Automotive

Chevrolet Colorado High Country Storm: War painted

Still powerful, but better-looking

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People say your choice of car reflects your personality.

Some like speed, others like high-end luxury, and some others will choose utility and fuel economy over the rest. For the adventurous and rugged guys like me who prefer trucks and SUVs over sedans, the choice is simple: high-performance trucks/SUVs that are tough and stunning to look at are usually the main criteria. I have been obsessed with trucks since I was young and grew up wanting to do nothing more than drive them.

One of my favorite trucks in recent years are the Chevrolet Trailblazer and Colorado ever since they came out in the Philippines around 2013. I’ve read reviews, watched videos, and went to car shows to see them. Though they were not the most attractive looking, they were the best in their class, especially in performance.  The latest facelifted models, however, changed everything. It is now one of the most handsome looking SUVs/trucks you will see on the road today. With the rising trend and popularity of special edition performance off-road trucks, the Colorado had to come out with something of their own. Thus, the Chevy Colorado High Country Storm was born.

When this truck rolled up to pick me up, it immediately caught my attention even from afar. It was very good looking. You could instantly tell that this is not your ordinary Colorado.  The first thing that caught my attention were its daytime running lights. It gave the truck such a fierce looking facade, making it look somewhat angry and aggressive. I then noticed the decals, its 18-inch blacked-out rims, the black Sport Bar, and a few body trims. All of them put together gave the truck a sporty and rugged vibe. This was what an adventure-mobile was supposed to look like — like a warrior painted for war.

We drove this truck for 60 kilometers to Jungle Base off-road trail in Tanay, Rizal. Driving it on the road, the first thing I noticed was how powerful the 2.8 Duramax engine was especially while overtaking. I felt the acceleration you would normally find in a car running on petrol and it consistently felt like it had more than enough power to get me anywhere on the paved road. The 6-speed automatic transmission with Active Select Manual was also impressive and shifted flawlessly, although tends to switch to a lower gear. I felt very secure and confident driving it on the long winding road, through thick fog and heavy rain.

The rain-sensing wipers did the job wonderfully, auto headlights lit up when it got too dark, and traction control made the slippery road a lot manageable. There’s Lane Departure Warning, too, that beeped every time I skewed out of my lane unknowingly. Overall, the truck gave me a sense of safety and comfort.

Reaching the dirt road that lead to our destination, switching to 4WD was a breeze with just a turn of a rotary switch on the fly. We drove through mud and rocks until we reached the more challenging area. We switched to low range 4WD, turned on the Hill Descent Control, and all we had to do was steer the car down a steep decline of huge rocks and slippery mud.  This was where it felt even more mechanical, a machine working its own way through the obstacles ahead. You can hear and feel the entire mechanism working hard, braking individual wheels to keep a steady pace.  The wheel articulation was very impressive as it kept the car leveled through large rocks and deep ditches. Every part of the vehicle was working cohesively to keep us going.

We’d like to think we were able to push the Colorado High Country Storm to its limits. We climbed rocks, went through deep mud, steep inclines and declines, tested its wading capabilities through rivers, and even went on axel-bending terrains. Its turbocharged diesel engine — packing a lot of torque — is one of the main reasons the Colorado storm passed all these with minimal effort.

There were, however, a few downsides if you’re picking it out as a dedicated off-roader. There were no locking differentials and it’s a feature serious off-roaders will be looking for and something the competition has. The front bash plates were made of plastic and will protect from mud and water, but can be damaged when rock crawling. You’d also probably want to change its tires out. The stock tires get the job done for off-roading, but it takes extra effort. Ride comfort isn’t the best I’ve experienced and is quite bouncy, although that’s pretty common for pickups. Finally, the Sport Bar they call was mostly covered in piano finish hard plastic. It personally felt out of place and delicate.

All things considered, this truck was amazing and loved our time with it. It was fun to drive, very reliable, and stunning to look at. Just see for yourself.

Still can’t get enough of it? More action shots here:

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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