Thursday, March 31, 2016

Car Profiles - Kia Sportage


Renewed for its fourth generation model, the Sportage receives more curves and an increase in size. No gasoline models yet, as diesels dominate the line-up. GT Line gets more kit such as side airbags, cruise control, and panoramic sunroof.

The Good:
The Bad:

Price Range: P1,275,000-P1,745,000
Our Rating: 

Last Update: January 23, 2018

Car Profiles - Kia Sportage (2011-2016)

2011-2016 Kia Sportage

The Good: Low resale value means good purchase as a second hand car, available diesel engine

The Bad: Poor ride quality, cheap interior finish

The Say: An improved beast that has some bad manners trapped.

Go For: Diesels
Avoid: 2.0 AWD

Price Range: P550,000-P900,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Reviews: Used Car Review - Kia Sportage (2011-2016)
Latest vehicle profile: Kia Sportage

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Used Car Review - BMW X6 (2008-2015)

This unique vehicle had everyone look at it when it was new. Myk Belmonte dishes everything here.

2008-2015 BMW X6

We know the story of BMW going into the sport utility market, especially it was a bold move for someone who is specializes in driver eccentric sedans and sports cars. Making a differentiation by calling these as Sports Activity Vehicles, the Munich based maker had a cash cow. The X5 was first launched, with other smaller SUVs in the X-family that followed such as the smaller X3 and X1 while producing niche models like the X6. Unlike other BMW vehicles, all SUV models are assembled in Greer, South Carolina for worldwide consumption.

Priced above the X5, the X6 combines the ability of a sports utility vehicle while carrying the stance of a coupe. Development started in 2003 under the helm of Peter Tuennermann, fresh from his E70 X5 (second generation model) development two years prior, with design work done in 2005 by Pierre Leclercq, testing done sometime between 2005 to 2006 and production commenced in December 2007. If there is one car which gave way to placing niche vehicles in BMW's line-up, this is the one especially models that fill between one another existed and Mercedes Benz is also doing the same way nowadays.

BMW Philippines brought in the X6, the third member of the X-family, back in 2008 which was a time where fuel prices hit an all time high. Three models were made available for Filipino consumers: a 3.0 diesel, a 3.0 gasoline, and a 4.4 V8 gasoline plus an X6M was added in 2011 with the inauguration of the M certified dealer in the country.

Value and Costs
This niche filling model can cost you between P2,800,000 to P5,000,000, depending on the overall condition and mileage of the vehicle. If you aim for this vehicle, practicality be damned which is offered by the X5, get the 3.0 diesel since most units sold had this one. And while you're at it, we recommend checking out BMW's certified pre-owned selection since these are certified and inspected.

With this vehicle being a low volume seller (at least, among BMW models), not much problems are reported by owners, at least in a serious level. Still, pay attention to the electronic gadgets this vehicle possesses since get one in poor shape and all headaches will follow. Since its engines are shared with other Bimmer SAVs, parts in this aspect are common.

Exterior and Interior
Staring at this vehicle for a long period of time, the X6 looks like a raised 4-door coupe in the vein of Mercedes Benz CLS Class since the swoopy styling goes better in a sports sedan and the chunkiness at the back does not befit this vehicle. Adding two types of vehicles in one body is a bold movement, however the output is somewhat less than what is desired. Never-mind the last sentence, it does have that presence that will make you stare.

The coupe styling will have an effect inside the vehicle, in which the front occupants will benefit from more headroom against those at the back since the sportier appearance gives them a limited space for their heads. Cargo carrying will be a hassle for taller items no thanks to the outside appearance, plus the vehicle is comfortable for four occupants so consider the fifth one to be short in stature. Thankfully, this vehicle gets a high quality interior and a motorized tailgate since reaching for it to close is difficult.

