Automotive

2019 Honda Brio RS: The sporty baby Jazz

A fun ride through and through

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For millennials and young professionals, choosing which car to buy could be a tough choice to make. For some, it has to pass certain requirements like fuel efficiency, ride comfort, space, if it looks good, and more importantly if it fits the budget. This is what first came to my mind when we got to test the 2019 Honda Brio RS. I think it has all the criteria most of us need for our daily commute and I’ll tell you why.

At first glance, it will give you the impression of a baby Jazz as it follows traditional Honda design cues.  It looks far better than its competing compact hatchbacks and is definitely a big design upgrade than the previous generation Brio.  From the front, this car looks aggressive and masculine for its size. The rear, however, still leans on the conservative side. Together with its sporty side skirts, the side profile is sleek with forward-tilting character lines giving it a sense of action and speed.


Being an RS variant, there are additional design upgrades which include the black roof, blacked-out honeycomb grille, a rear spoiler with mounted third brake light, 15-inch RS design alloy rims, and of course, the bright red RS badges plastered all over. These positively add to the sportiness of the vehicle.

Its Phoenix Orange Pearl body looked glowing hot when the sun hits and we like it

Hopping in, you will immediately notice the orange accents running through the air vents, glove box, and side panels, plus the orange stitching and patterns on the seats. Next, we see the 7-inch touch-enabled infotainment system at the center of the dash which is connected to six speakers. Although that’s the case, we still weren’t impressed with the sound quality as it felt a bit short on bass.

Whether as the driver or passenger, you are seated in a low orientation and feel very close and planted to the ground. The height of the steering wheel and dashboard takes some getting used to if you always drive tall cars. But don’t get the idea that it’s cramped up inside. The seats up front are spacious with plenty of headroom to spare while at the back we have a decent amount of legroom for the average Asian. The trunk was large enough to carry our equipment along with other stuff. It was impressively spacious for a car this size.

We drove to our favorite scenic route of the Sierra Madre mountains, putting the car through its paces. The Brio is powered by a 1.2-liter SOHC i-VTEC engine which I think is sufficient enough for a car this small. It is then mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with sport mode and the company’s Earth Dreams Technology.

This car gives you a smooth and quiet ride even at high speeds. The cabin is astonishingly quiet with very minimal wind noise and vibrations. Thanks to its CVT implementation, this car is so smooth that I didn’t realize I was already going 90 on a 50kph road.

You cannot ask it to drive like its more spirited cousins, though. It is not the fastest accelerating car and pushing down the gas pedal when overtaking or driving up a steep road takes the CVT some time to adjust and you won’t get that instant punch you were expecting.

The Brio also lacks traction control and other basic features like rear sensors and reverse camera. It doesn’t even have a center console box and an armrest, but these are things we can brush aside. In terms of fuel efficiency, we were able to average 11.1km/liter which is not bad considering we drove it aggressively through the winding and steep roads of Tanay, Rizal. Steering was light and handled tight corners remarkably.  Overall, this car gets the job done. It gets you where you need to go and is reliable, economical, safe, and don’t forget that it’s such a looker.

Will I recommend the Brio RS? In the city, this car would be perfect. Although it’s not the most powerful more so for long drives. I can tell you one thing, though, it sure is fun to drive. I’m actually not a big fan of small hatchbacks but it all boils down to the company’s target market. The Brio is tuned to be sporty and modernly stylish so it might appeal to those looking for something that looks fun and doesn’t break the bank.

With those, I could confidently say that the Brio RS has the edge over its small hatchback competitors in terms of performance and design. You won’t go wrong with this car.

Automotive

2019 Suzuki Jimny: A little monster on steroids

We took it to where it truly shines

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What is cute and adorable but also fierce and beastly when set loose? No, the answer is not a rabid puppy — it’s the all-new 2019 Suzuki Jimny.

