By Andre Palma Inquirer CHOOSING a driver's car is often problematic. Most of the cars that can really rip up the open road at copious amounts of speed are handicapped by prices that would require 25-year mortgages. We would be so lucky to be in that capacity, wouldn't we? Thankfully, all is not lost. There are still some cars out there that can fill the budget performance driving requirements of the everyday Filipino motorist. The age of the budget driver's car is upon us, where low prices don't automatically translate into the lack of satisfaction. A blend of simplicity, fun The mini car segment is loaded to the brim with automobiles that not only drive well, but also are merciful on the bank balance. The Philippine market is lucky though. In the ranks of these small two-box wonders is an automobile that blends simplicity and punch better than most anything in the market today. The numbers of this little hatchback cannot lie. Powered by an able 1.5-liter, twin-cam, common-rail, turbo diesel the resulting engine figures run about 100 bhp and 235 Nm of torque at just 2,000 rpm. Confused by the math? Mere moments in the cockpit of this rocket will clear any sort of bewilderment and make you beg for 4-piston Brembos. None other than the Hyundai Getz 1.5 CRDi delivers this pocket-sized punch. Priced around P630,000, one can imagine that most of the money went into the engine. Learn to live with the cheap plastic of the '90s interior and the aches and groans of the budget chassis and realize that the other "H" brand knows how to build fun cars too. In the next segment, the beleaguered compact sedan niche, an old familiar name delivers the best bang for buck driving. In 35 years of this model's existence, many of this car's faithful followers thought that Honda lost the plot with the bland and boring seventh generation. Mercifully, the eighth generation FD chassis brings back the Honda Civic that Generation X tuners and enthusiasts went goo-goo over -- fun, frugal and loaded with potential. A surprisingly stiff chassis is what really works for this car alongside a suspension design that is made for decent road holding. While the 2.0-liter version comes with more torque and power, it is the 1.8-liter single cam that delivers the best performance, efficiency and retail price. If you endure the sneering looks in public, the bare basic 1.8V, sans ABS, EDB and airbags, is the one to have. At P777,000, this bare basic car leaves a lot of budget for simple modifications that can really polish this gem in the rough. Look no further than a simple Neova tire upgrade to remind you of what Civics are all about. Imagine what adjustable coil-overs and simple engine modifications will deliver. Do I sound like a teenager? See, I told you, this car is fun! Real driving monster Rightfully, at the top of the best cars of 2007 list is a real driving monster. At the lowest rung of true performance automobile is the rally replica. These are turbocharged cars that temper World Rally Championship speed and all-wheel drive handling for public roads. Simply, there is no point A to B car segment faster for the price. And in the Philippine market, there is no more economical example of a rally replica than the Subaru Impreza WRX. Fine, let's concede that the Impreza STi is closer to the full-blown rally car than the street-going WRX but again, the numbers don't mislead. For around P1,700,000 would-be rally rep owners get 230 bhp and 330 Nm of torque. These are really massive numbers for any car that can be made to prowl everyday Philippine roads. Another point to ponder is that at half a million cheaper than a full-blown STi, this everyday rally car conservatively delivers 80 percent of the experience. So there they are, the cars that have helped define the 2007 motoring year. For the sheer volume of choice, we consumers are better off than ever before. So raise a glass with me to the year about to pass and the one still to come. Here's to an equally exciting 2008 and if my crystal ball is anywhere near clear as before, we are in for another wild ride. Cheers!
December 2007 Archives
By Tessa R. Salazar Inquirer BMW'S sports activity vehicle with the "athletic Asian physique" (as we call the X5's mini-me version) sports a new engine, a fresh interior and exterior design as well as some new high-tech stuff. The X3 magic has not yet worn out, as it retains the nimble handling, admirable steering and braking with the touch of that stiff ride. The new X3 2.5Si makes its debut with its in-line six-cylinder engine that features a lightweight composite magnesium/aluminum crankcase. It weighs just 165 kg and features variable Valvetronic valve control. Power The 2.5Siís power can be tapped through a six-speed automatic transmission that features the latest in converter technology and particularly powerful software standard (reduced reaction and gearshift times by up to 50 percent compared to a conventional A/T system, according to experts). For fuel-conscious SAV enthusiasts, try testing the X32.0d that features the four-cylinder power unit with the latest generation common-rail direct injection. The specs indicate that it has a max output of 150 hp, with torque at 330 Nm all the way from 2,000 to 2,500 rpm. The acceleration (according to the manufacturer's specs) is at 10.2 seconds (0 to 100 kph), with a top speed of 198 kph. The 2.5Si, on the other hand registers 218 hp (26 hp more than the previous X3 2.5Si) and peak torque of 250 Nm. Acceleration from 0 to 100 kph is at 8.5 seconds with a top speed rated at 210 kph. Average fuel consumption in the EU cycle is a surprising 10.1 km/liter. Agility The X3 credits its agility to BMW's permanent intelligent xDrive all-wheel-drive system, which feeds the power of the engine quickly and precisely to where it can be used best. Aside from ensuring driving stability and traction, its new DSC or dynamic stability control optimizes the effect of the brakes by increasing brake pressure as required in response to even the slightest touch. The DSC comprises such crucial vehicle systems as the anti-lock brakes, automatic stability control, and the hill descent control. The dynamic brake control also automatically maximizes brake pressure in an emergency when the driver is required to apply the brakes all out.
