After the slump that the industry experienced last year, 2021 seems to be a comeback period for automakers. Even with the loss of life brought about by the Delta variant, vaccines have dramatically reduced the number of new cases each day. With that came the easing of travel restrictions, which meant people became ready to buy new cars.
This upward trend is clearly evident in what has transpired in the local automotive industry in the past 12 months. Car companies have returned with a vengeance, confident that the business will bounce back and customers will be more willing to part with their hard-earned cash. These firms have given us a lot to digest, and we’ll be looking at the models that have piqued the interest of buyers in 2021.
BMW M3, M4 and M5. These three models are proof that the German automaker really makes the ultimate driving machine. Their turbocharged engines are tamed by sophisticated computers that can adapt to the driver’s skill level. But off the track, any one of these vehicles can be used as comfortable highway cruisers.
Chevrolet Corvette. The pandemic isn’t really the ideal time to launch a two-seat, mid-engine supercar. But Chevrolet has done it. The Corvette not only packs 474hp from its big, burly LT2 V8, but it also comes with a price tag that undercuts anything from Europe.
Ford F-150. This is another celebrated nameplate from an American carmaker. The popular F-150 has finally arrived in the Philippines. Despite being a premium offering by Ford, this truck still comes with simple tricks of the trade like a retractable step in the tailgate. More importantly, its Power Stroke turbodiesel will make sure that it will not visit the pumps very often.
Honda City Hatchback. The discontinuation of the Jazz in the country left its fans weeping. But Honda thinks that it has more than made up for it with the City Hatchback. We’ve discovered that this car is more than just a City sedan with a new body style. The clever rear seats are far more versatile than any crossover can ever dream of.
Honda Civic. Sedans are a steadily dying breed as crossovers have become the go-to product for many consumers. But Honda is not giving up on them, which is pretty obvious in the all-new Civic. It is now made more compelling as all variants get turbocharged engines and Honda Sensing driver aids.
Isuzu D-Max and Mu-X. Isuzu products are often considered agricultural, which makes sense given the company’s specialty. But jaws dropped when the D-Max and the Mu-X came out packing advanced electronic driver aids (for range-topping variants) and a massive touchscreen with Android and Apple compatibility. However, their truck-like charm remains with the relaxed nature of the 4JJ3 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine.
Jaguar F-Pace. When manufacturers equip their vehicles with diesel engines, that’s usually the end of that. However, Jaguar thinks that even an already efficient oil-burner needs a little help from electricity. That’s evident in the updated F-Pace, which gets help from a 48V lithium-ion battery to make it even more of a fuel miser.
Kaicene CX70. This Chinese brand specializes in various types of utility vehicles, but the CX70 bucks that trend. This family-friendly MPV comes with seven seats, a touchscreen infotainment system, a sunroof, parking sensors, and a 148hp turbocharged engine that is simply unheard of in its class. And buyers can have it for less than P900,000.
Kia Sorento. The Korean automaker has undergone a massive corporate transformation with its new forward-looking logo. And the new and refreshed Kia is finally here in the Philippines with the latest Sorento. The list of standard equipment includes a massive 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, heated and cooled front seats, and a 199hp 2.2-liter turbodiesel.
Land Rover Defender. The all-new Defender continues to be a source of controversy for the Land Rover faithful. Aside from its design, the petrol V6 with hybrid assist is thought to be unnecessarily complicated for a vehicle with humble origins. That’s why customers now have the option to have their Defenders with diesel engines.
Lexus NX. In a way, the all-new NX is a representation of the new direction Lexus is heading toward. Infused with Lexus Driving Signature, it promises performance that can both relax and excite its lucky occupants. It also has a tamed version of the automaker’s corporate face. Interested customers can place their orders here.
