Thursday, October 31, 2013

Used Car Review - Peugeot 206 (2003-2007)

Before we leave the month of October, Myk Belmonte reviews a French hatchback that tried to crack the market before.

2003-2007 Peugeot 206

European marques tried to conquer the Japanese filled streets of the Philippines. However, some succeeded while some failed with supposed mainstream brands falling in the latter category. Volkswagen (now coming a return), Peugeot (the distributor is now making things right), Rover (the sedan), Renault, and Opel landed but left the market throughout the years. Rover was a market flop while Opel was dropped by GM Automobiles Pilipinas. Renault? I had no clue what happened to them.

Replacing the long overdue 205, the 206 was launched in 1999 to compete with the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo superminis. With a wide range of engines and models (sedan, convertible, wagon, and the popular hatchback) sold in numerous markets until today, Peugeot found a winner here. Following Peugeot's naming convention, the 207 was launched in 2006 while the 206 got the axe in 2010.

The group of Richard Lee (Volvo, Hyundai, and Universal Motors Corp) brought in the Peugeot brand in 2003. The 206 is the cheapest vehicle in the line-up, and probably the basic one. Increase in the Euro was a reason for the discontinuation of the vehicle (and the brand as a whole) in 2007. It did not make sense of importing something that people wont be buying.

Value and Costs
This flopped hatchback is a steal for P350,000-P400,000, but hunting for one is a difficult task. Remember, for the price of a second hand 206, one can buy a Japanese or Korean subcompact (now, we are using the American term) that is easy to maintain and more units are available in the market. Weigh in your options well first.

Fuel consumption isn't as fast as Gloc9's rap verses, which makes it a great candidate for puttering around the city. The good news is that, past and grey market Peugeots can be serviced in any dealership but some components can be hard to find.

Exterior and Interior
There is the distinct European flair which sets the 206 apart from rivals. With sharp and some slanted angles, the Peugeot has that uniqueness and cheery attitude that can brighten up the day.

It is a supermini, but the cabin is definitely, mini. A small cabin greets occupants and worse for the driver, a driving position which can be uncomfortable for one. The driver would be treated to a poor seating support and since the seats are position is mounted low, tall drivers would be seated awkwardly. Other than these negatives, boot space is decent enough and controls are logically placed. Front passengers get power windows while those in the rear have cranks.

Among the numerous engines offered worldwide, the ET3J4 1,360cc that carries 90hp at 5,500rpm and 120Nm at 2,800rpm is the sole power plant among Philippine market 206s. Fuel is driven through a fuel injection system rather than a carburetor (which is wise decision, since carbs are out of fashion and you're paying too much for something from France). The 1.4 is zippy and willing to be revved, thus making it something pleasurable to drive.

Driving Impressions
Get inside, buckle up, crank the ignition, and let's start the drive. While the manual transmission is somewhat tricky at first, you'll get the hang of it in your later drives. Handling is an entertainment and steering response is quick. While some of its peers get nervous and some transmit road ruts to occupants, the 206 dances like a ballerina even in the poorest road surfaces. While other shakes, the 206 shrugs and glides along.

We can't deny the quirkiness these French vehicles have. The 206 is as lovely as the Eiffel Tower, but in the Philippine setting, it can adapt to what our country has. Fun to drive, but the poor driving position and the limited cabin space are major boo-boos. Do some research before signing the deal. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Car Profiles - Peugeot 206 (2003-2007)

2003-2007 Peugeot 206

The Good: French flair, zippy

The Bad: Poor driving position, poor interior space

The Say: It is unique but the Japanese are more practical.

Go For: 1.4

Price Range: P350,000-P400,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Peugeot 206 (2003-2007)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Car Profiles - Opel Vectra Wagon (1997-2002)

1997-2002 Opel Vectra Wagon

The Good: Versatile, fully equipped

The Bad: Unsorted chassis, confused AT

The Say: Still a good purchase, but because of the wagon configuration.

Go For: 2.5 V6 CDX
Avoid: 2.0 CD AT

Price Range: P70,000-P180,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Used Car Review - Subaru Outback (2006-2009)

For today, Myk Belmonte will feature a vehicle that can do the job but uses less road space.

2006-2009 Subaru Ouback

It was a Tuesday night when I tried to Google search the word "Outback". The results gave me the steakhouse restaurant, that place in Australia, a power company based in the US, and even a 2012 movie. How about the vehicle by Subaru? Well, it wasn't on the top slots, let's move on.

Both versions from the Legacy (Outback) and Impreza (Outback Sport) are made, but let us focus on the former. If the Legacy has a newer model, then the Outback will have its own. What we have on these pages is the third generation model released in 2003, together with the Legacy. There is even a sedan version but was dropped in 2007. Still a favorite among New England and Colorado motorists since they get all wheel drive without the heft of an SUV.

With Subaru's return to the Philippines in 2006, the Outback name was introduced for the first time locally. It carried the 3.0 boxer engine and came in fully equipped. It was sold until 2009, with the fourth generation model launched in October 2009.