By Aida Sevilla Mendoza Inquirer RACING is not the only concern of the Federation Internationale de líAutomobile (FIA) although it makes and implements rules for motor sports worldwide including Formula One, the World Rally Championship, Le Mans, the Dakar Rally and the Race of Champions. The FIA is also concerned about the clamor for dramatic action to stop global warming which is the subject of the ongoing Climate Change Conference in Bali attended by delegates from nearly 190 nations. Although automobiles today are cleaner and more fuel-efficient as a result of improvements in technology and fuels that reduce both toxic emissions and the quantity of carbon dioxide emitted per vehicle, the FIA knows that the development and deployment of cleaner and more fuel-efficient technologies is the key to future mobility as demand for automobile use rises worldwide. Target Last October, the FIA general assembly tackled the global problem of climate change and called on the United Nations to adopt the first-ever worldwide target for carbon dioxide emissions in passenger cars, 140 g/km as part of a new international framework for greener motoring. This could serve as an international target that all can aspire to, the FIA noted, adding that the benchmark would provide a way of measuring progress of the entire automotive fleet worldwide. Although only about 10 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are attributable to road transport, this level is gradually increasing in all regions of the world. Currently there are 600 million motor vehicles in use around the world and this number is forecast to double by 2020 with the fastest growth of motorization occurring in emerging economies such as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China). While emission control technologies such as the catalyst and filters are reducing the automobile's impact on ambient air quality, the challenge remains to encourage global application of these technologies, especially in newly motorizing countries where urban air pollution adversely affects public health. Responsible mobility On the other hand, although the FIA and its member clubs have for many years supported responsible mobility and promoted cleaner, less carbon-intensive and more fuel-efficient motoring, the FIA contends that policies and measures to improve air quality, mitigate climate change and promote fuel economy must always be cost-effective and shared by all emission sources. It would be both unfair and ineffective to concentrate policy action on a single sector such as road transport while ignoring other sources of toxic or GHG emissions such as livestock, which is estimated to account for 18 percent of total GHG emissions measured in carbon dioxide equivalent. To achieve further progress in improving air quality and promoting fuel economy, action is required in three main areas: 1. Promoting new vehicle, fuel and component technologies; 2. Improving road network design and management; 3. Incentives and information to promote greener automotive technologies, driving and mobility choices by the consumer. Cost-effective Regarding the first main area, the FIA general assembly recommended that industry, in partnership with government, continue to invest in cost-effective low carbon and cleaner automotive technologies across a range of vehicle characteristics, including aerodynamics, combustion efficiency, drive trains, driver information devices, energy recovery and hybrids, rolling resistance and weight. Mutually supportive product development in improved quality and alternative fuels is required including natural gas and bio-fuels, the FIA said, provided that the latter can become more cost-effective and will not harm biodiversity and global food production. "As these technology innovations come to market, governments should adopt policies that encourage the use of a wider mix of power and fuel systems to enhance consumer choice and gradually reduce excessive dependence on fossil fuels," the FIA declared. In the third main area, the FIA general assembly recommended that governments work together with automobile clubs to support a comprehensive program of consumer information encouraging responsible mobility and the purchase of clean, less carbon-intensive vehicles, fuels and components which will not just benefit the environment but also reduce the cost of motoring. To provide accurate and independent information about the environmental performance of automotive-related products, the FIA proposes Eco-labeling and Eco-testing. Eco-driving The FIA also recommends the development of training programs to encourage fuel-efficient driving and the integration of such courses into driver licensing and safety training schemes. "Eco-driving" can be supported by the intro of on-board driver info devices such as econometers and gear shift indicators to aid the driver in sustaining more fuel-efficient behavior and thereby reduce motoring costs. Corollary to all these, FIA member clubs are now tasked to promote a "Make Cars Green" awareness campaign and a 10-point Guide for Greener Motoring. As the only FIA member club in this country, the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) assumes a new challenge. * * * TODAY'S BUMPER STICKER: Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else get your way.
WHEELSTV has an interesting series of videos, showcasing different concept cars from the 30s and other eras. Here are four of the videos:
CHECK out this Reuters video report on the world's oldest Rolls-Royce, which was auctioned off for 3.6 million pounds -- that's equivalent to $7.2 million. Whew!