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.

Automotive

8 car care tips during rainy season

Keep your vehicle in pristine condition!

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Taking care of your car, especially during heavy downpours, is just like taking care of your body — it goes a long way when done right. Driving during the rainy season is quite cumbersome. Here are some tips to keep your vehicle in pristine condition.

Clean that windshield

Most accidents are attributed to poor visibility. I know, I’ve been in one. After letting the rainwater dry up in your windshield, the mineral deposits accumulate and turn into dirt. This kind of neglect often leads to accidents, which is why it’s important to properly clean your windshield.

It pays off to have it cleaned on a regular basis, hopefully avoiding that build-up of dirt and dust. Or better yet, invest in window detailing. After all, a clean window gives you a better view of your surroundings.

Don’t forget to check your wipers

Part of maintenance is checking your wiper blades since they’re responsible for keeping your windshield and rear windows free from water and other contaminants. Since it can last anywhere from six months to a year (on average), you can always give a look and check if they’re due for replacement.

Clean those headlamps, too!

Having well-maintained headlights is a must during heavy downpours. It’s important to achieve optimum visibility during rain showers. Headlamps can get hazy or cloudy over time due to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and built-up grime (ew).

Some people would think the sole purpose of cleaning the headlamp is for appearance, but the truth is it should be regularly cleaned to maintain its proper function. Having clean headlamps will provide you with a well-lit pathway while driving in the rain.

Furthermore, you should always check your headlight bulbs for damages or if they need replacement.

Pay attention to your car’s battery

Have you experienced difficulty starting your car… in the middle of the road… in a heavy downpour? *panics internally*

This situation can be avoided if you pay attention to your car battery’s lifespan, which sometimes gets shorter due to the corrosion caused by humidity and potential droplets splashing during the rainy season. When the symptoms kick in, it’s about time you get ready lest you find yourself stranded.

Assess the quality of your tires

Make it a practice — or a habit — to ensure proper inflation every two weeks. Over- or under-inflated tires can lead to reduced traction and early wear. And we all know (or maybe you don’t) that vehicle traction is important to have that maximum gripping power during the rainy season. Yes, it can only be achieved when you have well-maintained tires.

Also, don’t forget to check the tire pressure of your spare!

Brake check, please!

Most accidents happen because brakes fail — but whose fault is that? Brakes take longer to dry during rainy situations. If you notice any squeaking or any grinding noises while braking, it’s clearly a sign you should have your vehicle checked immediately. What if your brake pads need a replacement?

Moreover, braking in the rain doesn’t work as quickly as it would on a dry or humid day. Remember to drive slower than usual and set a distance in between cars. Let go of that bumper-to-bumper traffic. We’re not Ariana Grande on “Honeymoon Avenue”.

Find the right car insurance

Prevention is better than cure. We’ve all heard that — and that’s primarily what insurance offers. It’s always better to be ready than sorry. For peace of mind, you should trust the right insurance for your vehicle.

For instance, there’s the Honda SENSING Insurance that’s available for Honda vehicles equipped with Honda SENSING such as the All-New HR-V, All-New Civic, CR-V, Accord, and the Civic Type R.

Honda partnered with AXA Philippines and BPI MS Insurance to offer preferential rates (starting at PhP 2,119 per month) for comprehensive insurance to customers who will purchase models with Honda’s advanced safety technology. Of course, there are different car insurance available, and programs like this are limited since this one, in particular, is being offered until December 31, 2022.

Again, it’s important to find the right car insurance. There are plenty, so research, learn a lot of details, and trust your instinct if it’s the right one. You know what’s best for your baby.

Wash and wax your car

I know it seems pointless to clean your car if it’s going to get dirty again, but it’s still rewarding to do so. Admittedly, I used to have that mindset until I’ve practiced rigorous self-care and started believing that if I made strenuous efforts to take care of my body, it should apply to my personal stuff too — gadgets, cars, appliances, furniture, et al.

Adding a protective layer of wax can help keep rain marks from forming, and makes it easier to clean the car after the rain. Seriously, it’s not just plain cosmetics at all. Wash and wax it up, folks!

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Automotive

Nissan’s e-POWER technology presents a new way to drive

Drive like an electric vehicle — powerful, smooth, and quiet — without the need for external charging!

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Following the success of Nissan’s electric vehicle (EV) technology through the Nissan LEAF, the company brings e-POWER.

It’s a 100 percent electric motor-driven system, aiming to deliver an EV-like drive without needing external charging, potentially opening the gateway to full EV ownership.

