Saturday, March 15, 2014

Car Features - We Rate the Vehicle Introductions During Fidel Ramos's Term (Part 2)

The second part of rating vehicle launches during the Ramos administration comes to a second page. This time, vehicles from Mercedes Benz to Volvo are being evaluated according to their market significance.

We would rate the vehicle launches between June 30, 1992 to June 30, 1998 by their success and significance in their market. Some vehicles paved way to future trends in the market while some were regarded as future classics and collectibles.

Shown below are the vehicles, date of introduction (those after June 1998 are excluded), short introduction, and significance rating (out of five) with some commentary.

To view the first part of this series, click here

Vehicle: Mercedes Benz C Class W202
Introduction date: 1993
The compact luxury race first started with the C Class Benz when Commercial Motors Corporation brought this in 1993. A 2.2 4-cylinder is the standard engine available and battled Toyota Crown owners for sales. This one can be bought in an indent order basis.
Significance rating (out of 5): 2/5. Did this vehicle make an impact? It was a rare sight on the roads.

Vehicle: Mercedes Benz CLK Class
Introduction date: 1997
Although you can buy one through indent order, this is the only locally available (through a local distributor) luxury coupe available and introduced during the Ramos era. It was a popular plaything among the rich and famous but this isn't a hit in the passenger capacity conscious market.
Significance rating: 2/5. The rich only know this car.

Vehicle: Mercedes Benz E Class W120
Introduction date: 1995
Long before the 5 Series and A6 came to party, the elite chose the E Class to be their ride. Even if the C Class costs less, the E is more popular. Besides, there is no better way to flaunt your wealth and success than driving an E Class.
Significance rating: 3/5. There is no alternative to say you are successful than riding in a E Class.

Vehicle: Mercedes Benz MB100
Introduction date: 1996
The Hiace Super Grandia of the 90s. Even if you get the Benz badge and engine, everything else is Korean. Rich families and ambulance operators purchased them in droves which resulted to a long waiting line. Refinement isn't a strength, but who cares especially you are driving a Benz?
Significance rating: 4/5. The Hiace Super Grandia and Grand Starex must thank this one.

Vehicle: Mercedes Benz/Ssangyong Musso
Introduction date: 1997
Another vehicle which entered immigration. This Korean SUV acquired German citizenship through badge swapping, which is easy and practiced worldwide. It competed first with Pajeros and Troopers until a price decrease which was able to rival the CR-Vs and RAV4s in that range. Never a market success and treated as an option.
Significance rating: 1/5. A vehicle which entered a lost world.

Vehicle: Mercedes Benz S Class W140
Introduction date: 1995
If you think the E Class is too pedestrian, then there is no other way to say "I'm rich!" than being in the backseat of a W140. Those who are wealthy by nature or minana (inherited) from their parents have this one. In fact, Vice President Binay rides one.
Significance rating: 3/5. More presentable than the BMW 7 Series your neighbor had.

Vehicle: Mercedes Benz SLK Class
Introduction date: 1997
As with other CMC passenger vehicles, the SLK can be had through a by-order basis. One novel feature of the SLK is the retractable power folding roof that is metal in nature. Unlike the Z3, this could be considered more of a cruiser.
Significance rating: 3/5. Fun and at the same time innovative.

