By Tessa R. Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE LAST strip of confetti from the Manila International Auto Show, attended by over 77,000 visitors, has barely been swept off the spacious hall of the World Trade Center, and yet the fireworks begin again for another car show, the Trans Sport Show 2008 at SM Megamall. But thatâs another story fit for restoration enthusiasts.
These two exhibits, spaced so close to one another, just show that Filipinosâ thirst for new cars isnât quenched by ârice-ingâ fuel and food prices.
So what exactly were the MIAS machines that made us forget, albeit for a while, the growl in the stomach, for the roar of the engines?
MIAS, which has for its theme âImagination in Motionâ this year and featured 15 new public debuts, on- and off-road test drivesâoccupied more than 18,000 square meters of exhibition space at the WTCMM. World-renowned precision driver Russ Swift injected more adrenalin with jaw-dropping stunts in the all-new Subaru Impreza WRX STI.
The two-seater Mazda MX-5 PRHT is now available for sale. Dubbed as the worldâs best-selling sports car, it single-handedly revived the roadster genre. Its recipe for success was simple: lightweight and driver-focused.
It introduced a novel Power Retractable Hard Top or PRHT feature on the third-generation MX-5.
Subaru Impreza WRX/WRX STI (RP launch)
Now officially a mainstream brand with the introduction of four variants of its iconic Impreza, Subaru is commonly known for its rally-bred variants: the R Sport with its 150 horsepower and symmetrical all-wheel drive for first-time Subaru buyers; the 2.5 WRX with 230 hp and the Impreza WRX STI. The legendary âSTIâ suffix stands for Subaru Technica International, Subaruâs in-house performance team.
With Dual Active Valve Control (Dual AVCS), the STI reaches a peak 305 hp. Putting all that power onto the pavement is an exclusive all-wheel drive system that features a driver controllable system dubbed Driver Control Center Differential (DCCD).
BMW M3 CoupÃ© (public debut)
No car has reached cult status as quickly as the BMW M3. And like its status in automotive history, the newest one is indeed mighty quick, obliterating the 100 kph mark in just 4.8 seconds. Based on the award-winning 3 Series CoupÃ©, the M3 is built from the ground up in order to become an even more superior driving machine.
It starts from the right engine: a 4.0-liter V8 cocking up 420 hp and 400 Nm of torque. The striking power dome on the aluminum hood, extra-large air intakes and powerfully flared wheel arches signify the M3âs athletic character. In order to take the extra power, the chassis was extensively reworked by BMW M including more powerful brakes and a driver selectable Electronic Damper Control system.
Mitsubishi Lancer (public debut), Lancer Evolution X (RP launch)
The all-new Lancer is powered by an all-new, all-aluminum 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to either a 5-speed manual or CVT. Performance junkies will appreciate the 158-hp engine, standard 18-inch alloys and Evo-inspired body kit. Audiophiles will revel in the 9-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system, while everyone else will love the roomy and well-built interior.
For the full-blooded rally experience though, thereâs no substitute for the Lancer Evolution. Now on its tenth iteration, the latest Evo features a turbocharged version of the Lancerâs engine which is good for 280 hp (the Japanese mandatory figure) and 422 Nm of torque. While a 5-speed manual is still offered, the one to have is the new twin-clutch 6-speed automatic gearbox. Other new technology debuts in the Evolution X include Mitsubishiâs Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC), Active Stability Control and Active Yaw Control.
Honda Accord (public debut)
Completely redesigned from the ground up, the new Accord 3.5-liter VTEC engine features increased dimensions for a more luxurious interior.
The range-topping variant features an innovative cylinder management system called Variable Cylinder Management or VCM to run either in 3, 4 or 6 cylinder mode achieving fuel economy levels comparable to that of a compact car. With all cylinders firing though, the Accord is somewhat of a muscle car, pushing out close to 270 hp.
