Automotive

The Ford EcoSport is the essential travel buddy for tech geeks

For both beginners and sporty drivers

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For years, automobiles have slowly left the realm of technology. Now, at least in the public’s eyes, cars exist more as a means of transportation, rather than feats of technology.

However, if you were part of the driving public over the last decade, you would have realized two things. Firstly, a great car is just as invaluable as an amazing flagship phone. Secondly, with the number of features packed into a car today, the line between technology and transportation is blurring once again.

Just as how they pioneered the moto industry in the United States, Ford is again leading the charge for technologically capable cars for the modern market. In 1908, it was the first Model T Ford. In 2018, it’s the Ford EcoSport.

What’s under the hood?

Sporting a 1.5-liter Ti VCT 110ps/142Nm engine, the Ford EcoSport is a capable daily driver for both urban stop-and-start traffic and countryside rough riding. For its size, the EcoSport straddles the fine line between sedan and SUV.

Further, this hardy engine is mated to a 6-speed PowerShift transmission (5-speed for manual). From a performance standpoint, the EcoSport transitions smoothly in and out of Sport mode.

Potholes? No problem!

With all this in mind, the EcoSport can blaze through most driving situations you can throw at it. Whether it was for urban trekking through tight roads or riding through tough rural tracks, the EcoSport powered through with barely a hiccup.

Potholes and unpaved roads were no match for the EcoSport’s suspension. Jolts and drops didn’t have as much impact as it usually does with other cars. The EcoSport inspires confidence even for inexperienced drivers.

Even with moderately deep mud pits, the EcoSport can power through with just brute force. Its capable engine can clear obstacles without flooring the pedal. Additionally, its high ground clearance can go through the debilitating floods that usually frequent the metro.

The EcoSport’s confidence carries itself despite challenging situations. A lot of cars today don’t inspire the same confidence as the Ford EcoSport.

Crank it up to 11

As with most Ford cars, the EcoSport carries a welcome Sport mode for accessing that extra boost you need for both smoother and hardier conditions. Sadly, most people don’t access this feature out of fear for what it’s capable of.

As the name implies, the Sport mode brings a sportier vibe to the EcoSport’s drive. Costing a small bit of fuel efficiency, the specialized mode injects improved speed, handling, and traction to everyday drives.

Personally, the Ford EcoSport brought one of the smoothest driving experiences I’ve handled across the industry. The Sport mode handled amazingly well against metro traffic.

All that junk inside that trunk

Besides exemplary performance, the EcoSport is a champ at four- to five-seater space allotment.

There’s nothing more comfortable than a ride that offers a mile’s worth of legroom. While the Ecosport isn’t the most spacious, it offers more than adequate room for even long legs. Riding or driving for hours is a breeze with the EcoSport’s space.

Sporting around twenty slots and compartments for gizmos, the EcoSport can carry an entire storeroom of goodies. Even as a dedicated tech geek, I was able to fit complete rosters of devices. On a road trip, I brought a sizable bag with my huge 15-inch laptop, an assorted yarn of chargers, mice, and mouse pads. It fits snuggly with a hard case for my DSLR and its variety of lenses.

Even then, the EcoSport can still pack in bags of food, gym bags, and more people. Ford even boasts that the back trunk has space for a 560-liter washing machine.

Despite the wide space available, the EcoSport’s thermal control system can cool or heat passengers adequately throughout the cabin.

Jamming to the sync

Sadly, commercially viable self-driving cars are still years into the future. Thankfully, smart technology isn’t limited to intuitive AI.

As always, Ford installs their trademark SYNC technology into the Ford EcoSport. The feature melds the car with the abilities of a smartphone.

Its most popular use is to connect your phone’s media to the car’s entertainment system. Besides through an AUX, USB, memory card, or CD, SYNC’s Bluetooth connectivity adds convenience to jamming through congested traffic.

The feature also adds to your device’s phone features. It takes a hands- and distraction-free approach to managing your phone life.

Additionally, the features boast added support for the most useful apps for driving. With a bit of technological know-how, the car’s infotainment system can access and display Waze for convenient navigating through alleyways and side streets.

Safety first

Ford remains at the forefront of road safety. With a slew of safety features, drivers can rest assured that the EcoSport won’t skid uncontrollably.

The EcoSport comes equipped with an Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and Electronic Stability Program. The mechanisms prevent skidding, wheel spins, and understeering.

Further, the rear also has parking sensors to help with all forms of parking.

