Words by Andre Palma
 
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Everything began with a phone call. It must have been 1999, and I was looking for go faster parts for a B16A. You know, the kind of engine a punk sticks into a tiny, made-for-grocery-runs Honda to turn it into a street fighter. The guy I was talking to seemed to know what he was talking about but sounded surprised I knew what I was talking about. His suspicion was that obvious. Why the wariness, you may ask?
 
Difficult as it may seem, talking cars is easy. Anyone can do it. Heck, monkeys can be trained to talk via flashcards, right? Speaking about cars with a hint of passion is a little more difficult but not impossible. Actually being devoted (and I don’t use that word loosely) to the automobile, savoring every nuance of that sickness, well that is quite rare. 
 
Suffice it to say; I think Ferman picked that up from the first time we talked. I was, have been, and will always be sick in the head with cars. Apparently, so is he.
Words by Jade Lu
 
cruze_01Long hours of road testing, technical evaluations, and crunching numbers by the pageful has culminated to one night of excitement, as the Car Awards Group, Inc. (CAGI) kept automaker groups on the edge of their seats before announcing who the top car in the market is. On April 7, 2011, the opening night of the 7th Manila International Auto Show (MIAS), CAGI crowned the Chevrolet Cruze 1.8 LT as the Philippines’ 2010-2011 Car of the Year (COTY). A total of 24 cars were given recognition for their distinct qualities and values. 
 
The title of Car of the Year is not for the fastest, cheapest, or most popular car in the market. Rather, it is an award for the car that best caters to the consumers. CAGI President Ferman Lao comments, “2010 was a banner year for the automotive industry with sales of over 170,000 new vehicles, the best ever yet in recent automotive history, and that's what the Car of the Year is about: presenting the best of what the automotive industry has to offer to the Filipino car buyer.” 
Words and photos by Ferman Lao
 
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Regular readers at Kotse.com would recall that a few weeks ago, I wrote about a road trip to Pico de Loro in Batangas which took us through a challenging bike trail. Well, exactly a week later, I was up early again for Nissan Motors Philippines Inc.'s (NMPI) X-Trail CVT test drive-slash-road trip.

Our destination for the day trip was some three hours away in Acuatico Resort, San Juan, Batangas which meant that a 6:00am call time would give me plenty of seat time spent in the X-Trail. My phone rang at exactly 5:45 am and the guys from Nissan informed that they're just 20 minutes away from the agreed pick up point. Getting there several minutes before they did, the group arrived in a Nissan Urvan consisting of Business Mirror's Ira Panganiban, Manila Bulletin's Iñigo Roces, and Auto Review's Ron and Ronald delos Reyes. Although I know that it's going to be a long day, I wasn't going to be the one to make it longer for the other guys in the van. 
Words by Ferman Lao | Photos courtesy of Isuzu Philippines Corp.
 
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The day started early with a cracking call time at 6:30 in the morning. After receiving a call from Chairman, Isuzu's fondly named car jockey, informing me that they were on the way to pick me up, I hurriedly grabbed my gear and headed towards the agreed pick up point along Banawe Street in Quezon City. Right on the dot, they arrived in a brand-spanking new Alterra Urban Cruiser with Ardie Lopez and brother Third of Auto Extreme on board, whom they've picked up earlier. You see, tardiness shouldn't be in anyone's dictionary, and it definitely wasn't in Isuzu's. 

Having Ardie take the shotgun seat and Third beg off due to a medical emergency meant that, I would be having the back seat all of the Alterra to myself. After the cursory greetings and high fives, I toss my rucksack in and settled in the seat behind Chairman and hunkered down for what I thought would be a long ride.
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