Audi, BMW, Cars, Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes beats Audi, BMW to be top luxe brand, again


While BMW may be the top dog in the US market, Mercedes-Benz remains as the best-selling luxury car brand in the world, beating BMW and Audi for the fourth consecutive year, Automotive News Europe reported. Mercedes-Benz recently announced its global sales grew 1.3% to 2.34 million vehicles, outselling BMW’s tally of 2.17 million cars (up 2%) in 2019, while Audi lagged behind at 1.85 million cars (up 1.8%).

The report stated that demand for upscale vehicles have shown to be more resilient than mainstream, mass-market cars, which has seen sales crimped in some regions due to slower economic growth, as well as fallout from trade disputes.

According to Mercedes-Benz, it posted record sales in Germany, China, and the US, thanks to strong reception for its SUVs and high-end sedans. Demand in China – the world’s largest auto market – rose by a staggering 6.2%, where local customers are buying the Maybach S-Class sedan at a rate of over 700 units a month.

China remains as Mercedes-Benz’s largest market, with sales of 693,443 units (6.2% increase, a new record year) driven largely by its compact car range and SUVs. In fact, every third Mercedes model sold is an SUV. The company maintains market leadership in the luxury segment in Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and South Africa.

As for BMW, it is targeting a slight increase in group sales for 2020, along with “solid sales growth” in China. European sales outlook are expected to be on par with 2019 due to a “deterioration in the economic environment,” although US sales are expected to go up marginally.

BMW sales boss Pieter Nota said in a statement: “Thanks to our large model offensive, we once again succeeded in increasing our sales to a new high in 2019. I am confident that we will continue on our successful course in the current year.” With sales of luxury vehicles and large SUVs picking up, BMW said it will double sales of its higher-end cars between 2018 and 2020, buoyed by the launch of the flagship X7 SUV last year.

Audi’s new sales chief, Hildegard Wortmann, said the automaker’s new product line-up should help it sustain positive sales momentum and win back ground lost to Mercedes-Benz and BMW over the past few years.

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Audi, BMW, Cars, Feature Stories, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Porsche, Volvo

2019 year in review and what’s to come in 2020 – tough year for Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but Volvo soars


Having looked at how the national carmakers and Japanese brands fared in 2019, we continue on the year that was with the premium brands. It was a mixed year for players in the segment, with most of the activity coming from the German marques, as expected. The usual duo led the way in with the introductions this year, but it was a bumper year for the four rings as well.

Things were however a whole lot quieter for many players, and although this will change in 2020 for some, it doesn’t look rosy for at least one.

A slew of Audis. Really?

The brand that has always played bridesmaid to the two other Germans made a real go of it this year, introducing no less than 10 models in 2019. Amazing, really, when you consider how quiet it has been in recent years, with only the occasional low-key introduction to signal that it was still around.

The action started in March with the debut of four vehicles, three of which were new. The Q7 received a specification update, but it was the Q2, Q5 and Q8 that made for the news, with their arrival significantly bumping up the Audi SUV count in the country at a go. The second-gen Q3, meanwhile, joined the party late in the year.

Sedans – and fastbacks – were not forgotten in the rare Audi blitz. April saw the introduction of the A3 Sedan, with the C8-generation A6 and D5 A8L entering the showrooms in June before making their working debut in August. Elsewhere, the second-gen F5 A5 Sportback and the C8 A7 Sportback went on preview for a bit before they made they were officially launched.

That’s quite a haul from Ingolstadt. Whether Euromobil continues to play aggressive in 2020 remains to be seen, but Audi fans surely won’t complain if it does. In terms of what’s coming, the facelifted B9 A4 should be one of the highlights next year.

Monthly debuts from BMW

BMW Malaysia started out their campaign in January with two M Performance Editions, which essentially signed out the F30 330e and F15 X5 xDrive40e, and these were each limited to 300 units. Next up, the G20 3 Series, which arrived as a CBU 330i in March, and its debut also saw a full catalogue of M Performance parts being introduced.

The same month saw the debut of the G15 8 Series, and a month later, to show that the G30 5 Series wasn’t forgotten, the company brought the 520i Luxury and 530e M Sport variants into the market. The all-electric i3s was also launched in April, but final pricing was only announced in August.

