Monday, February 20, 2017

Car Features - January-September 2007 Car Sales Figures

Ten years ago, Friendster was the Facebook back then and customizing your wall was the in thing, emo bands such as My Chemical Romance and Paramore became popular, we had Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson as a love team, and the first iPhone was released. Ten years ago, the automotive scene was different with several models being at the top of their segments with some falling down. Some categories became popular among buyers while some are in decline and between 2007 and this year, a lot of brands enter the market.

For our first car feature this year, let us go back to 2007 and compare how the landscape had changed while we wait for the official figures. Do take note non-CAMPI members such as Mercedes Benz, Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep, Subaru, Jaguar/Land Rover, and Chery do not report their numbers so don't expect to see how they stack.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Used Car Review - Chevrolet Spark (2011-2016)

As this model is slated to be replaced by an all new generation, let us revisit this one.

2011-2016 Chevrolet Spark

Mention the words Korean car and the top two names that come to mind are Hyundai and Kia, then we do have the occasional oddball brands like Ssangyong and Renault Samsung on the minority side. On the other hand, do you remember the Daewoo brand whose offerings include the cheapo Racer sedan and the cute Matiz hatchback? Oh, the one that we had two decades ago whose distributor is based from Cebu and had ventured to Chrysler vehicles and to multicabs later on. While Daewoo passenger cars are now a part of GM Korea (and these were renamed to Chevrolets in their home country later on), their commercial vehicles division was purchased by Tata Motors of India while their bus division stayed on.

Based on the Beat displayed at the 2007 New York Auto Show which was displayed alongside the Trax (which became an actual production car) and Groove concepts, the third generation Spark won a poll by General Motors which gave a green light as a real production car. Production commenced in 2009 with deliveries started the following year in various world markets under numerous names. Before we leave this paragraph, this one made its debut as Skids in Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2007 which also featured in what would be the fifth generation Camaro, also known as Bumblebee.

One of the vehicles which brought back the Chevrolet name to life in the Philippines is this one, which replaced the ho-hum second generation model from 2006 to 2010. When it was first debuted in February 2011, the LT with a stick shift and a 1.2 engine is available with the LS having both transmissions and a 1.0 engine followed months later. A minor update occurred in May 2013 without any line-up changes.

Value and Costs
Priced below P600,000 during its run, the Spark had initial success but it dwindled due to the popularity of Japanese rivals as well as the Trailblazer later on. For those who want a city dweller without experiencing first owner depreciation, second hand units can be had between P200,000 to P400,000. Units purchased from April 2011 enjoy a five year warranty, so look for a vehicle sold from March 2012 to utilize this one.

Comparing to some rivals from Japan and Korea sold at the same time, this one could be somewhat pricier to maintain and parts aren't that much widespread, although the latter can be rectified if you look beyond the casa. Fuel consumption with the automatic isn't that good compared to the manual, so while you can, learn to drive stick if you really want this one or rivals can provide you better. Problem points for this car involve the auxiliary fan and the aircon, so keep an eye on those items.

Exterior and Interior
As we said earlier, its Beat concept car origins gave the car some character and flair (as opposed to some egg-like of the old model) and it will make your head turn. A bold move, to be honest, since it presented a new era the bow tie brand during its time. Another feature which was last seen in the Nissan Terrano of the 90s and copied by the Honda HR-V is the rear door handles situated at the pillar, making access by children difficult. LS models have black door handles and steel wheels while the LT has alloy wheels and body color door handles.

Going inside, you'll be treated to a roomy cabin with expanse spaces for your heads and legs. One feature which you may find it cool or tacky is the LED tachometer that is inspired from a motorcycle. Good thing that interior quality had improved, with the previous model having a cheap one which reflects its price.