Vehicle: Mercedes Benz Vito
Introduction date: 1996
Those who found the MB100 not to their tastes purchased the Vito. Basically, Philippine units are bare especially this is basically a cargo van trying to be a passenger van. And who can forget the units which constantly need overhauling?
Significance rating: 1/5. Europeans do not succeed in selling vans in the Philippines.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Adventure
Introduction date: January 1998
Bet you didn't know this: the Adventure is a Taiwanese import with some modification and engine changes. It saved the company from the crisis in 1998 and overtook Toyota after the EDSA revolution. 15 years later, the vehicle is still there which satisfies OFW families to UV Express operators.
Significance rating: 5/5. Mitsubishi's domination to Toyota's expertise, successful.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Eclipse
Introduction date: 1997
Only those who are true blooded car enthusiasts or have played Gran Turismo on their PS1 known this model. Mitsubishi Motors Philippines brought this one in limited numbers, hence limiting its appeal.
Significance rating: 2/5. Sought by collectors, avoided by general buyers.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Galant
Introduction date: 1993
1993 was a great year for Japanese premium sedans: Toyota unleashed their new Corona, Nissan released their Altima, Mazda brought in the 626, and Mitsubishi unveiled a redesigned Galant. The latter brought in both 4-cylinder and V6 engines, the first in its category.
Significance rating: 3/5. No GTi here, but hey, we got a V6 engine.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Galant
Introduction date: December 1997
Called as the "shark" by enthusiasts due to its sharp styling. This generation of Galant showcased the same engine choices but marred with poor interior trim and the notorious kalampag. Still, despite these issues, it remained popular until the Cefiro, Accord, and Camry clawed market share. 
Significance rating: 3/5. The shark which lost focus and kept swimming.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi L200
Introduction date: 1993 for regular version. 1995 for Strada.
With its simplistic yet durable package, the L200 sold extremely well. First available in regular version with a Strada variant launched two years later. It became a best seller until rivals from Isuzu and Nissan went along during the late 90s.
Significance rating: 4/5. This pick-up truck gave birth to a new name: Strada.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi L300 FB
Introduction date: 1993
Rivaling the Ceres is the cab and chassis version of the L300. Unlike the Korean counterpart, it is only available in white and you can't have 4WD. Until now, businesses have been buying them.
Significance rating: 5/5. The icon of entrepreneurship and still kicking.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Lancer
Introduction date: 1993
It was time for the Lancer to be redesigned. No more GTi variant but you get the same reliable and zesty engines in a modern looking package. Still held a candle against the "Big Body" Corolla.
Significance rating: 3/5. Salable but offered zero innovation.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Lancer
Introduction date: September 1996 for sedan. 1997 for GSR
Called the "Pizza" by enthusiasts due to their pizza pie taillights. This generation of Lancer sold well but offered nothing significant nor groundbreaking to the market. It had a manual overdrive that people didn't care. The popularity went downhill with this model.
Significance rating: 3/5. Still suffered from the "can do everything but nothing spectacular" stigma.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV
Introduction date: 1997
After Subaru brought in the Impreza WRX, it was MMPC's time to sell the Evo IV. Only 16 of them found an owner in the Philippines and finding an original unit is hard.
Significance rating: 3/5. All units were accounted for, which means the potential for the Evo is high.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Pajero
Introduction date: 1995
Boxy no more, the second generation Pajero is still as pogi like the model it replaced. Wealthy clans to top executives wasted no chance to grab their hands for one. If there is a way to say "power", driving a Pajero is one method.
Significance rating: 5/5. Definitely the gwapo machine even today.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Spacegear
Introduction date: 1997
This vehicle was intended to replace the aging L300 but things changed especially since this didn't sell well (guess who sold more). Everything the L300 has is still there with the addition of a curved body and modern amenities like power features and an overhead TV tuner. They said new wouldn't be a blockbuster sell.
Significance rating: 2/5. The twin sold like hotcakes.

Vehicle: Mitsubishi Spacewagon
Introduction date: 1992
Packing seven seats for less footprint, this was the Spacewagon's notable feature. Despite having a low price, people still flocked to the larger vans and utility vehicles which can conquer floods. This vehicle can be considered as the pre-cursor for the Kia Carens and Nissan Grand Livina.
Significance rating: 2/5. Close but no cigar.

Vehicle: Nissan 200SX Silvia
Introduction date: July 1997
In order for mainstream manufacturers to attract the enthusiast market, they must bring in sports cars like the 200SX Silvia. One of the popular drift machines only to bring one bummer: a standard automatic transmission. Still, a decent effort by NMPI.
Significance rating: 3/5. A good halo car which is now a classic.

Vehicle: Nissan AD Max
Introduction date: November 1994
The predecessor of the Sunny is the Sentra based AD Max. Pepsi and Coca Cola had them since it can bring to places (especially small stores) which their huge trucks can't enter. No diesel engine to be found but a carburetor engine from the Sentra is standard.
Significance rating: 2/5. Nissan was brave enough to sold them. We're waiting for its successor.

Vehicle: Nissan Altima
Introduction date: October 1993
After having four premium flopstars during Cory's time, it is now strike five for Nissan Motors Philippines with the Altima. The early years wasn't friendly for Nissan's expensive sedans, let alone the Altima's awkward styling.
Significance rating: 1/5. Will they ever learn?

Vehicle: Nissan Cedric
Introduction date: June 1994
Wanting to lure prospective buyers of the Toyota Crown and Honda Legend, Nissan shipped in the Cedric which was a flop. Named after a character from Frances Hodgoson Burnett's novel, it had the bells and whistles which buyers ignored.
Significance rating: 1/5. The upmarket attempt that gone wrong.

Vehicle: Nissan Cefiro
Introduction date: November 1996
Executives lined up for this after the release of their car plan. It offered luxury features without breaching to the P2M and above price range. One hallmark feature is a cavernous backseat complemented with a smooth V6 engine. Nowadays, you can buy one for less.
Significance rating: 5/5. All executives had to work well for one reason.

Vehicle: Nissan Patrol Safari
Introduction date: 1993
Now the Ramos administration upgraded their back-up vehicles to this type of Patrol. Headroom is increased but road presence and driving maneuverability is still the same. Patrol Safaris with large police blinkers are a common sight during that time.
Significance rating: 5/5. It found fans from Ramos to Arroyo.

