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October 22, 2012

Search for 2012-2013 Philippine Car of the Year Begins

With three test weekends down, qualitative testing for the 2012 - 2013 Car of the Year Philippines (COTY-P) has been as much a mix of vehicles as of respective reactions. Various configurations of four-wheeled personal transport - from the pint-sized, front-wheel-drive Hyundai EON to the mechanically-balanced, four-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza sedan to the mobile-boardroom Chrysler Town and Country minivan - have been put through their paces through either the North or East Triangle loop of Quezon City, always departing from the bright, expansive, and well-secured staging area provided by the official test venue ETON Centris, located at the busy corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue.

The qualitative process for judging the Car of the Year Philippines requires the participating vehicles to be driven around well-used city thoroughfares by experienced motoring journalists from online, print, radio, and television media in a manner that closely replicates the way these vehicles will be driven by real owners in the real world. The test drive, though relatively short (usually less than 10 kilometers), seeks to provide the test drivers with a quick first impression of the vehicle’s accessibility, comfort, ease of operation in a normal stop-and-go setting, maneuverability in traffic, and user-friendliness of its controls/options, among other parameters that factor into a customer’s list of reasons for purchasing a particular vehicle.

The technical test for Car of the Year judging will be held next year at the Clark International Speedway, where the participating vehicles will be tested by members of CAGI’s technical team - composed of both media members with some motorsport or track experience as well as several active and retired motorsports personalities. These vehicles will be judged according to their performance in acceleration, braking, lane-changing stability, and other parameters at an accredited venue away from public roads for the safety of both car and test driver.

Should you happen to be driving around the Quezon Memorial Circle between 7:00am to 3:00pm in the next few Saturdays, don’t be surprised to see brand-new vehicles (or, in some cases, yet-to-be-launched vehicles) mixing it up with other cars. You are among the fortunate few to have witnessed our qualitative testing process, though we do try not to get carried away. Then again, when you’re test-driving an 800cc subcompact with four occupants, it’s difficult to get carried away. Or keep up, for that matter.

With 22 vehicles already tested - the Chrysler 300C, Chrysler Town and Country, Honda Civic 1.8 E A/T, Honda Civic 2.0 EL A/T, Hyundai Accent Hatchback 1.6 GLS CRDi VGT A/T, Hyundai EON 0.8 GLS M/T, Jeep Wrangler CRD, Kia Rio 1.2 LX M/T (4dr), Kia Rio 1.4 EX A/T (4dr), Kia Rio 1.4 EX A/T (5dr), Lifan LF 6201 Foison 1.3L, Lifan LF320 EX 1.3L, Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX A/T, Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 GLX M/T, Mitsubishi Lancer EX 1.6 MX A/T, Subaru Impreza 2.0i, Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport, Subaru XV 2.0i, Subaru XV 2.0i Premium, Suzuki Alto K10, Suzuki Kizashi 2.4L VVT,  and Volvo S60 D3 - two trends have become evident: the growing popularity of automatic-transmission-equipped vehicles and the availability of diesel engines from compact through luxury vehicles. These trends provide us with a precious preview to the advances in automotive technology, where the automotive industry is going and what steps it is collectively taking to reduce fuel consumption. We’ve yet to test hybrid vehicles, which should add a whole new dimension to the Philippine motoring experience once these vehicles become more affordable and popular.

Surprisingly, with that number of vehicles already tested, the chasm that used to create a divide between the worst and best isn’t as wide as it used to be, which only goes to prove that the newcomers in the industry are on a steep learning curve as they earnestly devote more resources into producing vehicles that can compete with those from the established brands. And at the end of the day, that means that everyone is a winner.

Stay with us as we continue our journey to determine which of today’s vehicles provides the best overall driving experience. The quest is on for the Philippine Car of the Year 2012 - 2013.

Aside from Eton Centris, the quest for the 2012 - 2013 Car of the Year Philippines is supported by Caltex, RCBC Saving Bank through its Auto Loans Division, Standard Insurance, Dole Juice Drinks, and Krispy Kreme.

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