In May, the G02 X4 M Sport went the CKD route (pricing revealed in June), and the G05 X5 and F39 X2 M35i went on preview, ahead of their official pricing being announced in July. The F87 M2 Competition was next up to bat in June, making its debut in Sepang, and this was followed by the X7 SUV in July.

The month also saw the G29 Z4 sDrive 30i and facelifted G12 7 Series being announced, the latter continuing on with a 740Le xDrive badge designation. In September, another variant was added to the G01 X3 range in the form of an xDrive30i M Sport model, and the G20 3 Series went the CKD route, retaining the 330i variant.

Models to look forward to in 2020 are likely to include the F40 1 Series, the F48 X1 facelift, G06 X6 and Munich’s answer to the CLA, the F44 2 Series Gran Coupe. The G20 3 Series range will also expand with the upcoming 320i, although there’s still no word on when the 330e plug-in hybrid will arrive, or whether it is even coming. Guess we’ll know in 2020.

Lexus rolls on, while Infiniti stalls

It wasn’t until June that Lexus Malaysia got into the swing of things with the refreshed NX 300, in three variant forms (Urban, Premium and F Sport). The facelift has been around since 2018, but the latest update adds on kit such as Lexus Safety System + while lowering prices.

The seventh-generation ES sedan made its debut as an ES 250 model in September, in two trim levels, Premium and Luxury. The same month saw the RX facelift making its way to Malaysia, with the RX 300 going on sale in Premium, Luxury and F Sport guise.

The coming year will see the introduction of the UX, which was first seen here in 2018 when it was previewed at KLIMS. At that point Lexus Malaysia said there were no plans to bring it in, but it looks like that has changed, and the SUV is slated for our market.

No cheer however for its fellow automaker Infiniti. With the brand languishing globally and in the midst of a restructuring (which will see it exit Europe completely and focus on the United States and China), it’s no surprise that the turnout of new models this year locally was zilch. The brand remains in the country, but with the KL showroom having closed (operations have been moved back to Edaran Tan Chong Motor premises), one wonders how long before the carmaker calls it quits in Malaysia.

The tristar juggernaut chugs along

As 2019 draws to a close, and unless something dramatic takes place in the sales charts, it looks like Mercedes-Benz Malaysia will still hold on to its best-seller title for another year, edging out BMW once more. However, this year won’t be like 2018, because the overall numbers are down for both – up to November, MAA figures reveal that Mercedes sales are down by 24% and BMW, down by 19.6%, year-on-year.

It hasn’t been for a lack of trying or products, with the introduction of new cards at every opportunity continuing to be very much the game plan. The ball started rolling with the introduction of the W213 E350, equipped with the automaker’s new M264 engine, in March. The E200 Sportstyle and E300 Exclusive, bearing new engines and kit, were also launched at that point. The same month also saw the pre-facelift C253 GLC 300 making its debut.

Next to arrive was the V177 A-Class Sedan in A200 and A250 forms. This was followed by the Mercedes-AMG C63S Sedan and Coupe facelifts, along with the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, which went on sale here in GT 43, GT 53 and GT 63S 4Matic+ forms. Then, the W222 S 560 e PHEV came along in June at the same evebt that gave the all-electric EQC its ASEAN debut.

The AMG A35 Sedan was introduced in September, and October was a busy month for the brand, with the W247 B-Class, C190 Mercedes-AMG GT R and GT C facelifts and X156 GLA 200 Style being introduced to the market. Rounding off the new product list for 2019 was the X253 GLC and C253 GLC Coupe facelifts, which were launched earlier this month. The refreshed SUVs also debuted Mercedes me connect, which will make its way on to upcoming models.

Expect no let-up in the introductions in 2020. Among these will be the second-gen C118 CLA, H247 GLA, X247 GLB, C167 GLE Coupe and the W213 E-Class facelift. The EQC is also slated to arrive in 2020.

MINI adventures continue

The brand’s first product introduction this year was the F60 Cooper S Countryman Pure in April. This was followed by the F57 Cooper S Convertible in July. The latter was a small scale outing, with a run limited to only 20 units.

Nothing like a commemorative edition to evoke nostalgia (and add to sales), and that was certainly the case when the 60 Years Edition popped up in August. The model is a 60-unit limited-edition offering based on the Cooper S 3 Door hatch.

