Thursday, June 24, 2010

Landing in the Philippines soon - the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

“Automotive design is undoubtedly one of the supreme disciplines of industrial design.  Almost no other product is as complex and combines so many different disciplines...” says Prof. Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz Head of Design.  This is evident in the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (SLS AMG), wherein every inch and angle of the sports car is the result of the amalgamation of the skills of researchers, technical and engineering experts and designers of Mercedes-Benz-AMG.  

Like all other Mercedes-Benz models, the SLS AMG combines performance, quality, comfort, safety and aesthetic appeal.  Its dynamic and elegant visual design qualities do not compromise its performance as well as driver and passenger safety and comfort.  There is a reason for every way the SLS AMG was designed. 

The decision to use the “Gullwing” doors was not a gimmick to grab public attention.  The doors hinged on  the car roof were a purely structural requirement, since the lattice frame carried over from the racing SL did not allow the use of conventional front-hinged doors.  The swing-wing doors, which open a full 70 degrees for the ease of access and egress, require less opening space than the conventional coupé doors, and can be fully opened in a normal garage.

The powerful 420 kW AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine that sits on an aluminum space frame is set at an angle, resulting in a particularly flat front end with outstanding air-flow characteristics.  With this flat long bonnet and its lightweight structure, it ensures low drag coefficient and superior performance.  The chassis was essentially based on the 300 model saloon (W 186) but with suspension settings that are more focused on sporty performance qualities.

Inside the SLS AMG, all controls ergonomically surround the driver for easy reach and intuitive operation.  Electronically adjustable sports seats with integrated head restraints ensure excellent lateral support and a high level of comfort.  The three-spoke AMG Performance leather steering wheel has a 365 mm rim with flattened lower section, shift paddles and a metal insert, underlining the authentic custom-built look.  Hand-stitched designo leather with contrasting seam adorns the car’s dashboard, sports seats, interior door panels and armrests. 

As with all Mercedes-Benz models, the design team took into great consideration the elements of innovation, trend-setting design along with the most important and distinctively Mercedes-Benz design characteristic: timelessness.  The SLS AMG harks back to the sporting legend of the 50’s, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198) production “Gullwing” —the first car to be fully developed by AMG in its 40-year-long history.  Today, that sporting legend lives on with the new SLS AMG, which 60 years from now would surely still take breaths away like the 300 SL.

Having just been recently introduced, the SLS was already voted as Europe’s Most Attractive Car and has been honored with the coveted Plus X Award for “high quality” and “design” in the world’s largest technology, sport and lifestyle contest.  It has also garnered the 2010 Germany Design Award by AUTO BILD, “GT Car of the Year” by Top Gear, GB, and “Best Dream Machine” by MotorWeek TV’s Driver’s Choice Award, USA, among so many other awards.  To top it off, as the Official F1TM Safety Car, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is considered the most powerful and exclusive safety car ever seen in Formula 1 racing.  It indeed deserves the title of its predecessor: the Sports Car of the Century.

Excited to see and know more? Watch videos, see and download photos, and read more about the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG in or  For more information and materials, contact Grace Enriquez, Assistant Manager of Public Relations for CATS Motors, Inc.'s Marketing Department at 723-5808 local 193 or 0920-904-6517. 

The Typical Guy's Opinion: I had the opportunity to get up close and even sit inside an SLS AMG as I covered the Bangkok International Motor Show this year and I have to say, it's one awesome looking car.

 *Bangkok International Motor Show photos courtesy of Final Drive's Mikko David

I couldn't help but fall in love with its gorgeous shape, and it was the same feeling I felt  years ago, at what I believe was the 2nd Trans Sport Show in SM Megamall's Mega Trade Halls, when I also saw an original Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing up close.

Fil-Swiss Marlon Stockinger has Formula Renault UK dream weekend

Filipino-Swiss Formula Renault UK driver Marlon Stockinger had a dream weekend at rounds nine and 10 of the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship at Croft Circuit last June 19 and 20 as he not only qualified in the top three for both rounds, he also took his maiden victory and finished in second place.

For round nine last June 19, Stockinger almost scored a hat trick as he not only took his maiden pole position for the race, he also held off the challenge of fastest lap holder and second place finisher Ollie Millroy for 15 laps to bag his very first Formula Renault UK win. This makes Stockinger the first ever Filipino driver to win a Formula Renault UK race.

On June 20 for the 10th Round, Stockinger qualified in third place for the race but after the starting lights went out, he immediately took second place after pole sitter Thomas Hylkema struggled to get away from the starting line. Stockinger then fended off the attack of eventual third place finisher Will Stevens as the 19-year old Filipino-Swiss driver brought his Atech Grand Prix car across the finish line in second place.

"It's been an excellent weekend for me and the team has done a great job in setting up the car. Round nine was really nerve-racking but I'm thrilled to finally secure a win especially given I've had a third place, a second place in the Winter Series and now my first win," said Stockinger in Formula Renault UK's official website. "This weekend has been a huge confidence boost for me though and I'm looking forward to the next rounds." 

