Monday, March 27, 2017

Car Features - First Versions of Car Manufacturer Sites in the Philippines

On March 29, 1994, that was the first time the Philippines was connected to the world wide web. Throughout the years, from dial-up connection (just pray that no one would be calling) to DSL services to mobile data, the internet had became a part of the Philippine landscape on every aspect and it has extended to the automotive industry.

Car manufacturers used the internet as a tool on reaching potential customers as well as to promote their products. Apart from the manufacturers, car related services (from new and used cars to automobile accessories) have been using the internet as well as portals such as Top Gear Philippines and Autoindustriya. Nowadays, if you can't afford to buy yourself a domain, you can use the services of OLX and Facebook for a nominal fee.

So lets go back memory lane by visiting the first versions of car manufacturer site locally. Tracking them can be possible by accessing Wayback Machine by entering the url and choose the specific date you want to visit. Do take note not all manufacturers will be posted here, just the ones that we can retrieve. Please be reminded that since these are archived pages, not all features and photos would be available.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chevrolet Spark - Generation 3.2 (2013-2016)

CHEVROLET SPARK (2013-2016)

An update for 2013 gave the Spark some nips outside and inside. No changes were done when it comes to the engine and equipment.

See the overview of this Spark
See the Generation 3.1 model
See the latest model of the Spark


Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of Thailand for 2016

Technically, the Thai market is the largest in the ASEAN region in terms of manufacturing and before, sales. However, after the worst floods that hit the country in 2011, the following year had seen a first time buyer scheme which boosted sales but had fallen since later on. What used to be a million cars per year back then, it now hovers at the 700,000+ range and is on the decline ever since. Compared to the Philippines, Thailand has fewer choices but moves a lot of cars and in this article, you will see what Thais mostly buy and you can make it as a comparison against our market.

We will also include how many units were sold in the Philippines for comparison purposes and how sales increased/decreased compared to 2015.

Out of the 12 months, let's look back on Thailand's best sellers. Watch out for out 2015 and 2014 Thai best seller feature article next month.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Car Profiles - Honda CR-Z (2013-2016)

2013-2016 Honda CR-Z

The Good: Saves the planet while having fun

The Bad: Poor rear visibility, noisy ride

The Say: Lets you have all the excitement without the guilt, but has some compromises.

Go For: Any
Avoid: None

Price Range: P920,000-P1,100,000
Our Rating: ***

See the different versions of this vehicle:
2013-2015
2016

Honda CR-Z - Generation 1.1 (2013-2015)

HONDA CR-Z (2013-2015)

The first Honda hybrid vehicle to be officially available, the CR-Z was first launched in 2010 and introduced to our market three years later. It is the cheapest in its class when brand new and the only one to have a manual transmission option.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Used Car Review - Subaru XV (2012-2017)

Another model that is slated to be replaced gets a final review.

2012-2017 Subaru XV

History

Apart from a regular version which isn't jacked up, Subaru offers a raised Impreza hatchback named the Outback Sport for the North American market from 1994 to 2011. That exclusivity was cut-off with the introduction of the similarly concept XV in 2011 that was offered worldwide with a variety of engines and transmissions for worldwide consumption.

The fourth generation model was first launched as a sedan and hatchback with the XV configuration debuting at the Frankfurt Motor Show with the production model rolled out thereafter. What's odd is that Japan got theirs in October with some nations having it earlier. Despite the fact that the regular model got redesigned in late 2016, it is still produced up to now.

An introduction at the Manila International Auto Show in 2012 had the XV's Philippine debut. Two models are available: a base model and an upscale one. Interestingly enough, this outsells its sedan sibling.

Value and Costs
Like what I mentioned last week, the same is true for the XV albeit at a upper range with second hand examples cost between P700,000 to a million bucks. If you want something that is fun to drive yet rides higher than an ordinary sedan (but lower than an SUV), this is one of your perfect choices.

If you want this baby, prepare for these problem points that involve the transmission, air-conditioning unit, and the radio system. Maintenance-wise, this would be somewhat on the expensive side no thanks to a standard all wheel drive system, both its positive and its downfall.

Exterior and Interior
Its story about the exterior is nothing special, to be honest especially that this one is just an Impreza hatchback which is raised up and its engineers called it a day. To give a huge differentiation from its lowly sibling, it gains the following: larger wheels, rear fog lamps, the position of the front fog lamps, and rocker panels.

Similar to what we commented with the saloon body, the interior is a carbon copy although items commonly found on a crossover such as a tonneau cover and rubber floor mats at the back. Unlike its main rival, the Mitsubishi ASX, this will treat you to a spacious cabin.