Pick your colors

Even with the all-in-one package, the Ford EcoSport offers options for how it looks. It comes in four variants (Ambiente 1.5L MT, Trend 1.5L MT, Trend 1.5L AT, Titanium 1.5L AT) and six different colors (Panther Black, Ingot Silver, Winning Blue, Candy Red, Mars Red, Frozen White). Personally, the Frozen White variant is quite the looker.

Further, sportier fans can grab the Black Edition, which offers more style than the six regular variants. Besides black finishing for the exterior grills and tires, the variant also touts roof cross bars, rear spoilers, illuminated scruff plates, and sports pedals.

SEE ALSO: Ford launches all-new Mustang and Expedition at MIAS 2018

Automotive

Audi’s Holoride is a VR experience like no other

Back seat car rides will never be the same again

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It had been a long day, but I could still barely contain my excitement as a fancy car whizzed me down the interstate to a race track on the outskirts of Las Vegas, one chilly evening before the start of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show. 

While the in-seat back massage made me wish the ride was longer, I also couldn’t wait to get there. Tonight would be my first time in an e-Tron, Audi’s new fully electric SUV, and my first taste of what Audi calls the future of mobility, one with entertainment content at its center.

It’s an interesting proposition, one I’m more than willing to chew on. With self-driving vehicles on the horizon, tonight, instead of getting behind the wheel, I take a back seat, put on a VR headset, and trade my current reality for one that promises to be more exhilarating.

Called “Rocket’s Rescue Run,” it’s the first title in a collaboration between Marvel and Disney and Audi’s new spin off venture Holoride, that aims to make VR entertainment a mainstay in cars of the future.

As the e-tron’s driver steps on the accelerator, in my alternate universe my ship surges through space. I’m joined by my sidekick Rocket Raccoon, and together we team up to help Iron Man take down a mob of Thanos’ space goons.

I’ve had many VR experiences before, but none like this. As soon as the SUV pulls away, the whole experience makes perfect sense. Every twist, every sharp turn, every bit of acceleration or sudden brake is matched by the same sensation in the game. For the entire 5-minute ride, my body is tricked into believing this reality. Not an easy feat for an utterly nitpicky tech journalist, I can only begin to imagine how big of a technical challenge it was to pull off.

I wield my laser gun like a pro, take down an evil mothership, and celebrate our victory with fireworks. The experience ends, and the e-tron stops. Reluctantly, I take off my headset. It feels like I’ve just been on a theme park ride, but from the privacy of my own car — well, not really, but I wish — and without standing in an hour-long line. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that during my adventure the e-tron reached speeds of up to 90mph. We’ve navigated plenty of sharp turns, too, but I don’t feel so woozy.

Supposedly matching the car’s movements to the virtual reality experience helps in mitigating nausea. As I get out, I thank my driver, but also can’t help but imagine a world that’s driver-optional.

At CES, we saw Audi’s vision of the future, a concept car called the Aicon, with an interior that resembles more of a lounge than a current automobile. As with Holoride, the development of Aicon represents a shift in the idea of mobility, one that’s ushered in by a focus on passengers instead of drivers. Together, Aicon and Holoride make perfect sense in a future world of fully autonomous vehicles. If no one is driving, what else are we to do?

Anything you want to, apparently. Cars are now seen as multi-purpose spaces, just another room that we occupy as we travel from place to place: be it a relaxation pod, a meeting room, or your own private cinema.

The team behind Holoride is most invested in the latter, creating entertainment experiences that are just long enough to fill the entire duration of your trip. They’re calling it “elastic content,” VR games and adventures that automatically adjust to congestion and shortcuts, so that you’re never left without something to occupy you.

Together, Aicon and Holoride make perfect sense in a future world of fully autonomous vehicles.”

Soon, Holoride plans to open its technology to more car manufacturers, content creators, and game developers. The goal is for a wide range of immersive experiences, customized to events in the real world like traffic jams or stop lights, and for those experiences to be available in more car brands. Apart from games, like the one I played, the company is also planning movies, interactive features, and educational tours. Indeed, the type of content you could enjoy is limited only by the imagination.

A few minutes later, I find myself getting another back massage inside another chauffeured Audi A8, making our way back into downtown Las Vegas. These days, when I do travel by car, the experience is similar to this, albeit less fancy. I’m bored, maybe antsy or impatient, in the back seat, with only my phone and social media to distract me. I hadn’t given it much thought till today, but in a world where one constantly thirsts for something to capture one’s attention, I can certainly see how “content will be a major driving force for the mobility experience of the future.”