Value and Costs
Hate the heft of an SUV? Well, the Outback is a sensible choice for just P700,000-P750,000. With just the Volvo XC70 on the same price range, it is a matter of preferences. With this vehicle having a 3.0 petrol engine, there is a reason for its low resale values.

The Outback is a reliable vehicle, so there is nothing to worry about. Maintenance costs isn't for the cheapo or kuripot ones, with this vehicle having a 3.0 engine. Parts have higher prices and of limited availability, too.

Exterior and Interior
We wouldn't blame you if you mistaken this car as a raised Legacy wagon. Besides, all components are derived from the Legacy. We wouldn't bother that much with the styling since this car does not have the intention of getting stares. There is a huge moon roof and roof rails that would remind you are driving a wagon.

Of course, build quality is top notch with high quality plastics abound. It was good thing that Subaru gave a differentiation from the Legacy, since both vehicles have different personalities. The steering wheel has controls for the audio and cruise control; while the climate controls are blocked by the automatic shifter, but you wouldn't change fan speeds every time. The rotary switch for the SI Drive system is situated in the center tunnel. For the space, well, some might find the rear seat tight but still manageable.

A horizontally opposed 3,000cc six cylinder that has 245hp at 6,000rpm and 297Nm at 4,200rpm is the standard engine. With this vehicle weighing 1,575kg, this engine suits the Outback better and does not have the tendency to strain.

Driving Impressions
You would have tons of driving fun behind the wheel of the Outback. Let's deal with the SI Drive's functions; choose the Intelligent mode for normal driving (city) situations and it will give you good fuel economy (at the expense of slow acceleration), go for Sport mode to reward you with linear acceleration and fast throttle reaction (just step on the pedal and it will speed up), and the Sport Sharp will give you power at the earliest time (you can reach the redline with this). Steering this 4,730mm wagon is easy and keeps you on same ground. Bringing out the worst, it can accomplish well on mud and sand (and even snow, for those who live in North America). The ride can get firm at worst, but still tolerable.

If Volvo can do it, why can't Subaru. With their expertise of churning out all-wheel drive vehicles, they can do it successfully. The Outback has a following among people who wants the practicality of a wagon without the bulkiness of an SUV. Subaru made a winner here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Car Profiles - Subaru Outback (2006-2009)

2006-2009 Subaru Outback

The Good: Smooth engine, great in light off-road cases

The Bad: Automatic transmission saps power, backseat is somewhat tight

The Say: Who needs a bulky SUV when you have this?

Go For: 3.0 R

Price Range: P700,000-P750,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Subaru Outback (2006-2009)
Latest vehicle profile: Subaru Outback

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Car Profiles - Volvo S40 (1997-2004)

1997-2004 Volvo S40

The Good: Safe and stylish

The Bad: Early models aren't the best

The Say: You can arrive at style for less cash.

Go For: SE

Price Range: P140,000-P200,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Hyundai Sonata - Generation 6.1 (2010-2014)

HYUNDAI SONATA (2010-2014)

While its predecessors aren't sales successes, this one brought Hyundai to one of the top choices of the mid-size market. At launch, two 2.4 models are available while a 2.0 Limited model was made available with the features of its top of the line model. After 2012, this can be had via indent basis.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Used Car Review - Toyota Camry (2002-2006)

Before leaving this month, Myk Belmonte reviews an executives favorite that can be yours.

2002-2006 Toyota Camry

Why do the Americans love the Camry? Well, here are some reasons I can think of: practical for most Americans, dependable, a number of variants to choose from, well mannered, and will last long than you do. Hundreds of thousands of them are driven off dealership floors, with the Camry grabbing the best selling car (trucks are not mixed here) title in 1997, dislodging the Ford Taurus (and never reclaimed by an American sedan).

First launched in September 2001, the XV30 Camry grew in size than the pizza crust dimensions of the XV20 (1996-2001). No station wagon version here, but the platform where the Camry was based paved way for the Highlander crossover and Sienna minivan. If the previous model looked flat, it gained more height and wheelbase that resulted to a tall structure. This generation of Camry was marketed in different parts (except mainland Europe, with the vehicle being sold in UK for a short time) of the world by adjusting to local preferences.

June 2002 saw the introduction of the Camry in the Philippines and this generation had executives jump for joy. Why did I say this? People didn't warm up to the anonymous looking previous gen, but this one looked stately and evokes their image without being kidnapped. Sales of the XV30 Camry ceased with the introduction of the XV40 Camry in the latter part of 2006. Variants include the following: E (base) and G (upgraded) for the 2.0, available until 2004; the E and V for the 2.4 and the V is reserved for the 3.0.

Value and Costs
With just resale prices below P500,000, the Camry is a steal for those who want more luxury for less. Hunt for a 3.0 V6 and you'll enjoy paradise in no time. Don't forget the funds for parts and fuel, though.

