Used Car Review - Chevrolet Spark (2011-2016)

Posted by Carmella Ross on Sunday

As this model is slated to be replaced by an all new generation, let us revisit this one.

2011-2016 Chevrolet Spark

History
Mention the words Korean car and the top two names that come to mind are Hyundai and Kia, then we do have the occasional oddball brands like Ssangyong and Renault Samsung on the minority side. On the other hand, do you remember the Daewoo brand whose offerings include the cheapo Racer sedan and the cute Matiz hatchback? Oh, the one that we had two decades ago whose distributor is based from Cebu and had ventured to Chrysler vehicles and to multicabs later on. While Daewoo passenger cars are now a part of GM Korea (and these were renamed to Chevrolets in their home country later on), their commercial vehicles division was purchased by Tata Motors of India while their bus division stayed on.

Based on the Beat displayed at the 2007 New York Auto Show which was displayed alongside the Trax (which became an actual production car) and Groove concepts, the third generation Spark won a poll by General Motors which gave a green light as a real production car. Production commenced in 2009 with deliveries started the following year in various world markets under numerous names. Before we leave this paragraph, this one made its debut as Skids in Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2007 which also featured in what would be the fifth generation Camaro, also known as Bumblebee.

One of the vehicles which brought back the Chevrolet name to life in the Philippines is this one, which replaced the ho-hum second generation model from 2006 to 2010. When it was first debuted in February 2011, the LT with a stick shift and a 1.2 engine is available with the LS having both transmissions and a 1.0 engine followed months later. A minor update occurred in May 2013 without any line-up changes.

Value and Costs
Priced below P600,000 during its run, the Spark had initial success but it dwindled due to the popularity of Japanese rivals as well as the Trailblazer later on. For those who want a city dweller without experiencing first owner depreciation, second hand units can be had between P200,000 to P400,000. Units purchased from April 2011 enjoy a five year warranty, so look for a vehicle sold from March 2012 to utilize this one.

Comparing to some rivals from Japan and Korea sold at the same time, this one could be somewhat pricier to maintain and parts aren't that much widespread, although the latter can be rectified if you look beyond the casa. Fuel consumption with the automatic isn't that good compared to the manual, so while you can, learn to drive stick if you really want this one or rivals can provide you better. Problem points for this car involve the auxiliary fan and the aircon, so keep an eye on those items.

Exterior and Interior
As we said earlier, its Beat concept car origins gave the car some character and flair (as opposed to some egg-like of the old model) and it will make your head turn. A bold move, to be honest, since it presented a new era the bow tie brand during its time. Another feature which was last seen in the Nissan Terrano of the 90s and copied by the Honda HR-V is the rear door handles situated at the pillar, making access by children difficult. LS models have black door handles and steel wheels while the LT has alloy wheels and body color door handles.

Going inside, you'll be treated to a roomy cabin with expanse spaces for your heads and legs. One feature which you may find it cool or tacky is the LED tachometer that is inspired from a motorcycle. Good thing that interior quality had improved, with the previous model having a cheap one which reflects its price.

Engine
Two Daewoo developed engines are in use for Philippine market models, with both of these coming from the STEC-II family. The 1.0 having 67hp at 6,400rpm and 90Nm at 4,800rpm and 1.2 with 81hp at 6,200rpm and 110Nm at 4,600rpm won't win you any awards but they're up to task. Going for the 1.0 will give you slow acceleration when paired to an automatic while the manual is decent. Our engine of choice is the 1.2, since it has enough grunt and is fun to drive (which we will delve later)

Driving Impressions
Thanks to a curb weight below a thousand kilos, this one is a fun partner especially that handling is a notch higher than rivals. Braking needs your constant attention as this one lacks ABS brakes, something that rivals sold today have as standard. Who says that going cheap you can't have fun?

Verdict
While an improvement over its dowdy predecessor, the second generation does not standout the sub-compact crowd, maybe except for driving dynamics. The Celerio is fuel friendly, the Picanto has a high quality interior, and the i10 is the total package. If you're willing to live with some faults, then this is a good pick.

