Mudding at PIMS 2014

As nice as the cars on display at PIMS 2014 were, they were just static displays. Extremely interactive yes, but primarily immobile nonetheless. To remedy this, a few manufacturers had set up shop in the small gravel lot in the front of the Philippine Word Trade Center to offer test drives. Most would let you take the car out on a short loop around the area, and one manufacturer in particular was offering a generous dose of adventure to go along with your test drive.20140921_151031

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Camry Jr.

Since its release in 1966, the Corolla has always been a sensible car for persons who needed a sensible daily driver that didn’t ask for too much attention. Sure there were racier, more desirable cars that carried the Corolla name, but the workaday Corolla sedan with less-inspiring specifications was always an ordinary sedan with a bit more engineering than strictly required to ensure its longevity.

Then in 2000, Toyota decided to do something different with the E110 Corolla, at least in Asian markets. They gave it a new name – Corolla Altis – a 1.8-litre engine and decided to take the car a bit upmarket. Then when the E120 Corolla was introduced in 2001, the plain Corolla was gone and the Altis was suddenly everywhere as a kind of junior companion to the Camry. Let’s take a look at what the last of the E140 junior Camrys had to offer.

altis 1

Senior management gets the Camry, middle management gets this.

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Fun With Seven Seats

SUVs (sport utility vehicles) have become a common sight on Philippine roads. It seems that drivers who just want something nice to drive have gone from the premium sedans of yore to the SUVs of today. It isn’t difficult to see why, as the extra ride height makes one feel more confident on the road, and all that suspension travel and sidewall height means rough roads and unpaved trails to vacation paradises don’t present as much of a problem. Sure, you might say that SUVs with their high centre of gravity and long suspension travel are no fun to drive, but the Montero Sport makes a pretty good case for itself.

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Due Diligence, A Cautionary Tale

The cool cars of a car enthusiast’s youth, the ones that sparked that initial flame, are no longer new by the time we come around to being able to buy those cars, in my case like the Civic I now drive, or the S30 240Z I still want to own. Thus it follows that buying second-hand, or whatever euphemism you choose to use (pre-owned, pre-loved, pre-used, pre-abused), is an activity a lot of car enthusiasts have gone or will go through at some point in their motoring lives.

Or it could be that you need a second car or your kids have gotten to driving age and you think giving them a new car right away is a bad idea (it very well could be, for a vast number of reasons). Whatever the reason, buying any car – new or used – is always a big expense, so it pays to do everything you can to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

GSR 1

This is how not to do it. Continue reading

The Power to Surprise

…goes Kia’s new tagline. I forget what their old one was, but it might have gone something like “Long warranties”.

The Pride never did much for Kia’s reputation in the Philippines. Designed by Mazda on a Ford budget, the Pride/121/Fiesta had solid engineering behind it. Unfortunately Kia was at the time trying to stave off bankruptcy by cutting all the costs, so what we got was a shoddily-built, “good enough” band aid of a car that couldn’t stand up to taxi duties as well as the competition.

Optima 1

That was over a decade ago. Freshly released on the Philippine market, what you see above is what Kia makes now, and is the reason why the rattling Pride must finally be laid to rest. Continue reading

The Baby Toyota

Toyota has officially made its entry into the supermini class with the new Wigo. Last February 21, Toyota Cubao offered four units of the Wigo for quick drives around Eastwood City. Curious about the baby Toyota (which it actually isn’t), I decided to take a drive.

Sign up and drive. Easy.

Sign up and drive. Easy.

Before we get into any impressions, here’s a quick overview of the Wigo’s specifications: power comes from a 1.0-litre three-cylinder rated at 65 horsepower, mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. The G trim gets ventilated front disc brakes and drums at the rear; the E gets solid discs in front and drums in the back. Suspension is your typical small-car affair: MacPherson struts in the front and a torsion beam axle in back. Four doors, four-and-a-half seats, a hatch and some cargo space in a tall, boxy body priced well under a million pesos; it’s all just standard small-car fare. Continue reading