Elsewhere, the F54 Clubman facelift premiered in November, going on sale here in sole Cooper S form. The John Cooper Works Clubman and Countryman were also unveiled at the same time. The next year should see the MINI Electric among the new introductions heading to our shores.

Short but Swede

There were only two new Volvos coming our way this year, and both arrived towards the tail-end of it, but despite this the Swedish brand has been gaining traction – up to November, it sold 1,691 cars, 32% up from the 1,279 units it had achieved by the same time last year. Doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that the German brands will sell less this year than in 2018, it’s a big plus on the brand’s report card.

The much-awaited third-generation S60 finally made its way here in October, going on sale in solitary T8 R-Design guise. While initial units are fully imported (CBU), local assembly is set to start later on, with no changes expected in the specifications when CKD production begins.

The XC90 facelift was the other, the refresh bringing about minor design tweaks, new kit and a bigger battery for the T8 Twin Engine, which increases the pure electric driving range, all accomplished without raising the price from before. The brand also introduced a leather dashboard for the T8 versions of the S90, XC60 and pre-facelift XC90 in August.

No new cats, nothing roving on the ground either

With no new product introductions in the past 12 months, Jaguar Land Rover Malaysia continued to sell what it had in 2019, but there should be a fair bit of activity next year. On the Jaguar front, while the I-Pace has been teased on the local website, it surely won’t be the next in.

That honour should go to the E-Pace – the SUV, first seen locally at our PACE 2018 event, was sighted in the country earlier this month, so it shouldn’t be long before it finally makes its long-awaited local debut. It will be joined by the second-gen Range Rover Evoque, which was previewed at PACE 2019, and was spotted this month undergoing vehicle type approval (VTA).

As for the new Land Rover Defender, don’t hold your breath too long waiting for it to show up that fast – any sign of it will likely be well into the second half of the year at the earliest, given that Australia only gets it in June. High right-hand drive demand might also delay timelines.

Taycan get it out fast enough

No shortage of ground activities – and customer engagement – in Sepang this year for Porsche, but in terms of product launches things were rather on the quiet side. The biggest bang was the introduction of the 992-generation 911 in July, the eighth-gen making its local debut in Carrera S and 4S guise.

Two versions of the Macan facelift were also introduced, the base 2.0 litre in June and the Macan S in August. Earlier in the year, Sime Darby Auto Performance revealed a 15-unit, limited-run 718 Cayman SportDesign edition for the Malaysian market.

Models due next year should include the Cayenne Coupe, but all eyes are of course on the new all-electric Taycan. We do know its set to arrive in 2020, but now we know around when – it’s due in around eight months. According to the folks at Porsche Asia Pacific, the first examples for Malaysia are due sometime in August, and we’ll be getting the Turbo and Turbo S first, well ahead of the entry-level 4S.

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Audi, Cars, International News

GALLERY: 2020 Audi RS6 Avant – the beast in detail


The Audi RS6 Avant is in many ways an aspirational car for car guys. Some like its looks well enough to warrant wanting one, others for its blistering pace, or in most cases, both. Whichever camp you’re in, the RS6 has a sizeable fanbase, and the latest generation performance wagon aims to keep the fire burning.

The star of the show here rests under the bonnet, that being a 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 that produces a whopping 600 PS at 6,000 to 6,250 rpm and 800 Nm of torque from 2,050 to 4,500 rpm. An eight-speed tiptronic automatic channels power to all four wheels via the automaker’s famous quattro AWD system, propelling the wagon from zero to 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, and zero to 200 km/h in 12 seconds.

Naturally, top speed is electronically capped at 250 km/h, but can be raised to 280 km/h with the dynamic package, and 305 km/h with the dynamic plus package. As before, two twin-scroll turbochargers are employed, but their diameters are up by three millimetres, and each turbo supplies up to 1.4 bar of boost (0.2 bar more than before). The compression ratio is 10.1:1.

When not driven hard, drivers get to reap the benefits of the integrated 48 volt mild-hybrid system. At the heart of it is a belt alternator starter which recoups up to 12 kW of power under gentle acceleration, channeling it into a lithium-ion battery as energy. This also facilitates the engine start-stop technology, which Audi says is virtually undetectable by the driver and passengers.

