09 January 2013

COTY 2012 - 2013 Test Fest Day 6: Take us away

Words by Jade Lu | Photos by Hans Gerald Chua and Christopher Kho
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If there was one thing the Kotse.com crew looked forward to when the New Year started, it was this. On the very first Saturday of 2013, the boys and girls of the Car Awards Group, Inc. (CAGI) gathered at the Eton Centris parking lot for the sixth round of the 2012 - 2013 Car of the Year Philippines (COTY-P) Test Fest.
The first models on the chopping block for 2013 looked like they were ready to take us a long, long way from home. We’d be ready to take these fine examples on a road trip at the drop of a hat. Chevrolet was first to arrive with the Trailblazer LTZ 4x4 A/T and the Orlando LT A/T. Toyota sent us the Avanza 1.3E, Avanza 1.5G, Prius C, and Camry 2.5V. Hyundai’s dynamic duo of the Sonata 2.0 GLS 6AT Limited and Tucson Theta II T2.0 Limited 4WD left us all wondering what new treats these models have in store.
(In case you're wondering, the Camry 3.5Q would have joined too, except that Toyota's test unit recently had a minor fender bender and was in the shop for repairs.)
With the skies clear and the roads relatively less crowded (thanks to other motorists still on vacation), we were all ready to answer all those mental inquiries ourselves. Here’s what the Kotse.com crew had to say about some of the models in Day 6's lineup:
Jose Carlo R. Sapera, Kotse.com Assistant Editor: 2012 Toyota Prius C
coty6 prius01The Toyota Prius C is the smallest yet most interesting test vehicle in this weekend’s line-up. From the outside, it looks short and tight, but you’ll be surprised that it can fit four or even five adults comfortably. There’s ample leg and headroom for all passengers to enjoy with a large cargo space to boot. The dashboard layout is quite unique and the digital gauge in the middle displays speed as well as power consumption of either fuel or battery power.
On the road, it's silent as the wind when running on EV mode. The electric motor provides most of the power needed at low speed while the 1.5 liter engine only cuts in when you really need to get going. Paired with a smooth and responsive Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT), this hybrid is quite preppy and energetic even with more than three passengers onboard.
At P1.525 million, this is no cheap ride. However, the Toyota Prius C is one promising hatchback for both the environment and fuel expenses. Let’s just hope that the alternative fuel bill will be passed soon, so hybrids could be a bit more affordable.
Hans Chua, Kotse.com Contributor: 2013 Hyundai Tucson Theta II T2.0 Limited 4WD
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The Hyundai Tucson is no stranger to the Car of the Year Philippines. In fact, the GLS R eVGT 4WD version was awarded as COTY Compact Crossover 4WD in 2010 - 2011. And this year, it came back for more.
For 2013, they've added a chrome accent to the grill and a few plastic trims on the doors. There's also a new Dual CVVT 2.0 liter Theta II engine under the hood, accompanied by a six-speed automatic gearbox. As we found out, the combination proved to be very responsive on the road, even with 4WD. Meanwhile, the seats are newly wrapped in Cognac brown leather, which is apparently the new trend for luxury brands. For P1.488 million, you also get a start/stop button with smart key and panoramic sunroof as standard.
During the quick test drive, I discovered that finding the perfect driving position was quite easy, but it seems that the rear seats have low headroom for my 6'1” stature. Ride comfort though was firm but comfy when passing through Manila's countless potholes.
While the updates are not considered as a mid-cycle facelift, they do merit the Tucson a second look. It still is the handsome and dependable crossover we know, and it sure is interesting how it'll fair up against the newer kids on the block.
Leslie Sy, Kotse.com Online Expert: 2013 Chevrolet Trailblazer LTZ 4x4 A/T
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For this all-new model, Chevrolet has finally traded the Trailblazer's once-boxy design for some curves to give it a modern muscular appeal. Likewise, the 18-inch alloy wheels that come with it accent this SUV's commanding presence quite perfectly. But besides the rejuvenated image, it has also been given a plethora of upgrades to make the driving experience a whole lot better.
Our test drive unit was a top-of-the-line LTZ model, which came with a 2.8L Duramax VGT CRDi engine and a smooth shifting six speed automatic transmission. Not only did this powerplant hum ever so quietly, but it also provided more than enough oomph to get this behemoth flying. And for an SUV that's based on a ladder frame chassis, the Trailblazer rides and handles much better than its current competitors over any terrain.
Offering a generous amount of headroom, the all-new Trailblazer now sports three-row seating with additional roof-mounted aircon vents for second and third row passengers. There is, however, a dire need for extra legroom at the back. Still, the interior has its fair share of luxury with light colored leather and upholstery to liven up the mood.
One look at the 2013 Chevrolet Trailblazer and you'll know it means business, be it for work or leisure.
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