original X-Terrain, Isuzu Malaysia has taken the wraps off the latest model, one that has been massaged, improved and packed with better features.

From the outside, the new model is distinguished with the new LED headlights that look sleeker with daytime running lights that hug and curve around the top of the frame rather than the bottom as before (as seen above). These are matched by new LED brake lights with a new design.

The grille and front bumper too has been redesigned and has a new air curtain integrated to the sides of the bumper. This has small slits that open outwards towards the front wheel wells and allows air to blow through. This makes it easier for the truck to cut through air, effectively making it more fuel efficient as well as reduces air turbulence that can be noisy.

Other updates include a new welcome light and new tailgate panel with integrated locking mechanism.

You can be forgiven for assuming the interior looks the same, but the devil is in the details. The infotainment screen for one is now larger, growing from nine-inches in the old model to 10-inches in the new one. The driver gets a new seven-inch digital meter panel as well, replacing the old analogue unit.

The bigger screen together with the digital dash, and silver accented air-conditioning controls lends an air of sophistication to the interior. This is also augmented by the new Miura design elements around the door panels and across the dash.

There is also a new scuff plate with LED lighting that greets you when you open the door. But more importantly, the seats are new and continue with the black-leather theme we first saw with later models of the previous generation X-Terrain. This is an important update because the new seats also have anti-vibration elastics that absorb anything before it reaches the occupant, effectively making it more comfortable, especially for longer journeys.

The interior of the X-Terrain has always been a purposeful one with an upmarket feel to it. This has been retained in the new model, in fact, the driving character too feels better than before though nothing has been done to the powertrain.

As before, a 3.0-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder diesel engine powers the X-Terrain, with drive sent to the wheels through a robust six-speed automatic transmission. Power is rated at 190PS and 450Nm of torque, which is lower than some of its competitors.

But what it loses in numbers, the truck makes up for with feel. On the move, the double wishbone suspension with coil springs handles the front of the car while the rear has the usual leaf springs with gas shock absorbers. Rather than hopping and skipping over road inundations, the suspension does a great job at soaking everything.

The interior too feels more refined than the previous model. It feels quieter at highway speeds, allowing occupants to have a conversation without raising their voices, even at well past the legal speed limit.

Safety and off-roading technologies have also been updated. The new X-Terrain features something called Rough Terrain mode that ensures the truck can get out of a difficult situation by itself.

In the previous model, the traction control system sent power to either the front or rear axles to manage grip and power delivery. The new mode allows power to be sent to individual wheels. So, in the event that three wheels are stuck, power can be sent to an individual wheel to dig itself out.

We tested out the system on the reclaimed land in Melaka where sand was soft and thick. The truck would simply beach itself when in two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive mode. But individual tyres could easily claw away at the sand and pull the two-tonne truck out when Rough Terrain mode was activated.

On the safety front, the new Isuzu has a feature called Rear Cross Traffic Brake. This is on top of the eight Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) the truck already had. This lets the truck brake automatically when reversing and the driver does not see an oncoming obstacle such as a car, motorcycle, or pedestrian.

It is common for manufacturers to introduce mid-life updates, or as we Malaysians like to call it, facelifts. But rarely is a facelift so extensive as we see with the new Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain. Facelifts are usually involve cosmetics upgrade, but this time we get a major design revamp as well as a technological update.

So, is the Isuzu the better buy now compared to the competition? At just under RM158,00, the new Isuzu is cheaper than the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and is similarly priced to the Hilux Rouge and Nissan Navara. But it offers more safety technologies, interior features and has a fresher design, so yes, it may be the new kid on the block, but it has all the latest tricks that the competition does not.

Engine: 3.0-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder, diesel
Power: 190PS @ 3600Nm
Torque: 450Nm @ 1600rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with sequential shift
Suspension: Independent double wishbone, coil springs and stabilisers with gas shock absorbers (front) / Semi-elliptical leaf springs with gas shock absorbers (rear)
Price: RM157,938.40 (As tested)

We like: New design, interior features, tough
We don’t like: Some interior parts feel hollow

When people talk about smart nowadays, they aren’t referring to the smart fortwo or the forfour, you know the one where in the movie Expendables, Arnold Schwarzenegger rips the door open and says “my shoe is bigger than this car.” Well because no one really remembers those cars because of the recent impact that smart has made in the Malaysian market with the smart #1. 

Designed by Mercedes, built on Geelys sustainable electric architecture and is under Pro Net, a subsidiary of Proton.  Just over a 100 days in the Malaysian market and the Smart #1 sold 100 units within a month which set a new sales record.  They have been offering the smart #1 in 3 variants, the Pro, Premium and top of the line Brabus. 

Pretty impressive. But they are not done yet. To extend their lineup, smart has introduced the new smart #3. We attended an exclusive preview event held at Proton’s headquarters in Subang Jaya. Spanning three days, the event provided attendees with an immersive experience, offering a firsthand look and driving impression of smart’s latest addition to its product portfolio: the all-electric smart #3 SUV Coupe.


Just like the #1, the #3 also comes in different specs and configurations, including the top-of-the-line Brabus version. The Premium variant gets a single motor driving the rear wheels which puts out 268hp and 343Nm of torque. It can go from 0-100km/h in 5.8 seconds, up to a top speed of 180km/h.

Meanwhile, the Smart #3 Brabus gets a twin motor setup putting out 422hp and 543Nm of torque. 0-100km/h takes just 3.7 seconds, up to a top speed of 180km/h.

These specifications are similar to the #1, therefore the power delivery seemed very identical. However, the #3 is a more mature version in the sense that the throttle response is slightly better and the pickup efficiency along with a new launch control system, allows it to hit the 3.7 seconds mark, compared to the #1’s 3.9 seconds. Due to this tuning, shooting out of corners is a little more satisfying.


The #3 has a front MacPherson and rear five-link suspension structure which translates to controllability and a more precise steering response which gives you a more flexible control of the car. The AWD version uses a thicker front and rear stabiliser bar which effectively reduces body roll and improves on the cornering limit. 

The slalom-like test made it seem like we were not even driving an SUV. It felt more refined due to the 5.5 minimum turning radius. This gives you more manoeuvrability control if you ever need to swing away from a real-life scenario.

Because the smart #3 is longer and wider than the #1, it was planted to the ground during corners at 100km/h. We felt confident and we just kept wanting more because, like we said, shooting out of corners is so much fun. 


This writer has a rather bigger build compared to the average human size so comfort plays a big role in every car. The #3 does not compromise on that. Yes, the #1 was comfortable too but in the #3, we felt a little bit more comfortable because of the wider stance. 

Drivers get plenty of legroom and for those who are sitting at the back, don’t worry because there is ample legroom for you too. We thought headroom would be an issue due to the coupe-like shape but we were wrong. There is plenty of space to move your head around which makes it easy to get in and out of the car. 

Just like the #1, the driver and front passenger get ventilated seats (Premium and Brabus) which adds to the comfort experience due to our “beautiful” Malaysian weather. 


The higher-spec variants support 22kW of AC Charging and up to 150kW for DC charging. The base “Pro” model only supports a slower 7kW of AC charging and DC charging up to 130kW. This gives us a  455km driving range for the Premium and 415km for the Brabus. With a 0.27 ultra-low drag coefficient thanks to aerodynamic optimisations, the #3 has a 15km driving range more than the #1.

Speaking of aerodynamics, the optimisations include aerodynamic rims, front and rear wheel wind deflectors, active air intake grille and wind blade air curtains.

The #3 is launching here soon and further details will be provided very soon.


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