Depending on the selected drive mode and driving behaviour, engine coasting (up to 40 seconds with the engine completely shut off) or cylinder deactivation will kick into play, further saving more fuel. The claimed fuel consumption figure is between 11.7 to 11.5 litres per 100 km, whereas average CO2 emissions is 268 to 263 grammes per km.

For suspension, it gets RS adaptive air suspension with controlled damping as standard. It features a new air spring module with a 50% stiffer spring rate (with the dynamic plus package), and includes automatic levelling control. The electronic chassis platform (ECP) is standard as well, and the air suspension also includes automatic level control.

If that’s not enough, you can upgrade to the RS sport suspension plus with Dynamic Ride Control. This, Audi says, improves the RS6 Avant’s handling, and it’s thanks to the three-way adjustable dampers that counteract pitch and roll. No electronics are used here. Instead, each damper is connected to a central valve via two separate oil lines, providing the exact compensating volume via internal pistons.

To ensure daily drivability, the RS6 Avant gets a progressive steering with specially designed gear rack which varies the turning ratio (from 12.6:1 to 15.8:1). Steering weight also varies, with variable assistance level depending on the selected drive mode.

Other visual niceties include the sporty RS interior and exterior treatment. The latter gets huge 21-inch cast aluminium wheels shod with 275/35 sized tyres as standard, but RS-specific 22-inch five-spoke wheels with 285/30 profiled rubbers can be had as an option. Standard discs measure in at 420 mm up front and 370 mm at the back, but the optional RS ceramic brake kit gets beefier 440 mm units for the front axle.

Inside, it’s pretty much the same story as the new A6, but comes with RS-specific design touches, equipment, and graphics. For example, the steering wheel, gear lever gaiter and knee pads are wrapped in Alcantara with contrast stitching (available in red or grey), while the seat belts get coloured edges, and RS floor mats are standard.

The ambient lighting system boasts up to 30 different colours, and the seat belt buckles themselves illuminate in the dark. A number of RS and RS6 badges are littered throughout the cabin, and as usual, the interior can be further customised to the owner’s liking. There is also number of exterior colours to choose from, including the RS-specific Nardo Grey and Sebring Black pearl.

Lastly, the RS6 Avant features over 30 driver assistance systems, such as adaptive cruise assist (which gains lane-tracking function on top of adaptive cruise control, works up to 250 km/h), emergency assist, 360-degree cross-traffic alert (with vehicle, pedestrian, and cyclist detection), exit warning, lane change warning, and more. So, whose dream car is this?

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Audi, Cars, International News

2020 Audi RS Q8 – beastly 4.0L V8; 600 PS, 800 Nm!


This is it, the crème de la crème of Audi SUVs. Meet the first ever Audi RS Q8 – Audi says the RS Q8 is its first SUV to break the four-second barrier in the 0-100 km/h sprint, and it’s all thanks to the 4.0 litre bi-turbo V8 petrol engine, tuned to dish out a brutal 600 PS and 800 Nm of torque.

Those figures are only 50 PS and 50 Nm shy of the Lamborghini Urus‘ output, although the move may be a deliberate one so as to not outshine the Sant’Agata beast. No matter, because the RS Q8 is no slouch by any standards. Power is routed to all four wheels (quattro) through an eight-speed conventional automatic gearbox. The 0-100 km/h sprint time is done in 3.8 seconds, and 0-200 km/h in 13.7 seconds (3.6 seconds and 12.8 seconds respectively for the Urus). Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h.

As with the other RS stablemates, the V8 engine here is augmented with a 48 volt mild-hybrid system which features a belt alternator-starter that’s connected to the crankshaft. This helps recover up to 12 kW of power during deceleration and braking, storing the energy in a compact lithium-ion battery. The system also enables coasting for up to 40 seconds with the engine shut off, which helps reduce fuel consumption by up to 0.8 kilometres per 100 km in everyday driving.

To further improve fuel efficiency, the engine features Audi’s cylinder on demand (COD) system. At low engine loads, cylinders 2, 3, 5 and 8 are shut off, essentially turning it into a four-cylinder engine. When required, the “dormant” cylinders are reactivated immediately and virtually imperceptibly when the driver presses the accelerator.

