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Baguio revisited

I ADMIT there was a time when I dreaded driving up to Baguio City on a weekend, and it was simply because of the sheer traffic I had to endure on the way up there! I recall to have made it a point to drive up to the beautiful city only on weekdays — during off-peak hours — while secretly wishing I could just somehow teleport to Camp John Hay where I could enjoy crisp morning jogs with the forest bathed in fresh pine.

Movie on in the new normal

ONE of the first things that came to mind with the dawn of this pandemic, and as social distancing became the new standard, was the following thought: This is a perfect opportunity for drive-in movies to come back in style! True enough, car enthusiasts — specifically those in car clubs — apparently thought of the same thing and worked on their concepts to delightfully usher in the revival of drive-in movies in the Philippines.

A different Mazda MX-5 experience

THE EVER-CHARISMATIC MX-5 — often fondly referred to as the Mazda Miata by many — is quite a magical car. Historically, it revived the world’s passion for roadsters at a time when its kind was dying out. That is, thanks to the brilliant, Japanese-born Tom Matano aka “Father of the Miata,” who had the ingenious concept of creating an affordable, open-top roadster that brought people joy because of how fun it was to own and drive.

Reflecting on the GR Supra

THE ONGOING pandemic has clearly not held Toyota back in its pursuit to seed and support motorsport enthusiasm among drivers. By now, you would have already heard of Toyota Motor Asia Pacific’s very first virtual motorsport racing championship in Asia, the GR Supra GT Cup Asia 2020, which engages participants from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and, of course, the Philippines. Virtual racing has indeed become the next best thing for motorsports in this time of social distancing, and what better vehicle is there to enjoy e-driving than Toyota’s powerful, extremely well-balanced and agile sports car, the GR Supra?

Honda Cars PHL says ‘konnichiwa’ to all-new City, new CR-V

HONDA CARS Philippines, Inc. (HCPI), the country’s official importer and distributor of Honda automobiles, showed its enthusiasm regarding the country’s potential for an economic comeback with the twin launch of two of its most popular models in the country: the new Honda CR-V and fifth-generation Honda City.

Is Kia PHL on the verge of a Stonic boom?

LAST THURSDAY, Ayala Group-led Kia Philippines launched what it foresees to be one of its game-changing product offerings — its new, stylish and iconic Kia Stonic. The 2021 Stonic is a subcompact crossover that has won several design awards — such as the Red Dot Award — and promises to be easy to drive and maintain, making it an attractive option for first-time buyers.

‘Kampai’ to three decades of Honda Cars PHL

WHAT IS your fondest memory of Honda? Mine is from way back in the mid-’90s — when the sixth-generation Honda Civic was the biggest craze, and the rust-colored Honda SiR was my aspirational vehicle. Memories from that period never fail to bring me tons of nostalgia. I was a student then; and everything JDM (Japan domestic market) was associated with automotive coolness.

Mercedes-Benz GLA: Compact, utilitarian luxe

SUVS HAVE always been extremely popular in the Philippine automotive market and, as of late, we’ve been observing a tremendous upsurge of buyer interest in the subcompact crossover category. These “cuter” segment in-betweeners are cheaper to acquire, easier to park, and still manage to offer a lot of the conveniences that many motorists seek in SUVs. This customer interest is likewise reflected in the luxury segment, and Mercedes-Benz Philippines has promptly responded to this interest by completing its lineup of new SUVs with the recent launch of its second-generation GLA.

Peugeot dials ‘508’ on its 210th birthday

IT MAY HAVE opened shop in the Philippines much later than the other car brands, but do not let that fool you: Peugeot is one of the three oldest car brands in the world. This year, it’s celebrating its 210th anniversary!

Mazda PHL stretches free service plan from 3 to 5 years

THEY MAY be a (relatively) small and boutique-like car company when compared to the other Japanese car giants, but Mazda knows how to give big to its customers. The Hiroshima-born brand, which also happens to celebrate its 100th anniversary this 2020, has again brought joy to its clientele after recently announcing that it shall be upgrading its traditional “Yojin” three-year free preventive maintenance service to a longer five-year free service plan. Like the original Yojin, the new plan will still cover all the expenses of each periodic maintenance appointment that is usually held every six months, or at 10,000-km intervals — and yes, that already includes free oil replacement with a Shell-branded fully synthetic lubricant.

