Monday, May 22, 2017

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of Malaysia for 2011

Malaysia is home to two homegrown brands: Proton and Perodua. The former is owned by the local government while the latter has Toyota/Daihatsu on their side. The third largest car market in ASEAN after Indonesia and Thailand, Malaysia has a fair share of brands that their smallish population (around 20 million) can buy with numerous assembly plants locating there.

Since the source we have found does not disclose per model sales for 2012 and up, we shall look a year before. 578,000 cars were sold to Malaysian households in 2011, a slight decrease.

For next week, let us discover Malaysians buying patterns in 2010 while we explore 2008 and 2009 next month. Check out what they had bought six years ago.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Toyota Wigo - Generation 1.1 (2014-2017)


Competing with the likes of the Mirage and Picanto, the Wigo is basically an Indonesian assembled Daihatsu with a Toyota badge.

Car Profiles - Toyota Wigo (2014-Current)

2014-Current Toyota Wigo

The Good: Easy to drive, practical

The Bad: Not so fuel friendly automatic, cheap interior

The Say: While the badge is good, there are other fine choices for less.

Go For: M/T
Avoid: A/T

Price Range: P320,000-P450,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review:
Latest vehicle profile: Toyota Wigo

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of the Philippines for 2015

If you think that 260,000 cars sold back in 2014 weren't enough, then prepare yourself for something big: 323,000 vehicles were driven off dealer lots in 2015. After the floods which nearly affected every ASEAN market in 2011, car sales in the Philippines were increasing each year. Now, if you know who to blame for the horrendous traffic, we will not drop names here.

While you are watching your Aldub and Jadine flicks back in 2015, let us make some throwback on what you have purchased two years ago.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Used Car Review - Volkswagen Tiguan (2013-2016)

Another SUV from a European brand gets the spotlight.

2013-2016 Volkswagen Tiguan


Alongside Toyota which dominated the Philippine market, we had Volkswagen selling the likes of the Beetle and Kombi during the 60s and the 70s before pulling out a decade later. The Ramos administration had some car manufacturers set foot (and for some, return) in the country with VW being one of them, only to close down ten years later. In 2013, the Ayala Group (which also has an ownership on Honda and Isuzu) brought back the German marque to our humble but growing market.

Slotting under the Touareg in terms of price and size, the Tiguan started life as a concept car displayed at the 2006 LA Auto Show and its production counterpart the following year in Germany. For those who are wondering what the name meant, the word Tiguan is a portmanteau of Tiger and Leguan (German for Iguana) and was the winning name sponsored by a German car magazine.

Alongside the Touareg luxury SUV, Touran MPV, and Jetta sedan, the Tiguan compact SUV were the first four models to be launched in VW's comeback. With a diesel engine and a basic interior befitting a mid level rival, it became a decent seller for the brand.

Value and Costs
Since this vehicle isn't that much of a volume seller plus having a short run of barely three years, used examples can be had for P1,100,000, 50% less than what is priced brand new.

Maintenance wise, VWs aren't that expensive to maintain compared to several high end German brands, they are just priced at that upper scale of the spectrum. If you want this vehicle, go for the diesel rather than the rare TSI.

Exterior and Interior
What the Philippine market got is basically the updated model, available since 2011. Just think of this as a baby Touareg, placed in a shrinking machine. Sure, styling may not be loud but it is more than enough.

Going inside, you'll be treated to an expanse space of passenger room good for five people. While the interior is somewhat bare for its price (the base model gives you fabric seats, though), a high quality interior greets you, a strength of German brands. Starting the car is possible via a smart key push button, whose ignition is situated near the shifter.

Shared with other vehicles in the VW group (such as from Audi) is this R4 2.0 which has 140hp at 4,200rpm and 320Nm at 1,750rpm. Sure it may have ordinary numbers but is more than adequate for this SUV.

Driving Impressions
Just like a tiger, it feels at home when driven on the open road especially that it eats curves for lunch. Using this as a city driver is fine but you have to live with its suspension absorbent (contributing for a smooth ride) characteristic and a wide turning radius for such car.

Want a German SUV that is both easy on the pocket and low profile, then this is the one. Expect to dig deeper and load yourself with lots of patience for this vehicle.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Used Car Review - Mazda CX-9 (2007-2016)

The original article was published last February 24, 2014 and can be viewed here.