A mechanical centre locking differential splits drive to a 40:60 ratio, so in most situations the RS Q8 is rear-biased. However, when slip is detected, up to 70% of power can be directed to the front wheels, and up to 85% to the rear wheels. A quattro sport differential is also fitted as standard, distributing torque (active torque vectoring) between the two rear wheels when required.

The raging SUV gets RS-specific adaptive air suspension sport with controlled dampers as standard, which raises or lowers ride height by up to 90 mm. All-wheel steering is also standard. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn by up to five degrees in the direction opposing the front, improving manoeuvrability and turning radius. At higher speeds, the rear wheels turn up to 1.5 degrees in the same direction as the front wheels, which virtually “shortens” the wheelbase for better stability during fast lane changes. An electromechanical active roll stabilisation system, which minimises body roll during fast cornering, is optional.

Drivers get to call on eight drive modes: comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, allroad, off-road, and the customisable RS1 and RS2 modes. The last two modes can be quickly accessed through the RS-Mode button on the steering wheel. Of course, each drive mode alters engine and transmission mapping, as well as steering boost, dampers, engine sound, and even the characteristic of the climate control.

Now, for design, it gets RS-specific kit such as the gloss black Singleframe grille with honeycomb insert, aggressive front bumper with massive side intakes and integrated lower lip, tinted Matrix LED headlights, RS rear spoiler (functional, adds downforce), rear skirting with diffuser clip, and the hallmark RS twin oval tailpipes. Nine exterior colours are offered, including this gorgeous Java Green metallic.

It sits on huge 22-inch aluminium wheels in a 10-spoke fashion, shod with 295/40 profile tyres – the largest ever factory-installed tyres on an Audi production model. If that’s not big enough for you, there’s a 23-inch cast aluminium Y-spoke wheels finished in diamond-turned anthracite black. Stopping power comes from internally vented composite discs (420 mm up front, 370 mm at the rear), clamped by 10-inch piston calipers that can be painted red if you so desire.

Inside, things are as practical as the standard Q8, but far more sporty-looking. The headlining is black Alcantara, and the centre console gets a new Aluminum Spectrum trim. The Audi virtual cockpit gets a special RS display, offering info such as tyre pressure, temperature, lap times, and g-forces. A shift light display helps with upshifting, and a head-up display also comes with RS-specific graphics.

The RS sport seats are wrapped in luxurious Valcona leather with honeycomb pattern, and they come with RS embossment as standard. Opt for the RS design package and you’ll get red or grey contrast stitching on the knee pads, steering wheel rim, floor mats, shift knob, and seat belt edges. Lastly, the RS Q8 comes with over 30 driver assist systems such as adaptive cruise assist, efficiency assist, intersection assist, lane change warning and 360 degree surround view camera. So, what do you think? Hot, or not?

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Audi, Cars, EVs and Alternative Fuel, Hybrids, International News

2020 Audi e-tron Sportback – sleek SUV coupe debuts with 355 hp, 561 Nm; 0-100 km/h in 6.6s, 446 km range


The production version of the Audi e-tron Sportback has finally been unveiled. It’s the automaker’s second full electric e-tron model after the original, and as implied in the name, the e-tron Sportback features a coupe-esque appearance, much like what the Q3 Sportback is to the regular Q3.

First, let’s get the juicy bits out of the way. The range-topping e-tron Sportback 55 quattro variant is powered by two electric motors to produce a combined output of 355 hp (265 kW) and 561 Nm of torque, figures that are identical to the standard e-tron 55 quattro. The 0-100 km/h sprint is done in 6.6 seconds, but a boost mode temporarily increases output to 402 hp (300 kW) and 664 Nm. This drops the century sprint time to 5.7 seconds.

Integrated into the floor of the car is a 95 kWh lithium-ion battery, of which 83.6 kWh is usable, Audi claims. The battery operates at a rated voltage of 396 volts, and can support DC fast charging of up to 150 kW. When plugged in, the automaker says the battery reaches up to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes, and a full charge provides a driving range of 446 km based on WLTP standards.