Toyotas are definitely reliable, which is why they are sought out in the market and the Camry is one of them. Maintaining one is definitely more than the Corolla Altis, due to the larger engine and myriad of power features. Find something well taken care of, and you'll enjoy each miles of it.

Exterior and Interior
Thanks to Hiroyuki Metsugi, the Camry looks tall but without being scary. Smooth and sleek, it hides its bulkiness well with the help of the large headlights good for quad beam and a high shoulder line. The rear is somewhat detached from the rest of the body but still an improvement nevertheless.

It was definitely worth the money inside the Camry. Except for the E, all models do have a leather clad interior of high quality. Controls are within reach of the driver but the dashboard is where people against illegal logging would be angry for. Space, is of course, class leading and a huge leap from the flat predecessor.

Two four bangers and a V6 found home under the Camry's hood throughout the years. Available from 2002 until 2004, the 1AZ-FE 1,998cc which is good for 149hp at 5,600rpm and 192Nm at 4,000rpm is the base engine until it was chucked in 2004. Next in line is the 2AZ-FE 2,362cc that carries 157hp at 5,600rpm and 220Nm at 3,800-4,200rpm and relegated to the base model role in late 2004. The icing of the Camry cake is the 1MZ-FE 2,994cc V6 which possess 212hp at 5,800rpm and 298Nm at 4,400rpm. So how do these engines play? For the 2.0, we wouldn't bother much although it is decent enough inside the city, the engine might struggle to carry the weight. Our pick is the 2.4 which has the balance of power and economy, and since this is the common engine, finding one isn't trouble. Despite having a monster of an engine, the 3.0 V6 is whisper quiet and smooth.

Driving Impressions
If the previous Camry would treat passengers like they are in a boat, that malady was vanished in the XV30 Camry which you'll love riding in more. The suspension vindicates all road bumps and gives the Camry a well controlled body. Handling is still on the safe side, which is not an enthusiast's dream.

Toyota did it right with this model which gained the approval of the moneyed people. Back in October 24, 2002, the Nissan Cefiro is still the top choice, the Toyota Camry attracts curious buyers (from the anonymous replacement), and the Honda Accord and Mitsubishi Galant are heading towards the retirement home. Now, October 24. 2013, the XV30 Camry is a great buy since you get the feeling of isolation and royalty for less.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Car Profiles - Toyota Camry (1997-2002)

1997-2002 Toyota Camry

The Good: Comfortable for five people, smooth operator

The Bad: Lacks character, ungainly steering

The Say: A plain looking vehicle in the premium market.

Go For: 2.2 GX
Avoid: 2.2 GLE

Price Range: P145,000-P280,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: None as of the Moment
Latest vehicle profile: Toyota Camry

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Car Profiles - Mitsubishi Galant (1993-1998)

1993-1998 Mitsubishi Galant

The Good: Zesty engines, oodles of space

The Bad: Plain interior

The Say: A great bargain at used car prices.

Go For: 2.0 VR
Avoid: Thrashed units

Price Range: P80,000-P175,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Galant (1993-1998)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Used Car Review - Nissan Cefiro (2000-2007)

Myk Belmonte revisits a former favorite of the elite, which can be now yours.

2000-2007 Nissan Cefiro

Ah, the problems when climbing up the executive ladder range from the responsibilities for his subordinates to the time that he will spend for his family. If we will put this on the perspective of a car enthusiast, going up means having a huge car plan budget. What shall the working man get? A minivan for his family is great. An SUV for himself. Or something luxurious similar to a Benz but has a Japanese badge. Choices, choices.

Whether it has the Maxima, Cefiro, or the Infiniti I30 badge, the A33 Cefiro was first launched in Japan back in 1998. Other nations had their own versions years later and Infiniti a year later, with the latter giving a more distinction from the Nissan counterpart. This model was discontinued in favor of the J31 Teana (still called the Cefiro in Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei, Caribbean, and Latin America) in 2003.

After the success of the Cefiro A32, it was time for Nissan Motors Philippines Inc. to update the Cefiro at the turn of the millennium. With taxation reasons, only the 2.0 version was brought in with the 3.0 made available four years later. Good while it was new, the Cefiro lost ground when technologically superior competitors came into the scene. Finally, the A33 Cefiro was replaced by the  J31 Teana that arrived very late in 2007. Variants that were available from 2000 until 2003 include the Elite and Brougham VIP. A 2004 update had the Elite and Brougham VIP trims renamed to Classic and Superior (dropped sometime in 2005) respectively, while the 3.0 variant was named as the 300EX.

Value and Costs
As everyone knows it, Nissans aren't good when it comes to depreciation. But this vehicle can be yours for just between P220,000-P480,000, a great bargain since you get something classy for less.

Since this has a V6 engine, fuel expenses can be high and the same goes with maintenance costs. Parts can be purchased in Nissan specialist shops. Since this vehicle has tons of electronic gadgets, make sure they function well. Also lookout for normal wear-and-tear components, since at this vehicle's age they tend to get worn out.

