Automotive

Ford Ranger Raptor: A gentle beast

Power that comes with comfort

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When I began learning how to drive, I practiced with a bulky, under-powered pickup truck. Needless to say, it wasn’t a joyride. However, the added difficulty made driving smaller and simpler cars a breeze down the road, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

If I were to replicate that experience today, it would be near impossible. Not only are pickup trucks more advanced and comfortable than ever, they are also comparable to premium sedans and SUVs. Case in point: Ford’s newest Ranger Raptor is a gentle beast.

My unit came in Arctic White; other options are red, black, gray, and blue

There’s nothing subtle about the Raptor. Its towering build and robust front have an imposing presence no matter where it’s taken. Ford claims it’s the first factory-ready, high-speed off-road performance truck. In other words, you can go straight from the dealership to the mountains if you’re itching for action.

For comparison, the Raptor is 150mm wider and 50mm taller than the regular Ranger. This leads to a ground clearance of 283mm and a water wading capacity of 850mm. Combined with the 33-inch all-terrain tires and 2.5-inch Fox racing shocks, you don’t have to do much customization to make this machine battle-ready.

The massive FORD logo is part of the Raptor’s DNA

While all these make for a powerful ride, what’s even more impressive is how the Raptor babies its driver and passengers. Never have I felt this comfy in a truck before. Prior to this, I drove an Everest which I’d confidently consider on par with the Raptor’s ease of use — that says a lot.

In addition, Ford’s SYNC system is in place for music playback from any phone, navigation, and simple voice commands. If you need more functionality, you may connect your smartphone through Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Every other feature is reachable through the vast number of buttons on the steering wheel.

The 8-inch touchscreen is at the center of all your controls

The red mark at the top of the steering wheels acts as a guide when you’re busy driving

With 213PS from the 2.0-liter bi-turbo diesel engine, accompanied by 500Nm of torque and a 10-speed automatic transmission, Ford isn’t kidding when they call this a “super truck.”

I had several days to put this machine to the test, and keeping it on safe asphalt wouldn’t do it justice, so my team took it to off-road trails fit for, well, a Raptor.

BFGoodrich’s all-terrain tires are equipped on every unit

We crossed rivers, handled 35-degree inclines and declines, and sped up whenever we could. Unsurprisingly, nothing fazed the Raptor. It always felt like it had more power to deliver, asking me to challenge it even more. It was certainly tempting, especially since the truck made me feel so safe throughout the drive.

Itching to see the Ranger Raptor in action? We have a video:

On top of the standard 2WD and 4WD modes, the Raptor offers six presets that can be activated depending on your needs. There’s normal mode, sport mode for improved steering response and acceleration, Baja mode for high-speed off-road driving, grass/gravel/snow mode for slippery terrains, mud/sand mode for better handling, and rock mode for increased control over unpredictable rocks.

Engaging any of the performance modes takes only a few button presses

At the same time, the Raptor is such a smooth ride on city streets. I logged in hundreds of kilometers on it, and there wasn’t a single stretch that I wished I was inside another car. Sure, parking wasn’t a breeze in this thing — although it does come with a handy rear camera assist — but its imposing height and bright LED headlamps kept the Raptor visible from any distance.

If I were to nitpick, my only gripes would be the finicky Bluetooth connectivity for smartphones and lack of compartments around the cockpit. These, however, are common issues with most vehicles I’ve had the pleasure of driving.

More than anything, the Raptor is simply a stunner. I had never felt this confident going from point A to point B, and looking good while doing so. Every stop along the way deserved its own photo shoot.

My team can definitely attest to that.

 

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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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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