How about buying an SUV before summer starts? Myk Belmonte gives you a suggestion.

2007-2016 Mazda CX-9 

Ford and Mazda made vehicles which shared platforms during the latter's tenure with the American brand. Examples of the models produced under their marriage are the Ford Escape-Mazda Tribute-Mercury Mariner triplets, Ford Focus-Mazda 3-Volvo S40 platformates, Ford Fusion-Mazda 6, and the featured vehicle, Mazda CX-9 and its Ford Edge derivative.

While it utilizes Ford's platform and engine, the Mazda CX-9 is longer when it comes to length. This replaces a minivan creatively called MPV for the American market, which is logically enough due to the fact people there are shunning the minivan for crossover SUVs. All CX-9's around the world are built in Mazda's Hiroshima Prefecture plant.

November 2007 saw the arrival of the CX-9 to the Philippine market, especially with the influx of high end crossovers suited for the tastes of the Yanks. Since our market is LHD and some want the comfort of a sedan in a high rise package, it made sense. First made available in AWD with a 2WD version made available in 2011 (but was killed later on) and the second generation model debuted six years later.

Value and Costs
What used to be a P2M SUV back then is a sub-P1M bargain nowadays. It carried a price of P2.799M when it was first launched, then jumped to P2.899M in November 2009 due to an update then finally pegged between P2.099M-P2.299M in 2011 due to some JPEPA revisions in which the CX-9's engine (anything above 3 liters) qualified for the tax breaks. Units bought from January 2013 are qualified for Mazda's YoJin 3 which promises three years of free maintenance or 60,000kms.

Compared to Americanized Japanese SUVs, maintenance costs are similar to them. Of course, maintenance costs is on the pricey side and it does not include the fuel expenses caused by the V6 engine. If you are complaining about gasoline consumption, then the Hyundai Santa Fe of the same period is a logical choice.

Exterior and Interior
First of all, the exterior shouts SUV than sports car. Is it a bad thing? Nope. While competitors are ashamed to show their car origins, the CX-9 is proud to flaunt it. Not a huge piece of bulky moving object, especially that Mazda injected their cues which comes out right. This vehicle received exterior updates thrice throughout its existence.

Sports cars only limit two people inside with four a pinch, this SUV allows you and six other passengers to enjoy the ride. The cabin is composed of high quality materials with a LCD screen added in the 2009 update. Another plus is the upright seating position which sports cars are afflicted with.

No diesel propulsion here, my friend. Instead, a Ford based MZ1 Duratec 3,721cc having 277hp at 2,750rpm and 367Nm at 4,250rpm is the standard engine. If you can afford this car at the first place, you can afford the fuel expenses due to the V6 engine. This is one lively engine, mind you. To the next paragraph for the driving feel.

Driving Impressions
It may have a 2,000kg body, the suspension settings keep up to the task of steering this beast on any condition, straight or twisted. Even though this has 20 inch wheels, no choppy ride is present. We surely think this is a vehicle the driver must enjoy, not something for the driven crowd.

An SUV behaving like a sports car? Impossible! A blasphemy! Mazda, despite all odds, continued to build one to critical success. We all know this is no RX-7, but you can carry seven people inside and save all the money for something else. Trust us, this is one purchase you would not regret perhaps if you have no funds for krudo.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of Thailand for 2014

We had featured the 30 best sellers of Thailand for 2016 and 2015, so this week we will be showing which sold well in Siam in 2014. After reaching a million units in 2012 as a result of the first car buyer subsidy (which meant a boost from the worst floods that year before), sales had decreased 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.

Let's travel back and see who sold well

Monday, April 17, 2017

Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of Thailand for 2015

We had featured the 30 best sellers of Thailand for 2016 last month, this time we shall go a year back and see who sold well. From 800,000 in 2014, it had fallen to the 700,000 range due to some internal factors. 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 sales increased/decreased compared to 2014. Next week we will be featuring 2014's best sellers.