Vehicle: Nissan Sentra
Introduction date: March 1995
Uninspired styling no more, replacing them were curves which befit the 90s. While the early release date secured its second spot, the later launched Civic overtook the Sentra. This platform spawned a luxurious version known as the Exalta which will be evaluated on a later date.
Significance rating: 4/5. Popular at first until other people went to the Civic.

Vehicle: Nissan Terrano
Introduction date: 1996
To tell the country it has other SUV's than the Patrol, the smaller Terrano was sold alongside it. Macho looks and off-road ability were its assets. The more modern X-Trail replaced this 7 years later. As part of Onyok Velasco's victory in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Universal Motors Corporation gave him a brand new Terrano as a present.
Significance rating: 3/5. Nissan was able to gain a foothold to a CR-V dominated market.

Vehicle: Nissan Vanette
Introduction date: February 1993
While Toyota launched a revised Liteace called the GXL, Nissan took the chance to bring in the Vanette to a social market. This has more power, interior space, and can ferry 10 people inside than the main competitor. Overheating and fuel efficiency problems tarnished this otherwise great vehicle. Final models were named as the Grand Coach.
Significance rating: 3/5. Did Nissan beat the Liteace? Sort of but was a victim of its own success.

Opel Omega, Vectra, and Tigra
Introduction date: September 1997 for Omega and Vectra. 1998 for Tigra
GM Automobiles Pilipinas first sold Opels than Chevrolets in a large scale. First targeted the premium market were the Omega and Vectra which found a customer base. Going to the lower scale of the market is the two door Tigra that appealed to women more than males.
Significance rating: 2/5. They succeeded at first which later dwindled on due to mismanagement.

Vehicle: Porsche 911
Introduction date: 1994
PGA Cars, who distributes Porsche vehicles, brought in the 911 to the amusement of millionaires. The mold may be the same, but the driving excitement remains.
Significance rating: 4/5. Rich or poor, the joy of driving a 911 remains.

Vehicle: Proton Wira
Introduction date: 1995
Fidel Ramos was very supportive of Proton's investment in the Philippines by inaugurating the Alaminos, Pangasinan (the home town of the president) assembly plant. What you see here is the Wira, a re engineered Mitsubishi Lancer Itlog. The concept never caught off no thanks to modern options from the Japanese.
Significance rating: 2/5. Budget cars from Malaysia aren't ready to play, yet.

Vehicle: Renault Espace, Laguna, Megane, Safrane, Spider, and Twingo
Introduction date: 1996
A dealership which is located in a hidden place near Kalayaan Avenue and EDSA in Makati gave birth to a Renault dealership. Bad thing was prices are on the expensive side and the idea of a French car isn't known to Filipinos back then. It saw but never conquered.
Significance rating: 1/5. It went gone with the wind.

Vehicle: Subaru Impreza WRX and Legacy
Introduction date: April 1996
Adding Columbian's portfolio of vehicles is the Subaru brand in 1996. It added flavor to an otherwise stale line-up of Kias and Mazdas back then. The market (save for the car enthusiasts) didn't warm for these cars and distribution rights were passed to GM four years later. 
Significance rating: 2/5. If the brand was managed properly, it could have been a market success.

Vehicle: Suzuki Esteem
Introduction date: 1997
Suzuki had numerous attempts on passenger vehicles. The hits were the hatchbacks (Swift and Celerio) while the misses are the passenger sedans and this. Unlike the same period Hyundai Elantra, the Esteem can be had with basically a wagon version. With a market allergic to wagons, this was a flop.
Significance rating: 1/5. Suzuki's success lies on SUV's and hatchbacks, not wagons.

Vehicle: Suzuki Vitara
Introduction date: 1994
If the Feroza was too bare, the Vitara added modern conveniences like power windows and an automatic transmission. This one gave the Sportage a run for the money which became a second choice behind the CR-V and RAV4 later on. If the Pajeros and Troopers can hack the bushes, the Vitara does it with a smaller footprint.
Significance rating: 4/5. Vitaras are hard to beat when it comes to off-road ability.

Vehicle: Toyota Camry
Introduction date: 1996
In an attempt to replace the aging Corona, Toyota Motors Philippines brought in the Camry. While it had a roomy cabin, the Accord and Cefiro laughed all the way to the top of the sales charts.
Significance rating: 2/5. It was not the time to be a star, yet.

Vehicle: Toyota Corolla AE100
Introduction date: July 1992
The decade wouldn't be forgotten if you haven't ridden or driven an AE100 Corolla. Tons of them in the streets from taxis to units driven by professionals. It sold well since maintenance costs are cheap and the vaunted Toyota reliability.
Significance rating: 5/5. Hindi ka batang 90s kung hindi mo maalala ang sasakyang ito (you are not a 90s kid if you can't remember this car).

