Now this is how you end the second quarter, the first half, of 2013: In a flurry of activities, in a buzz of excited talk. The past week, auto manufacturers and distributors gave the press—and the public—a taste of how the rest of 2013 would roll. Fast and furious would be a good way to start describing it.
Mazda powers Michele’s ‘Road to Indy’
Japanese brand Mazda, through its Philippine distributor Berjaya Automobiles Philippines (BAP), announced its support for Michele Bumgarner in her pursuit for glory in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2014. BAP CEO Steven Tan, Michele, and her father Lee surprised the motoring press when they broke the news at the Grilla Bar in Makati on June 28.
BAP said it announced its support for Michele because “she is in the Pro Mazda Series, driving a Mazda open-wheeler, in a program called the Mazda Road to Indy.” The details of the support, Tan said, could include financial, publicity and transportation aspects.
Tan further revealed that the new season (sanctioned by Indycar) starts in March 2014, but Michele would be testing in September. “She is going to be in the last three rounds of the Pro Mazda Series,” he said.
“We are the company that strives to do whatever is impossible. She is exactly the same. This is the real deal,” Tan quipped.
The official statement of support from Berjaya Auto Co. is expected to be released soon.
Entertaining entry of the E-Class
German ultraluxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz—represented in the Philippines by CATS Motors Inc.—held its star-studded launch of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class on June 28 at the Rockwell Tent in Makati City.
The E 250 CDI Avantgarde and the E 300 AMG Sport (AMG Sports Package) were unveiled, as CATS Motors hinted that the other E-Class variants E 63 AMG, Estate, Cabriolet and Coupe versions would be available soon.
“Following one of the biggest midcycle enhancements in Mercedes-Benz history, the emotionally appealing design of the E-Class makes it even more attractive and desirable. Further improvements provide an even more relaxed and serene driving experience,” said CATS Motors in a statement.
The E-Class is now offered with a more modern and athletic styling option, the Avantgarde line with the Mercedes-Benz logo on the grille, as one of the design line indicators. The Elegance line with the Mercedes-Benz emblem atop the hood is still an option for those who prefer the classical design.
“The new E-Class repositions itself as the most technologically advanced midsized luxury automobile,” said Robert P. Shaw, CATS Motors vice president for sales and marketing. “We listened to our customers and added more value in the cars with the new E-Class without increasing the price.”
Mirage of precision driving
Mitsubishi Motors Philippines put big boys and small cars to the test on June 29 at the parking grounds of the SM Mall of Asia, where the first of the Gymkhana competition series was held using the popular, subcompact Mirage, which was recently awarded Car of the Year-Philippines.
The Gymkhana is a series of precision driving competitions. The next legs are on July 13, and 27, and Aug. 10 (or 17). Two identical Mirage units, and two identical tracks were used by two divisions (media and Fleet/Club). Teams are composed of up to five members, and with every run the team chooses two members, a driver and a navigator. Car A would be driven during the first run, Car B would be used for the second run, with the roles of the teammates swapped. Each run is done simultaneously with a competing team using the mirror track.
Preliminary results of the first leg of the competition were not available as of press time.
French brand Peugeot, known for its quality steel bodywork and thrifty diesels, held a fuel efficiency run for the motoring media on June 27.
Eurobrands Distributor Inc. (EDI), official Philippine importer and distributor of Peugeot, invited 20 members of the media to drive the 1.6L e-HDi Peugeot 3008 for 158 kilometers (Alabang-Batangas-Alabang) to highlight its fuel efficiency and the brand’s cutting-edge diesel technology. The run was done in normal driving conditions.
The pair of Brian Afuang of the Manila Times and Jenny Bleza of Sunshine TV bested other teams by averaging 26.9 kilometers per liter. Coming in a close second was the father-and-son team of Ron and Ronald de los Reyes of the Auto Review (26.3 kpl). Rounding out the top three were Iñigo Roces of the Manila Bulletin and Vince Pornelos of Autoindustriya.com (25.7 kpl). A separate run from Batangas to Alabang by two media teams resulted in a 29.4-kpl mileage.
“Even heavy-footed drivers can get 14 kpl in mixed city and highway driving while using the 3008—on diesel fuel at that. Given proper driving skills, anyone can improve on that number and take it up to past the 20-kpl range,” said Dong Magsajo, EDI marketing and communications director.
In a statement, EDI explained that Peugeot’s HDi (High-pressure Direct Injection) cars use 30- to 50-percent less fuel, releasing 30- to 50-percent less CO2 than an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle.
Peugeot HDi diesel engines use a filter called the DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) that traps particulates, reducing pollution by 99.9 percent, and automatically burns off the trapped particles left in the exhaust system. The materials used to produce Peugeot vehicles are up to 90-percent recyclable.