Exterior and Interior
What makes the Cefiro appeal to executives? Stately appearance. The exterior resembles those of European vehicles and even the Brougham mimics them by offering a two tone color. Think that this one has the same size as the A32? Well, don't be fooled, it is 4,920mm long (previous model was 4,770mm), possess a width of 1,780mm (from 1,770mm), and 1,435mm tall (a gain from 1,415mm). Top end models get a hood ornament to distinguish them from their lowly counterparts.

The passenger is king inside the Cefiro's cabin since it is very cavernous, especially at the back. Again, the top end model gains air-con vents for the rear occupants, heads up display, and a VCD player with monitor. Leather is standard except for the Classic variant, while an analogue clock (that resembles 80s wrist watches) come standard across the board. Of course, there is the wood trim inside but not Snickers dark; you may describe it as elegant or tacky.

From the award winning VQ engine family moves the Cefiro in either ways. The lowest spec (and the veteran member) is the VQ20DE 1,995cc that carries 155hp (upgraded to 165hp in 2002) at 6,400rpm and
186Nm (uprated to 189Nm in 2002) at 4,400rpm. Added in 2004 as part of an update is the VQ30DE 2,987cc which is good for 220hp at 6,400rpm and 301Nm at 4,000rpm. Both of these engines are silky smooth, but how do they perform in the real world? Despite having two liters, this engine would have that purr when driven hard to the redline and carries the weight well. The 3.0, on the other hand, is smooth enough but we would pick the 2.0 since it has more than enough power and would cost less to maintain.

Driving Impressions
Fire the ignition and shift to drive, the Cefiro moves without any drama and importantly, no noise intrudes the cabin. Since the transmission is programmed, it can react to any driving conditions. Despite the heft, body roll is kept to a minimum unlike the main competitors. Braking can be spongy, but Electronic Breakforce Distribution and Brake Assist comes standard. If you are the driver, do not expect any excitement behind the wheel but handling is on the safe side.

Riding inside the Cefiro is like going to your destination safe and sound. Isolated from the outside world, that's what executives want. It may not have that prestige of a German sedan but you'll be amazed with the savings you get. Now, if you have that spare cash we suggest to save it for your wife's shopping spree, kid's tuition for the next five years, or for that dream vacation abroad (not paid by the company of course).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Car Profiles - Nissan Cefiro (2000-2007)

2000-2007 Nissan Cefiro

The Good: Fully kitted, smooth engines, oodles of space

The Bad: Not an agile handler, heavy

The Say: Still a premium bargain in the market.

Go For: 2.0 Elite
Avoid: 2.0 Classic

Price Range: P220,000-P480,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Nissan Cefiro (2000-2007)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Car Profiles - Chery Tiggo (2007-2016)

2007-2016 Chery Tiggo

The Good: A RAV4 for less cash

The Bad: Imitates the RAV4 but fails

The Say: At second hand prices, better get the original.

Go For: 2.0
Avoid: 1.6

Price Range: P330,000-P400,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Car Profiles - Nissan Terrano (1996-2002)

1996-2002 Nissan Terrano

The Good: Performs well off-road, durable

The Bad: Unrefined, slow

The Say: Perfect if your route involves rough terrains.

Go For: 2.7 diesel
Avoid: 2.4 gasoline and imports

Price Range: P170,000-P330,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Nissan Terrano (1996-2002)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Used Car Review - Mercedes Benz GLK Class (2009-Current)

Get noticed while being low profile is what one wants. Myk Belmonte has one pick for you.

2009-Current Mercedes Benz GLK Class

They say that timing is everything, especially in the automotive industry whenever a competitor arrives. Mercedes Benz was a late entrant in the premium compact SUV market, and it was when Audi Q5 entered, the GLK Class was fielded in.

Also launched at the same time with the Q5 at the Beijing Auto Show in 2008; the GLK Class was the three pointed star's first attempt in the smaller class category. Based on the C Class, it was only available to left hand drive markets since the conversion is hard, no thanks to a driveshaft on 4WD versions when converted can intrude the foot wells.

It was the first quarter of 2009 when CATS Motors introduced the GLK Class to the Philippines. This is the smallest SUV you can buy from Benz, but not from the entire CATS dealership floor back then. In 2009, three variants (for the same price) were made available: Off-road, Sport, and Edition 1. But the following year it was simplified to just gasoline or diesel, with the former engine discontinued.

Value and Costs
Four years later, a second hand GLK Class costs as half when it was brand new. For just P2,600,000-P2,800,000, you get something desirable without being hit by depreciation. For security, go with a pre-owned unit since they have been certified and checked.

Maintenance costs, whether it is gasoline or diesel, is similar to other European rivals. As with other luxury vehicles, inspect if the electronic gadgets work well. And if you get a gasoline model, it requires a diet of 95 octane gasoline.

Exterior and Interior
Even though it is based on a sedan, the GLK Class has styling cues from the G and GL Class. The boxy stance is either a love or hate affair, with some finding it too polarizing on a market that puts styling as a premium. Various wheel sizes which includes 17, 19, and 20 inches can be had and they add style to the vehicle. There is an available AMG Package that can be ordered when the vehicle is new.