Vehicle: Toyota Corolla AE101
Introduction date: December 1997
We all know that Japanese car makers were affected by a 1995 crisis. Toyota used the same platform of the previous model which resulted to a smaller interior space. While it sold well, the otherwise aging Civic EK overtook this in the sales charts. It could be remembered as a taxicab which fleet operators snapped up since they did not have any other choice the following decade, not the vehicle which first launched a CD changer and a 1.8 engine.
Significance rating: 3/5. Best seller that didn't bring anything significant.

Vehicle: Toyota Corona
Introduction date: December 1992
The last of the Corona series which played with the Galant and newbie Accord during the early and mid 90s. Many affluent a family bought them since it was comfortable to be in. It lost its appeal at the end of the decade.
Significance rating: 3/5. Its time had passed.

Vehicle: Toyota Hiace
Introduction date: 1995
Starting its life in Commuter guise, the Hiace made fans by introducing the GL (with a gasoline engine) in 1996 and the grand Grandia in 2001. Updates were done in 1997, 1999, and late 2001 which clawed market share to the otherwise aging L300 as well as the hot selling Starex.
Significance rating: 3/5. A late bloomer in the market.

Vehicle: Toyota Hilux
Introduction date: 1993
Returning after a hiatus during the 80s, the Hilux was one tough truck. This one got lost in the sea of Nissan, Mazda and Mitsubishi pick-up trucks. Too bad.
Significance rating: 2/5. Wrong timing for a right car.

Vehicle: Toyota Hilux
Introduction date: 1998
Sprucing up the otherwise old but durable truck was done through a 1998 update. Power features were added and same goes to a high lifted model. Competitors from Mitsubishi, Nissan and Isuzu sold well until its successor launched seven years later.
Significance rating: 2/5. Another case of wrong timing.

Vehicle: Toyota Land Cruiser
Introduction date: 1993
After being available in a basic off-road package, the Philippine market Land Cruiser resurfaced as a luxury SUV while retaining its off-road roots. Those who had the money settled for nothing since it would give them years of reliable service.
Significance rating: 4/5. This generation gives you the best of both worlds.

Vehicle: Toyota Land Cruiser Prado
Introduction date: 1996
The junior version of the Land Cruiser which rivaled Pajeros and Troopers back then. Buyers who didn't have drivers which can take care of the hulking size bought this in droves. 
Significance rating: 2/5. People aren't ready to let go of their beloved Patrols and Pajeros.

Vehicle: Toyota Previa
Introduction date: 1994
Long before the Subic dealers made hay with this van, TMPI offered this van with a brand new price of P1.5M back then. Like the Mazda MPV and Honda Odyssey, this one went to flop wonderland. 
Significance rating: 1/5. Another victim of a wrong timing of introduction. 

Vehicle: Toyota RAV4
Introduction date: 1997
Unlike competitors, the first generation RAV4 can be had in both 3 and 5 door versions. When it comes to sales, the CR-V ate the RAV4's dust. Still, one of the popular choices back then.
Significance rating: 3/5. A popular pick but not that groundbreaking as the CR-V.

Vehicle: Volkswagen Caravelle
Introduction date: June 1996
Hipsters and Filipinos alike know the Kombi, an aircooled van which would not overheat at the expense of high NVH levels. DMG Motors presented this (and the vehicle below) to Fidel Ramos during its launch. Those who had the money lined up for this but this van is rare nowadays.
Significance rating: 1/5. People still preferred the no-snout vans back then.

Vehicle: Volkswagen Polo Classic
Introduction date: June 1996
Beetles have long dominated Philippine roads in the 70s but later dominated by the Japanese. DMG wanted to lure motorists to a German (in reality, Spanish) alternative. Initially, it sold well until the crisis dwindled new Polos driving off dealerships. 
Significance rating: 3/5. Before a new distributor messed things up, it was the last best selling Volkswagen.

Vehicle: Volvo 850 (renamed S70/V70) and 960 (renamed S90)
Introduction date: 1994 for 850 (rename in June 1997). 1995 for 960
The first Volvos which arrived to the Philippines were the 850 and 960. The upper class market bought them apart from the ubiquitous Benzes and BMWs. It appealed to the older crowd due to their styling (which you know). 
Significance rating: 3/5. It provided a low key alternative to the common Germans. 

Vehicle: Volvo S40/V40
Introduction date: June 1997
A strategy to reach the younger market, Viking Cars launched the S40 sedan and V40 wagon twins in 1998. We all know that Volvos targeted the senior members of the society; but thanks to the twins, it was damn time.
Significance rating: 3/5. It was the C30's long distance relatives which sold well to the youngsters.

No comments:

Post a Comment