RIDE THE VOTE
Cars for the campaign trail, and beyondBy Tessa R. Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. So, what? Who voted Cupid to the job of match-making, anyway? Maybe someone else with better aim ought to be elected to that position, seeing so many un-loved and un-loving souls wandering the world today. Speaking of votes and elections, there, indeed, is a love greater than the love for one another, and that’s love for one’s own country. And long after this commercially driven ado called Valentine’s Day is long gone, what remains is a cacophony of politicians wooing the voting public to no end, or maybe until their combined 300 minutes of TV and radio time are up. These politicians vow they love their country so much, they’re willing to spend millions of their own money, and lay down their own lives just to serve the Filipino public.
See how ridiculous combining Valentine’s Day and elections can be?
So, here’s another, more plausible combination: cars and election season. Now, that’s more like it. This time, Inquirer Motoring talks about cars worth taking for a victory ride come May 2013 elections.
We’ve done this before in elections past, featuring, for instance, a powerful family in the South rumored to have purchased 15 identical black armored Chevy Suburbans from a Canadian-based armoring firm. We had also featured the process of making vehicles bulletproof, and armoring companies’ favorite vehicles to render unstoppable: Toyota Land Cruiser, Fortuner, Sequoia, Prado, Hi-Lux and Camry 3.5-li; Ford Expedition; Nissan Patrol, X-Trail, and Armada; Chevy Suburban 2500; Lexus LX570 and LX 470 100 series; Cadillac Escalade; GMC Yukon; and even Honda CR-V.
Now that a gun ban is in place for the whole campaign and election period, and just for the sake of argument we’ll assume that, indeed, it has become a deterrent to gun-toting hoodlums, then we can safely assume that protection is no longer the first order of the day for election candidates’ rides, but style. Finally. With that, let’s cut to the chase, and look at what we think the candidates’ winnable wheels would be.
Limo Gangnam style
Now here’s a big van even K-Pop phenom Psy would love ponyride dancing in all day. It can carry up to 10 burly bodyguards, and be a mobile home away from home for the candidate on the long road to the polls. The Hyundai Grand Starex Limousine is all a politician would ever need to stretch out his or her weary arms (from all that glad-handing) and legs (from walking all the way to the farthest 200 houses of the barangay for ambush visits, and then more glad-handing and baby lifting to the air for photo-ops). The opulent interior amenities would remind the ambitious wannabe of the rewards that await at the palace when he or she eventually gets those ballots, er, votes.
The Hyundai Grand Starex Limousine has been dubbed by Hyundai Asia Resources Inc., the distributor of Hyundai vehicles to the Philippines, its larger-than-life of the party, mover of movers who would shape the fates of millions. Wow, that’s dizzying, dude.
The Limousine is whatever what its owner wants it to be. It can be that intimidating, but it can also convey incredible thoughtfulness and concern, like when anonymous good Samaritans deliver donated clothes and goods at Red Cross Headquarters in Laguna to aid typhoon victims.
There’s plenty of small wonders in the big Grand Starex Limo to keep jittery thumbs busy, and minds calm. Comfortable seats, expansive windows (which can be covered with venetian blinds for those rare moments of privacy) and built-in 21-inch LCD with 6.5-inch-thin film transistor display, touchscreen-enabled can provide unlimited time for escapism when watching movies. Throw in a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio component, and the landslide victory of the senses feels so real.
The mood control in the Limo can be easily accessed with a center console for the LED room lamp, TV, and air-recirculator. To prevent the vehicle from being “hotwired,” an immobilizer has been installed (as if carnappers would have the gall to go past the 10 bodyguards), and a keyless entry with burglar alarm system has been thrown in for good measure.
The Grand Starex Limousine’s pedigree began almost 30 years ago with the Starex van series, when the first wave of these Korean-made vans exuding a European-inspired bullet-nose design and spacious cabin arrived on Philippine shores.
Inheriting the engine DNA of the Starex GRX and Grand Starex, the Grand Starex Limousine is powered by a 2.5L CRDi VGT diesel engine, enhanced with the incorporation of a 16-valve DOHC (Double Overhead Camshaft) technology. In principle, Hyundai’s CRDi technology works by injecting a small amount of diesel during the injection process, thus reducing fuel expenditure and engine noise and vibration. On the other hand, the VGT augments and regulates engine boost and flexibility, thus minimizing lag and improving fuel consumption. Moreover, it inhibits the emission of toxic fumes in compliance with environmental protection acts.
For its size, the Grand Starex Limo is suprisingly easy to drive, and such a comfort to ride in. Revving up an industry-leading 170 HP at a maximum 3800 rpm, producing torque force of
40 kg-m from 2000 to 2500 rpm max, a responsive five-forward auto gearshift coupled with locking differential distributes enough force on the wheels, giving the driver that consistent maneuverability with every trip, because any experienced politician knows that the straightest roads can still come up with blind curves, real politicians maintain poise even in awkward situations.
Techi politician’s SUV
In this tech-driven era where the “eye in the sky” can track down your every move, and every street corner has a CCTV, the all-new Ford Explorer 2.0L GTDi XLT with EcoBoost technology feels it belongs.
That’s because the new Explorer is equipped with cameras on the rear that display nighttime images on the center console display as bright as day. Mini mirrors attached to the side view mirrors (at least on the test unit given to Inquirer Motoring) provided bionic glimpses of motorcycles approaching from the side. This is for the political aspirant who wants to know everything, and be known for everything.
A host of passive and active safety features, combined with the sophistication seen and felt at the driver’s cockpit, would make anyone driving this wider-than-usual SUV the sensation of piloting an aircraft. Why, it even has its own “black box” (doing virtually the same thing as its airborne counterpart: recording event data, especially crashes and near-crashes, according to the vehicle manual), which would come in handy when public debates arise between motorists during a fender bender.
Since the topic of flight has been initiated, how about the impressive acceleration of the 2.0L EcoBoost, which delivers the gut-twisting normally aspirated V6 punch. According to Ford engineers, a relatively high compression ratio is enabled by the use of direct gasoline injection, operating at fuel pressures from 2,200 to 2,800 psi. The unique turbocharger is optimally matched to the EcoBoost engine and SUV vehicle performance behavior. Precise fuel pressure control allows the Explorer to deliver boosted power at low rpm, without the annoying turbo lag. Yet, despite the palpable power under the hood, the new Explorer is fuel conscious for its size, improving fuel economy by more than 30 percent over its predecessor. The new Explorer’s advanced engine delivers up to 240 HP at 1,750-5,500 rpm, and 366 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm.
And as far as technology goes, the innovators at Ford Motors threw in most everything they had up their sleeves in this SUV package: The world’s first inflatable second-row seat belt; the AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control, Curve Control, MyKey programmability and MyFord Touch driver connect technology—all class-exclusive offerings to help drivers avoid a crash incident. The body structure comprises high-strength steels—including boron—to increase rigidity and help protect its precious passengers.
Yup, loving one’s country never felt this empowering and secure.
(To be continued)