Maserati goes full throttle with the MC20

FIFTEEN YEARS since completing its 50-car, super-limited production of the MC12, Italian car maker Maserati unveiled its latest and most powerful supercar yet — the (Maserati Corse 2020) MC20. Made mostly out of carbon fiber and aluminum, and entirely developed by the Trident brand, the beauty wields a whopping 630 maximum horsepower and 730Nm of peak torque with its surprisingly high-tech twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, mated with a dual-clutch eight-speed transmission. Its astounding zero-to-100kph time is less than three seconds, and this feat is partially made possible by the fact that the vehicle’s monocoque chassis is made from carbon fiber — bringing its weight down to a jaw-dropping sub-1,500kg figure. It costs a fraction (only about a quarter) of the previous MC12, starting at about US$210,000. And it has those amazing butterfly doors, too. What’s not to like?

The ‘Volvo-lution’ of safety

WITHOUT ANY DOUBT, Scandinavian nameplate Volvo Cars has long been recognized as one of the global leaders in automotive safety. The car manufacturer has had a long history of major contributions to modern car safety technologies, with the three-point safety belt (invented by Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin back in 1959) being perhaps the most important invention in the history of automotive safety thus far.

BMW PHL plugs into electrification with 7 Series

EXCLAIMED SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp. (ACDC) Chairman Ramon Ang, “Maganda ang performance, matipid pa sa fuel, and grabe ang low-end torque (It performs well, is fuel-efficient, and has awesome low-end torque. Who would’ve thought that a four-cylinder engine could perform this way?” during an online press conference held right after BMW Philippines’ official, virtual launch of the 2020 BMW 7 Series in the country.

Meet Merc’s first 7-seater compact SUV

GERMAN luxury brand Mercedes-Benz recently launched in the Philippines its very first seven-seater in the compact car family, the stylish Mercedes Benz GLB Class. The GLB is the marque’s most versatile compact SUV yet, and is its eighth model featuring the Modular Front Architecture (MFA) — a midsize unibody automobile platform that the manufacturer uses in order to enable parts-sharing across a range of different products.

Ford PHL moves in new Territory

WE ALL remember that some years back, Ford found great success in creating a unique market space — for the mini utility vehicle — in the Asian automobile market, which is embodied by the Ford EcoSport.

Vaya con Vios

ALMOST any Filipino urban dweller will recognize the iconic Toyota Vios. That’s how popular this subcompact car is, and how important it has become in our country. Important enough, it turns out, to give us the privilege of being the first country to unveil its latest rendition.

Nissan Ariya sounds off a new high in mobility

LAST OCTOBER, I joined the Nissan press contingent in attending the 46th Tokyo Motor Show (2019 TMS) held at the Tokyo Big Sight in Japan. It was there that Nissan unveiled its Ariya electric crossover and IMk urban commuter concept cars, which are both icons of Nissan’s latest design direction called “Timeless Japanese Futurism.”

Isuzu Davao branch to rise with all-new ‘IOS’ design by 2021

ISUZU PHILIPPINES CORP. (IPC) held its first virtual groundbreaking event last Monday, as the renowned truck brand resumed the gradual implementation of the new Isuzu Outlet Standardization (IOS) on its dealerships throughout the country. This new design philosophy is centered on a more holistic approach toward creating an even more appealing dealership atmosphere that will cater to a more delightful overall customer experience and toward conducting smoother business operations. The new design is also meant to better communicate Isuzu’s corporate identity and its mantra of delivering only the most reliable, durable, robust and fuel-efficient vehicles. And the 11th to transition into this new Isuzu Outlet Standardization is the Isuzu Davao dealership along MacArthur Highway in Matina, which is owned and operated by SMDI (Southern Motors of Davao, Inc.).

Kia PHL more keenly addresses ‘new normal’ mobility needs

AMID the troublesome pandemic that continues to shake and challenge the Philippine economy, Kia Philippines still cites various opportunities for relative growth, plus identifies ways how the company could further contribute to reinvigorating the local economy and help ease the struggles of some Filipinos.

