21 January 2013

COTY 2012 - 2013 Test Fest Day 7: Big, small, and everything in between

Words by Christopher Kho | Photos by Hans Gerald Chua and author
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On a regular day, we'd have around 8 to 10 cars to drive at the Qualitative Testing for the 2012 - 2013 Car of the Year Philippines (COTY-P). But this was no regular day. Last January 12, 2013, the boys and girls of the Car Awards Group Inc. (CAGI) found themselves face-to-face with 17 shiny new cars and they had to drive every single one of them. Though the experience was fun, we were all left battered and bruised by the day's end. Still, we got to drive big, small, and everything in between.
The smallest of the bunch were all four variants of the all-new Mirage from Mitsubishi. Following on its trail are the trio of Chevrolet Sonics, in both hatchback and notchback (sedan) forms. Then there were the heavyweights. Chevrolet brought three Colorados with 4x2 and 4x4 drivetrains; Foton stepped up with their own all-new Thunder 4x2 and 4x4; and Mitsubishi fielded their 3.0L V6-equipped Montero Sport. But I guess it goes without saying that the crème de la crème were from newcomer Peugeot, who brought their entire line-up: the 3008 crossover, 5008 mpv, 508 sedan, and RCZ sports coupe.
After a long day of mixed sunshine and rain, these are three best cars that left their biggest impressions with the Kotse.com Crew.
Leslie Sy, Kotse.com Online Expert: 2013 Mitsubishi Mirage
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There was a time not too long ago when buying a brand new car in the P500,000 price range meant a comprise of choosing something between Chinese or Korean models that felt like they were built using leftover parts. But with the recent entry of the all-new Mitsubishi Mirage into the local scene, the meaning of “entry level” has totally changed.
Powering the Mirage is a 78 hp three-cylinder 1.2L DOHC MIVEC engine, which shares the same design as the unit in the Lancer EX 1.6L, minus one cylinder. It's then matched to a five speed manual or a smooth shifting CVT. Acceleration is brisk but not enough to win any races.
Ride is very comfortable with its soft suspension, although it does have some excessive bodyroll in tight maneuvers. The electric power steering makes light work of driving and parking. It also helps that there is excellent visibility all around. It seats five people with lots of room for everyone, which is pleasantly surprising because cars of this category tend to be a tight squeeze. The GLS model comes very well equipped with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, touchscreen headunit with GPS navigation, and climate control - features you'd normally equate to cars with at least twice its price.
The Mirage 1.2L is a real game changer and means buying an affordable car can now give you great value from a well trusted car brand with top-class features.
Hans Chua, Kotse.com Contributor: 2013 Chevrolet Colorado
coty7 colorado03I’m not really a fan of pick up trucks, but I'm willing to change my mind after spending some time behind the wheel of the all-new Colorado. Big and tough (not to mention handsome), it gives an impression that it can handle any terrain that stands in front of it, be it on- or off-road. Meanwhile, the spacious interior made it easy for me to find the perfect driving position without having to sacrifice rear legroom. There was plenty of elbow room too for five full grown passengers. Unlike other overly-decorated dashboards I've seen, the Colorado has a clean and simple layout with everything you needed within reach. The Camaro-inspired gauges were also a big plus for me. And despite the Colorado's tall ride height, its wide opening doors made it easy for me to get in and out.
The 2.8L four-cylinder VGT diesel engine was quite responsive and purred silently even at higher revs. Likewise, both manual and automatic transmissions were smooth and made the Colorado drive in a more car-like manner. Although, I do hope that they come out with a six-speed manual gearbox, instead of the current five, for that extra low end grunt and slightly lower rpms at high speed.
Overall, the driving experience made me realize that pick ups too can be fun to drive, and I enjoyed every single minute of it.
Christopher Kho, Kotse.com Editor-in-Chief: 2013 Peugeot 508
coty7 508frontIf you think that you're too hip for a Honda Accord and too chic for a Toyota Camry, then the Peugeot 508 should suit you perfectly. So it looks a bit odd from certain angles, but who cares? It got your attention, didn't it? And that's exactly what people who drive a 508 want. Plus, I'm pretty sure the French design will eventually grow on you in a few months' time.
I know I'm gonna get burned for saying this, but the 508's interior looks a lot better than its similarly-priced Japanese and Korean counterparts. Everything is beautifully covered in supple black leather, and they managed to properly arrange the multitude of buttons without making the dashboard look like a scientific calculator. Simply put, it looks classy without having to try so hard.
The engine was so silent and smooth that it took me quite a while to realize that the 508 was indeed powered by a 1.6L turbo diesel. Power and torque were more than adequate to send it up to speed, but don't expect it to blow your socks off. The ride is quite supple, but driving over potholes is definitely not its forte.
For P1,995,000, you're actually getting something at par, or even better, than what the Germans have to offer. In fact, the 508 is currently Peugeot's best-selling model in the Philippines.
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