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'Rolling celebrities' make grand entrance to Philippine market

Publication Date : 09-04-2014


A global show of force at the Manila International Auto Show


‘Rolling celebrities’ make grand MIAS entrance
By Tessa R. Salazar

Is the Philippines, at last, in the radar of the auto superpowers? Will the world’s economy, powered by the global automotive industry that Jonathan Mantle of “Cars Wars” describes as a maker of empires and a shaper of history, now reserve a special seat for the local motoring industry? Or are we just keeping our hopes too high too early?

The powerhouse cast of global automotive brands regularly plying Manila’s streets is almost complete. Recently joining the Japanese and American brands have been other phenomenal Asian emblems from Korea and China. Then, joining the long-staying German and Scandinavian marques have been the British supercars, Italian stallions and the exotics.

Their names are too numerous to enumerate. But a fair representation of all these brands was on full display at the recently concluded Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. In fact, many automotive “celebrities” were introduced right at MIAS itself.

The Rolls-Royce Wraith

Ultraluxury carmaker Rolls-Royce, which once owned the title “best car in the world,” was a real traffic stopper at MIAS when it launched the P40-million Wraith. The one displayed at the World Trade Center was one of just 35 units manufactured worldwide. Talk about a very limited edition. It also happened to be the most expensive car on display on its official Philippine debut. Rolls-Royce’s visibility at MIAS is a slam-bang of a followup of the recent inauguration of the first Rolls-Royce Motor Cars dealership in the country.

With a visibly excited Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manila president Willy Tee Ten presenting the Wraith, MIAS spectators ogled as the coach doors opened to reveal the elegant interior, and the hood popped open to reveal the power underneath: a V12 engine married to an eight-speed automatic ZF transmission. A 624 bhp/465 kW of power is available to the driver, who can accelerate this British beast from standstill to 100 kph in just 4.6 seconds. Compare that to the 4.9 seconds the Ghost can accomplish with its 563 bhp/420 kW engine.

All-new Volkswagen Beetle

“The motor is in the front now, but the heart of the new Bug is still in the right spot,” so it was written in the “Beetlemania: Return of the Bug” book. Perhaps one of those rare cars that Filipinos have true emotional attachments with, the VW Beetle and its latest iteration was launched twice last week by the Automobile Central Enterprise Inc., which eventually won the best booth at MIAS. The all-new Beetle has two models: the Basic 1.2 Tsi manual transmission (a 1.2-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with 103.56 horsepower, mated to a six-speed MT) and the Design 1.4 DSG (twincharged 1.4-liter engine generating  157.81 HP and 240 Newton-meter). The engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission.

Peugeot 208 GTi

Boasting a motorsports heritage, the Peugeot 208 GTi was launched at the MIAS through Peugeot’s local distributor Eurobrands Distributor Inc. (EDI). The 208 GTi’s gene pool is the same as that of rally legend 205 GTi. Also during the MIAS, EDI unveiled a replica of the 208 T16 R2, one of the many guises of the 208 GTi in motorsports. The original 208 T16 R2 competed in the European Rally Car championship and the Nurburgring 20-hour race.

Preview of the all-new Ford Escape

The all-new Escape, which will be imported from North America and will be officially on sale in the fourth quarter of this year, was revealed at the MIAS April 3. The new model builds on Ford’s global SUV expertise, to show how the American brand expects to bring new levels of refinement and capability to the fast-growing SUV segment. A total of 15 vehicles were shown at the Ford pavilion, one of which was the Urban SUV EcoSport developed by a global team based in South America and being built at the Ford Thailand manufacturing facility.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

CATS Motors boasts that this premium SUV is the most-awarded SUV ever launched at the 2014 MIAS. And that is not without basis.

The new 3-liter EcoDiesel V-6 engine boasts of delivering improved fuel efficiency and driving range, and best-in-class towing capability of around 3,356.6 kilograms. It also has an eight-speed automatic transmission that boosts fuel efficiency across all powertrains while improving Grand Cherokee’s legendary 4×4 performance with a lower crawl ratio. It has more than 60 advanced safety and security features. Some of its technology features include a new 8.4-inch touch-screen display, 7-inch customer configurable multiview cluster display, Uconnect Access and cloud-based voice texting.

Subaru WRX STI and WRX

The all-new 2015 Subaru WRX was built on a concept of “pure power in your control” powered by a 2-liter Subaru Boxer engine that pumps out 268 HP. The Subaru Boxer direct injection turbo engine has 350 Nm of torque. It unleashes 197 kW (264.33 HP) of power. Its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive makes sure that the WRX is not limited to pavement only.

The WRX STI is powered by the 2.5-liter turbocharged Subaru Boxer engine generating 221 kW and 407 Nm of torque. The engine also benefits from the dual active valve control system (Dual AVCS), which helps produce a flat torque curve across a wide rev range.

All-new 2015 Kia Soul

Columbian Autocar Corp., exclusive distributor of Kia Motors in the Philippines, presented the Soul at MIAS. It is the second-generation Soul from the Korean automaker. The newest Kia Picanto 1.0 LX M/T variant was also featured.

The Tata brand

Pilipinas Taj Autogroup unveiled India’s own Tata Motors vehicles in the Philippines. This was not a surprise, however, as Inquirer Motoring had previously revealed Tata’s entry via MIAS. The Manza INI sedan, Vista hatchback, Xenon pickup, Ace and Super Ace trucks were displayed. TV personality Kim Atienza endorsed the brand, declaring Tata Motors also owns Land Rover Jaguar (of which Atienza owns one).

The new breed of Volvo

Viking Cars displayed the All-New V40 Cross Country (a muscular five-door V40 sibling which has protective body panels, bigger wheels and tires, and an increased ride height, making rutted tracks and rough grounds less of a challenge) and the reimagined 2014 Volvo XC60 SUV, which boasts of excellent road-handling coupled with Corner Traction Control ideal for highway or twisty mountain roads. The purposeful, wide new grille and daytime running lights make the XC60 stand out in a crowd. Both are equipped with smart luxury features.

More China cars

The most visible China brand in the Philippine market today is Foton. And with its “huge” presence at the MIAS —showing off its large trucks and new vans, including its View Traveller (Car Award Group Inc.’s “VOTY” or van of the year for 2013-14) and its pickup Thunder Ironman, among others—the brand has shown it is holding its ground in the face of more established competition.

Another China brand—BYD—turned heads at MIAS with its automobile technology features and consistently excellent scores in crash tests.

MIAS spectators trooped to the BYD booth to witness its Remote Driving Control (RDC) technology which allows the holder of the RDC to switch on the car’s engine and air conditioner, then enable the vehicle to move forward and back, turn left and right, and travel at a restricted speed—without the driver even being in the vehicle—and all at the press of an RC button. BYD also boasts of outperforming even American and German brands with the five-star safety rating of its F5 Suri family sedan in the C-NCAP evaluation results in 2013 (Its China New Car Assessment Program is its equivalent of the Euro-NCAP). Another China brand—Chery—made a grand relaunch.


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