Nissan’s proof of innovation in the field of electrification

With e-POWER, the wheels are completely powered by the electric motor. The electricity for propulsion is generated by a highly-efficient gasoline engine, operating primarily to charge the high-performance lithium-ion battery pack.

The system also provides excellent fuel efficiency due to the fact that the gasoline engine is set to run at an optimal speed, operating only when the battery needs to charge.

Moreover, e-POWER delivers powerful acceleration, and a smoother one, thanks to its precise electric motor control at 1/10,000 per second.

A different kind of control

The technology also provides a new level of control. With the e-Pedal Step feature, drivers can accelerate and decelerate using only the accelerator pedal. The feature makes driving convenient in stop-and-go traffic and speeding through highways.

Furthermore, the feature is high on making the system fuel-efficient. The e-Pedal Step has regenerative braking, which generates electricity even with a slight deceleration.

Quiet, versatile system

The e-POWER system prides itself on quieter trips as compared to a traditional gasoline-powered car since it’s powered by a battery pack. It’s dedicated to keeping things quiet by monitoring the wheels to assess road roughness and activating the onboard engine when road noise increases. Thus, charging the battery without disrupting the cabin.

Additionally, e-POWER takes pride in being a versatile system, providing three driving modes. First is Sport Mode (S Mode), which prioritizes the motorist’s driving style while taking advantage of regenerative braking. Next is ECO Mode, which conserves battery by balancing acceleration smoothness and regenerative braking. Last is Standard Mode, which highlights acceleration with modest regenerative braking.

A revolutionary technology

Nissan’s e-POWER technology combines the efficiency of the Japanese car maker’s gasoline engines and the driving dynamics of an electric vehicle like the LEAF. It revolutionized the existing technology by further reducing the weight of the components, developing more responsive motor control methods, and optimizing overall energy management.

Nissan is moving towards its vision of bringing the future of mobility closer and making it more accessible to Filipinos. And it starts with the introduction of this revolutionary technology into the Philippine archipelago.

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Automotive

A glimpse on the future of motorcycles

Lycan takes on its ambitious desire to bring the first Filipino smart motorcycle

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It was like a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie. A futuristic motorbike greets me as I enter the garage of Lycan, the first all-Filipino independent motorcycle and technology company.

The sound of the welding machine fusing the parts of an avant-garde motorbike echoes like a chant in a campaign rally. It was invigorating, filling my body with effervescence; enthusiastic to meet the people behind Lycan in their headquarters in Quezon City.

The promise of a connected tomorrow

A few weeks ago, I caught a glimpse of what could be the future of motorcycles in the Philippines. GadgetMatch had a sit-down with Jaggy Gangat, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lycan Motors, and JM Grefaldo, the company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Gangat vividly remembered how Lycan started; a custom garage understanding what the market needs. Gangat was certainly part of the market, being a rider before more than an entrepreneur. With his background in business, strategic thinking, love for motorcycles, and desire to create an impact — Gangat was filled with idealism as he birthed Lycan.

Jaggy Gangat, CEO of Lycan Motorcycles, standing in front of the G6 prototype. | Photo by MJ Jucutan, GadgetMatch

But it wasn’t a simple, spontaneous plan that abruptly came to fruition, like those enacted in the movies. Gangat knew having a Filipino-made motorcycle isn’t enough.

Grefaldo came into the picture to make Lycan stand out. The answer was technology, or rather, making motorcycles smart. “Lycan wouldn’t be Lycan without technology and JM,” says Gangat as he vehemently introduced his CTO.

Gangat and Grefaldo believe in putting Filipinos one step closer to the future. The two shared the promise of a connected tomorrow; their eyes flickering with excitement like a star-eyed emoji as they discussed what they were about to bring in the nearest future.

From futuristic experiences of showcasing their motorcycles to a modern approach to purchasing a vehicle — Lycan wants to use technology to propel the Filipinos to a better tomorrow.

Photo by MJ Jucutan, GadgetMatch

Artificial intelligence (AI) at Lycan’s core

Ah, artificial intelligence. That tech jargon usually gets lost in translation. Lycan believes most people don’t fully understand or grasp the concept of AI. I agreed ardently. People fear what they don’t understand.

But artificial intelligence is found in almost every device we have now. It makes so much sense to see a motorcycle applying the same computer system to make it smart. As a matter of fact, life got easier in terms of communication, social interaction, and doing business — thanks to our smartphones employing AI properly.

