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March 13, 2002

Review: 2002 Honda Civic Type-R

Honda Civics stuffed with DOHC VTEC engines have earned a reputation for being the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the compact car world.  Behaving not much differently from its more docile stablemates, the Civic undergoes a transformation once you spin the engine past 6000 rpm.  The second VTEC cam profile engages, the engine note turns into a Formula-One soundtrack, and you have about 2000 more rpm to go before reaching for the next gear.  Suddenly the unassuming little Honda can give a BMW 325i a run for its money, at least on this side of 100 km/h.

Review: 2002 Honda Civic VTi-S vs Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8G

Ever since the introduction of the Honda Civic back in the early 1990s, it became an overnight success.  The ‘bug-eyed’ generation seemed to have no end as it seemed that everyone owned a Civic, whether it was an LXi, VTi or SiR.  Funny thing is that when Toyota released its Corolla back in 1998 it had all the safety equipment and some of the luxuries like better plastics and an upgraded stereo system.  Nonetheless, the Civic still ran away with the sales lead.

March 12, 2002

Review: 2002 Ford Lynx Ghia

Critics said that it was the rear end that did it in; some claimed it was borrowed underpinnings; some even proclaimed that it was due to having only one displacement available.  Whatever the reason, the Ford Lynx, after making a big splash in September 1999, soon became close to extinct in the 1.6-liter segment.  Despite combining the sporty attributes of the Honda Civic and a bit of luxury and class that became the trademark of the Nissan Exalta, it didn’t quite threaten the leaders in its class.

February 16, 2002

Review: 1997 Porsche 911 Cabriolet

When we hear the word Porsche, three adjectives immediately spring to mind: air-cooled, rear-engined, and flat-six.  With the advent of the latest Porsche products, each of these trademark characteristics has come under assault.  Noise and emissions regulations have led to water-cooled engines, the Boxster has its engine in the middle of the chassis, and the upcoming Cayenne will be powered by a V8 engine.  Hey, the Cayenne is even an SUV, for crying out loud!  To those who might wonder what a Porsche truly is, to what the brand really stands for, they should go back in time, just a few years to the last of the “true” Porsches, the previous 911, codenamed 993.

January 21, 2002

Review: 2002 Ford Ranger 4x4 XLT

The wind buffeted even more as the tire noise filled the cabin.  I knew for a fact that this vehicle was being driven at its very limit.  The odometer indicated a mere 3,525 kilometers—pretty young to undergo such a harsh treatment.  The stiff ride sent every single road imperfection straight to my spine and into my brain, registering with great tenacity like hot needles on cold, bare skin.  My pulse quickened as I gripped the gear lever trying to find another gear—I wanted to go faster—I needed another upshift.  To my surprise—that was it.  Only five gears?

March 12, 2001

Review: 2001 Mercedes-Benz MB100

Weekend getaway to Tagaytay:  long stretches of highway culminating in steep mountain roads with plenty of hairpin turns.  Fresh air and cool weather, too!

Review: 2001 BMW 523i vs Honda Accord VTi-L

We know what’s circulating in your minds: here’s another crazy match up between a BMW and a Honda—an uneven match-up, much like letting Mike Tyson go against Yukozuna.  On paper, there’s actually nothing the same with the Honda Accord and the BMW 523i: the German is rear-wheel drive, powered by an inline-6 and costs three million bucks.  On the other hand, the Accord is the typical exec-sedan of choice offering front-wheel drive, powered by an inline-4 and priced at half of the Bimmer’s list price.

February 5, 2001

Review: 2001 Toyota RAV4

Niche market vehicles are usually developed as an afterthought.  Sure, manufacturers have to develop a new shell and body panels, but essentially, the basic frame and the engine were all sourced from existing parts. The story is no different when the cute-as-button mini-SUVs began to invade the market.  The Toyota RAV4 for instance used a modified Corolla chassis and was powered by a Corona engine.  On the other hand, the Honda CR-V was based on the Civic chassis and engine.

Review: 2001 Toyota Corolla GLi

The battlefield of the 1.6-liter sedans has never been this big.  Long before, people had only two choices: the Mitsubishi Lancer and the Toyota Corolla.  Pretty soon, other car manufacturers came into the picture offering their own brand of compact-sized family car.  Now, the field has no less than seven competitors: Chevrolet Cassia, Ford Lynx, Honda Civic, Mazda 323, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.  This huge array of choices makes buying a compact-sized sedan much more difficult than shopping for hotdogs at a local supermarket.

December 18, 2000

Review: 2000 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

In biology, hybrids combine the best characteristics of different variants.   So it is with cars.  Witness the success of the car-based offroaders.  They combine the compact dimensions and good handling of a car with the high ground clearance and wagon configuration of a traditional offroader to endear themselves to many owners and climb steadily to the top of the sales charts.

May 13, 2000

Review: 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer GSR

Monet replicas are everywhere.  You see them in offices, elevators and yes, even McDonald's restaurants.  Has it ever occurred to you why such an excellent artist as Monet had to be contented on seeing his works displayed along side Ronald McDonald?  The answer is simple really: it's inoffensive and bland.  Much like a Big Mac or McChicken is bland, a Monet doesn't really stand out.  It may look great to the art critic's eye, but for the rest of civilization, it's nothing more than a piece of decoration: greatly unnoticed, ignored and never appreciated.  What a Monet replica is in the world of furniture, is what the Mitsubishi Lancer GSR is in the world of automobiles.

February 20, 2000

Review: 2000 Honda Civic VTi

With the amazing debut of the Ford Lynx Ghia, one begins to wonder if Honda's grasp on the 1.6-liter market would begin to fade.  In terms of market share, it seems that it hasn't happened just yet.  In fact, Honda has maintained a healthy second place in sales for the 1.6-liter segment despite having a car that is nearly five years old and is becoming too common to be called different.  So what makes the Honda Civic a big seller then?  Why do people keep on flocking Honda's way when they could get cars with much more features for the same price?  I decided to find out for myself.