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Eric Tipan

5 features you’d want in your pickup

When it comes to pickups in the Philippines, few have the kind of glowing reputation possessed by the Mitsubishi Strada. It’s earned its stripes by crossing rivers, bounding boulders and literally doing all the heavy lifting. Seldom did it break down, requiring only air, fuel and the mandatory oil change to keep on keeping on. It started out boxy, but by the third-generation, it was one of the most sought after not just for what it can do, but also for the way it looks. After driving the 5th generation Strada, let me highlight five utterly enviable features that will make you wish were driving one too.   Headlamps The headlamps on the Strada are probably the most stunning in the segment right now. It comes with an illusion of size from the LED daytime …

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CarTech: the hybrid perfected Toyota details its hybrid journey

Photos by Toyota It was December 1997 and the whole world was consumed with Leo (DiCaprio) and Kate (Winslet) in Titanic. Meanwhile, this little known, newly launched, mass-produced ‘hybrid’ called a Prius was launched. What does it do? It has batteries. Is it fast? It doesn’t look like it. What’s all the fuss about? It has great fuel mileage. Come the early 2000s, a few A-listers like Leo (DiCaprio) and Jen (Aniston) were seen driving one but the Prius still had its doubters. After six years in the market, it was primed for the big-time and it came when Cameron Diaz rolled up to the red carpet of the 2003 Oscar’s not in a gas-guzzling stretch limo but in a humble white Prius. It’s a major leap considering that only 10 years before, this hybrid …

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A race like no other

Linkin Park, Maroon 5, Robbie Williams, Bon Jovi, the Biebs, even Boy George, and more recently Bastille and Imagine Dragons, all have something in common, and it's not who they dated. That would be weird… really weird. These marquee names have all, at one point in time, lit up and rocked out the Padang stage as part of the sights and sounds spectacle that is the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix (SGP). An eye-popping thirty-three performers were live throughout the weekend of September 16-18 and not the Zika virus nor the heat and humidity of the city-state of Singapore was going to stop me from checking out the 2016 Formula 1 SGP. Photos courtesy of Singapore Grand Prix Marina Bay Street Circuit The track used by F1 cars is actually composed of regular streets, making …

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Simple design, advanced engineering

This country needs to fall in love with hatchbacks more. There I said it. Despite its size, it takes care of that one problem — space. Just to give you an idea of how much cargo room you get, a hatchback variant will have an extra 6-7 cubic feet of space, depending on the brand, compared to its sedan sibling. Currently, only subcompact hatchbacks enjoy a certain amount of popularity. Compact hatchbacks are still under the radar since majority of buyers prefer a regular trunk to a hatchback. I take the Golf 1.4 TSI DSG Highline for a spin to show you how hatchbacks can be the better alternative than the average sedan.   Simple design The Golf, of all the hatchbacks available, has probably the most plain design. It is absolutely unassuming and totally straightforward …

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Toyota unveils the refreshed 86

While I have yet to meet a person who looks at an 86 and goes, “that’s really not for me,” Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has gone ahead and given it a facelift before anyone actually noticed that it was already four years old. At an event coinciding with the pre-race party for the third leg of the Vios Cup Season 3, TMP unveiled, in spectacular fashion, the ‘refreshed’ 86 at the Clark International Speedway. Rolling in slowly under party lights and dance music, the new 86 — driven by professional drifter Alex Perez — went into a series of drift moves in confines barely the size of a basketball court. As if that wasn’t impressive enough to showcase its superb handling, the female host of the event walks right up to the middle …

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The road to zero traffic casualties

With the rapid motorization of the Philippines, it is not surprising that fender-bender incidents and even fatal traffic accidents are on the rise. But as accidents and their intensity are unpredictable, preparation in its many forms is key to significantly reduce injury to you, your passengers and even pedestrians. It is this preparation by Toyota, the world’s largest automaker that has piqued my attention. They recently gave me an in-depth look at their holistic approach to safety, which included crashing a brand new Prius right before my eyes just to prove a point. They toured me around their facility dedicated to making Toyotas the safest vehicles possible and promised to never stop their work until, in their own words, ‘traffic casualties are zero.’   Higashifuji Research& Development Center Sitting on a 43,825 square meter property is …

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The 21st-century diesel engine

Diesel engines over the years have had a bad ‘knock’ — pardon the pun — over the years because of their reputation for poor emissions, that audible chatter, and their association with commercial vehicles as rough engines. European releases of late have totally dispelled those archaic notions. Yet few have the mass-market appeal and the reasonable pricing Japan’s Mazda can provide. The Hiroshima-based automaker recently launched a new trim of the Mazda6 that now uses its state-of-the-art SkyActiv-D engine, which naturally piqued my interest. Hmmm…..diesel on a mid-size? I test it out for weekend to see what all the hype is about. Inside the Skyactiv-D The level of engineering that went into the Mazda SkyActive-D engine is simply astounding. Defying conventional methods, Mazda found ways to make a diesel engine lighter while squeezing out more power, …

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Ford takes us north to refuel and re-focus

There’s never a bad time to take a break from the grind. That break came in the form of a daytrip to ‘go further’ and explore attractions in the north. With an 8 a.m. call time, our group of eight motoring journalists met at Ford Balintawak for a 214-kilomter road trip to simply enjoy our ride for the day, the new Ford Focus 1.5L with EcoBoost, using either the route book or Waze to get to our destination. Sans a convoy to follow, a casual briefing, and an extremely loose seven-hour schedule, our drive had only three stops — the Aquino Ancestral House of Conception, Tarlac; Abe’s Farm in Magalang and Nathaniel’s in Angeles, Pampanga. Strength in (smaller) size The new Focus is packed, which is why it’s also compact. Despite increased length and …

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Common canards about cars

Idling to warm up the engine - False When engines still used carburetors, it was imperative to warm up the engine in order expand the temperature-sensitive spring that opens the carburetor choke valve. This lets in more air for a leaner and correct air-fuel mixture. Running it cold could stall the engine since the valve is barely open. After the complete phase-out of the carburetor in the late 1990s in favor of fuel injection, the need to spend more than a few seconds to warm up your vehicle has become obsolete and even illegal in some countries. Nowadays, engines have sensors that manage the air-fuel mixture. It will run a little rich on fuel when it’s cold. The only way, and this is key, to get it to optimal operating temperature is to …

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The blue-collared worker in business attire

As probably the consummate multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), the Innova has become one of Toyota Motor Philippines’s (TMP) bestsellers since its introduction in 2004. It has just the right size, power, and ride comfort, while still being firm enough to haul heavy items around. Everyone loves its versatility but the criticism I get from most people is they just couldn’t picture themselves driving it up to Shangri-La BGC for a high profile business meeting. With the second generation Innova, it is nothing short of a guarantee that you’ll love it more for its looks. You know what they say about love, it’s simply better the second time around.   Dressed for success The all-new Innova is ‘sleeker’ and ‘more stylish’, but it still falls painfully short in putting into words the major design upgrade the Innova …

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