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 20112013 2014, 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: BMW Z4 (2009-2016)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, January 2, 2017

Used Car Review - Suzuki Kizashi (2012-2016)

This recently discontinued vehicle will be reviewed for this week.

2012-2016 Suzuki Kizashi

Mention the word Suzuki and the things that may enter your mind are the following: motorcycles, little hatchbacks, mini SUV models, and that's it. Anything beyond the small size could be considered foreign for the brand but with this vehicle we are reviewing, it was a bold move except the execution failed.

The Daewoo Magnus based Suzuki Verona was the brand's first mid-size entrant sold in the ever crowded category for the US market but that venture only lasted from 2004 until 2006, citing poor sales for its short lived attempt. With some concept vehicles floating around 2007, the Suzuki Kizashi was first launched in 2009 in various world markets. Despite being a flagship model (kizashi, in Japanese, means a sign of things to come) and good reviews, consumers warmed to this model with production ended in December 2014 in Japan and no successor was introduced.

Our market had to wait for this vehicle to be made available until its April 2012 introduction locally. Being the most expensive offering during its time (the Grand Vitara's V6 models were dropped), sales were lukewarm and by November 2016, it was removed from its Philippine website.

Value and Costs
It's P1.288M price tag had it compete with both top of the line compacts such as the Corolla Altis 2.0 V and Lancer EX GT-A and base model mid-size sedans like the Sonata GLS during its time didn't help attain decent sales. Thanks to Suzuki's not-so-good depreciation record, you can attain one for less than P500,000 which is a bargain for a used car buyer like you who wants something sporty in a manageable size.

Maintaining one could be difficult especially that not much units were sold plus being a discontinued model and the brand's notoriety for expensive spare parts. If you are willing to take the plunge, then there exist surplus shops for Japanese models if you want plus some engine components are shared with the Grand Vitara if things get difficult. Not much complaints from owners are reported, if you are curious.

Exterior and Interior
At 4,650mm, the Kizashi competes in two different categories which makes it struggle in the first place. While compact in size, making it somewhat bloated does things in its favor especially it highlights its imposing front grille, bulky wheel arches, and large lights gives it a commanding presence.

Units that are painted black get a beige interior, those in white or silver have their's in black. Inside it feels premium, similar to models costing more and you get a host of amenities even some top end compacts lack such as side airbags, rear aircon vents, ambient foot wells, puddle lamps, among others. Five persons will fit inside comfortably, similar to a mid-size sedan which is a plus.

Unlike rivals which offer a multitude of engine options, units sold internationally only get one choice in the form of J24B 2.4 gasoline having 180hp at 6,000rpm and 230Nm at 4,000rpm. Mated to a continuously variable transmission, this one is a smooth performer with plenty of power on tap.

Driving Impressions
This compact/midsize sedan, depending on your point of view, is easy to drive thanks to a manageable size. Being a passenger will give you a stable and quiet ride thanks to the numerous insulators placed inside, a plus on this target market. Bet you don't know this: the ABS module is supplied by Akebono Brake Corporation, the one company who makes similar components for the bullet trains in Japan.

Although this car was a sign of the great things to come, it wasn't the sign Suzuki wanted. While the Kizashi is a niche car for those who want something sporty and luxurious at the same time, there are more practical options available unless you want to take the risk.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Car Features - The Pops and Flops of 2016

If 2015 was a huge year for the automotive industry, this year would be exciting times since more cars were sold and two major motor shows graced the country (despite the fact there are two automotive groups locally. With huge demand from consumers thanks to a growing economy plus the shift to Euro 4 emissions, lots of new cars were made available despite the transition of a new administration.

For this article, we would be looking towards new releases in the form of a new model, nameplate, engine upgrade, or some trim level and we would gauge if these were hits or misses. For this year, we would pick at least five per category and gauge how they were successful or not.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Car Features - Cars Canadians Can Buy That Filipinos Can't (And Vice Versa)

9.985 million square kilometers and a population of just 35 million people with a location just near North Pole, Canada has a lot of space but a few people. Since this used to be a British colony, you may expect that vehicle options are similar (it gained independence in 1867) to UK, but rather it has some similarities with USA although some models are present while some are not.

As mentioned above, vehicle brands are similar and some are assembled up there for export such as The Detroit Three and Toyota. We do get Canadian assembled vehicles for sale locally but they are the minority. No federal laws for safety or vehicle emissions, unlike their neighbors down south. And if you're wondering, Canada does not have any car manufacturer from France present despite French being a lingua franca there and was colonized back then.

Our series for today features a former British colony (and the fourth this month) whose vehicles are available there and the other way around.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Car Features - Cars Indians Can Buy That Filipinos Can't (And Vice Versa)

With 3.2 million square kilometers (including some outlying islands) and a population of 1.2 billion people, India makes an interesting market for most brands since the economy is booming plus people are graduating from their motorcycles and are now buying four wheeled vehicles. What used to be a closed and restricted market is now one of the major players in the world.

Although some manufacturers have to conquer the market (such as Kia and Mazda), a lot had made a dent in this large market. The Philippines has Tata and Mahindra and receives exports such as the Hyundai Eon and Suzuki Alto. Our road conditions are nearly the same, making it one of the huge similarities.

In this series, we shall see the vehicles sold in this former British colony. This list includes items from Mahindra, Tata, and Maruti Suzuki, whose cars are available here. We will not be listing vehicles that were used to be sold locally (India has a number of old models sold alongside its newer counterpart) here.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Car Features - Cars Australians Can Buy That Filipinos Can't (And Vice Versa)

Australia (the country, not the continent) has 7.7 million square kilometers worth of land which translates to thousands of kilometers of roads for them to drive their automobiles there. Their market is varied although three major players (Holden from General Motors, Ford, and Toyota) eat up the majority of the market. No more car manufacturing there as the above mentioned manufacturers had pulled out assembly plants there.

With a population of just 23 million people, let us discover the vehicle options their market has (and what we don't get in return). Since numerous brands are available, we would focus on mainstream brands which leaves out luxury brands in this list.

So, let us check the vehicles offered at the Land Down Under. To remind you again our rules: to qualify for the what we get (and don't get), we factored in their market requirements as well if the vehicle is available in either RHD (Australia) or LHD (Philippines) to make things fair. Also, some vehicles sold by Holden are available outside AU as an Opel or Buick which aren't available in the Philippines, so these do not count.