Perodua Bezza

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It was caught earlier this week, and now it’s official – the Perodua Bezza has been given an update for the 2017 model year. The company’s first sedan has been given a few aesthetic tweaks for no extra outlay.

There’s just one exterior change – the rear bumper has been given a deeper skirt that better covers the underside of the car, a major source of complaints on the outgoing model. A diffuser-like cutout and a contrasting grey strip that runs across the width of the car breaks up the visual mass.

Inside, the Premium X and Advance variants get chrome platinum trim on the air-conditioning controls, while the Advance also gains new leather upholstery that does without the previous quilting.

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Apart from that, there are no changes, with the base Standard G continuing to come with 14-inch alloy wheels, a standard radio with a USB port, 60:40 split-folding rear seats, reverse sensors, power windows, dual airbags and ABS with EBD and brake assist.

Stepping up to the Premium X nets you front fog lights, side mirror indicators, chrome door handles, keyless entry, push-button start, a bootlid release button, an auto up/down driver’s side window with anti pinch, a 5V/2A USB charging port, adjustable rear headrests, Bluetooth and front parking sensors.

The top-spec Advance variant throws in two-tone turbine-design alloys, side skirts, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, power-folding door mirrors, automatic engine start/stop, a touchscreen infotainment system with Smart Link Android smartphone screen mirroring and a reverse camera. Stability control is also added, giving the car a five-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating, one up from the other trims.

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Mechanicals have also been left alone, so the Standard G retains the use of a 1KR-VE 1.0 litre VVT-i three-cylinder engine producing 67 hp and 91 Nm of torque, while the Premium X and Advance variants get a 1NR-VE 1.3 litre Dual VVT-i four-pot making 94 hp and 121 Nm. Buyers get a choice between a five-speed manual transmission and a four-speed automatic, with the Advance being auto-only.

As mentioned, prices are unchanged, so the Standard G is priced at RM37,300 for the manual and RM39,300 for the auto, and the Premium X retails at RM42,800 for the manual and RM44,800 for the auto; the Advance auto tops out at RM50,800. All prices are on-the-road inclusive of insurance and a five-year/150,000 km warranty.

PLUS RFID

PLUS RFID opens for public pilot in Penang and Kedah on December 15 – uses credit and debit cards

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It appears that Touch ‘n Go isn’t the only one in the RFID toll payment game, as PLUS has announced that it too is introducing such a system. The highway concessionaire will be opening a public pilot on December 15 at limited locations in Penang and Kedah.

The PLUS RFID system differs from the Touch ‘n Go’s in terms of the method of payment. While the latter uses the Touch ‘n Go eWallet that needs to be topped up, PLUS’ product is tied to the user’s debit or credit card (including American Express charge cards), and debits the toll charge straight from their account.

At the moment, the pilot will be conducted at four locations – the Penang Bridge toll plaza, the Kubang Semang and Lunas toll plazas on the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (BKE) and the Jitra toll plaza in Kedah. Users will be able to go through the same RFID lanes as Touch ‘n Go RFID users at these tolls, and PLUS has also confirmed that the Penang Bridge RFID lane will be exclusive to PLUS users for the time being.

The fitment centres are located at the Penang Bridge tolls and the PLUS Section N3 office in Kubang Semang. The company said that it will prioritise the use of windscreen stickers, as it believes this is the optimum location for the RFID system; headlight stickers will only be used as an alternative in case the former is unusable. The installation is said to take 15 minutes and is free of charge for pilot users.

PLUS RFID FAQ 2 by on Scribd

Proton Saga – Next gen

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With Proton soon debuting its first model developed in partnership with Geely – an SUV based on the Boyue – our attention to other fruits that will undoubtedly come from the pair’s labour. Looking at the current lineup, a replacement for the Saga might be next up – sure, the budget sedan was only launched in 2016, but it’s based on a platform that has been around in one form or another since 2005.

Our resident Photoshop wizard Theophilus Chin has rendered his idea of what a next-generation Saga will look like, and as you can see, his vision of the car has turned from a small, cheap sedan into a more sophisticated B-segment offering, more in line with what the Persona is like now. It certainly looks larger and appears to have a design that prioritises interior space, similar to the current Honda City and Toyota Vios.

Although it isn’t actually based on a current Geely model, it does borrow styling cues from the larger Emgrand GL, such as the sweptback headlights, pronounced front fender bulge, slim wraparound tail lights and dual exhaust exits. We know that future Proton models will be influenced by Geely’s designs, although they will retain a little bit of Malaysian flavour, and the car’s “winged grille” is a reminder of Proton’s past.

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What about the bits underneath? Well, Geely has already dropped hints that Proton will utilise the Chinese carmaker’s B-segment Modular Architecture (BMA), saying that it will be used by Geely’s foreign brands and that it will be built in Southeast Asia. It is designed to accommodate all the latest active safety technologies, future Level 2 and Level 3 autonomous driving and Geely’s latest petrol engines.

These include a 1.0 and 1.5 litre turbocharged and direct-injected three-cylinder engines as well as a 1.4 litre turbo four-pot, plus mild hybrid, parallel hybrid and plug-in hybrid technologies. So, what do you think of Theo’s latest work?