Three gasoline powerplants and a sole diesel engine comprise the X6 line-up. The most popular are diesels that includes the M57D30TU2 3.0 with 235hp at 4,000rpm and 520Nm at 2,000-2,750rpm sold in the earlier years and later ones receive the N57D30OL 3.0 that carries 241hp at 4,000rpm and 540Nm at 1,750-3,000rpm. If you are allergic to diesels then you have an option for a N54B30 3.0 which has 306hp at 5.800-6,200rpm and 400Nm at 1,300-5,000rpm if going with an early model and the later models get the N55B30 of the same displacement but pushes 302hp at 5,800rpm and 400Nm at 1,200-5,000rpm. Other insane petrol options that you can buy include the N63B44 4.4 V8 having 407hp at 5,500-6,400rpm and 600Nm at 1,800-4,500rpm and a S63B44 4.4 that is reserved for M models which gets 547hp at 6,000rpm and 680Nm at 1,500-5,650rpm. All of four engines are no slouch, but depending on what you expect these are solid performers especially that the V8 gives the M5 a run for its money.

Driving Impressions
Forget having other passengers inside the car, just buckle up and drive since the X6 has that handling carried from other BMWs and with this being a larger vehicle, it surprisingly handles well. The xDrive system puts most of the power in the rear axle but can supply to the front axle and go side to side when necessary.

Going different is something of a hit or miss, but BMW hit the right notes here. While the X6 is definitely a fun to drive beast, the limited practicality will turn off some. Being a niche car, this one is something nice if you are willing to live with its limitations.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Car Features - The Pops and Flops of Fidel's Administration

Automobile sales had increased during the term of Fidel Ramos, from 60,000 in 1992 to a peak of 160,000 in 1996 but has dropped moderately to 144,000 in 1997, the year that the Asian Financial Crisis started. His administration saw the arrival of new players with some had gone out of the dodo and the return of old-timers, car programs were initiated included the likes of the Luxury Car Program in 1992 and Car Development Program in 1996 that coincided with a market deregulation in February of that year.

In this feature, we shall discover the vehicles that were launched during his six year term (technically, he started in June 30, 1992 but we shall count the first six months) and discover the hits and the misses in terms of sales and market reception. One rule: only one hit or miss per years but numerous cars under one brand can fall if applicable. There are runner-ups but only a maximum of six cars will be listed. Lastly, we will be focusing more on mainstream brands and less for luxury brands. In this series, we will be including vehicle related events that had occurred.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Car Profiles - Suzuki Ciaz


Replacing the not so successful SX4 sedan (which was killed years ago), the Ciaz promises new to the segment by offering leather seats, Android OS system, and push button start. No diesel engine here, sorry.

The Good:
The Bad:

Price Range: P748,000-P898,000
Our Rating:

Last Update: May 9, 2017

Monday, March 14, 2016

Used Car Review - Audi TT (2006-2015)

Another fun to drive coupe is featured by Myk Belmonte for the merry month of March.

2006-2015 Audi TT

A vehicle redesign will always be a room for improvement for a vehicle. The problem is what if the vehicle is already great, is there any points to improve on? As they say, there is no perfect car since there are weak spots to begin with. One case to begin with is the Audi TT, with the first generation model a perfect car to start at and making the second one something that will exceed expectations.

Known as the Typ 8J model, it was first revealed in April 2006 with production occurred in August 2006. It was constructed utilizing the Volkswagen Group A5 platform shared with the likes of the VW Golf and Jetta and using aluminum in the front while the rear is composed of steel parts. As opposed to the predecessor, engine options were expanded including a diesel and an option for Audi's Magnetic Ride as a suspension enhancer.

Locally, the second generation TT had its launch in 2006 with both 2.0 and 3.2 Quattro models available for local consumption. Changes for this model includes the non-availability of front wheel drive and manual transmission, traits that the predecessor had.

Value and Costs
Nowadays, you can acquire a second generation Audi TT from P1,600,000 to P1,900,000, which is a bargain when compared to its German compatriots. Audis having the lowest resale values among luxury brands are great purchases for second hand buyers especially the first owner had took the chunk of the depreciation. When it comes to second hands, try scouting at the pre-owned selection of PGA Cars since they are inspected and backed up with a warranty while buying from someone who keeps it stock is better than the other way around.

No serious issues arise among owners but do still check if the leather seats wear quickly (the fix is applying leather cream), front brakes squeal but replacing the brake pads cures it and some rattles and creaks found on the dashboard and glovebox areas. Before leaving this paragraph, maintenance costs are definitely on the higher scale, due to the presence of the turbocharged engine.