The Good:
  • Decent headroom
  • Practical
  • Easy to drive
The Bad:
  • Slow with the automatic
  • Rear handle may be hard for kids
  • Does not sparkle in the class
The Pick: 1.2 LT

THE SPECS
Engine: 996cc and 1,206cc STEC-II I4 gasoline
Power: 67hp @ 6,400rpm (1.0), 81hp @ 6,200rpm (1.2)
Torque: 90Nm @ 4,800rpm (1.0), 110Nm @ 4,600rpm (1.2)
Fuel Consumption: 8-12km/L (city), 10-15km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear torsion beam

MORE INFO
Price (New): P548,888-P598,888
Price (Now): P200,000-P400,000
On Sale: 2011-2016
Rivals: Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto, Mitsubishi Mirage, Suzuki Celerio
Resources:
http://www.sparktalk.com/
http://chevysparkforum.com/

Contacts:
Chevrolet Quezon Avenue - (02) 374-1250


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Used Car Review - BMW Z4 (2009-2016)

Posted by Carmella Ross

Ready yourself for summer with this car.

2009-2016 BMW Z4

History
We all know that BMW has a soft spot for SUVs and sedans with a touch of class while providing sports car handling, bet you don't know that the Munich based manufacturer had produced convertibles since the 1950s with the 507. Although it looked good, this 501 and 502 based vehicle proved to be expensive - despite its position to fill the gap between the cheap British convertibles from Triumph and MG and the top end Mercedes Benz 300SL - and after a run of 252 units built between 1956 to 1959, it was discontinued. The limited release Z1 was introduced in 1989 and only 8,000 were built but only in 1995 they got serious with the Z3.

Similar to its predecessors, the second generation Z4 (with chassis code E89) was first announced in December 2008 with sales started in May 2009. One notable change for this vehicle is it assembled in Bavaria, Germany and not in South Carolina, USA as it was the case of its older brothers, with the latter now exclusively building SUVs for worldwide consumption. Production ended in August 2016 with rumors of a replacement model jointly built by BMW and Toyota.

Alongside several new models such as the fifth generation 7 Series, the second generation Z4 arrived in Philippine shores in September 2009 in one variant, the sDrive 3.0.

Value and Costs
Brand new, you can get this one for six million pesos until a price drop in 2015 which slashed the price to P4,500,000. What used to be a rich kids plaything used during the weekends can be now yours for a price range between P2,400,000 to P3,500,000 bucks. As a rule for premium brands, checking out the certified pre-owned section is the wise move.

Do not compare this one with the likes of the Mazda MX-5, rather maintaining one is similar to its compatriots, the Mercedes Benz SLK Class and the Porsche Boxster, which is definitely on the higher side. For such a vehicle like the Z4, do inspect the electronic parts thoroughly and the top if its folds properly.

Exterior and Interior
Philippine market models have a hard top as standard, which was followed suit by several German rivals for our market. Remove the badge, its kidney grille gives an identity that it is distinctively BMW. Let us leave the design alone, which speaks for itself.

Inside, more space was given for the occupants and slightly for the folding top, which hogs trunk space when used. Another room for improvement is the interior quality, with better materials used than before.

Engine
Paired to an N52B30 3.0 inline six which produces 255hp at 6,600rpm and 310Nm at 2,600rpm, this one is a willing performer. It does not disappoint you and it gives you a smooth tone whether driving slow or full bore.

Driving Impressions
Just like all BMWs, this is one entertaining driver thanks to a communicative chassis with an exhaust note similar to muscle cars and a smooth engine, While fun to drive, it pales in comparison with the Porsche Boxster though.

Verdict
An improvement over its predecessor, the second generation Z4 still doesn't stray from the core values of a BMW. What used to be expensive when brand new is now affordable and could be a potential classic.

The Good:
  • Fun to drive
  • Looks good
  • Somewhat affordable when used
The Bad:
  • As always, impractical when top down
  • Smallish engine
  • Expensive to keep
The Pick: sDrive 3.0i

THE SPECS
Engine: 2,996cc N52B30 I6 gasoline
Power: 255hp @ 6,600rpm
Torque: 310Nm @ 2,600rpm
Fuel Consumption: 4-8km/L (city), 8-11km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear multi link

MORE INFO
Price (New): P4,500,000 (2015), P6,000,000 (2009-2014)
Price (Now): P2,400,000-P3,500,000
On Sale: 2009-2016
Rivals: Mercedes Benz SLK Class, Porsche Boxster
Resources:
http://www.z4-forum.com/
http://www.bimmerpost.com/z4/

Contacts:
Autohaus BMW - (02) 638-0734

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Car Features - Top 30 Best Selling Vehicles of the Philippines for 2016

Posted by Carmella Ross

According to reports from Philippine Daily Inquirer and Autoindustriya, 366 days of 2016 we have seen nearly 400,000+ vehicles driven off dealer lots. Sure, we had transitioned to a new administration and two major motor shows occurred in a span of months, people were excited to buy more cars. Despite some news of additional taxes for cars this year (it has yet to be approved), let us look back.