Engine
Just like the Impreza sedan, an FB 2.0 4-cylinder which produces 148hp at 6,200rpm and 196Nm at 4,200rpm comes standard for all models. Acceleration is decent enough, despite the conservative figures.

Driving Impressions
It is stable whenever you are behind the wheel, rain or shine, due to the presence of an all wheel drive system. Like all Subarus, it handles with grace and confidence at corners while it is well planted on the highway. While the suspension is tuned for fun driving, it may prove too much for something that is targeted for family usage.

Verdict
Sure, the styling may be polarizing for some and the height isn't SUV levels, the XV is a good alternative to a brand new sub-compact sedan if you are willing to overlook the fuel consumption problem as well as some weakness present in the Impreza model.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Used Car Review - Subaru Impreza (2012-2016)

This unnoticed model gets a finale review.

2012-2016 Subaru Impreza

History
The Subaru Impreza would always be remembered in this set-up: color blue body, gold rims, a huge spoiler, and an aggressive grille that is always driven in the harshest conditions that's shown on TV. What you don't know that there's a road friendly version which doesn't have the things (except for the color option) mentioned above which costs less and for the Japanese, available front wheel drive while the rest gets all wheel drive versions.

A regular version of the Impreza isn't available in the Philippine market until the third generation in 2008, prior to this date most models which were made available are the WRX and WRX STI. Despite the price tag, it became a hit for Motor Image Pilipinas and was common in the affluent areas of the metropolis. July 2012 saw the launch of the fourth generation Impreza but it is now trimmed to a choice of a sedan version, the hatchback is killed but resurrected as the XV while the WRX STI weren't given a redesign until 2014. Although its price hovers at the million peso range, it wasn't that a hit just like before.

At launch, Impreza models can be had with either a stick shift or a CVT, with the former option being killed in favor of a cheaper model in March 2014.

Value and Costs
Subaru models, with the exemption of its rally bred siblings, are known for their poor resale value, which is an advantage for the second hand car buyer. With a price range of P660,000-P980,000, this is a fine vehicle if you want something fun to drive yet uncommon among the city streets. Other similar sized vehicles of the same time period are sold in this range but they do not come with all wheel drive.

Compared to its Japanese rivals, maintaining one is somewhat pricier due to the presence of an all wheel drive system. A problem point of this vehicle is its air-conditioning system, which has a tendency to fail.

Exterior and Interior
While the front grille has an aggressive stance may look quiet for some, the rear has some resemblance over its XV brother. Sure, this is not the WRX STI model that you are staring at, but rather think of this as matured looking.

If you think that going for this vehicle will reward you with a special interior, think again. Although interior quality is excellent, it feels ordinary than before. Despite this, you get side airbags with curtain, cruise control, multi information display, HID headlamps, and an automatic climate control. Space is decent enough, which is a good thing.

Engine
Just like the model it replaced, it is powered by a 2.0 but now from a different engine family. The FB 2.0 4-cylinder with 148hp at 6,200rpm and 196Nm at 4,200rpm is all new, developed in 2010 (the EJ has been in use since 1989) and has seen usage in the Forester. Acceleration is decent enough, despite the conservative figures. Transmission options include a six speed manual or a continuously variable transmission.

Driving Impressions
Thanks to the ready all wheel drive, even when driving at high speeds on inclement weather, stability is there. As usual, handling is its forte especially that it is balanced when tackling corners and is stable when driven on a straight line. The suspension is tuned for fun driving, and that's a good thing. But for your usual city driving, this may prove too much.

Verdict
Despite the fact that its exterior may not look flashy and the interior isn't that premium feeling, the Impreza's skills lies inside, with Subaru's famed all wheel drive system and a communicative chassis, it is still one standout. However, there are rivals that does these things well, even if they are powered with just two front wheels.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Car Features - Same Car, Different Generation, Sold Together

Car manufacturers have different vehicle line-ups for different markets, especially that different countries have different tastes and requirements which varies and the right product mix is a critical requirement for survival. Some markets have resulted on selling different generations of the same car that the market dictates, with the older model being the cheaper option than its most sophisticated version.

The Philippine market is no stranger to this strategy, especially we have seen numerous Japanese brands selling both the old and new models side by side which caters the different target markets. If there is one market who does this one, travel to China and see older models of Volkswagen (in fact, all generations of a certain model are sold together) and Hyundai sold together.

In this article, we shall identify the vehicles whose old and new generations of the same model are sold side by side in our humble market. Old generation models that are sold alongside its newer counterpart due to reason of selling the remaining stocks aren't included in this list. And before misinterpreting this one which warrants a different story, we will not be counting vehicles whose replacement (new nameplate, by the way) are sold alongside the older one nor the remaining stocks are sold.

So let's identify them one by one.

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

History
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.

Engine
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?

Verdict
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.