Exterior and Interior
Based on the Audi Shooting Brake Concept Car displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2005, its styling echoes the shadows of the first generation model although it is five inches longer and three inches wider. As mentioned above, the production model got an aluminum/steel material rather than an all aluminum finish. The front grille gives an additional touch to its distinct profile, which is unique in many ways. A sunroof comes standard among 3.2 models, which is the only distinguishing factor.

Thanks to an increase in size, interior space for humans remains decent but the rear seat is best reserved for children while trunk space is average for the class. As always, interior materials are built with high quality materials and feels solid.

Both the 2.0 TFSI having 200hp at 5,100-6,000rpm and 280Nm at 1,800-5,000rpm and the 3.2 FSI carrying 250hp at 6,300rpm and 320Nm at 2,500-3,000rpm are both capable performers at their own rights and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Don't be mislead by the smallish engine displacement of the 2.0, with 200 horses to play and a turbo to assist you, since it is more responsive and has that sound when driven hard and this is what we pick. On the other hand, the 3.2 is definitely faster but the standard all wheel drive system hampers things and carrying the extra weight the vehicle has.

Driving Impressions
Pure driving fun, this is what the TT is all about and this one does not disappoint. Thanks to the usage of light weight materials and combined with the lively engine options, this is a hoot to drive especially it is fast on straight roads and glides well on curves. Although the ride is firm due to the Audi Magnetic Ride which adapts the suspension in the appropriate setting in different terrains, it is not totally harsh. Even as a daily driver, this is an easy to drive vehicle.

A coupe which can bring you to office everyday without the usual problems that sports cars face while a coupe that you can enjoy driving on the open road during the weekends, the Audi TT accomplishes them without any drama. Sure, there is the smallish rear seat and that somewhat harsh ride for some, but this car is something special.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Car Features - 10 Commonly Repossessed Vehicles March 2016

On our third month of the year 2016, people who bought new cars last year (and some in the previous years) will definitely have a chance of defaulting on their payments ; a portion of people who bought cars last year will default on their payments are either those who wanted a personal ride or those who invested for Grab/Uber units (which is not profitable in the first place). This list also aims to help buyers on which bank to go in finding a specific vehicle they want. While the Kia Rio used to be the most repo'ed vehicle from January and the Toyota Vios last February, this month's is a shocker

Do take note the list is accurate as of March 11, 2016. Sources include: PS Bank, Banco De Oro, RCBC Savings Bank, East West Bank, Unionbank, UCPB, Maybank, BPI, and Security Bank.

See the top 10 of  the following months: October 2015November 2015, January 2016, and February 2016. Original 2014 article here.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Car Profiles - BMW 7 Series (2009-2016)

2009-2016 BMW 7 Series

The Good: Excellent engine options, opulent ride quality

The Bad: Controls may be daunting for some

The Say: Although outclassed by rivals in several aspects, this one still has its fans.

Go For: 730Li

Price Range: P3,900,000-P4,500,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Reviews: None as of the Moment
Latest vehicle profile: BMW 7 Series

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Car Profiles - Toyota Innova (Diesel)


If there is one model to rave about the Innova, it would be the diesels. Sure, it has the 2.8 of the Fortuner and Hilux that is detuned but still good. Six speed automatic and eco mode comes standard, but no leather seats in the top end model though.

The Good:
The Bad:

Price Range: P1,096,000-P1,624,000
Our Rating:

Also see: Innova (Gasoline)

Last Update: January 9, 2018

Car Profiles - Toyota Innova (Gasoline)


While the diesel model ushers in with a new engine and retains the four original variants, the gasoline was reduced to three but sees some changes including the less bare J variant, eco mode, and a six speed automatic.

The Good:
The Bad:

Price Range: P990,000-P1,309,000
Our Rating:

Also see: Innova (Diesel)

Last Update: January 9, 2018

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Car Profiles - Hyundai Elantra


Look what we have here, the Elantra is redesigned after a ground breaking previous generation model. No fancy technologies or turbocharging present, just rather basic motoring. It faces stiff competition from new rivals.

The Good:
The Bad:

Price Range: P965,000-P1,178,000
Our Rating:

Last Update: March 2, 2018

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Recall Alert - Honda Philippines Recalls Select City, CR-V, and Jazz

If the two recalls last year which involved nearly every car in Honda's line-up built from 2003 to 2011 due to a suspected defect in the driver's airbag inflator, this time the recall had now included 2012 to 2013 Jazz hatchbacks, 2012 to 2014 City sedans, and 2011 CR-V sport utility vehicles. This voluntary preventive measure campaign aims to remedy this problem before things may arise.