If you own a W204 C Class then you'll find the control layout similar, albeit mounted. The COMAND system takes time to master if you're a newbie, but it makes your life easy. The steering wheel hosts numerous functions for the radio, trip meter, folding the side mirrors, COMAND system, and many others. It has a touchscreen radio that doubles as a screen for your movie trips and for the blue tooth functions. Space is somewhat limited; while the front occupants enjoy adequate space, two is decent but three is a squeeze at the back. Cargo carrying ability is decent enough when the rear bench is up, excellent when folded down.

Offered from 2009 until 2010 is the E30 2,996cc V6 gasoline which packs 231hp at 6,000rpm and 300Nm at 2,500-5,000rpm, while the diesel propulsion is the OM651 DE22LA (that's a long engine code) 2,143cc 4-cylinder that is good for 168hp at 3,200-4,200rpm and 400Nm at 1,400-2,800rpm. Between the two, we'd choose the diesel available from 2010 since it is quick on its heels and can carry the 1,830kg vehicle effectively. There is nothing wrong with the 3.0 V6 since it is energetic, but maintenance costs is on the high side.

Driving Impressions
Heavy as it is, the GLK's steering is safe yet sharp. It keeps you planted when doing some fun behind the wheel, even with the blingy rims that come standard. Comfortable to be inside, despite the large wheels but the limited rear space is a bummer. Just enjoy the drive and arrive at style.

Before we leave, each premium compact SUV has its own personality; and the GLK Class appeals to those who want the sportiness of a C Class on an SUV package. You get the stares and you get the smiles behind the wheel.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Car Profiles - Honda HR-V (2000-2003)

2000-2003 Honda HR-V

The Good: Fun to drive, reliable

The Bad: Not an ace off-road, engine power is somewhat lacking

The Say: More sports than utility here.

Go For: 1.6
Avoid: Imported units

Price Range: P380,000-P450,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Honda HR-V (2000-2003)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Car Profiles - BMW X1 (2010-2016)

2010-2016 BMW X1

The Good: Drives and handles like a car, great diesel engine

The Bad: Less practical, hard plastics abound

The Say: You get the badge, but other things are to be desired.

Go For: 20d
Avoid: 28i gasoline

Price Range: P1,800,000-P1,900,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: None as of the Moment
Latest vehicle profile: BMW X1

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Used Car Review - Audi Q5 (2009-2017)

Get something desirable without costing you depreciation. Myk Belmonte has one great suggestion for you.

2009-Current Audi Q5

Luxury brands would usually have SUV's that fills the following sizes: very small, small, medium, large, and novelty size (usually the very small size). Why fill up every niche where they end up cannibalizing sales and a waste of research and development money? But then, why would I mess with their way especially this is their affair and not mine.

Presented first at the Beijing Auto Show back in 2008, the Audi Q5 was built from Volkswagen's MLB platform. The advantage of this platform was that it saves on production costs and the flexibility of assembling models in one factory. It was the second member of the Q family with the Q7 being the senior and the Q3 the youngest.

January 2009 saw the local introduction of the Q5. Great timing, since it was the global financial crisis that crippled the world and the Philippines was not that much affected. Initially available with a gasoline motivator with a diesel added four years later.

Value and Costs
With units costing you between P2,600,000-P3,800,000, the Audi Q5 is a good alternative especially if your brand new budget dictates you an Audi A4. Best head to the pre-owned section since these vehicles are certified and inspected. It pays to have a peace of mind nowadays, you know.

Buying this vehicle would not give you maintenance costs similar to a high spec Hyundai Tucson. Rather, it is competitive enough with other European brands. It would be better to change all four tires together since this is an all wheel drive vehicle, and hunt for a diesel model for lower costs. Electronic boo-boos is one problem, so make sure to inspect the unit thoroughly.

Exterior and Interior
Just think of it as a shrunken Q7, the Q5 can be handsome or generic looking if you're to ask. LED lamps are standard in both front and back while the front grille is distinctively Audi.

Cabin room in the rear isn't that cavernous like other rivals, and the same goes with the cargo compartment. High quality controls abound the cabin and they are faced towards the driver. The buttons take time to get used to since they are tiny and the hazard button is situated at the right of the touch screen. For Premium variants, a moon roof comes standard for those airy nights.

Both gasoline and diesel engines are offered; but the former is the most common one in the name of the TFSI Quattro turbo 1,984cc with 208hp at 4,300rpm (upgraded to 222hp at 4,500rpm in 2013) and 350Nm at 1,500rpm. Only made available this year is the TDi that has 175hp at 4,200rpm and 380Nm at 1,750rpm. So, how do these engines perform? The gasoline, thanks to the standard turbo, is ferociously fast but control the pedal to get decent figures. With losing depreciation, choosing a month old Q5 diesel is the best choice since this engine is also fast but sparing with fuel.