Relax and take a deep breath

LET ME go a bit against the grain here. Have you seen the Metro Manila skyline lately? It’s incredible. Frankly, I didn’t anticipate the day when I could look forward to opening my windows in Makati to welcome in some refreshing whiffs of crisp, clean air as flocks of birds occasionally fly by, or ever notice that it was actually possible for me to peer straight into the horizon of Manila Bay, while watching a beautiful sunset silhouette of a bunch of ships floating close to our harbor.

Recycling car batteries

A CAR BATTERY is an essential part of a working automobile. It converts chemical energy into electrical energy, and that in turn provides the zap to power the electronics and starter of your vehicle. And depending on your type of car battery and the actual usage, a car battery may remain useful anywhere from nine months to a few years.

Creeping and climbing through Vietnam in a Raptor

DID YOU know that Vietnam has massive sand dunes -- forming some sort of mini desert in colors of red and golden-white? They’re found in a place called Mui Ne -- a coastal fishing town in the south-central Binh Thuan province, only a few hours’ drive away from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). This place was completely out of my radar, but I am so happy to have visited it, thanks to Ford who organized a regional adventure drive to showcase the powerful features of the new, 2020 Ranger Raptor.

A spelunking good time Down Under

FOR SEVERAL MONTHS, Australia has been burning. The country-continent’s most recent fire season was completely devastating, and it was only last Feb. 13 that the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service declared that, after more than 240 days of active fire in NSW, now all of the fires in the state had been contained.

A hot car for the hottest place on earth

THERE’S a strange kind of beauty that one can admire in the barren expanse of Death Valley National Park. It is the largest national park in the USA’s lower 48 states -- offering beyond three million acres of protected wilderness, with some parts accessible via approximately 1,000 miles of road. Death Valley’s national park status was established on October 24, 1994, and the park’s borders run from California to Nevada. As the name alludes, this is a land of extremes -- the hottest, driest, and lowest national park there is.

A taste of Siquijor with Nissan

PRISTINE BEACHES, fiery sunsets, magical healers, and the hair-raising mystique of the mangkukulam (voodoo sorcerer). I’ve dreamt of going to Siquijor for the longest time. Access to this third-smallest island province of the country was never straightforward from the capital -- though I reckon that this remoteness has in fact, only added to its mysterious charm.

BMW to unveil new X1 and 1 Series in ‘Joyfest’

SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp. (SMCACDC), the official importer, distributor, and service provider of BMW automobiles and motorbikes in the country, announced last Wednesday that it will reveal the all-new 1 Series and face-lifted X1 during its “BMW Joyfest” sales event from Feb. 21 to 23 at the Activity Center of Bonifacio Global City. The 1 Series is set to showcase its most modern look, together with a completely new platform designed for ever more performance and versatility. Meanwhile, the latest X1 will flaunt a number of updated features to reinforce why it is a truly captivating Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV, BMW’s term for SUV).

A northern trek with the Kia Seltos

HAVE YOU already tried driving the Kia Seltos? It’s one of Kia’s latest products -- launched just last November, and the third of three new vehicles launched by the brand ever since its distributorship was acquired by Ayala-owned AC Industrials in early 2019. As a matter of fact, this month marks its first anniversary under Ayala management. Its latest contender for the subcompact crossover segment is, in my opinion, a strong one. There is much to discover and to love about the new Kia Seltos.

Escape to South Island

WHERE’S the farthest South you’ve ever been?

Through fire and ice in the Subaru Forester

IT’S HARD to find a country more intriguing than the so-called “land of fire and ice” -- a place born out of volcanic eruptions over millions of years, formed somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean and just barely skipping the Arctic Circle region.

Toyota goes green with all-new Corolla Altis

TOYOTA MOTOR PHILIPPINES (TMP) unveiled last week another game-changer -- a hybrid model of its longest-running model, the Corolla. The spectacular launch of the all-new Corolla Altis, held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, marks another milestone in TMP history as the model is the first in its local Toyota lineup to feature three of the brand’s latest technologies in one variant.

Universality of Design: The Mazda MX-5, according to Tom Matano

THE DAY before its global reveal, the fourth-generation MX-5’s chief designer, Masashi Nakayama was nervous. While he was confident that his design will be well-received by the public, it had to pass muster with who could be his biggest critic: Tsutomu “Tom” Matano.