A RECENT two-day road trip that visited culinary destinations and cultural sites in Central Luzon was one of the latest activities by which Volkswagen Philippines proposed its current range as the ideal “motoring lifestyle” vehicles for consumers.
Taken by the company on a tour — held on Aug. 20-22 — of Pampanga. Nueva Ecija and Bulacan were the Volkswagen Santana MPI M/T, Lavida 230 TSI DSG, and Tiguan 280 TSI DSG. The three models presently represent Volkswagen Philippines’ initial shift toward the German brand’s vehicles that are either built, designed or exclusively sold in China — a move that allows for cheaper model prices in the Philippines, which come partly as a result of lower tariffs and freight costs. The new models were introduced in the country in May.
Volkswagen Philippines said it seeks to make its latest models be “within reach of hardworking Filipinos.” This also explains the “Filipiniana” theme of the recent “lifestyle tour,” according to the company.
The culinary spots included in the tour were restaurants famous for their Filipino cuisine: Bale Dutung in Angeles, Pampanga; Hapag Vicentico’s in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija; and Bahay na Tisa Restaurant in Malolos, Bulacan. Sites visited for their cultural and historical significance were the Barasoain Church Historical Landmark and The Museo ng Republika ng 1899 in Malolos, Bulacan; the Philippine Rice Research Institute in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija; and the Pantabangan Lake, also in Nueva Ecija.
An equally important component of the tour were the routes taken from one destination to another as these were planned to highlight the vehicles’ capabilities — as well as how comfortable they could be on long trips. Cited in particular by Volkswagen as features that make the cars comfortable were their Climatronic air-conditioning, leather seats, and — in the Tiguan’s case — two-zone climate control, eight-speaker audio and 12-way powered adjustment for the driver’s seat.
The first day of the trip tackled Metro Manila streets, the northern expressways, and both the city roads and country lanes of Nueva Ecija. The next day’s drive traversed three mountain ranges — Sierra Madre, Caraballo and Cordillera. This, Volkswagen said, provided the “perfect setting [in which]… the power, stability and handling of the Santana, Lavida and Tiguan” could be sampled. The third day’s trip from Nueva Ecija to Bulacan and back to Quezon City — where the activity started — combined the varied types of roads tackled during the previous days. The tour covered more than 400 kilometers.
Presently the entry model in Volkswagen Philippines’ lineup is the Santana, powered by an 89-hp, 132-Nm 1.4-liter MPI gasoline engine that’s matched to a five-speed manual transmission. It is positioned to compete against entry-level models via a price tag starting at P686,000.
A rung up Volkswagen’s current sedan range is the Lavida 230, which comes with a 128-hp, 225-Nm 1.4-liter Turbocharged Stratified Injection (TSI) gasoline engine and a seven-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) transmission. Among the premium features of the Lavida are leather seats, automatic climate control, a sunroof, electronic differential lock and push-button ignition start/stop. The car is priced from P1.171 million.
The Tiguan 280 is a refreshed version of the previous-generation Tiguan that is now produced by Shanghai Volkswagen. It is equipped with a 147-hp, 250-Nm 1.4-liter TSI engine, a six-speed DSG, “Vienna” leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, an eight-speaker audio, and a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, among other features. It sells for P1.648 million. — Brian M. Afuang