Filipinos, these are the 30 best selling cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs you have purchased this year.



30. Nissan Almera (3,176 units sold, +83%)

Updated for 2016 (it was launched last November 2015), the Almera received a new face as well as a lower engine option and a leather clad variant. While the 1.5 is the mainstay engine choice, the 1.2 is new for this year. Sales had jumped ever since, reaching its peak.


29. Chevrolet Trailblazer (3,211 units sold, -12%)

Chevrolet's best seller (and what would be its saving grace) received a minor change for 2017 just last October. It is the oldest among the bunch of PPVs, especially three main rivals had received all new engines and faces ever since. We seriously hope that Chevy would fix their pricing for this year.


28. Hyundai Tucson (3,308 units sold, +107%)

After giving up the crown to the Subaru Forester in 2015, the Korean car maker wrestled the title back for last year. Thanks to a lower price entry and a diesel engine (which is Hyundai's proposition), the Tucson is the best seller among compact SUVs.


27. Hyundai Grand Starex (3,733 units sold, +42%)

What used to be a Filipino favorite had now relegated itself to the sidelines recently, the Grand Starex had some changes in its line-up yet some people would buy them in droves. This model will turn 10 years old this year.


26. Mitsubishi Strada (3,965 units sold, -7%)

In 2015, which was its first year for of its model change, it sold nearly 4,000 units. Last year, it fell down to 3,965 in its full years. Sure, a 2.4 engine from the Montero Sport was added to the line-up in the 4x4 model but rivals had fresher engines and faces.


25. Isuzu D-Max (3,966 units sold, +27%)

Beating the Strada by just one unit, the D-Max experienced an increase in sales due to a new engine and for the LS models, an update for 2017 in September 2017. Sure, it may be conservative and utilitarian for some, but nothing beats the purpose of a pick-up truck.


24. Kia Picanto (4,073 units sold, -20%)

Kia's best selling vehicle is this tiny hatchback, which unfortunately didn't experience an increase in sales despite the industry trend. Old as it is, this one sells to a virtue of low down payment schemes which attracts first time owners.


23. Toyota Corolla Altis (4,154 units sold, -11%)

Despite falling sales by just a hundred units, the Corolla Altis is the segment leader among compact sedans. Sure, it may be conservative for some, but buyers who want something dependable on their daily drive wouldn't go wrong with this car.


22. Isuzu Crosswind (4,659 units sold, +14%)

For nearly fifteen years straight, the Crosswind had not received any major changes and despite this, people are still buying this one. However, it had lost its title as the brand's best seller especially that market tastes have shifted and the price difference isn't that far.


21. Nissan NP300 Navara (4,779 units sold, +15%)

The third best selling pick-up truck in the country had overtaken Mitsubishi in terms of sales in that category. One unique selling proposition of this one is its coil springs at the back (although the usual leaf springs can be ordered), ensuring a smooth ride.


20. Honda Mobilio (4,797 units sold, +62%)

Honda's missing link is this MPV, especially that it competes with several older rivals and those with diesel engines. Thanks to a fresher image, it had introduced a lot of people to the straight H brand without sacrificing utility.


19. Nissan NV350 Urvan (5,660 units sold, +34%)

No more simplistic engines, in its place is a modern CRDi engine plus individual vents complemented by Nissan's famed air conditioning system made this one a best seller. Shuttle drivers have now another van to choose from.


18. Mitsubishi Mirage (7,487 units sold, +25%)

Receiving an update last year coupled with an endorsement from Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza, Mirage sales experienced an increase. If its sedan counterpart targets a different market, this one attracts first time buyers aiming for something practical.


17. Ford Ranger (8,158 units sold, -3%)

August 2015, we had witnessed an updated Ranger for 2016. While sales are still at the higher scale, it had decreased despite the update. Seven or eight variants with varying equipment levels at different price ranges are available.


16. Honda City (8,913 units sold, +2%)

Honda's best seller in the country (it broke its record for the most number of units sold since 1996) never fails to be updated each year. From additional items to numerous limited edition models, the City would continue to sell well and we wonder what new features that would be added.