Maserati Ghibli Hybrid. The solution to performance has always been fulfilled with turbos or bigger engines. But in the interest of saving polar bears, Maserati has decided to equip the Ghibli with a 48V alternator. The mild-hybrid setup doesn’t allow it to run on battery power alone, but it ensures that the Italian sedan can punch its way out of corners with vigor.
Mazda BT-50. Luxury isn’t normally associated with pickup trucks. But with the latest BT-50, Mazda has shown that it can be done. The cab has the firm’s usual premium touches not normally associated with a utility vehicle, somewhat tempering the fact that its underpinnings are based on the reliable workhorse that is the Isuzu D-Max.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The S-Class is the luxury sedan by which other luxury sedans are judged. And Mercedes-Benz has made sure of that by packing local-spec vehicles to the gills with AMG bodykit, augmented-reality navigation, a 15-speaker Burmeister sound system, a champagne fridge, and adaptive air suspension, to name a few.
MG ZS T. Even though the ZS subcompact crossover is quite popular with buyers, its lackluster straight-line performance doesn’t do it any favors with keen drivers. That’s all changed with the ZS T packing a healthy 160hp from its 1.3-liter engine, ensuring that this car will never get left behind on the highway.
Mitsubishi Mirage G4. A lot of you will point out that this car has existed for ages. Yes it has, but for very good reasons. It’s affordable, reliable and practical. And the Dynamic Shield face and the high-tech infotainment system give this solid vehicle a much-needed refresh.
Nissan Almera. The subcompact class is often an excuse for manufacturers not to innovate. But Nissan decided to give the segment a bombshell by equipping the Almera with a powerful small-displacement turbo engine and advanced driver aids, all offered at a reasonable price point.
Nissan Leaf. Given the country’s infrastructure, electric cars have little or no hope of being a practical choice. That’s why aside from selling the Leaf, Nissan is supporting its customers by offering them a limited network of charging stations at dealers. The car has already proven itself as a tool of disaster response by providing power to the areas affected by Typhoon Odette.
Nissan Navara and Terra. The Navara and Terra twins are signs that Nissan is extremely serious in getting sizable chunks of the pickup and SUV sales pies. The former’s Pro-4X variants has its sights on the lifestyle crowd. On the other hand, the latter focuses more on luxury with better materials and lots of onboard toys.
Subaru Evoltis. The Japanese firm is once again entering a segment that its Tribeca once occupied. Built in America, the Evoltis offers creature comforts and a ride quality that no ladder-frame SUV can ever match. And for passengers who need to be satisfied by a few cups of milk tea, this car has a whopping 19 cupholders.
Suzuki Vitara AllGrip. In a world where crossovers are just glorified hatchbacks without anything close to off-road potential, Suzuki begs to differ by adding a transfer box and rear differential to the Vitara. It has the interesting ability to evenly distribute the power going to the wheels, allowing it to dig itself out of sticky situations.
Toyota GR Yaris. Born out of Toyota’s success-filled rally campaign, the GR Yaris packs a powerful three-cylinder turbo engine and a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system in a small and nimble package. We’ve tried out this formula in practice, and we can simply say that we absolutely want more of it.
Toyota Innova. Our favorite automotive photobomber returns with a subtle refresh. So subtle in fact that the only changes that can be immediately seen are the front fascia and the new infotainment system. But it’s still an important vehicle, one that Filipinos will keep buying in droves and a creature that will continue to reside in our supercar photos.
Toyota Land Cruiser 300. It’s not exactly the mass-market product that Toyota will be shifting many units of, but the Land Cruiser is one of the company’s longest-lived nameplates. And after more than a decade, the model receives a major mechanical and aesthetic overhaul that will definitely be favored by the automaker’s distinguished clients.
Volkswagen T-Cross. Volkswagen has had a tough time convincing customers to flock to its showrooms, but the T-Cross might just change that. It combines compact dimensions, an efficient engine, and high-tech toys that will appeal to younger customers. Plus, it comes in colors with entertaining names. We particularly like saying “Chinchilla Gray” over and over again.