Automotive

A racing virgin’s experience at the Toyota Vios Racing Festival

Challenging, but something worth doing again

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I love driving. Whether it’s an out of town drive for hours or simply going for a short trip with the wife, one could always count me in for such activities. So when Toyota Motor Philippines extended an invite to their annual Vios Racing Festival, I didn’t think twice and submitted my name.

I thought, “I drive pretty well on the road so this shouldn’t be that challenging. How hard is it to avoid cones, anyway?”

Boy, was I wrong.

The Racing Festival

As a quick background, Toyota Motor Philippines has been organizing Vios motorsport events in the country for six years now. Called the Vios Cup, the circuit race celebrates the spirit of Waku-Doki (shortened from the Japanese phrase “Waku waku doki doki” which translates to a feeling of “heart-pumping excitement”) and features drivers from different backgrounds — celebrities, new Vios owners, and car club members are just some of the individuals invited at this special event.

The Autocross Challenge

This season, TMP has added the Autocross Challenge that runs alongside the main event. It’s a timed competition where participants race through an obstacle course and finish with the quickest lap time possible. Basically, the company presents it as an amateur-friendly way to get into the world of motorsport.

The Experience

Unlike the main event where participants spent months training for the circuit race, I and my fellow media participants only got one day of practice driving around the obstacles before the event. The cars were provided by Toyota — a souped-up Vios OMR fit for the track — complete with manual gearbox and loads of torque. We were also given tracksuits and helmets so apart from keeping me safe, I looked like a legitimate race car driver wearing those.

As the title states, I had no experience whatsoever in racing cars. After the briefing, I was basically given the suit and the car and thrown into the track to get a feel for how to make the fastest lap time possible.

So I got in the car, drove up to the starting line, lodged the transmission to the first gear, and gave the engine a full rev. As soon as I was given the go signal Fast-and-Furious-style, I was off — complete with tires screeching.

The obstacle consisted of multiple chicanes and we needed to slalom our way past them. To make things more interesting, there were sharp u-turns and a 540-degree turn at one point and it was where I spun out since I made the mistake of applying brakes while making the turn. It felt like I was in a movie, though, like Ansel Elgort in Baby Driver.

After finishing the first lap, I made mental notes of how I can improve my time for the next practice run. The problem here wasn’t how to avoid obstacles. It’s how to avoid obstacles with speed to be able to finish with the quickest time.

Good thing there were seasoned racers with us and they were able to give me some tips. One could say that taking on the Autocross challenge is similar to dancing — you have to know exactly when to shift, when to brake, and when to turn. These are key elements that I needed to keep in mind, pretty much like memorizing dance steps. I did better time during my second attempt and that concluded our practice day.

Then came the race day itself. After breakfast, I was just in my hotel room sitting down and pretending to drive while thinking about the track. I saw the racing movie Rush a few years back and that’s where I got the idea of imagining yourself on the track, taking on the obstacles and practicing gear shifting at the right moment.

After the opening ceremonies and the main event kicking off, it was our time to compete. To cut some of the details, I finished with a time of 1:01 with the top 10 finalists finishing at 0:58. Considering it was my first time doing something like that, I was pretty happy and satisfied with my performance.

End of Day Thoughts

As someone who’s always into trying out new things, participating in an Autocross Challenge was definitely one for the books. It’s a great initiative from Toyota Philippines to continuously hold events like this to keep the spirit of motorsport alive in the country.

The racing festival itself, even if you’re not a participant, was a really enjoyable event even for the entire family. It’s also worth recognizing TMP’s efforts to bring new blood into the sport every year as it’s not exclusive to Vios owners only. In fact, they’re also opening the Autocross Challenge for the public through their social media pages.

So if you want to get into the adrenaline-pumping world of racing, head to their official pages and see how you can be part of the next Toyota Vios Racing Festival.

If you’re still reading up to this point, it just means you’re one interested fellow and you might want to check out the event next year when it makes a comeback.

You’ll enjoy it. I know I did!

Automotive

Land Rover launches hybrid electric SUVs, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport

Part-electric, all-terrain

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When you think of electric vehicles, you’re usually thinking of city driving or, at least, travelling through city roads. However, the electric vehicle segment has already developed cars that can traverse all types of terrains.