15. Hyundai Eon (9,675 units sold, +17%)

This tiny hatchback had become everyone's freedom car at a lower price point without denting their wallets or surroundings. Sure, it may be basic for some (hubcaps, no airbags, wind-up windows at the back) but it does look somewhat modern over its main Indian rival.


14. Mitsubishi Adventure (9,705 units sold, +39%)

Beating its 2002 peak, Mitsubishi sold 9,700 units of their dependable Adventure last year. We have no idea on how interested spiked on this vehicle. It may be old, but there are some fans of this vehicle and production may end late this year due to stringent emission requirements.


13. Ford Ecosport (10,010 units sold, +15%)

Back in 2014, Ford entered a territory with no rivals and had enjoyed tremendous success. Last year, competitors came to eat a slice of its share and the Ecosport emerged as the segment's leader. We had witnessed a Black Edition which featured black color rims in the previous year.


12. Mitsubishi Montero Sport (10,768 units sold, -7%)

Being its first full year of its redesigned model, the Montero Sport didn't manage to buck the trend and rather, went to the reverse. Despite an all new engine, some find the design polarizing but the sudden unintended acceleration issue still lingers on.


11. Hyundai Accent (12,360 units sold, +79%)

Probably a record for a Korean brand when it comes to sales numbers (the honor used to belong to the Kia Pride back then), the Hyundai Accent saw huge success thanks to its diesel engine and the growth of transport based apps whose demand warrants this vehicle.


10. Toyota Hilux (12,405 units sold, +42%)

Sure, it was expensive than some of its rivals when it was launched in July 2015. However, price didn't prevent people to buy this pick-up truck especially it has a new engine (Toyota's GD engine family) which gave competitors a shock. We're pretty sure people are upgrading their trucks this year, thus the increase of this segment.


9. Ford Everest (12,453 units sold, +152%)

Although it was launched in May 2015, deliveries (albeit in limited quantities) started September but full blast shipments were fulfilled just last year. It had dislodged its smaller brother, the Ecosport, as the Blue Oval's best seller.



8. Isuzu MU-X (12,657 units sold, +16%)

If there is one vehicle responsible for Isuzu's increase in sales (as well as their ascent to the PPV sales rankings) is this one. Replacing the slow selling Alterra, the MU-X looked fresh and with ample shipments to meet demand, more units were sold last year.


7. Mitsubishi Mirage G4 (12,880 units sold, +13%)

Another surprise for Mitsubishi is this tiny sedan, which replaced the Montero Sport as their best seller. The G4 has oodles of space despite its tiny proportions, a fuel efficient engine, and low prices which had a lot of people buy them. Local production of this vehicle starts this month, with the hatchback following months later.


6. Toyota Avanza (13,466 units sold, +59%)

September 2015 saw an updated Avanza for 2016 and who wouldn't knew that this will sell more than it sold last time. It may be crude for some but offering a cheap seven seat vehicle in a dependable package, Toyota has a winner here.


5. Toyota Innova (18, 137units sold, +7%)

Sure, it may have more amenities and a new diesel engine which had a jump in price, this didn't deter people on buying this one. Do take note that deliveries of the new generation model started last April, with some first generation model units were sold earlier last year.


4. Toyota Wigo (18,430 units sold, +37%)

This Indonesian made hatchback became an entry point for most people to motoring freedom, all with the Toyota badge. Yes, it may have cheap touches but most didn't care, all they want is something that is easy to drive and live with.


3. Toyota Hiace (19,913 units sold, +19%)

For a van, reaching this number is an impossible feat. What the Mitsubishi L300 Versa Van and Kia Besta failed to reach during their prime years, the Hiace had done it and sales were up for this people mover. A 3.0 engine is now mandatory for all models.


2. Toyota Fortuner (28,549 units sold, +81%)

Woah, 28,000 units for something that costs over a million pesos, it's unbelievable. But Toyota did what competitors hope to reach, and they've managed this one so far. All new for 2016, it had new diesel engines and a body design but despite fresher alternatives, this is the one car to beat.


1. Toyota Vios (36,256 units sold, +9%)

For eight years straight, this is the one car that had defined the Filipino buyer, and this car fulfilled the things on what they are finding. Although it had sold the same number of units in 2015, this one is still the best seller, and for a good reason. 2016 saw an engine upgrade together with a new CVT transmission.

Source:
  • Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 18, 2017
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