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Perfect vehicles for those post-summer sporting activities

/ 11:00 PM June 28, 2011

Summer may be officially over in our country (just look outside your window), but it doesn’t mean that we have to shift from active to sedentary. The couch may cry out for company, accompanied by a sleep-inducing rainy-day soundtrack. But the opportunity to break into a sweat, whether indoors or outdoors, is still worth grabbing, whenever there are a few hours of sunshine that peep through. To make the journey just as enjoyable as the sport, we’ve taken the liberty of pairing up some activities.

Running: Perhaps the most environmentally friendly of all sports, all you need are two pairs: of shoes and lungs. A favorite venue for walking and running is the UP Circle, which is closed to vehicles at certain times to give way to runners. Perhaps they will make an exception for the Toyota Prius, which, when running on the electric portion of its hybrid system, emits no pollutants. When driving Toyota’s king of fuel mileage, you can feel good that not only are you covering a lot of kilometers without doing harm to the environment, you are continuing the process even as you drive home after your run.

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Yoga: A stretching, slimming, and in Bikram form, a sweat-inducing activity, Yoga is excellent for improving the body’s suppleness. Thankfully there’s no need for contortion when climbing into the Mitsubishi ASX. Its hip point is ideally located for easy ingress and ingress, no matter what state your lower back is in. Its doors, including the rears, open wide for easy access to a right-sized interior that belies the compact exterior.

Hiking: This activity may be as tame as trekking up a hill, or as strenuous as a climb around Mount Pinatubo. For venues that require sure-footed traction, the Ford Ranger just can’t be beaten. Featuring a 2.5-liter common-rail diesel, the Ford pulls mightily-it’s not dubbed the DuraTorq for nothing. 330 Nm and a low-speed transfer case ensures that the Ranger can bring you there, and just as importantly, bring you safely home.

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Golf: Showing up at the country club in an impressive vehicle can be just as important as your backswing. Combining the style of an executive sedan with the versatility of a crossover is the Volvo V60. Following the dynamic styling of its S60 sedan sibling, the V60 aims for a coupe look, while retaining the extra load space of a wagon-perfect for easily loading golf bags. What’s more, the V60 T5 is powered by a turbocharged engine, giving it blistering acceleration.

Basketball: The Hyundai Santa Fe’s generous interior proportions make it suitable for transporting five basketball players-plus two muses in the third row. Players of NBA stature may find themselves scraping the head liner, but the average local player will find plenty of head and shoulder room in Hyundai’s midsize crossover. The Santa Fe is now powered by a new-generation diesel engine, giving it plenty of grunt even when fully loaded.

Cycling: It’s not uncommon to see SUVs and crossovers loaded with bicycles on their roof racks, on the way to some challenging trail. The Audi Q5 is one of the few vehicles that actually adapts to its load, including objects placed on its roof. The Q5’s electronic stability program (ESP) incorporates a sensor that knows when a roof rack is fitted, and then computes that the center of gravity will now be higher. When the roof can carry as much as 100 kg of weight, the effect can be substantial. Audi’s ESP cuts in earlier for enhanced safety. The Q5 is no slouch, for that matter-its 2.0 engine pumps out 211 hp and 350 Nm at just 1500 rpm.

Wakeboarding: Traveling to some remote location, particularly when the weather is stormy, can get pretty hairy. Unless you’re driving a Subaru Outback. With its lower center of gravity, thanks to its trademark drivetrain, the Outback can claw its way through any slippery road, thanks to its symmetrical all-wheel drive system. The Outback’s interior is also versatile, allowing for transport of long objects such as a surfboard.

Circuit Driving: When going for a track day, the fun is all at the circuit. The drive home is usually a time for winding down and readjusting to a more sedate pace. Not so with the Chevrolet Cruze diesel. The diesel engine makes quick work of getting to the track, while still providing decent fuel economy. The drive home won’t lack for excitement either, thanks to the Cruze’s firm suspension and responsive handling.

Jet Skiing: Towing your jet ski to the beach doesn’t necessarily require a rough-and-tumble pickup truck. Just as capable of pulling a trailer is the all-new Dodge Durango, recently launched by CATS Motors. The Durango is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 offering 290 hp and 352 Nm, specifications previously the province of V8 engines. With its load-leveling rear suspension, the Durango can tow 2900 kg. Its three rows of seats can seat eight in supreme comfort, and the SUV is equipped with a state-of-the-art entertainment system, so that the journey will be just as fun as the destination.

Diving: Going to a private beach requires a vehicle with sufficient ground clearance and plenty of traction. BMW’s new X3 has a sophisticated all-wheel drive system combined with a tall stance to make sure that you get to the beach without bogging down. In case you forget to bring an appropriate container for your wetsuit, the X3 has a deep waterproof bin under its trunk floor. The X3’s run-flat tire system precludes the need for a spare tire, thus freeing up plenty of space both within and under the trunk.

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Tennis: Thanks to incessant TV advertising, we can hardly picture a Kia without Rafael Nadal grinning in the foreground. So what better way to ferry yourself to the tennis court than in the all-new Kia Sportage? Sporting a newfound style that wouldn’t look out of place on a European marque, the new crossover has 739 liters of cargo space behind its front seat, enough for an entire season’s worth of tennis rackets.

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TAGS: Motoring, sporting activities, Sports
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