Used Car Review - Jaguar XK (1997-2006)

Fancy a classic British automobile? Then Myk Belmonte gives you a suggestion for this summer season.

1997-2006 Jaguar XK

Jaguar Cars had a long story which involved numerous ownership changes and triumphs in the racing scene to producing successful attention grabbing sports cars during the 40s and 50s. The brand became a part of the British Motor Corporation which later on became British Leyland Motor Corporation, a merger between Leyland Motor Corporation that became a disaster when it comes to management making and financial stability. Jaguar became independent in 1984 through public shares on the stock market before Ford purchased the marque in 1989 and Tata by 2008.

Replacing the 21 year old XJ-S that is produced since 1976, the XK (together with the Aston Martin DB7) is based on the platform utilized by the mode it replaced though it was improved. Design work commenced in late 1991 with development started in 1992 and concluded in 1996. This was launched before Ford-owned products such as the S-Type and X-Type came to the scene, which made a mark as one of the last genuine Jaguar products available.

Jaguar Cars Philippines brought in this beast in 1997 on their first year of operations in both 4.0 normally aspirated as the XK8 and 4.2 supercharged (dubbed as the XKR) engines and both cabriolet and coupe models. They were replaced by the X150 XK which was developed under the helm of Ford in 2007.

Value and Costs
Due to its rarity in the used car market, as well as its low sales volume when it was sold, if you want one you have to spend at least P2,000,000 for a decent unit. Do take note that this vehicle rarely pops out the classifieds and finding one will test your patience since most owners wouldn't sell theirs. Rivals from Germany will definitely cost you more which makes this vehicle an appealing option while retaining that British touch.

If you plan to buy one, do keep an eye on the following items especially that a problem will spoil the ownership experience: the rear independent suspension especially when it has the CATS (for XK8 models) active suspension which is fussy to use, the plastic timing-chain tensioners and water-pump impellers that turn brittle, controls if they function well since it has loads of them, any scratches or rips present inside and out (in the case of the convertible models) and earlier models are prone to high sulfur fuel but with today's fuels wouldn't pose a threat.

Exterior and Interior
Echoing the silhouette of older Jaguars, it comes as a modern and clean while remaining long and low; there is no excessive usage of chrome or anything dangling that comes standard. XK8 models come with 17 inch alloy wheels while XKR units get 18 inch rims, automatic HID headlamps, rear spoiler, and revised exterior as to distinguish the two models.

Classic is the theme inside, especially that burled walnut trim and Conolly leather is the standard fare inside. Another noticeable feature is the gauges situated in the center which cover the vital needs of the car. One 90s trait is the audio system especially the cassette deck that has buttons which are very small. Luxurious as it is, cabin space is cramped since space isn't generous for both front and rear passengers (space there is virtually non-existent) and you will have that claustrophobic feeling inside and ergonomics screams dated especially that the pedal box is offset due to the wide transmission tunnel and the handbrake is situated by the door.

Prior to November 2002, you can only get a AJ26 4.0 liter with 290hp at 6,100rpm and 401Nm at 4,250rpm. Later models get the AJ34 4.2 but in both naturally aspired and supercharged variants, with the former having 300hp at 6,000rpm and 420Nm at 4,100rpm while the latter possessing 400hp at 6,100rpm and 553Nm at 3,500rpm. When it comes to engine performance, all three are equal since acceleration is effortless is the best description than something with blistering acceleration and engine has that pull but hates high revolutions though. Among the options, we'd pick the XK8 since performance figures are negligible between the one with the supercharger.

Driving Impressions
Driving one will reward you with a smooth silky ride, a known trait among Jaguars. Despite being nearly two decades old, the ride still remains calm. Best treated as a grand tourer than a sports car, it comes with direct steering and a soft suspension which is suited in a highway drive than something to race on mountainous curves.

British cars have that classic feeling attached to them, something that the Germans cannot match. Old as it is, this is a great buy especially if you love those Sunday morning drives. Although you'd buy this one for its good looks and impressive driving habits, this one has the veins of the Aston Martin DB7 which makes it a plus point for us.