Two Daewoo developed engines are in use for Philippine market models, with both of these coming from the STEC-II family. The 1.0 having 67hp at 6,400rpm and 90Nm at 4,800rpm and 1.2 with 81hp at 6,200rpm and 110Nm at 4,600rpm won't win you any awards but they're up to task. Going for the 1.0 will give you slow acceleration when paired to an automatic while the manual is decent. Our engine of choice is the 1.2, since it has enough grunt and is fun to drive (which we will delve later)

Driving Impressions
Thanks to a curb weight below a thousand kilos, this one is a fun partner especially that handling is a notch higher than rivals. Braking needs your constant attention as this one lacks ABS brakes, something that rivals sold today have as standard. Who says that going cheap you can't have fun?

While an improvement over its dowdy predecessor, the second generation does not standout the sub-compact crowd, maybe except for driving dynamics. The Celerio is fuel friendly, the Picanto has a high quality interior, and the i10 is the total package. If you're willing to live with some faults, then this is a good pick.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Used Car Review - BMW Z4 (2009-2016)

Ready yourself for summer with this car.

2009-2016 BMW Z4

We all know that BMW has a soft spot for SUVs and sedans with a touch of class while providing sports car handling, bet you don't know that the Munich based manufacturer had produced convertibles since the 1950s with the 507. Although it looked good, this 501 and 502 based vehicle proved to be expensive - despite its position to fill the gap between the cheap British convertibles from Triumph and MG and the top end Mercedes Benz 300SL - and after a run of 252 units built between 1956 to 1959, it was discontinued. The limited release Z1 was introduced in 1989 and only 8,000 were built but only in 1995 they got serious with the Z3.

Similar to its predecessors, the second generation Z4 (with chassis code E89) was first announced in December 2008 with sales started in May 2009. One notable change for this vehicle is it assembled in Bavaria, Germany and not in South Carolina, USA as it was the case of its older brothers, with the latter now exclusively building SUVs for worldwide consumption. Production ended in August 2016 with rumors of a replacement model jointly built by BMW and Toyota.

Alongside several new models such as the fifth generation 7 Series, the second generation Z4 arrived in Philippine shores in September 2009 in one variant, the sDrive 3.0.

Value and Costs
Brand new, you can get this one for six million pesos until a price drop in 2015 which slashed the price to P4,500,000. What used to be a rich kids plaything used during the weekends can be now yours for a price range between P2,400,000 to P3,500,000 bucks. As a rule for premium brands, checking out the certified pre-owned section is the wise move.

Do not compare this one with the likes of the Mazda MX-5, rather maintaining one is similar to its compatriots, the Mercedes Benz SLK Class and the Porsche Boxster, which is definitely on the higher side. For such a vehicle like the Z4, do inspect the electronic parts thoroughly and the top if its folds properly.

Exterior and Interior
Philippine market models have a hard top as standard, which was followed suit by several German rivals for our market. Remove the badge, its kidney grille gives an identity that it is distinctively BMW. Let us leave the design alone, which speaks for itself.

Inside, more space was given for the occupants and slightly for the folding top, which hogs trunk space when used. Another room for improvement is the interior quality, with better materials used than before.

Paired to an N52B30 3.0 inline six which produces 255hp at 6,600rpm and 310Nm at 2,600rpm, this one is a willing performer. It does not disappoint you and it gives you a smooth tone whether driving slow or full bore.

Driving Impressions
Just like all BMWs, this is one entertaining driver thanks to a communicative chassis with an exhaust note similar to muscle cars and a smooth engine, While fun to drive, it pales in comparison with the Porsche Boxster though.

An improvement over its predecessor, the second generation Z4 still doesn't stray from the core values of a BMW. What used to be expensive when brand new is now affordable and could be a potential classic.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of the Philippines for 2016

According to reports from Philippine Daily Inquirer and Autoindustriya, 366 days of 2016 we have seen nearly 400,000+ vehicles driven off dealer lots. Sure, we had transitioned to a new administration and two major motor shows occurred in a span of months, people were excited to buy more cars. Despite some news of additional taxes for cars this year (it has yet to be approved), let us look back.