"What a fantastic result for Marlon, the whole team is delighted for him, he didn't put a wheel wrong all weekend and this was our most consistent performance this season," said Atech GP team principal David Hayle in their website. "Now we must ensure we can nail qualifying for him as we head into the second half of the season as I have no doubt he is more than capable of challenging for race wins."

Stockinger's impressive weekend sees him moving up the Formula Renault UK leader board from ninth to seventh place this season. Stockinger's 136 points haul for the 2010 season is already more than double that of his 2009 season which he finished in 25th place with 56 points.

Side note: I was lucky to interview Marlon Stockinger for and he's a genuinely nice guy. He's the Philippines' best hope of getting into F1, and being an F1 fan for as long as I can remember, I wish him all the luck in the world.

Good job, Marlon!  Here's to you winning more races this season!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Honda offers paint wash-over promo

Give your ride a fresh look.  Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. is offering a special paint wash-over promo until June 30, 2010.

If your vehicle has been around for quite a while and is starting to look a little dated, a paint wash-over can put life back to its faded color.  Honda’s wash-over service rates start at Php 24,000 for City and Jazz models, Php 25,000 for the Civic and Php 26,000 for bigger models like the Accord, CR-V and Odyssey.  Rates quoted do not cover necessary body repairs.

Meanwhile, if you are tired of having the same old color and opt for a more refreshing look, you may go for a different color for a minimal additional fee of Php 7,000, starting at Php 31,000.

Honda is also extending 10% discount on its detailing, rust-proofing and windshield treatment services to complete your vehicle’s make-over.

Paint wash-over promo is available at participating Honda dealers located in Alabang, Makati, Manila, Kalookan, Batangas, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Iloilo and Negros Occidental.

Restore your car’s glint by contacting any participating dealer and scheduling a wash-over.  A paint job can make a lot of difference in giving your vehicle a new look at very reasonable rates.  For more details, visit

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Enjoy as much as zero fuel cost per kilometer with the Honda City

Celebration of more than 10,000 Honda City sales gets even better.  Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) is raffling off Php 10,000 worth of e-fuel cards to fifty (50) lucky customers who reserve any City variant from June to July 31, 2010.

In appreciation of the market’s ardent support, Honda brings patrons of the City an opportunity to experience zero fuel spending per kilometer traveled.  With free fuel, these fifty lucky winners can enjoy fuel mileage at zero cost.

Unstable fuel prices have been one of the major concerns of motorists.   That is why more and more have turned mindful of their consumption and have sought means to improve fuel economy.

One of the key strengths that made the City the winning choice of over 10,000 owners is its fuel efficiency.  The City has a number of features that aid better fuel mileage.  At the heart of the City is the renowned i-VTEC engine technology which varies valve timing to optimize fuel consumption.  It also comes with a class-leading 5-speed automatic transmission that contributes lesser engine stress. For fun and easy tracking of one’s fuel mileage, the City has a fuel meter located in the liquid crystal display of the instrument panel.  Such fuel meter shows instantaneous and average fuel consumption.  More than excellent fuel efficiency, the City is also engineered to pass the stringent European Emission Standards.  Among local manufacturers, Honda is the only brand that has reached EURO 4 levels for ALL its model line-up, even if Philippine regulations only require EURO 2 compliance.

“When we introduced the 3rd generation City, we envisioned it to change the landscape of the subcompact category.  Changing the rules in its class, we fit it with technologies that used to be available in higher models.     Gone are the days when this segment runs on basic features only.  Now, we are overwhelmed at how the market supported us and resulted in over 10,000 sales milestone.  I invite you to check out to learn more about the City’s over-all value for money proposition.” said Mr. Voltaire Gonzales, Vehicle Sales and Corporate Communications Head of HCPI.

During the student edition of Honda Challenge Cup, a fuel efficiency driving competition that subjects different Honda models in real-life driving situations while using normal driving styles, the tandem of Joseph Manguiat and Princess dela Paz from the University of the Philippines generated an average of 30.74 km/li with the 1.3 liter City A/T -- a remarkable result when you combine a very fuel efficient vehicle with good driving habits.  “I was able to pick up a lot of learning from my Honda Challenge Cup experience.  To save on fuel, one must simply be patient.  Wise use of brakes, gradual and steady acceleration and safe gliding will earn you extra fuel mileage.”  said  Mr. Manguiat.

Experience first-hand the features that earned the nod of over 10,000 City owners.  Visit any of Honda’s 26 dealerships nationwide.  Remember to try before you buy.  Be smart!  Testdrive!