Recently, celebrating its 50th anniversary, Land Rover has launched its second set of hybrid electric SUVs, the Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport.

The plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) sport a 2.0L Ingenium turbocharged petrol engine complemented by an 85kW electric powertrain, churning out 404ps of horsepower and 640Nm of torque. Both engines have a 0-100km/h time of just 6.7 seconds. Both also have a top speed of 220km/h.

Either model will come in two modes: Parallel Hybrid mode and EV mode. The default Parallel Hybrid mode will use both the petrol engine and the electric motor to power the vehicle. In doing so, the vehicle can optimize usage of both engines, complemented by a smart computer analyzing driving conditions and destinations. Meanwhile, the all-electric EV mode will allow for a quieter, no-emission drive.

Using the default mode, drivers can reach up to a whopping 700 kilometers before needing a recharge or a refuel. On the other hands, the EV mode can reach up to 50 kilometers without the petrol engine.

Both models come with a 13kWh Li-ion battery that charges from empty in just 2 hours and 45 minutes. Both are covered with an eight-year, 160,000-kilometer warranty for when the battery dips below 70 percent health.

If you purchase either model, Land Rover will bundle a free Type 2 7kWh wall charge. However, you’ll still need to pay for installation fees outside of the price tag. The carmaker will evaluate households if their homes are compatible with installation.

The Range Rover PHEV starts at PhP 11,990,000. Meanwhile, the Range Rover Sport PHEV starts at PhP 9,490,000. The price tags already come with a wall charger. A second charger will sell for PhP 105,000, pending installation fees.

SEE ALSO: Jaguar launches the all-electric I-PACE

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Automotive

Jaguar launches the all-electric I-PACE

Two motors to power through the week

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In today’s tough times, an electric vehicle presents one of the most economic decisions when it comes to travelling around the metro. Besides an incredibly quiet drive, powering an electric vehicle is more affordable than chugging through liters of fuel every week. Unfortunately, the problem is still the same: the lack of infrastructure.

Fortunately, electric carmakers are working on building personal infrastructure for its customers. Particularly, Jaguar has launched its globally recognized electric vehicle, the Jaguar I-PACE.

Sporting 400ps of horsepower and 696Nm of torque, the I-PACE can effectively use 97 percent of its electric power, compared to a paltry 70 percent in traditional electric powertrains. Further, Jaguar boasts a 0-100km/h time of just 4.8 seconds, thanks to two motors under the hood. The company will also ship software updates over the air, preventing the need to visit service centers all the time.

With its 90kWh battery, the vehicle can drive up to 470 kilometers, a perfect distance for driving around the city. Charging from empty will take 12 hours and 48 minutes. Of course, since drivers won’t usually drive the maximum range every day, a weekly charging time should be enough.

The I-PACE comes with a future-proof 11kW on-board charger. Further, Jaguar is bundling a Type 2 7kW wall charger for households. However, the price tag doesn’t come with installation costs. The company will assess the homes of those interested in the electric vehicle, especially to accurately price the car. In any case, the battery comes with an eight-year, 160,000-kilometer warranty for when the battery dips below 70 percent health.

The all-electric Jaguar I-PACE will start at PhP 7,590,000, pending installation costs. The first charger will come with the price, but a second one will cost an additional PhP 105,000.

SEE ALSO: Land Rover launches hybrid electric SUVs, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport

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Apps

Waze gets a new look!

It was long overdue and it’s finally here

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If you frequently take the roads and use Waze as your driving companion, you may have gotten used to how it look — no matter how dated it seemed. That’s changing now as the app is getting an all new look.

The company says the brand refresh “reinforces inclusivity and connection into every journey on the road.” Whatever that means, the revamped Waze app now follows a more flat design and with more expressive cartoony mood indicators.

The new visual language based on roads and maps which will also be seen in multiple places, including the Waze website, emails, and social channels.

“This brand refresh encapsulates that unique Waze experience visually, with a new grid format based on our map, new Moods to capture the infinite array of emotions we all feel while driving and a lively color palette that celebrates the joy that we always try to bring to the road, and the magic of our community and the way we work together for better,” said Waze Head of Creative Jake Shaw.

What do you think? Do you like this new look or do you prefer the old one?

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