When we talk about extreme off-roading, normally we would think of big, bulky, expensive SUVs with massive tires, monstrous lift kits, and a gas-guzzling engine. No one will think of a small, Japanese kei car to be a good off-roader, but that’s where most are wrong.


The 2019 Suzuki Jimny is probably one of the most anticipated 4x4s this year and is one capable off-roader in the market today. We were given the chance to bring the 2019 Jimny All Grip Pro to our favorite off-road testing grounds at Jungle Base in Tanay, Rizal — a renowned playground in the off-road community.

Let’s begin with the looks. The styling will not fit everybody’s taste. There is not much to look at with the exterior since it’s basically a box on wheels. Though it stays true to its styling heritage and looks more like a modern second-gen Suzuki Samurai.

Personally, though, I like it. It’s simple, rugged, and I actually find it kind of cute. Being the way it is, there is so much potential to personalize it to your preference and needs and it excites me to see differently customized Jimnys on the road. It’s a blank canvas waiting to be modified.

The interior is also pretty basic and really has no luxury features but we can easily overlook that since this small SUV is not built for luxury; it’s built to be tough. Mounted on the center is a very decent infotainment system. It spans nine inches across but it does not support Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

Other features include Cruise Control, Hill Descent Control with Hill Hold, Traction Control, and Power Windows. You have loads of headroom, decent legroom for the front but a bit cramped at the back. Seats are also fairly comfortable.

On a personal note, I really liked how the B-pillar is placed behind the driver giving you an unobstructed panoramic view of the side of the car — advantageous for offroading.

Driving the Jimny on paved roads felt bouncy and jiggly, while cornering had to be done carefully. Body roll is an issue and being a narrow and tall car, you kind of feel like you could roll when taking on tight corners with speed. It also struggles to gain speed even with a new and more powerful engine. This means you sometimes need to catch the right timing when overtaking.

No one will be buying the Jimny for racing, anyway, as speed is not its best asset. This car truly shines when the pavement ends.

Once we got to the dirt road, we were amazed by how smooth it suddenly felt. Driving at around 40kph on soft gravel felt like driving on butter. It was unbelievably quiet and smooth, gliding through the trail and absorbing the bumps.

Switching to 4-Low when the trail got tougher impressed us even more. The little Jimny tackled large rocks, ditches, and mud effortlessly. Thanks to its trailing arm coil spring suspensions up front and at the rear, as well as its improved approach and departure angles, articulation was beyond impressive.

On paper alone, it even has a better approach, departure, and break-over angles than a stock Jeep Wrangler and I honestly did not expect that much wheel travel.

Its new 1.5-liter K15B DOHC VVT engine produces only 101 horsepower and 130nm of torque which may seem small. Although you have to remember this car weighs only a little over a thousand kilos giving it a better power-to-weight ratio than most SUVs out there.

Even on engine idle speeds, this little monster on steroids crawls without even having to step on the throttle. It has solid axles both front and rear but it lacks any type of locking differentials. However, the vehicle will sense when a wheel is losing traction and will automatically apply the brakes to distribute power to other wheels. It’s not as good as differential locks but it will still get you going.

Its rigid ladder frame can handle any twists and uneven terrain without having to worry. Water wading is a downside, however. Being very light, the Jimny can easily be swept away in strong currents when river-crossing and is highly discouraged. Rollover angle is also very limited since it’s tall and narrow, but not to worry as you get a digital clinometer display to make sure you don’t exceed the limits.

An important note to remember is that the Jimny has quite a small tank. When over landing, make sure you bring enough extra fuel for the trip the back. Consumption on average is 12-15 kilometers per liter and around nine kilometers per liter when offroading.

Priced at PhP 1,095,000 pesos for the GLX All Grip model, the Suzuki Jimny is probably the most affordable off-road SUV that is truly capable. Now that I’ve driven and tested it, I want one for myself more than ever. It’s extremely fun, tough, efficient and I highly recommend it.

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Automotive

WOCEE 2019: Nissan Intelligent Mobility Tour 2.0

Armed to make driving safer

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Car safety is a top priority in this generation of automobiles.