Driving Impressions
It may have quick engines that is complemented with sharp steering and fun handling. Thanks to the A4 underpinnings, driving this compact SUV is never a dull moment. Paired with either the gasoline or diesel engine, this is one energetic vehicle. Ride is supple when the standard tire size is used, large sizes can contribute to a firm ride.

Who says that SUV's need not be sporty? If you're in the market for a premium compact that is fun to drive and with punchy engines, the Q5 is the one for you. Besides, this one can balance both driver's and passenger's needs.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Car Profiles - Audi Q5 (2009-2017)

2009-2017 Audi Q5

The Good: A pleasure to drive, high quality materials

The Bad: Less rear room, expensive to maintain

The Say: Still something desirable.

Go For: 2.0 TDI

Price Range: P1,500,000-P3,800,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Audi Q5 (2009-Current)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Car Profiles - Nissan Verita (2000-2007)

2000-2007 Nissan Verita

The Good: Easy to drive and park

The Bad: Awkward package

The Say: Definitely novelty was worn off.

Go For: 1.3
Avoid: Imitations

Price Range: P200,000-P280,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Nissan Verita (2000-2007)

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Car Profiles - Volkswagen Bora (2000-2003)

2000-2003 Volkswagen Bora

The Good: Handles well

The Bad: Lacks interior space

The Say: Something that is hard to find that you wouldn't bother to find in the first place.

Go For: 2.0
Avoid: None

Price Range: Data Not Available
Our Rating: **

Related Review: None as of the Moment
Latest vehicle profile: Volkswagen Jetta

See the different versions of this vehicle:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Used Car Review - Chevrolet Aveo Sedan (2006-2013)

So, how about an American car from Korea? Myk Belmonte evaluates this budget car.

2006-2013 Chevrolet Aveo

Bet you didn't know that the Aveo was developed before the GM Buyout in 2002. Intended as the replacement for the Daewoo Lanos, this vehicle used a newer platform and numerous prototypes were shown in different European motor shows between 2000 and 2002.

2002 saw the launch of the Chevrolet Aveo (or Daewoo Kalos in South Korea) which was basically the first car under GM's helm. It was sold in both hatchback and sedan with different engines and assembled in different plants around the world. Affordability with generous heaping of equipment is the aim of this vehicle. This generation has some markets still assembling it until now with the second generation model named as the Chevrolet Sonic.

Initially available in hatchback guise, the sedan was made for sale in 2006 to complement one another. While it has more for less, established names sold more. By the time you read this, Aveos can be purchased brand new with deep discounts and thus, discontinued already. Prior to 2010, the only variant available is the 1.4 LT; added in 2010 were the base L, LT, LT Sport and a 1.6 model.

Value and Costs
Residuals aren't that stellar, which makes an Aveo having a selling price of P280,000-P550,000. This vehicle is a common sight in repossessed bank lots with most units having a remainder of their warranty. But also check private owners since these units are well taken care of.

Fuel economy isn't a strength, so does parts availability (that takes time for it to arrive) and build quality. At these prices, don't expect too much but when rivals of superior quality comes into the picture, reconsider all possible options.

Exterior and Interior
Apart from the trunk, other styling cues involve the following parts: a horizontal one piece grille, and the headlights, tail lights, and the bumpers have a different shape from the hatchback. Unlike other contemporaries, it does not sport an awkward angle. LT models get 15 inch rims while the LT Sport and the 1.6 have 16 inch as standard, same goes with bodykits.

Interior quality is a hard plastic affair, but then you must not complain at these prices. The good thing is that controls for the radio and climate are within the reach of the driver. Space isn't an ace, and the same goes with the trunk space. The first generation Vios has limited space but the City of the same period trumps it. Models with airbags gain a four spoke tiller wrapped in leather, while those without contend with a three spoke in urethane. Also, the manual's reverse gear is situated beside the first gear.

What does the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent (2011-current) have in common? The option of a 1.4 and 1.6 engines. The very common one is the E-TEC II 1,398cc that carries 95hp at 6,200rpm and 130Nm at 3,400rpm. Also from the E-TEC family is a 1,598cc thah packs 103hp at 5,800rpm and 145Nm at 3,400rpm. We wouldn't bother with the 1.6 since finding one is hard; this leaves us with the 1.4 since this is more than enough for your driving needs. It can satisfy your need for speed by reaching the high revs.

Driving Impressions
One seats on a higher position which is good for all-around visibility. Tossing this car around the city or highway is decent enough, but nothing special since you wouldn't be buying this car in the first place. The engine isn't as asthmatic as the hatchback, which is a good thing. Seat comfort is adequate in the somewhat not-so-spacious cabin.

The appeal of the Aveo sedan, when brand new, is great. But as a used car purchase, when other mechanically and quality superior competitors are placed in the picture, the Aveo's advantage suddenly disappears. Before plunging in with this car, check other rivals first since regretting is hard. Price isn't everything in a car.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Car Profiles - Chevrolet Aveo Sedan (2006-2013)

2006-2013 Chevrolet Aveo Sedan

The Good: Numerous equipment, not expensive

The Bad: Cheap plastics, less space

The Say: Apart from price, it does not excel in any way.