There is also the e-tron Sportback 50 quattro that’s fitted with a smaller 71 kWh lithium-ion battery. Here, the total system output is 312 PS (230 kW) and 540 Nm of torque, enabling a 0-100 km/h time of 6.8 seconds and offers a total driving range of 347 km. Top speed is 190 km/h. The charging threshold for the 50 quattro is 120 kW through a DC fast charging outlet, but Audi says the battery can also be charged up to 80% capacity in 30 minutes.

For AC charging, the supplied Type 2 CCS cable can be plugged into an 11 kW AC outlet, but this can be increased to 22 kW with an optional onboard charging device. The latter, however, will only be available in mid 2020. Charging through a domestic socket is also possible, and this uses a simple 230 volt connection with an output of up to 11 kW. A full charge takes about 8.5 hours.

Like any electrified car, braking helps recharge the battery – Audi says 30% of the car’s total driving range can be recouped via braking. Stopping power is provided either by the electric motor or electrohydraulic wheel brakes, and Audi says the transition between both systems is homogenous and unnoticeable, all while offering a constant braking force.

Onto design. The e-tron Sportback measures 4,901 mm long, 1,935 mm wide, 1,616 mm tall, and has a wheelbase of 2,929 mm. Interestingly, those dimensions are identical to the standard e-tron, but the Sportback cuts through air more efficiently with a drag coefficient of 0.25 (versus the e-tron’s 0.27 Cd).

Like the e-tron, the Sportback gets a short Singleframe grille that’s almost fully enclosed, and the SUV features the world’s first digital matrix LED (DML) headlights. The system uses ultra-high-resolution laser projectors, each with more than 1.3 million pixels to precisely illuminate the road ahead without dazzling oncoming cars. DML also enables graphic-verbal communication by projecting characters or numbers onto the road. Pretty fancy stuff, this, but it’ll only be available in mid 2020.

Next, there’s a total of 13 colours to choose from, including the Plasma Blue metallic that’s unique to the e-tron Sportback. The charging cap is finished in orange, which can also be applied to the brake calipers upon request. Contrasting elements include wheel arch trims and sills that are finished in matte anthracite, whereas the diffuser, door sills and underbody cover are painted in black.

Opt for the S line package and you’ll get huge 20-inch wheels (upgradable to 22-inch items) and sport air suspension. It also comes with a more aerodynamic front bumper with air curtains, and the matte anthracite panels are given a body colour finish instead. For a sportier look, one can choose the black styling package, which sees items such as the grille surrounds, window surrounds, and side mirror caps painted black. Virtual side mirrors are optional, by the way.

Inside, it’s pretty much the same as the e-tron SUV, with a dual-touchscreen setup (upper unit measures 12.1 inches diagonally, the bottom unit is 8.6 inches) that includes the MMI touch response infotainment system. The centre stack remains angled towards the driver, too. Also standard is the 12.3-inch Audi virtual cockpit. MMI Navigation plus and Audi connect are optional.

There is a slight degree of customisation here. Customers can choose between the standard seat design, sport seats, S sport seats, or special contoured seats with ventilation and massage functions. Depending on your choice, the stitching pattern varies, one of which is reminiscent of electric circuits, Audi says. The Bang & Olufsen Premium 3D Sound System is optional, too.

Lastly, safety. The e-tron Sportback comes with Audi pre sense basic and Audi pre sense front safety as standard, but this can be upgraded to Audi pre sense 360 which gets all-round AEB functions and the tensioning of seat belts. Depending on the selected safety package, the SUV can be kitted with up to five radar sensors, five cameras, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. Pricing for the e-tron Sportback starts from 71,350 euros (RM329k) in Europe, and the SUV will be built at Audi’s CO2-neutral manufacturing facility in Brussels.

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IIHS Testing Finds Pedestrian Detection Systems Vary Widely in Crash Protection | News from Cars.com



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IIHS pedestrian crash system testing

IIHS images

Pedestrian crash-prevention systems with automatic braking on 16 mid-size cars vary widely in their ability to detect and avoid hitting people in the street, according to the latest round of testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Related: Which SUVs Have the Best Pedestrian Detection Systems?

