Friday, April 20, 2018
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The new SUV: ‘Sexy Utility Vehicles’

IF NOT for the emblem, I would have thought I was driving a European car.

Think of Angelina Jolie finally deciding to become a mother and Heidi Klum showing how to get back in shape in just six weeks after childbirth for a Victoria Secret fashion show and you get validations to the renaissance of the image of mothers. Although our responsibilities are the same—grocery shopping, going to varsity training, ballet practice, bringing the dog to the vet, having numerous things repaired—looking drab is no longer standard.  Now shopping in Forever 21 or Topshop are not just for teenagers, nor is immaculate upkeep just for the mistress.  Letting yourself go is no longer the badge of good motherhood.  Now if we are able to sport the Herve Leger bandage dress without batting an eyelash, shouldn’t we drive something that does not scream soccer mom but instead a sexy soccer mom?

I went window-shopping at the Autofocus Motorshow, another of the annual motorshows organized by STV, for the possible options for, well, the so-called “hot mamas.”  It featured the biggest car manufacturers in the country such as Hyundai, Toyota, Ford, BMW.  Autofocus is actually a good show to go to if a car is part of your Christmas list. I brought along another “hot mama,” Bridgestone Philippines marketing manager Karl Bobis, armed with a mutual preference for SUV or similar (something towering other cars, hmm…), a hypothetical budget of P1.4-1.8 million and, of course, our responsibilities in mind. We shortlisted three options from the show:

Kia Sportage 2.4 AWD


We test-drove the Kia Sportage 2.4L AWD AT Gas model.  The first thing I usually check in a car is how much space I can put my stuff in that would be very convenient.   They had a sunglass holder in between the driver’s and passenger’s side-lighted vanity mirrors.  It was a good size for a vanity mirror—it’s not the usual wallet size where you have to put make up on your face in sections.   It also has a sunroof, which can give you good natural lighting when you apply your make up.

This Kia model was top-of-the-line and felt really premium for a price tag of P1.4 milllion.  It had a big center console, which can fit in a lot of items.  It has a proximity key and a start stop button, radio and cruise control buttons on the steering wheel. It has a convenient USB interface for your Ipod or smart phones, although we weren’t able to try if it charges the device as well.  If not for a big Kia Emblem on the steering wheel, I would have thought I was driving a European car.

KIA Sportage and its vanity mirror.

When we drove this car, it was very responsive, had a small turning radius (this is important to me; nothing is more stressful that doing a U-turn from the Don Bosco Church/Amorsolo road into the entry of the Skyway and having to back up) I floored the gas pedal and felt no acceleration jerk but due to the limited road length and speed limits, I wasn’t able to check when the power comes in.   Kia offers five years or 160-km warranty for the Sportage.

Peugeot 3008 1.6 Allure

Although technically a crossover, the size of the Peugeot 3008 was a good size for self-driving.  Being a European car, we were expecting Peugeot on its relaunch under Eurobrand Distributors Inc. to be priced higher, but this car was priced just under P1.7 milllion with all sorts of goodies.  Once again it has sizeable middle console, big enough to discourage sweety moves from the passenger and the driver (unless the other is a contortionist).  It has the cooler console, which I believe is good place to leave the rest of your makeup kit without the fear of melting or spoiling it in parking.

The Peugeot comes with a lot of goodies including a heads-up display and a very useful 3-level trunk space.  Not only does it gives you flexibility in what you need to bring home but also gives you a hidden storage for laptops and other shopping items you don’t want to show your hubby (what about a surprise birthday gift? …wink wink). There are side markings that show the weight limit of each level.  Another nice feature is the panoramic roof, good when you need to cool down after a hectic day and watch the sky.

THE BACK seats of the Tucson were very comfortable.

One thing to consider is the aftersales support as during their brand launch,  Eurobrands Distributor Inc. president Felix Mabilog announced the opening of several dealerships by the end of the year and 12 by 2014.  During Peugeot first foray in the country several years back, they left a lot of orphans with their abrupt pullout.  Now under the helm of the Columbian Group (which are the same people behind Kia and BMW in the country) things are looking trés chic for the French brand.

Hyundai Tucson R-eVGT 6AT 4WD


The Tucson on display was a limited edition which costs  around P1.7 million.  It was very similar to the Kia Sportage in terms of interiors, maybe because they are both Korean-manufactured vehicles.  The line cues of the exterior body of the Hyundai are very European.  Actually, most of the new Hyundai cars have taken such exciting turns in terms of design.  Its bigger sister, the Hyundai Sta. Fe, is also a possible option but we opted for a smaller body. I particularly like the fact that the back seats of the Tucson were very comfortable and felt good enough to sleep without a pillow (and the risk of a stiff neck).  Although I would probably explore more choices in the interiors in terms of colors and material, the Hyundai has much going for it in terms of image and track record.

There are still other possible options so it would be good to shop around.  Make a mental list of non-negotiables for you in terms of features and size: Does this car make you feel like flipping your hair and flashing a cheerleader’s smile or it makes you feel like driving is such a chore? Low-end, mid-range or high-end, what is important is how the vehicle makes you feel driving it.

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