Chrysler 300C Startech (public debut)
The Startech 300C features a signature chrome grille with Matrix design, 18-inch wheels and HID headlamps, Startech illuminated door sills, aluminum pedals and rear spoiler.
Premium leather seats, power moonroof and a 276-watt digital Boston Acoustics sound system are standard.
Mazda6 (public debut)
Mazda 6 showed off four-door sports car look with its voluptuous âcycle fendersâ up front and sleek roofline. It had minimal overhangs, sleek front and rear fascia and generous wheelbase with a bigger engine: an MZR four-cylinder engineâs displacement is up to 2.5-liters bumping the maximum power to a healthy 168 hp. It has an adaptive five-speed automatic with sequential shift override and cruise control.
Ford Focus TDCi Race Car
Ford Philippines unveiled the racing version of its Ford Focus hatchback. This time, it packs the locomotive-like torque of the TDCi turbodiesel engine, mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Tuason Racing School also showed off its Formula Ford open-wheel race car, powered by a flexible-fuel capable Ford gasoline engine.
Ford Escape, Everest, Ranger (New Off-Road Challenge)
Fordâs popular trio of utility vehicles was put to mud test with the Ford Off-road challenge at the front lawn with tougher obstacles and steeper ascents. The course demonstrated that underneath the passenger-car comfort of the Escape, Everest and Ranger are tough, immensely capable engines and chassis that can tackle some of the toughest terrain.
Chana Benni (RP launch)
Chana enters into the Philippine car market. It is one of the most experienced manufacturers, building cars as early as 1957. Initially, the Philippine lineup of Chana consists of eight new models. The flagship Chana is the Benni, which completed a 26,000-km trek in 86 days from Chongqing, China to South Africa.
The Benni has a 1.3-liter 16-valve engine but makes up for it with a (stratospheric) 22.72 km/L mileage and Euro-III emission standards. The 84-hp engine is hooked up to a five-speed manual that makes the Benni capable of speeds in excess of 140 kph. It features an Electric Power Steering (EPS) system. A driverâs side airbag and antilock brakes complete the standard package. Itâs backed up by a 3-year/100,000-km warranty.
Chery A1, V2, Karry, Tiggo AT
Chery launched four vehicles: the A1 subcompact comes with a 1.3-liter engine and manual transmission; the V2 MPV, which is also powered by a 1.3-liter engine; the larger Karry MPV which comes with a 1.6-liter engine and manual transmission. The SUV Tiggo has automatic transmission priced to compete with Japanese subcompact cars.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
The iconic vehicle comes in a new edition, the first-ever four-door Wranger Unlimited. The only four-door convertible on the market features an extended-wheelbase layout for greater passenger room and riding comfort. The trademark Jeep off-road capability is intact, with best-in-class ground clearance, approach and departure angles; enhanced Dana axles, available next-generation Command-Trac and Rock-Trac transfer cases, new electric axle lockers and electronic-disconnecting front sway bar.
The Kama Trucks, distributed in the Philippines by Transport Equipment Automotive Component Inc, has light and medium- size commercial truck lines. The company produces auto parts, intermediate and small-sized multifunction diesel engines, marine and land-used generators, machine tools, construction and mining machinery and general purpose machinery. The manufacturer is Shangdong Kama Automobile Ltd with a total plant size of 36 hectares and an annual production capacity of 60,000 trucks.
Suzuki APV Type-II (public debut)
Suzuki, now known for its Swift and Grand Vitara, introduced its upgraded 2008 Suzuki APV. The 8-seater APV is powered by a 1.6-liter engine mated to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.
Sinag Solar Car (special display)
The Sinag solar car is the Philippinesâ entry to the World Solar Challenge in Australia. The Philippinesâ first solar car competed in the grueling 3,000-km race against 40 other entries from around the world.
With all these mouth-watering, palm-moistening offers glimpsed at the MIAS, motorists seem to take the governmentâs call to eat half the rice theyâre used to in stride. As long as a spanking new car stands proudly in our garages, we can sleep soundly at night.