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Jaguar Land Rover ends production of Defender model

The last-ever Land Rover Defender, a vehicle beloved by Queen Elizabeth II and featured in Hollywood blockbusters, rolled off the production line Friday after 68 years of being made in Britain. Indian-owned carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) had already announced in late 2013 that the group would stop making the legendary Defender at its car plant in Solihull in central England. Production of the final Land Rover Defender was cheered by workers at the JLR factory with its lights flashing and horns blaring. JLR decided to axe the legendary 4x4 due to difficulties in maintaining safety and emissions standards. "They want safer vehicles, they want vehicles with air bags, they want vehicles with lower fuel emissions. This vehicle's for farmers," Patrick Cruywagen, deputy editor of Land Rover Monthly magazine, told  Sky News. But he told …

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SsangYong returns

South Korean automotive marque, SsangYong, is returning to the Philippine market, under a new and exclusive distributor, SsangYong Berjaya Auto Philippines, Inc. (SBMP). SBMP is a part of the Malaysian Berjaya Group of Companies. Its sister company, Berjaya Auto Philippines, has been the distributor and importer of Mazda vehicles since 2013. Helming SBMP as chairman is Francis Lee, an Executive Director of the Berjaya Group of Companies, chairman of Berjaya Auto Philippines, and Executive Director of Bermaz Motor, the exclusive distributor of Mazda in Malaysia since 2008. Serving as Managing Director is former Mazda Director for Customer Service, After Sales and General Counsel, David Macasadia, an auto industry veteran of 25 years. SBMP will initially offer three vehicles; the Tivoli compact crossover, the Korando SUV and the Rodius MPV. The Tivoli and …

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Goodbye’s, hello’s, and thank you’s

Mr. Sugata, our rock star — two weeks ago, Michinobu Sugata, a gentleman and a rock star to the motoring media, who led Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) for six years and six Triple Crowns, ended his tour of duty here. If figures are the language that will say what Mr. Sugata was like, consider this: He took over the presidency of TMP in 2010, when annual sales recorded 56,855 units. He left at the end of 2015, with TMP’s annual sales on an all-time high – 125,027 units. To the motoring journalists, it was more than sales figures that made Mr. Sugata pleasant company. A fine gentleman who can sing on stage like a rock star, and a master of the art of making a guest feel comfortable — Mr. Sugata had …

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The more, the merrier

Before, Filipino riders had to go to the United States to have a taste of the prestigious California Superbike School (CSS). But in the last two years, Australia-based CSS instructors, led by Steve Brouggy, have been training superbike enthusiasts on Philippine shores. This time, BMW Motorrad Philippines is sending three lucky Pinoys to a CSS training center in any part of the world as a bonus for participating in this year’s training event scheduled on Feb. 5-7 at the Clark International Speedway in Pampanga. During the launch of the 2016 CSS at the BMW Autohaus in Libis, Quezon City last week, Gil Balderas, deputy sale director of Asian Carmakers Corporation (ACC)-BMW and general manager of BMW Motorrad Philippines, announced that they are raffling two “all expenses paid” slots for lucky participants who …

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Early summer for the Nissan Juke

Nissan Philippines Inc. (NPI) recently brought thrill and excitement to the surfing capital of the north, San Juan, La Union, as part of the launch of the new Nissan Juke. The ride and drive, held last Jan. 21 to 22, saw select members of the motoring and lifestyle beat experience the unique design, exciting drive, and innovative technology of the much anticipated vehicle. A fleet of 20 Nissan Jukes made their way from Metro Manila to San Juan, La Union, picking up the sport of surfing from surfing champion mentors like Luke Landrigan and Nikki De La Paz. Since its introduction to the Philippine market in October last year, the new Nissan Juke has prompted early reservations of the unit prior to its start of sales. “The new Nissan Juke is built to …

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Satoru Suzuki steps in as new Toyota PH president

As Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) gears up for what is shaping up to be its fifteenth consecutive year of dominating Passenger and Commercial vehicle, and overall auto sales, it will do so with a new leader at the helm. Michinobu Sugata, the outgoing president of TMP, has recently concluded his fantastic tour-of-duty that began in 2010. Since taking over as the sixth president of TMP, Sugata not only expanded the lineup of Toyota models being offered in the country, he also grew the number of dealerships from 28 to 49 all around the Philippines. Under Sugata’s leadership, TMP started breaking sales records in 2012 and they haven’t looked back ever since. In 2014, TMP broke the 100-thousand annual unit sales mark, putting them in the elite Global Toyota 100k Club. Just last year, …

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People pleaser

PVs, or Multi-Purpose Vehicles, are a staple on Philippine roads not just for their people-moving prowess, but for their sheer versatility as well. Usually powered by small displacement or diesel engines, MPVs are the ultimate practical car – spacious, thrifty and affordable. Honda isn’t a stranger to the MPV segment, having offered the Honda FR-V and Freed in other markets. Locally, we have the Honda Odyssey but it’s simply too upscale for it to be considered an MPV for the people. But instead of rushing to offer a product that might not cater to Philippine needs, Honda has been biding their time, waiting until they had a car that ticked off all the checkmarks of the MPV formula before entering the market. And that car is the Honda Mobilio. BREAKING THE MOLD As …

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Volkswagen upgrades lineup for 2016

First to receive an update is the new Jetta sedan, now in diesel and petrol automatic variants. The compact sedan is now offered with either a 2.0-liter turbo common rail direct injection four-cylinder diesel, paired to a six-speed DSG (Comfortline), or a 1.4 TSI engine, mated to a 7-speed DSG (Trendline). Besides the powertain upgrade, the Jetta has also been fitted with a wide array of safety features like airbags, Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) with Comfort Brake Assistant, Electronic Differential Lock and Anti Slip Regulation, Hill Hold Control, and Cruise Control. New 16- and 17-inch wheel designs, and redesigned front and rear fascias round out the changes. For the Polo subcompact sedan,  VW has added 15" Tosa alloy wheels, a new chrome radiator grille, Halogen H7 headlights with turn signal lights …

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Taking on the cowboys

A new cruiser motorcycle brand hopes to upset the establishment with its latest offerings. The Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company is now in the Philippines, distributed by Access Plus / T.A. Marketing, known for distributing Ducati motorcycles, Victory cruisers, Polaris off-road vehicles and Italjet scooters. The bikes were launched last Jan. 14 in Bonifacio Global City, just a day after the brand’s showroom opening in P. Tuazon street in Quezon City. The launch saw the attendance of U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Michael Klecheski, and Maxime Vandereyken, Asia Distribution Manager of Polaris Industries. The North Carolina-based brand will be represented by three models lines, the Scout, Chief, and Road Master. The motorcycles are characterized by their low dragster-like profile, long horizontal exhaust pipes, and trademark Indian head on the front fender. The Scout will serve as …

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Ready for the rumble

The seven-seat SUV battle is now in full swing with the final, and perhaps most-awaited competitor, the Toyota Fortuner, unveiled last week at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay City. Tough crowd The Fortuner belongs to the seven-seater pickup-based passenger vehicle (PPV) segment — the largest and most fiercely contested segment in the ASEAN automotive industry. It goes against competitors like the new Mitsubishi Montero Sport (officially launched just this week), Ford Everest, Isuzu Mu-X, and Chevrolet Trailblazer. STORIED PAST The new Fortuner has big shoes to fill, with its predecessor ending a long, 10-year production run (2005-2015), punctuated by two facelifts and a powertrain upgrade. Toyota has made sure the new vehicle is fit to take over with a series of new powertrains and the new “Keen Look” design language, first previewed by …

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