In the same way, Lycan aspires to use AI to deliver convenience and ensure safety. The Filipino start-up is working on a proprietary voice assistant akin to Siri and Alexa, dubbed Luna.

Photo by MJ Jucutan, GadgetMatch

Luna AI is expected to give commands. With machine learning, it aims to hold a conversation with the rider to prevent distracted driving.

It’s bound to be paired with a smart helmet, making Luna the ears and mouth to help operate the system. With one command, Lycan’s motorcycles can activate without throttle assist.

In the nearest future, as Luna takes a more tangible shape after its development, the voice assistant will help navigate maps, exhibit the important statistics from the dashboard, integrate the data between the smartphone and mobile app, access remote diagnostics, and check the overall performance and condition of the motorcycle.

Gangat hopes to make the technology as solid as it can, like Elon Musk’s TESLA. Eventually, hopefully, the CEO dreams of a future where the motorbike can be smart enough to predict a situation, and hopefully, keep more bodies safe.

Photo by MJ Jucutan, GadgetMatch

An integrated experience

Lycan is also developing its own operating system called LmoS. In full, it’s called Lycan Motorcycles Operating System, functioning as the brain of its motorcycles, and eventually, the system for Luna AI.

Aside from the smart motorcycle, the company is developing a mobile app slated to be launched later this year alongside the G6. The app will be integrated into the motorcycle and is expected to work seamlessly with the smart helmet — operated by Luna AI and connected via Bluetooth and/or WiFi connectivity.

Photo by MJ Jucutan, GadgetMatch

For security purposes, Lycan is considering blockchain as a foundation to safeguard its users and the technology.

Helmet like Iron Man’s

The smart helmet is Lycan’s answer to the problem of distracted driving. A split second of taking your eyes off the road can unravel endless possibilities; one of which could be accidents happening in the blink of an eye.

While still under development, the smart helmet promises an Iron Man-like experience. The visor will have a heads-up display to give an overview of the riding experience, and to communicate with fellow smart helmet users.

Sensors are equipped inside the helmet, measuring your pulse and heart rate while communicating with the mobile app. One important thing would be its unique Smart Helmet Crash Detection technology. The helmet’s impact sensors will assess the kind of fall and the gravity of the impact.

Different levels will determine the next course of action, whether Luna will update Lycan, alert a local LGU — if the company gets to partner for emergency dispatch — or simply ask the rider about his/her/their current condition.

Personalize your motorcycles

Apart from the infusion of artificial intelligence and the application of Internet-of-Things on its products, Lycan prides itself on another innovative platform. Called BuilderX, the online configurator gives people the ability to design their motorcycles and get them personalized.

The platform aims to let people customize, save their designs, download, and place their orders. Lycan aspires to make purchasing their vehicles simpler, taking cues from the booming e-commerce platforms. The company promises to make it easy even for non-tech savvy individuals, making the process as easy as three steps: designing, ordering, and receiving.

Photo by MJ Jucutan, GadgetMatch

There will also be an option to pick up the motorcycle or receive it at home. The platform was backed by Gangat’s background in customizing motorcycles, reducing costs by tapping into e-commerce instead of opening up several dealerships, and answering people’s desire for a more personalized motorcycle — shying away from designs brought by foreign brands.

Reducing carbon footprint

Photo by MJ Jucutan, GadgetMatch

Like any company of tomorrow, Lycan wants to help in reducing its carbon footprint. Currently, the motorcycles are available in gasoline and hydrogen fuel-cell versions. Moving forward, Lycan is looking into a hybrid engine using hydrogen fuel cells and petroleum for internal combustion and eventually transforming into a pure hydrogen vehicle.

Concurrently, Lycan is developing batteries and engines to prepare for an EV variant. The company is looking into a 5000-kilowatt battery for high-speed electric vehicles.

A company that listens

As a start-up, Lycan offers one thing most motorcycle companies don’t: two-way communication with its consumers. Aside from the service and technology, Lycan aims to listen intently to the market. One way to prove this is the retail price that its market can afford (and potentially disrupt the industry).

The 400cc G6‘s MSRP is PhP 179,999 and reservation starts at PhP 9,850. Meanwhile, the 650cc GC6‘s MSRP is PhP 294,999 and reservation starts at PhP 19,720. Prices are subject to change.

Aside from being the company’s consumers, interested investors can take part in the growth of Lycan. See investment opportunities and be part of history as a shareholder.

Visit Lycan’s website for more information.

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