Icons find their way to these islands
A car brand straight from British royalty, a comebacking German icon, and a host of new models from the “divas” of the motoring world are swarming to this country, like bees finding a fresh bed of flowers, adding to the list of growing luxury auto brands vying for the attention of Filipino auto connoisseurs and enthusiasts with sophisticated tastes.
With the Philippines and the rest of Asia showing rosy numbers in the economic front, European automakers are positioning themselves for boom times in the archipelago, an auto business analyst told Inquirer Motoring. The analyst said this would be a good business move, establishing a presence in the marketplace before the boom kicks in. So the arrivals continue.
On June 19, it was announced that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in the Philippines would be opened early next year. It was also made known that the dealer appointment was in response to growing interest and demand for the brand, and that the Philippines had been earmarked as part of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ expansion plan in the Asia Pacific region.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars added in its announcement that British Bespoke Automobiles would be the brand’s authorized importer-dealer for the Philippines. The company would be responsible for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Manila, the newly appointed dealer team that will import Rolls-Royce’s Phantom, Ghost and Wraith models to the country.
The highly anticipated comeback of the Volkswagen brand has also been announced, and the German carmaker has formally signed the appointment of Automobile Central Enterprise
Inc. (ACEI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Ayala Corp., as its Philippine distributor.
In a simple ceremony held at Ritz Carlton Hotel, Hong Kong, on May 27, Weiming Soh, president for Volkswagen commercial operations in Greater China/Asean, affixed his signature on the Importeur Agreement with Fernando Zobel de Ayala, president and chief operating officer of Ayala Corp., and John Philip S. Orbeta, chair and president of Ayala Automotive Holdings Corp. (Ayala Auto) and managing director of Ayala Corp.
“In line with our Asean growth strategy, and the vision to be the world’s most successful automobile manufacturer in ecological and economical terms by 2018, we found in Ayala Auto a dedicated, resourceful and experienced partner in the Philippines that will strengthen the Volkswagen brand,” said Soh.
Volkswagen vehicles such as the Beetle and Kombi were staples of Manila streets in the ’60s and ’70s. Other models followed suit, but it was the iconic Beetle that enjoyed Pinoy acceptance, becoming an icon of its generation.
Ayala Auto has been a key player in the local automotive industry for over 20 years, operating Honda and Isuzu dealerships in Metro Manila and the Visayas. It also has a minority interest in the distributor companies of both brands.
Range Rover widens range
Land Rover Philippines (LRPhils) Motors Inc. recently launched the all-new Range Rover, considered the world’s most refined and capable sport utility vehicle (SUV). The fourth-generation model of the iconic Range Rover line was unveiled at the Land Rover Activity Center in Bonifacio Global City recently.
“The all-new Range Rover embodies the innovative spirit that the brand is known for, and meets the highest luxury car standards in refinement,” said LRPhils Motors Inc. president and chair Wellington Soong.
The flagship model is the first SUV in the world to sport a lightweight all-aluminum body which enhances vehicle performance and handling.
The all-new Range Rover is equipped with the latest in automated technology such as the Land Rover Terrain Response System which analyzes current driving conditions and automatically selects the most suitable vehicle settings for a smooth drive even on the roughest trails. It also exhibits a new chassis architecture combined with a completely re-engineered four-corner air suspension, and features state-of-the-art high-resolution displays, including a central eight-inch touch-screen monitor with Dual-View functionality and Park Assist, which aids drivers when parallel parking in tight urban spots.
This IS it for Lexus
On May 31, Lexus Manila introduced the all-new third-generation IS sport sedan in its Bonifacio Global City showroom.
Lexus debuts the third-generation 2014 IS sport sedan, with a bold design highlighted by the new dynamic signature spindle grille, and, for the first time, separated LED Daytime Running Lights. A combination of “aggressive elegance,” a more powerful road presence and a stronger brand identity helps make the new IS models more alluring than ever.
“Thanks, in large part, to substantially increased overall body rigidity, the 2014 Lexus IS provides a more dynamic driving experience with enhanced stability and body control while delivering improved ride comfort,” Lexus Manila said in its press statement.
It added: “New, laser-screw welding and adhesive body-bonding techniques, along with additional spot welding, have made the higher rigidity possible. An all-new multilink rear suspension, revised front suspension and steering derived from the well-received GS sedan are adopted in the smaller IS package.”
Two IS models are available for 2014, the IS 350 and IS 350 F Sport. Both models sport a 3.5-liter V6 with D4-S direct and port fuel injection.
The Lexus LFA supercar provides design inspiration for the driver-focused Lexus IS cockpit. F Sport models inherit the innovative TFT instrumentation with moving center ring from the LFA.
‘A’ for attack
Finally, the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is also in the Philippines. This model line was launched recently at the Republiq at Resorts World Manila.
“The A-Class makes a clear statement on the new dynamism of Mercedes-Benz”, said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Together with the successful new B-Class and three further model variants based on this vehicle architecture, it will be an important driver in our ‘Mercedes-Benz 2020’ growth strategy. We are expecting a conquest rate of more than 50 percent for the A-Class. And that’s why we say that ‘A’ now stands for attack.”
Mercedes-Benz views its A-Class as “the most progressive design in the compact class,” and “the pulse of a new generation.” Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, a member of the board of management responsible for group research and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars development, said: “With the new A-Class, the company is opening up a whole new chapter in the compact segment. The A-Class is the sporty Mercedes among the compact models. It’s the right product at the right time—and has tremendous potential to tap into new target groups and markets.”
At first glance, the new A-Class exudes dynamism—it sits lower to the ground than its predecessor by up to 18 centimeters. The radical design language that was introduced with the “Concept A-Class” to an enthusiastic reception worldwide has been systematically carried over into series production. With a reinterpretation of the classic two-box design, Mercedes-Benz designers created an emotional exterior with an extremely sporty character. And with a cd figure starting from 0.26, the A-Class sets a new benchmark in its class.
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