But results overall were fairly positive. Four luxury and two mainstream mid-size cars and wagons got the top rating, called superior (out of superior, advanced, basic or none), for pedestrian crash prevention. Another six cars rated a notch lower, at advanced. Four non-luxury cars, however, earned only a basic rating or got no credit at all. Here are the 16 (some have two scores because they offer both standard and optional systems):

Vehicles Rated Superior

  • 2019 Audi A4 (standard system)
  • 2019-20 BMW 3 Series (standard)
  • 2020 Subaru Outback (standard)
  • 2019-20 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (optional upgraded system)
  • 2019-20 Nissan Maxima (optional for 2019, standard for 2020)
  • 2019 Volvo S60 (standard)

Vehicles Rated Advanced

  • 2019-20 BMW 3 Series (optional upgraded system — yes, worse than the base system)
  • 2019-20 Honda Accord (standard)
  • 2019-20 Lexus ES 350 (standard)
  • 2019 Mazda 6 (standard)
  • 2019-20 Nissan Altima (optional)
  • 2019-20 Tesla Model 3 (standard)
  • 2019-20 Toyota Camry (standard)

Vehicles Rated Basic

  • 2019-20 Chevrolet Malibu (optional camera-only system)
  • 2019-20 Chevrolet Malibu (optional camera and radar system)
  • 2019-20 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (standard system)

No Credit

  • 2019-20 Ford Fusion (standard system)
  • 2019 Hyundai Sonata (optional)
  • 2019 Kia Optima (optional)

More Cars Have Pedestrian Systems Standard

IIHS is ramping up testing of pedestrian protection, having earlier tested a batch of SUVs. The vast majority of automakers have agreed to make automatic emergency braking standard by 2022, and they’re increasingly upgrading such systems to detect and automatically brake for pedestrians, not just other vehicles. According to IIHS, about two-thirds of front crash systems offered on 2019 model-year vehicles have pedestrian detection. In many cases, these systems now are standard.

“Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, so it’s encouraging that pedestrian crash prevention systems are standard equipment in 12 out of the 16 mid-size cars we tested, including five out of six superior-rated systems,” said IIHS President David Harkey in a statement. The agency will factor pedestrian detection into its overall testing for Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus awards beginning with the 2020 model year, spokesman Russ Rader has told Cars.com. It began testing pedestrian detection in February.

Halloween Is Scariest Day for Pedestrians

IIHS notes that its latest results come just ahead of Halloween, which is consistently the deadliest day for U.S. pedestrians. That’s thanks in part to trick-or-treaters and, we suspect, increasingly partying adults in awkward costumes. IIHS claims that from 2013 to 2017, the two deadliest days for pedestrians on average were Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 (after midnight on Halloween). Citing its own study of federal crash data, IIHS notes that annual pedestrian fatalities had increased markedly since a 2009 low. More than 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2018, up 53 percent since 2009, according to the agency.

How Cars Were Tested

Most frontal crash systems use one or two cameras, in some cases augmented by radar sensors, to look for objects ahead. Vehicle software now can detect pedestrians as well as vehicles, and in some cases identify bicycles or animals. If a collision is imminent, the system alerts the driver and can hit the brakes to prevent or mitigate a crash.

IIHS tests three scenarios with dummies: an adult stepping into the street ahead of a vehicle with an unobstructed view, a child darting into the street from behind two parked cars, and an adult pedestrian near the side of the road facing away from traffic. The first two tests are done at 12 and 25 mph; the pedestrian near the side of the road is tested at 25 and 37 mph. In each test, the system has 1 or 2 seconds to stop the car to avoid the pedestrian. The tests are done in daylight on dry pavement. IIHS notes that such systems might not perform as well at night, but it says a vehicle with lights rated well in the agency’s headlight evaluations should be able to spot pedestrians.

The six superior-rated vehicles slowed dramatically in IIHS tests, in most cases avoiding the dummy or greatly reducing the risk of severe injury. Notably, the mainstream Nissan Maxima’s system avoided the pedestrian in all tests. Advanced-rated systems also achieved major speed reductions, though less consistently. The basic-rated systems failed to do so in one or more tests, while those that earn no credit failed in multiple scenarios. For example, the Ford Fusion, which got no credit, didn’t slow down at all for the simulated child darting into the street and slowed only slightly for the adult stepping into the street.

“The child dashing out from behind parked cars is a very challenging test,” said Harkey. “But it’s fitting that it was one of the main things that separated the top systems from the rest of the pack, since that is certainly a frightening scenario on Halloween or any day.”

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Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.




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