THE Volkswagen Beetle has always been a popular icon to many Filipinos. In fact, I still remember those long trips my family used to take onboard a Volkswagen Beetle (or known as the Type 1), and how we filled the car’s interior with our heavy luggage.
So, you can just imagine how thrilled I was when Automobile Central Enterprise Inc. (ACEI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ayala Corp. and the official distributor of Volkswagen cars in the country, invited me to go on a one-day drive to explore the beauty of South using its three latest vehicles: the Touareg, the Tiguan and the Touran.
Arnel Doria, head for marketing and sales division of ACEI, said, “The objective of the media test-drive is to let the motoring media experience Volkswagen and how each one performs on a variety of driving situations from highway driving to uphill mountain roads.”
Doria added, “The Volkswagen brand stands on three core values: Innovative, Responsible and Valuable. The technology that goes in each Volkswagen car ensures responsible driving with safety features and low emission levels. Our cars will be valued with long years of service.”
In response to skyrocketing fuel prices, Volkswagen takes pride in its cars’ diesel-powered turbo direct injection (TDI) engines. The TDI is the latest common rail-injection technology, making Volkswagen cars responsive, incredibly efficient and fun to drive. To distinguish the value of power, German engineers added an extra turbocharger in each diesel-powered TDI to enable the engine to create more power and satisfying driving pleasure.
Doria shared, “What is common to all the three vehicles is that all have TDI engines. Therefore, other than being fuel efficient, our vehicles also enjoy high engine power, high torque and less emissions.”
After a quick media presentation at the Volkswagen showroom in Bonifacio Global City, the group of motoring journalists (this writer included) drove straight to Talisay, Batangas. We were divided into three cars with three media participants and one Volkswagen representative in each one.
I was first assigned to drive the Touran. Marketed as a multipurpose vehicle, the seven-seater Touran is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, common rail, turbocharged, direct-injection diesel engine that provides 110 ps at 2,750 to 4,200 rpm and torque of 280 Nm at 1,750 to 2,750 rpm. Mated to a six-speed DSG transmission, the Touran is easy to drive, especially when going uphill and negotiating the twisties.
The interior ain’t bad either, with instrument cluster (electric speedometer-odometer), multi-function display, controllable white dashboard illumination and remote central locking. In terms of space, the Touran is ideal for family use. It provides ample legroom and headroom for comfort on long drives and a folding front passenger seat backrest.
My second drive was the Tiguan compact SUV. For starters, the tough rugged look of the Tiguan proved attractive to bystanders, who followed the vehicle with their glances as we drove by. Also powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, common rail, turbocharged, direct-injection diesel engine, the Tiguan certainly has all the muscle needed to propel it on the road.
Perfect for weekend travelers, the Tiguan appeal goes beyond its exterior design. Standard features include power-folding side mirrors, chrome-plated radiator grille and fins, halogen headlights with turn-signal lights, 17-inch alloy wheels and tire pressure-monitoring system. The car comes standard with a radio/CD/MP3/USB connectivity.
The Touareg, on the other hand, is a premium SUV that offers a blend of performance, handling and comfort that is hard to beat. Among the cars, my favorite pick is the Touareg because of its power. It has a 3.0-liter V6 common rail, turbocharged, direct-injection diesel engine that provides superior torque, especially at low and mid-rev ranges. The Touareg comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission gearbox, 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, climatronic four-zone air-conditioning system, and six-way manual adjusting driver and front passenger heated seats.
Competing with the Cayenne and the Q7, the Touareg has a myriad of safety features, such as antilock brakes, stability and traction control, electronic child lock for rear doors, hill-hold assist, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.
When asked about what can we expect from the Volkswagen brand, Doria said, “They can expect the same German quality, workmanship and technology renowned the world over. Our strategy is to democratize German engineering and put our cars within reach of more and more Filipino auto enthusiasts.”
Doria explained, “Volkswagen is Europe’s biggest automobile manufacturer. Now, [it is] setting its sights on Asia and the Philippines, which is one of the fastest-growing economies in the region, sits well in the overall market strategy. In the next two years, Volkswagen is planning to have six dealerships.”
The VW Touran Comfort Line 2.0 TDI DSG is priced at P1.775 million; the VW Tiguan Trendline 2.0 TDI 6AT at P2.109 million; and the VW Touareg 3.0 TDI V6 8AT at P4.29 million. Aside from the three models, Volkswagen is also selling the Jetta 2.0-liter TDI and the Polo Notch 1.6-liter TDI. Of course, the introduction of the latest incarnation of the legendary Beetle is also in the works.
In Photo: JP S. Orbeta, chairman and president of Ayala Automotive Holdings Corp., shows off the latest Beetle car at the Volkswagen BGC dealership.