Go For: 1.4 LT
Avoid: 1.6

Price Range: P280,000-P550,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Chevrolet Aveo Sedan (2006-2013)

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Car Profiles - Kia Rio Hatchback (2000-2005)

2000-2005 Kia Rio Hatchback

The Good: More kit and practical than the sedan

The Bad: But the same maladies in the sedan are present

The Say: Practical but doesn't excite the soul.

Go For: 1.5
Avoid: Is there any?

Price Range: P200,000-P250,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Kia Rio (2000-2005)
Latest vehicle profile: Kia Rio Hatchback

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Used Car Review - Kia Rio (2000-2005)

Is this more budget than your Jolibee or McDonalds meal? Myk Belmonte rediscovers this vehicle for today.

2000-2005 Kia Rio

We all know that there are meals in fast food chains that appeal to those with limited budgets. And in the automotive industry, these are the vehicles that target the first time buyers backed up with a fuel efficient motor. Price does not mean the vehicle is great, it is just one factor.

Replacing both the Kia Pride and Avella (both are originally Fords) is the DC Rio which was first launched in 2000. This is an all original Kia model, not anymore a product of badge engineering. Car and Driver magazine praised this vehicle for its soft styling and cheap price, while criticizing the driving experience and reliability. Both sedan and hatchback versions were offered, with the latter having more options than the sedan. It sold well like the Jolibee 49ners meal and the McDonalds McSavers meal. Production stopped in 2005 to give way to the somewhat improved JB Rio.

Columbian Autocar Corporation brought in the Rio to replace the Pride sedan (the hatchback stayed on until 2003) at the turn of the millennium. This vehicle stayed glued on dealership floors, no thanks to limited variants and the Kia reliability was derided during that time. Until 2005, only one variant for the sedan and hatchback were made available, definitely a disadvantage.

Value and Costs
Cheap when it is new, and still cheap at used car prices. The first generation Rio, whether sedan or hatch, can be had for between P100,000-P250,000. The prices are alluring, but is this a great value? Let us continue.

Fuel economy is pretty decent, thanks to a electronic fuel injection delivery system. As for the parts, since this didn't sell well, some dealers may not have stock so best head to specialist shops. Oh, since this vehicle isn't known for its stellar quality, so check for every possible place and component.

Exterior and Interior
Soft lines come standard with the Rio, whether it has the trunk or not. Let us start at the back, the large tail lamp clusters can be noticed. For the sedan, the license plate holder is integrated with the rear bumper for 2000-2002 models, updated ones have it integrated with the trunk. At the front, pleasing to the eyes angles are present. To distinguish the model you are getting, let us make your life easy; the grille for 2000-2002 has a plain Kia logo in the middle with a small horizontal bar on it, 2003-2005 models gain a color coded bar that crosses the grille. The hatchback has a third window that streams properly, unlike the one found in the 1996-2000 Hyundai Elantra wagon. The sedan comes with steel rims which is 13 inches in size while the hatchback has 13 inch alloy rims.

Simplicity is the theme inside the Rio, with controls placed logically and within driver's reach. Interior quality, is, well, you definitely get what you pay for since hard plastics abound. For the equipment, the sedan misses out the following items (apart from the engine): a driver's airbag, power windows, power mirrors, and power door locks. If you want something fully equipped, we suggest choosing the hatchback since you get something versatile and flexible. Cabin space is decent enough for four, tight for five.

There are two engines, but only one for the sedan and one for the hatchback. Standard among sedan models is the B3 1,324cc that carries 82hp at 5,550rpm and 118Nm at 3,000rpm. Going for the hatchback would reward you with the larger B5-DE 1,498cc which packs 106hp at 6,000rpm and 140Nm at 4,500rpm. Both engines aren't slouch in accelerating, but drive them hard you'll be hearing noises. Best keep this below the maximum highway speeds.

Driving Impressions
Driving enthusiasts need not apply here, since steering wont ignite their loins and road bumps are transmitted inside to the pedals and the manual gear stick. Speaking of the manual, best not to hold it for long periods of time. Nothing much to say about in this segment.

Either the Rio is a good or bad purchase, but the cheap price is very tempting for a modern car. However, the sedan is very basic enough while the hatchback is practical all around. Give the sedan a miss while if there is one compelling reason to buy this car, its the hatchback.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Car Profiles - Kia Rio Sedan (2000-2005)

2000-2005 Kia Rio Sedan

The Good: Very cheap

The Bad: Very bare and unrefined

The Say: Unless you are desperate for cheap wheels, there are more modern choices.

Go For: 1.3
Avoid: High mileage units

Price Range: P100,000-P200,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Kia Rio (2000-2005)

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Car Profiles - BMW X5 (2007-2014)

2007-2014 BMW X5

The Good: A hoot to drive, high quality materials

The Bad: Tight third bench, firm ride

The Say: Even with a used unit, it has that prestige.

