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.
NISSAN JUKE (October 2015 as 2016 model)
This funky looking crossover might be late to the PH but it was a hit for Nissan especially that it had the looks and was priced accordingly. Although not a huge seller like the Ford Ecosport, it provided consumers a nice alternative.
TOYOTA FORTUNER AND INNOVA (January and February 2016, respectively)
A ten year run was long enough for any model and making it outdated by some. For Toyota's IMV platform vehicles, despite being long in the tooth, these were the brand's cash cows. While the Hilux got a new style in July 2015, it was also a sign for both the Fortuner and Innova to receive a such needed change. While some things remained, everything else is new for the IMV platform vehicles especially for the engine and interior design. Despite newer competition and a high price (for the Innova), these were hits since it made existing owners trade in their previous generation models.
MITSUBISHI MONTERO SPORT (January 2016)
Once the segment leader, the Montero Sport's number one status eroded in 2014 and never recovered but still sells well enough. No thanks to the allegations of SUA in the last part of 2015, sales dropped although it was at its end of life cycle at that time. A new engine (bye bye, 4D56), numerous safety features, and a futuristic design, this one became an attractive choice.
HONDA CIVIC (April 2016)
With the previous generation Civic failing to meet people's expectations especially given the fact that the FD chassis was an impressive vehicle and replacing it with something less is downright disappointing. With a turbocharged engine and new features, this one takes the cake and has car enthusiasts jumping for joy especially that a 90s era Civic SiR was parked beside one during its launch. Now, this one is both practical and fun at the same time without sacrificing each aspect.
SUZUKI CIAZ (March 2016)
Mention Suzuki and sedan in one breath, and you'll get images of previous 4-box models which didn't sell well from the brand. This SX4 sedan replacement was a success for Suzuki locally since this one rivals much popular models from its Japanese compatriots. No fancy engines or transmission available, instead you get lots of space inside and some luxury items available in vehicles costing more. It was a winner for this brand.
CHEVROLET SAIL (April 2016)
Replacing the slow selling Sonic sedan, this one failed to sail away (pun intended) from dealerships especially that this Chinese market Chevy didn't offer anything new to the segment other than offering a sunroof and an internet ready tuner in a somewhat crowded market. We all knew the fate of Chevrolets sold in China that were brought here, and this one isn't a surprise.
HYUNDAI VELOSTER (April 2016)
Previewed as early as 2012, it was not brought immediately due to fuel issues and pricing but grey market dealers had this one available at that time. Fast forward to 2016 where friendlier fuels and a trade agreement between us and Korea happened, the Veloster didn't sell well despite a lower price than what is offered outside the dealer network.
KIA SPORTAGE (March 2016)
Dropping the price of its twin, the Hyundai Tucson, made it a success for the slanted H badge. The consequence for its Kia counterpart, the Sportage, was lower sales than the model it replaced. Sure, it had more toys but a higher price and somewhat less marketing made this one less visible on the roads.
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF (April 2016)
If the GTI's price was justifiable, the regular model's isn't especially that this smallish hatchback can get you something larger and higher for the price. Volkswagen rivals with mainstream brands such as Toyota and Honda while maintaining a premium in interior quality but in this case, it was way out of reach. Recently, prices had been dropped just months after its launch to make way for 2017 models.
SSANGYONG (April 2016)
After years of absence, Berjaya Philippines brought this Korean brand back to take advantage of the trade agreement between South Korea and to provide consumers more choices. While the distributor had the right intentions, not much consumers warmed up to the comeback since not much was marketed.