Out of the 12 months, let's look back on Thailand's best sellers.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Car Profiles - Volkswagen Tiguan (2013-2016)

2013-2016 Volkswagen Tiguan

The Good: Excellent levels of refinement, high quality interior

The Bad: Basic interior for its price, rarity

The Say: One of the standouts in its class, a rare find.

Go For: 2.0 TDI
Avoid: 1.4 TSI

Price Range: P1,170,000-P1,180,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Volkswagen Tiguan (2013-2016)
Latest vehicle profile: 

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Used Car Review - Honda CR-Z (2013-2016)

This discontinued model has a unique story to tell.

2013-2016 Honda CR-Z


Stereotypes say that hybrids are fuel friendly but are boring and bland as vanilla and sports cars should be fun but wastes fuel in the process. Honda's engineers thought that, why not combine two characteristics in one body to please both sides as well to throw in an extra pair of back seats and a manual transmission option.

And so, the CR-Z concept was first displayed ten years ago at the Tokyo Motor Show in October of that year with a revised version shown two years later and leading to a production model in 2010 through a North American International Auto Show debut. The CR-Z acronym means 'Compact Renaissance Zero', which brings up a renaissance in the design of concept cars from fresh ideas. The production model is intended to be sporty, efficient, and affordable - something Honda aims to be. Despite a refresh for 2016, it was announced in June 2016 that it will be discontinued at the end of the year to make way for other hybrids in the brand (although some say that poor sales play a role).

Although it was first displayed at the 2012 Philippine International Motor Show, it was officially available in the country a year later. When it was first launched, there were three models to choose from: a standard model, Modulo, and Mugen. A 2016 update resulted to just one model, with the IMA Final Edition released in July of the same year until it was removed in the line-up this year. All variants can be ordered with either a manual or a CVT.

Value and Costs
Costing a hundred grand less than the lowered priced Toyota Prius C, the CR-Z is the cheapest hybrid vehicle that can be purchased brand new, with the standard manual back in 2013 can be had at P1.39M and the most pricey variant pegged at P1.9M for the Mugen CVT. Second hand prices can be obtained between P920,000 to P1.1M for newer models. Our safest bet would be units purchased from the second half of 2014 and later so you can take advantage of the remainder of the warranty.

Since this is a hybrid, prepare yourself to spend a little bit on maintenance especially when it comes to its components while its fuel consumption isn't that far off compared to sub-compact sedans. Since this car is just a few years old, we have no idea when it comes to the hyrbid power-train reliability but it will last long if taken care of.

Exterior and Interior
Remember the CR-X from the 80s? Well this vehicle will remind you of its exterior design spiritually, since the concept doesn't stray off from the original. Additional items from the standard model include body kits for the Modulo and Mugen (as standalone models) with the latter having daytime running lights, which was later trickled on to the updated 2016 model. IMA Final Edition models are distinguished by their black accents.

If you plan to bring along three of your friends for a long drive, look for other options as this isn't for you. With a driver biased interior and a snug interior, this is one car that you can feel comfortable in since the steering wheel and shifter are within driver's reach. Depending on the variant, seat colors can vary that complements a futuristic looking interior. Changes for 2016 includes an electronic parking brake (old models use a lever type), a navigation system, and a reverse camera, something needed for a car with a poor rear visibility.

The L engine series had seen usage from different Honda vehicles, but this one is rather unique especially that it has a hybrid component. The LEA 1.5 hybrid has varying power figures, depending on the transmission, with manuals having 134hp at 6,600rpm and 190Nm at 4,800rpm while two pedal models get 133hp at 6,600rpm and 170Nm at 4,800rpm. Fire this vehicle up and there's some burble, quite unusual for such type of car.

Driving Impressions
Since this is a hybrid, do not expect that kick that Hondas (from the B engine series) are known for. Rather, when you are on the move it is light on its feet and can get to your destination quickly, provided you are on sports mode. Three driving modes exist which include the following: Eco which is tuned for frugality and economy, Normal for the best balance, and Sport for more aggressive driving. Gearing is great, with smooth shift transitions complemented with a confident handling and quick braking. Fuel consumption, for a hybrid, may leave you disappointed but for a car with a sporting nature, you wouldn't mind.

Saying that two things (that even contradicts) can't be combined is impossible, Honda did something that the competition didn't. While it may not have some fans, it was a bold move for them.