Filipinos, these are the 30 best selling cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs you have purchased this year.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Car Features - Korean Branded Cars Not Sold in South Korea

Not as diverse as Japan's or China's, the Korean (we mean South Korea) car market is one of the largest. With some five or six homegrown brands accounting most of their market, most of their vehicles are sold worldwide. However, there are some Korean branded vehicles that are not sold in South Korea for certain reasons.

In this article, we shall discover Korean branded vehicles sold in the outside their country but not marketed in their home country. This covers brands such as Hyundai (and their Genesis sub-brand), Kia, Ssangyong, GM Korea, and Renault Samsung if such vehicles are covered.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Car Features - Best Selling Car Nameplates in the Philippines from 1995-2016

In 2016 alone, 452,751 cars were driven off dealer floors (means 1,237 cars per day are sold or 51 cars per hour) and this is an all time high for the Philippine market. This article sees new names and old timers beating their old records. This 21 year old data shows you the best sellers here.

Do take note that vehicle figures here are from the manufacturer itself and lists available information that are released, so other models that sold well but not reported will not be counted here.

See the records from 201120132014, and 2015.

Top 30 most successful nameplates in the Philippines from 1995-2016

Monday, January 16, 2017

Used Car Review - Volvo S80 (2007-2016)

Our second Swedish vehicle is under our spotlight today.

2007-2016 Volvo S80

After Ford's acquisition of Volvo in the late 90s, most Volvo models at the turn of the millennium had its platform shared by other vehicles from the American manufacturer and/or its sister brands. Prior to this, most vehicles from the Swedish brand are engineered independently with the exception of the S40/V40 compact whose underpinnings share with the Mitsubishi Carisma. With the first generation S80 being the first model utilizing the P2 platform (it was developed prior to the purchase of Ford) with a derivative used by Ford in certain models that is utilized until now.

Unveiled at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show with sales commencing a few months after, the second generation S80 featured new engines, an option for all wheel drive, and rides on a new platform which is shared with the Range Rover Evoque and the previous generation Ford Galaxy MPV. Just this year, it was replaced by the S90, a new vehicle but using a previous name.

Nearly 10 years ago, the second generation S80 was introduced to the Philippine market. Initially, three models were made available but later on it was trimmed to one model available.

Value and Costs
Nowadays, what used to be priced at the three to four million peso range can now be had at P1,200,000. Unlike the first generation model which a handful of units are available in the used car market, this one rarely pops up the classified block.

Since this one is a low volume seller among luxury brands coupled with a limited support among European brands, maintaining one isn't for everyone. Best head to Volvo's certified selection for peace of mind and while you're at it, be friends with a parts specialist to get support.

Exterior and Interior
Not anymore the Volvo that your grandfather used to know with conservative lines, this one is stylish at its best. It had grew longer and taller with its wheelbase more wide than the model it replaced.

Inside, it is your typical Swedish fare: simple and stylish yet does not feel outdated. Rear occupants receive sockets for headphones (the users can also choose their music) located at the base of the center console which needs for the users to bend down. Its multi media interface is decent enough but overshadowed by much complex systems afforded by the Germans. Good thing that interior space is roomy enough.

From 2007 until 2010, three engine choices are available for the consumer which includes the following: a 200hp 2.5 turbocharged five cylinder, a 238hp 3.2 inline six, and a 4.4 V8 producing 315hp that is developed by Yamaha. An update in 2011 had only one engine option in the form of a 240hp 2.0 turbocharged four cylinder. The turbocharged engines are fast enough but the naturally aspirated ones suit the vehicle well. Our pick is the turbos and skip the V8 since you wouldn't bother with it anyways.

Driving Impressions
Although comfortable to be inside, some noises may be heard at certain times. Handling is fine but definitely the Germans have the advantage on the handling department.

Although the S80 has some virtues, when compared to the the class leaders it simply becomes a second choice.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Car Features - 10 Commonly Repossessed Vehicles January 2017

We'd like to apologize if we have skipped December especially that we were busy during the holidays. For the first month of the year, we suppose that a lot of cars got repossessed (for the spirit of Christmas, these cars aren't taken) and let the previous owners enjoy before they get pulled. With numerous car launches (and an estimated 300,000 plus new cars sold last year), variety is expected on repo lots.