Go For: 3.0d
Avoid: 4.8i M

Price Range: P2,600,000-P4,900,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - BMW X5 (2007-2014)
Latest vehicle profile: BMW X5

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Car Spots: Third Generation Toyota Vios

Car Spots aims to showcase newly introduced vehicles in which if these vehicles are competitive enough to play basketball with current vehicles. It will also give you our initial impressions on a certain vehicle which means this is not a full length review.

Our second vehicle to be featured here is the third generation Toyota Vios, whose taxi image is being shunned for something funky looking. July had passed and three months later, let's see if this vehicle is still fresh.

Photos are still taken using my cellphone camera. Toyota Vios G unit spotted at SM Megamall.

Car Profiles - Audi Q7 (2006-2015)

2006-2015 Audi Q7

The Good: First class fit and finish is what this 4x4 capable is about

The Bad: Limited third row space, expensive to run

The Say: The image comes at a price.

Go For: 3.0 TDi
Avoid: 4.2 FSI

Price Range: P2,200,000-P4,350,000
Our Rating: ****

Related Review: Used Car Review - Audi Q7 (2006-2015)
Latest vehicle profile: Audi Q7

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Used Car Review - Land Rover Freelander (2001-2007)

British SUVs rarely get the spotlight here, and Myk Belmonte gives the chance for this SUV to shine.

2001-2007 Land Rover Freelander

After the Discovery, Land Rover was now aiming at the smallest segment of the SUV market, the compact size. After a market research done in the late 1980s, it concluded that Rover can enter the compact SUV market. With potential partner Honda making their own CR-V, the manufacturer decided to go on its own and the result is the Freelander.

With BMW taking care of development costs, the first generation model was introduced in 1997. Numerous variations can be had including the basic five door, three door, softback (convertible), and commercial body styles. Lack of Rover K18 and KV6 engines led to the discontinuation in 2007, but that was the time for its second generation model to be launched.

PGA Cars sold the Freelander from 2001 until Wellington Soong's group (who sold Jaguars) took the selling responsibilities in 2004. You can purchase one brand new until 2007 with the second generation iteration taking its place.

Value and Costs
If you wish to have a British SUV for less than a million bucks, then the Freelander suits the requirement. One can find a good unit between P800,000-P900,000 but go for something well cared rather than something sloppy but cheap.

Land Rover specialist shops, as well as dedicated online forums, can help you maintain your Rover in excellent shape. Reliability isn't a strong suit, but finding something worry free can be possible. Electrical items and the power windows are the LR's Achilles Heel, so do keep an eye on them.

Exterior and Interior
With the Philippine market having the practical four door, let us talk about this configuration. The window in the cargo area is taller than the ones in the passenger areas. Overall, the Freelander is handsome and rugged without hogging space. Lastly, the rear door opens sideways, which is a disadvantage in parking lots.

Five can fit inside without complaining and room for their gear and cargo at the back is limited. The driver gets a good commanding view and to help him further, the controls are angled upwards. While the audio controls are very small; climate, 4x4 and hill descent buttons are big.

Only one engine arrived, and it is the Rover KV6 2,497cc V6 gasoline that carries 175hp at 6,250rpm and 240Nm at 4,000rpm. There is nothing great with the power plant, since it is neither fast nor fuel friendly. The KV6 wants things slow and quiet, which is a good thing but they could have upped the power. If the diesel was brought in, then things would be different.

Driving Impressions
Definitely the Land Rover would find home on its habitat, off-road trails. This is where the vehicle performs its best especially that permanent four wheel drive comes standard. Going for the pavement, the Freelander exhibits some body rolls and it is clumsy when driven at the twisties. The standard hill descent control operates on first and reverse gears while the adaptive programming adjusts shift points depending on the road situation.

Land Rover did it well on applying their pedigree on a compact SUV, which appealed to prospective buyers who wants something small while having off-road capabilities. Some reliability quirks and bad on-road behavior tarnished this otherwise all around vehicle.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Car Profiles - Land Rover Freelander (2001-2007)

2001-2007 Land Rover Freelander

The Good: Unique styling, can hack the bushes

The Bad: Some reliability quirks, expensive to maintain

The Say: The SM of compact SUVs, with reliability a downer.

Go For: 2.5 V6
Avoid: Thrashed units

Price Range: P800,000-P900,000
Our Rating: **

Related Review: Used Car Review - Land Rover Freelander (2001-2007)

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Car Profiles - Toyota Hilux (2005-2015)

2005-2015 Toyota Hilux

The Good: Durable, interior space

The Bad: Heavy steering, lacks some off-road kit

The Say: Balances comfort and practicality.

Go For: 3.0 G
Avoid: 2.7 G

Price Range: P580,000-P1,100,000
Our Rating: ***

Related Review: Used Car Review - Toyota Hilux (2005-2015)
Latest vehicle profile: Toyota Hilux

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2011-2015 non-VNT/VNT