The day is almost over and I am exhausted. I recline my chair, close my eyes, and enjoy the back massage for a few minutes more. I dream I am back in the e-tron, and wonder when this future will arrive, what it would be like if the next Avengers movie was interactive, and most importantly, what it would be like to watch it from the back seat of a fully autonomous Audi.

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Automotive

Suzuki Philippines unveils a redesigned Ertiga MPV

This seven-seater could be your next family vehicle

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Suzuki Philippines introduced its all-new 2019 Ertiga at a grand event attended by dealers, partners, and the media. The new seven-seater comes with a fresh design, updated features, and safety tech for the demanding needs within the city and beyond.

The upgraded MPV now features more prominent accents compared to its predecessor. For starters, the wide grille in front easily catches the eye and gives it a sportier look. Just below that, an integrated lower grille is flanked by stylish fog lamps. There are now deeper curves on its sides and lines run through the body, giving it more appeal on the road.

Stepping inside, the new Ertiga offers a more spacious cabin since the length, width, and height have all been stretched. This simply means passengers have more legroom and headspace even in the usually cramped third row seats. Speaking of the passenger seats, both the second and third row have their own AC vents to ensure a comfortable ride.

For bigger hauls, the second and third row seats fold down

The entire interior is fitted with small storage spaces including ventilated cup holders, an improved center console, and door pockets for everyone’s phones and chargers

There are no displays mounted for the rear passengers; however, a 10-inch infotainment touchscreen display in front should be enough to make up for it. Do take note, though, that this is only present in the top variant while a smaller 8-inch touch display is available for the mid-tier models.

With a fresh look comes a fresh engine. It now runs on a 1.5-liter engine compared to the previous 1.4-liter. Transmission remains the same with a choice of either a five-speed MT or four-speed AT.

Apart from the usual array of safety features, this MPV boasts its new generation platform — the HEARTECT. In case an accident happens, collision energy should be distributed across the vehicle frame to minimize damage to the car and protect its passengers.

Available in Pearl Glorious Brown, Metallic Magma Gray, Pearl Burgundy Red, Prime Cool Black, Metallic Silky SIlver, Pearl Radiant Red, and Pearl Snow White, pricing for the 2019 Suzuki Ertiga are as follows:

  • GA – PhP 728,000
  • GL MT – PhP 848,000
  • GL AT – PhP 888,000
  • GLX – PhP 978,000

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Automotive

Nissan’s I2V technology merges two worlds while driving

It combines its Metaverse with our real world

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While other automotive brands promise lengthy distances on one charge for their electric vehicles, or acceleration to jump from zero to 60mph in the shortest time, Nissan goes for empowering drivers by showing them the bigger picture. And this is done through their Invisible-to-Visible or I2V technology.

I2V, as its name suggests, aims to show people what they don’t usually see. With this technology, the driver will know what’s going on in the entire environment — whether it’s a stalled car up ahead or a tree blocking the way at the next block. If you’re manually driving, the safety tech also works during curves with blind spots. An image of the path ahead will come up to better guide the driver.

According to Nissan, I2V will support drivers by merging information from sensors found outside and inside the vehicle with data from the cloud, all in real time. This makes it possible for the system to track the vehicle’s immediate surroundings and anticipate what’s ahead.

What’s interesting is that the technology can be used to connect to what the company calls a Metaverse virtual world. By accessing the Metaverse, the driver and passengers can call their family and friends and they will appear inside the car as 3D avatars! You can watch the video from Nissan (around 2:04 in) if you’re in doubt:

There’s more to the I2V than just turning your friend into an avatar. It can help you look for recommended spots using the Metaverse when you’re in an unfamiliar place, turn rainy weather with poor visibility into a bright, clear day, and finally, Nissan says it can bring you a professional driver from the same Metaverse to get personal driving instructions in real time. You then have a choice if the professional driver would appear as a projected avatar or as a virtual chase car in your field of vision to demonstrate the best way to drive.

In addition, when you enter a parking lot, I2V can scan the area for available parking space and park the vehicle for the driver supposedly even in tight situations.

You can watch this two-minute video to see more of its practical uses in action:

This future that Nissan envisions does sound like a fun and safe way of improving how people will travel. Of course, this is still just a plan, but if this is the future that Nissan is heading towards, then I’m curious to see how it would look when one is driving and arguing with his or her partner in avatar form.

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