Do take note the list is accurate as of January 15, 2017. Sources include: PS Bank, Banco De Oro, RCBC Savings Bank, East West Bank, Unionbank, Maybank, BPI, and Security Bank.

See the top 10 of  the following months: October 2015November 2015, January 2016February 2016, March 2016, April 2016, May 2016, June 2016, July 2016August 2016, September 2016October 2016, and November 2016. Original 2014 article here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Used Car Review - Volvo XC90 (2003-2015)

This Swedish wonder is our used car for this week.

2003-2015 Volvo XC90

Throughout history, Volvo Cars never had an SUV on its stable especially on a line-up focused mostly on station wagons (raised ones with all wheel drive are their best sellers). In 1999, the Volvo Group sold their passenger car ventures to Ford in an effort to concentrate on commercial vehicles. Under the Blue Oval's helm, the Swedish brand gave birth to two Sport Utility Vehicles, one of which we will be reviewing this week.

Started life as the Adventure Concept Car previewed at the 2001 North American International Auto Show, the XC90 had its actual debut a year later and production started in August 2002. It was sold for 14 years straight with some minor updates, which means that its long life span had rivals introduce two or three generations of their models and had two owners throughout its selling life. Fast forward to 2015 in which a new generation model was introduced, this particular model is still produced in China as a low cost option with necessary tooling from Sweden being shipped.

August 2003 saw the local launch of the XC90 with a 2.5 turbocharged gasoline engine. Other engine options followed suit and like its worldwide approach, it enjoyed a long selling life with the second generation model being available just last year.

Value and Costs
Unlike its German counterparts, Volvo resale values are lower which will give you a better bargain while retaining a touch of class and luxury. With units costing you for as low as P600,000 to P1,000,000, rivals do cost more but this one has a lower price tag even when its new.

Since this vehicle is sold for more than 10 years, some reliability quirks may have been fixed towards the later models although it pays to check the car thoroughly. Best head to Volvo's Certified Pre-Owned selection for peace of mind and do check for these items: electronics, worn leather seats, noises on the all wheel drive system, and transmission if its abused.

Exterior and Interior
No-nonsense and plain is what this vehicle shouts outside. While retaining Volvo trademark cues such as the shoulder and vertical rear lights, this one hides the bulk well while having a clean design which is discreet.

Stylish when new but became outdated with the influx of newer competition, the smallish monitor and keypads that resemble Nokia phones of the time period is a dead giveaway of which the car is introduced. When it comes to interior space, the first two rows are roomy while the third row is tolerable for children but not as impractical as the X5's.

A multitude of engines are available throughout selling life, so do your research to see what powertrain suits your needs well. There exists three gasoline engines which includes a turbocharged 210hp 2.5 which has gobs of torque but struggles at weight, a 238hp 3.2 which is quick but thirsty for fuel, and a Yamaha developed 315hp 4.4 V8 that is very fast in both acceleration and fuel consumption. Our pick would be the D5 diesel which has more torque (reachable for as low as 2,000rpm) and is friendly to your pocket.

Driving Impressions
Sure, it may not be as engaging as the BMW but it does the job well without any drama. No thanks to its bulk, cornering will give you some leans and a heft. Besides, you're buying a Volvo for safety and styling, not for driving excitement.

Ahead of its class during its time, a used XC90 is one good buy if you take care of it. Its safety features may have trickled down towards some of the vehicles you are driving now for less the price and luxury levels are on par with the Germans without the hefty cost.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Car Profiles - BMW Z4 (2009-2016)

2009-2016 BMW Z4

The Good: Thrilling and handsome looking

The Bad: Puny engine, impractical

The Say: Enjoyable to drive that has some flaws.

Go For: sDrive 3.0i

Price Range: P2,400,000-P3,500,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - BMW Z4 (2009-2016)

See the different versions of this vehicle: