Four super brands and countingBy Botchi Santos |Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ask any motoring enthusiast what his ultimate dream car is, and you’ll likely hear the names of the following brands: Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi, BMW M and Mercedes-Benz AMG.
In the Philippines, three of these brands, namely Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini, belong to PGA Cars, a dealership that has long had a strong foothold in the ultraluxury market. Bentley will soon be added to the list.
It has been proven again and again that when the rich and moneyed enthusiast wants to buy a car to announce his or her presence, a shrinking violet of a car is nowhere in that person’s shortlist. We want the best of the best, the most high-end exclusive cars, and PGA Cars has them in stock.
To the casual observer, these brands seem to overlap one another, but in reality, each brand has a very distinct character that appeals to a very specific clientele.
Audi is a brand steeped in technology. Audi Cars Philippines managing director Benedict Coyiuto said: “What makes Audi unique is our expertise in turbocharged and supercharged engines. With the TFSI gasoline and TDI diesel engines, we have a range of very powerful and highly fuel-efficient, not to mention, environment-friendly power plants for our range of vehicles.
“Coupled with our S-Tronic dual-clutch transmissions, Quattro all-wheel drive and Audi drive select, our vehicles provide a safe, confident, comfortable yet highly dynamic driving experience.”
Audi has grown strong to dominate the luxury car market, specializing in executive sedans and crossover SUVs which, globally, have slowly started creeping up to challenging market leader BMW.
Just a few months back, the gap was a shy 2,000 units. Today, Audi expects to overtake BMW in global sales in the months to come, thanks to a very broad product lineup that caters to a very large percentage of the ultraluxury segment.
And since Audi is Lamborghini’s parent company, it has used the Raging Bull’s know-how to build its own supercar, the R8, based largely on the Lamborghini Gallardo.
Yet step into the R8 and the difference is night-and-day: whereas the Lamborghini feels brash, over-the-top and screaming for attention, the R8 is somber, suave, cool and sophisticated.
Let’s not forget Audi’s venerable S and RS lineup—the upcoming RS4, RS6, and the already available S4, S6, S7 and S8 super saloons. These are all “bahn-stormers” capable of comfortably cruising at 250 kph all day, while carrying three to four passengers in absolute comfort and refinement.
And yet, especially locally and in consumption- and emissions-taxed Europe, it is the diesels that have truly won universal acclaim. Audi’s TDI technology—already proven extensively in Le Mans with numerous outright victories, having won such great accolades for its seamlessly powerful yet highly efficient engines—is the choice for those who are moneyed yet with a practical mindset.
Getting 10 kilometers to a liter is a doodle with the 2.0 TDI in the city, and as much as 25 km to a liter out on the open highway. No wonder so many A8, A6, Q7 and Q5 SUVs sport TDI power in the Philippines. It is exciting on the weekends, yet surprisingly efficient and highly refined and comfortable to run on a daily basis.
But it is the Porsche brand that is closest to the Coyiuto family. It was PGA Cars’ first brand to distribute officially in the Philippines. According to Porsche Philippines managing director Robert Coyiuto III, every car enthusiast, even if they own other ultraluxury sports cars, will attest that a Porsche is first and foremost a driver’s car.
It might not always be the fastest in straight-line driving or around the racetrack, but it is the most pleasurable, the most pleasing and the most exciting to drive given an open stretch of twisting tarmac or a highly technical racetrack.
Evolution of the 911
While cynics will say that its 911 has hardly changed, this has in fact evolved beautifully. Step into any era 911, from an early ’80s 930 Turbo to the latest 991 chassis, and you can clearly see the lineage, the DNA, the tradition and the driver-focused environment. Controls that are perfectly weighted, a clear line of sight ahead of you, with a minimum of fuss and gimmicks to distract from driving the road ahead.
The 911 was also the first and original all-weather, all-season supercar in 911 Turbo guise that offered day-to-day practicality and usability, even in our poor roads. Cynics will again argue that the Cayenne SUV and Panamera super saloon have eroded the Porsche’s brand equity, but it has in fact worked tremendously in favor of Porsche, ensuring its growth and profitability as the Asian and particularly Chinese markets prefer the more practical Cayenne and Panamera over traditional sports cars.
But don’t think for a moment that the Panamera and Cayenne are anything but a Porsche: both provide the same intense and focused driving experience, backed by impressive engineering that makes them excel at what they do. The Cayenne, when ordered with the right equipment, is a highly capable trail-ready 4X4 SUV, whereas the Panamera is a true 4-door supercar capable of carrying four passengers in extreme speeds while chomping down continents for breakfast.
Speed and performance, however, is just one aspect. The simple, yet highly elegant engineering behind each Porsche is amazing. No other super sports car is as reliable, as solid, sturdy and forgiving in the most extreme driving conditions as a Porsche.
Thanks to almost 50 years of evolution, refinement and motorsports success particularly for the 911 sports car for that. It is no wonder then that out of all premium high-end sports cars, a vast majority of Porsche owners take their cars (including the Cayenne SUV and Panamera super sedan) to the racetrack regularly. No other car manufacturer can boast of such a loyal, diehard and hard-core driving enthusiast clientele.
On a personal note, the 911 remains to be my favorite sports car. I’ll take a 997 GT3RS 4.0 in white, with white wheels, red livery and PCCB brakes, please.
PGA Cars levelled up earlier this year by introducing the Raging Bull from SantA’gata, Bolognese in Italy. Robert Coyiuto III, who is also managing director for Lamborghini Philippines, says that Lamborghini clientele differ from other enthusiasts in that they want the ultimate in performance, engineering and wild, rakish looks, foregoing some comfort, utility and refinement in the process for a very raw, visceral and overwhelming aural driving experience.
Most extreme supercar
The cheapest Lamborghini is more expensive than Porsche’s top-model 911 variants, and offers a more focused driving experience in the process. To date, the Lamborghini Aventador is the most expensive car ever sold by an official importer in the country, and is arguably the most extreme supercar out of the box.
I was lucky enough to drive an Aventador at Sepang’s F1 track at full-tilt, and I can confirm that my skills and talent, as well as my balls, ran out well before I even skimmed the limits of the almighty Aventador.
The Gallardo range, due for one more facelift early in 2013 before the arrival of the all-new Cabrera in 2014, is Lamborghini’s most successful sports car ever, and PGA Cars timed their partnership with Lamborghini SpA perfectly.
While no official numbers are available, it’s safe to assume that Lamborghini Philippines has fulfilled its quota early in its first few months of operation. The Raging Bull is a perfect upgrade for owners of Audi super saloons and Porsche 911 enthusiasts looking to upgrade to more extreme performance and focused driving experience.
The last brand in PGA Car’s four-pronged attack at the super exclusive, super luxury segment is Bentley. Many people will recognize Bentley as the lesser known relation of Rolls Royce. The two British brands were at each other’s necks throughout the 1920s until the Wall Street crash of 1929 killed off Bentley’s business. In 1931, a few years prior to World War II, Rolls Royce became the new owner of Bentley. It was only in 1998 when Bentley was bought by the Volkswagen Group, finally free once again to live its destiny as the ultimate luxury car with performance comparable to supercars.
Expressing brand value
The Bentley Continental, particularly the GT Speed variant, best expresses Bentley’s brand values of the ultimate in creature comfort, refinement and safety, but possessing the tenacity and performance of a proper supercar. With 625 HP and a top speed of 330 kph, the numbers show that the big and heavy luxo barge has what it takes to play in the supercar game, but the comfort and refinement shames other ultraluxury limousines as well.
PGA Cars sees the Bentleys to be the automobile of choice for the older, more mature and more genteel enthusiast who wants maximum performance, but without negating maximum comfort in the process, as well as a more somber, low-key persona.
Whereas the Lamborghini might look extreme, the Porsche track-oriented and the Audi a techno-fest, Bentleys are veritable castles on wheels, not helped by the 2,300-kg curb weight.
But open the taps completely, push the loud pedal and the Continental’s twin turbocharged W12 engine propels the Bentley at an alarming rate, akin to a 747 Jumbo Jet taking off into the distance, and perhaps a nod to Bentley’s origins, that of an aircraft engine supplier.
The Mulsanne replaces the Arnage, whereas the Flying Spur’s production has ended with a replacement due to be announced later in 2013. And though the Bentley showroom will officially open its doors between the first and second quarter next year, sales have been promising for the fledgling Bentley Philippines, with the initial batch of orders arriving prior to the brand’s opening.
With four ultraluxury brands, led by a family of true automotive enthusiasts who work hard during the week, but play and drive equally as hard on the weekends, it’s obvious why PGA Cars and its brands remain strong, with an ever-loyal customer base and a growing client base of well-heeled enthusiasts.
We can only expect the group to grow stronger, bringing more high-end exotics, sports cars and ultraluxury cars to our shores. PGA Cars is indeed the primary purveyor of fine automobiles for the discerning enthusiasts.
While continually growing, PGA Cars has stepped up and now has three separate facilities: their main executive offices, showroom and technical center along Edsa in Mandaluyong City; Lamborghini Manila and Audi Global City in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig; and Audi Alabang down south.
The Mandaluyong facility, currently undergoing renovations to increase service space, houses the Porsche Training & Recruitment Center Asia, a technical school for qualified scholars handpicked by PGA Cars-Porsche executives, Don Bosco Technical Institute and Porsche AG.
So what else is in store for PGA Cars? Its chair, the affable Robert Coyiuto Jr., had this to tell me: “We plan to launch another new and exciting brand soon, so watch out for it!”