This is why automotive manufacturers have been developing and innovating all kinds of systems to make their cars safer and easier to drive. And because of these efforts, customers are more confident in their daily commutes.


This year at the Nissan Intelligent Mobility Pop-up Booth at the World of Consumer Electronics Expo in the Philippines, the brand was able to showcase their latest technologies in car safety through demos, interactive displays, and 3D projection mapping simulations. The Nissan Intelligent Mobility (NIM) tour aims to educate the public about the new features they have to offer.

The tour — albeit quick — was informative, educational, and gives you a glimpse as well as a first-hand experience into Nissan’s aim to build safer and more intelligent cars. Here are some of the things we learned:

Nissan is truly a class-leader when it comes to safety and driver-assist features. It helps you see the things happening around you with the use of cameras, sensors, and radars.

At the interactive area using NIM Digital Table Top Simulator, we learned of these highlighted features: Nissan’s Intelligent Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection warns the driver of potential danger. There’s also the company’s Intelligent Forward Collision Warning with Intelligent Emergency Braking which can detect the difference between pedestrians, animals, cars, and other obstacles. This feature can bring the car to a full stop when the driver fails to do so. Blind Spot Warning and Lane Departure Warning, on the other hand, lets the driver change lanes confidently at high speeds.

Nissan boasts its new Intelligent Rear View Mirror available in the new Terra. This gives you a clear unobstructed HD view of what’s behind with just a flip of a switch. Additionally, an Intelligent All-Around View Monitor gives you a 360-degree bird’s eye view of your vehicle and its surroundings. This system has selectable split-screen close-ups of the front, rear, and curbside views that help you navigate through tight spaces. We had the chance to experience these features through the use of their 3D projection-mapped driving simulation. Moving Object Detection, cross-traffic alert and pedestrian crossing with auto braking are just some of the helpful features we need when driving around the city.

Are you bad at parking? Not to worry, NIM also features automatic Parallel Parking and Perpendicular Parking assist. Basically, you just have to let go of the steering wheel and the car will steer itself for you. Intelligent Cruise Control with Distance Control Assist is adaptive and keeps you at a safe distance at high speeds or even in traffic while automatically applying the brakes to maintain a safe following distance.

To end the tour, we were given the chance to test these features in real-world scenarios by driving the latest Terra and Navara around the area. With Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility features, driving was really effortless.

Experience the Nissan Intelligent Mobility Tour 2.0 happening nationwide To learn more, visit Nissan Philippines website at www.nissan.ph

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Automotive

This is what a Ferrari-powered SUV looks like

Goes up to 300kph

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For those who demand speed but prefer the comfort and spacious offerings of an SUV, look no further. The Maserati Levante Trofeo has arrived in the Philippines sporting an engine from a Ferrari 488 GTB.

Starting from the looks, it’s got the familiar Levante aesthetic with just some fresh updates for its front bumper. Larger intakes and a front grille carrying aggressive lines are what greets you head-on.


While at the rear, things are not as aggressive, but it still features premium-looking taillights and accents. It’s also got new shoes in the form of larger 22-inch forged aluminum wheels.

The engine is a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 that outputs 590 horsepower and a whopping 730Nm of torque. It can go from 0-100kph in as fast as 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 300kph. The company’s Q4 Intelligent All-Wheel Drive System delivers power to all its wheels.

Maserati says it also sports new suspensions that have been tweaked out to support all the extra horses from the engine and provide better handling and comfort. It also boasts a low center of gravity and a 50:50 weight balance that they’ve come to be known for.

Step inside and you’ll see some signature Maserati design like its analog clock mounted on the central dash. However, the interior now has an extra sporty vibe going on — it’s been equipped with sculpted sport seats and matte carbon fiber trims have been applied to the dashboard and paddle shifters.

No official pricing has been announced during the launch but to see this beauty up close, you may head over to the Maserati and Ferrari showroom at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Manila.

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