Chevrolet Cruzes tops both WTCC Manufacturer’s and Drivers’ Championships

With multiple wins and podium finishes, The Chevrolet Cruze in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) has proven itself as a winner in 2009, and is continuing strong in 2010. The WTCC is an international touring car championship that includes some of the top auto manufacturers in the world wide industry.  An example of which is the recent race in Monza, Italy, where fans saw touring car action at its finest. The Monza races, given the track characteristics and the warm weather, were anticipated to be tough on tires and brakes and thus expected to be extra exciting. In this event, the Chevrolet Cruze took its second win of the season, thanks to Chevy Driver Yvan Muller. The cars also conquered two more podium finishes with Driver Rob Huff. These great results gave the Chevrolet team the lead in the WTCC overall standings in both the Manufacturers' and the Drivers' championships. 

The Chevrolet Cruze is an all-new global vehicle with design and engineering collaborations from around the world. It is a worthy competitor in the compact segment and comes standard with an array of above-its-class features.

The involvement of Chevrolet in the WTCC strengthens Chevrolet’s presence in the international racing scene. With the Chevrolet PhTC Cruze, Chevrolet Philippines will announce their presence in the hot tuner market and showcase the durability of their products, model lineup, and their technological innovation – all of which are built in the Chevrolet Cruze WTCC, in the Chevrolet Cruze PhTC, and in every single Chevrolet Cruze being sold both internationally and locally.

To add local excitement and flair, Chevrolet Philippines - The Covenant Car Company Inc. (TCCCI) has created our very own and locally-built Cruze PhTC (Philippine Touring Car). The Cruze PhTC is a manufacturer-backed race car in the Philippines, and will be participating in the top nationwide races. Chevrolet has teamed up with Pacho Blanco, one of the Philippine’s top mechanical chief engineers, and has Blanco Race Engineering (BRE) as its official race partner.  The Cruze PhTC has gone through modifications in every aspect – exterior, interior, power, and handling – but retains the stock engine, transmission, and brakes – a testament to the quality and strength in its design of the Chevrolet Cruze.

The Cruze PhTC looks to emulate the path of the Cruze WTCC in the local racing circuit. With the success that the Chevrolet Cruze WTCC is enjoying along with the increasing popularity and interest in the Chevrolet Cruze PhTC, it is looking forward to be successful times for Chevrolet. With the all-new Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Philippines-TCCCI has got a surefire winner in its hands.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Prepare your Suzuki APV Type II for rainy day driving

After suffering through an extremely hot El Niño summer, PAGASA is warning about the onset of the rainy season which is expected to peak in July and August, with at least 10 tropical cyclones entering the country between June and September.

Motoring advise columns list some basic precautions to prepare for rainy day driving, and one of the most basic is to check and replace the front and rear wiper blades of your Suzuki APV Type II.  Old or brittle wiper blades may leave streaks on or even scratch your windshield, seriously limiting visibility during bad weather.  Don’t wait for the rains to start, do a quick wiper check now by turning on your windshield washer and note any streaking, chattering or other obvious problems with your front and rear wipers. Furthermore, the Suzuki APV Type II is equipped with a rear windshield defogger, for improved visibility in extreme weather conditions.

Another basic precaution you can take is to check the condition of the tires on your Suzuki APV Type II. Check that the tire treads are deep enough for good traction.  Bald tires can result in hydroplaning, especially at higher speeds.  Of course, you also need to make sure that your spare tire is properly inflated with the correct tire pressure and ready for use in case of emergencies.

It is also wise to have your brakes checked as you are more likely to need them in bad weather.  The Suzuki APV Type II is equipped with responsive ventilated front disc brakes and rear drum brakes to ensure that you have a safer, more secure ride.

Road safety experts also recommend turning on your headlights when driving in heavy rains.  In addition to better driver visibility, this also automatically activates the tail lights, making your car more visible to other vehicles behind you.  Never use your hazard lights as these can confuse the cars following you about where you’re going.  The high position of the head and tail lights on the Suzuki APV Type II also ensure better all-around visibility.

You can also consider putting together a roadside emergency kit with essential items to deal with most problem situations on the road.  You can prepare a heavy duty nylon bag containing: 12-foot jumper cables, reflector jacket, blinker lights, a quart of motor oil, blanket, extra fuses, flashlight and extra batteries, screwdriver set (flat head and Philips), pliers, vise grips, adjustable wrench, tire inflator, tire pressure gauge, rags, paper towel roll, duct tape roll, pocket knife, pen and paper, help sign, energy bars and bottled water.  In addition, you will need a first aid kit including bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic cream, instant hot and cold compresses, scissors and aspirin. With the Suzuki APV Type II’s spacious cabin, there is plenty of room to store your basic survival kit.  However, make sure that you stick to the basic essentials and do not overload your vehicle.

Of course, the best precaution that you can take to ensure safe travel through heavy rains and flooded streets is driving the right vehicle, such as the Suzuki APV Type II.  Its air intake is strategically located above the engine, almost at hood level.  This means that the Suzuki APV Type II can safely navigate flooded streets since its engine is protected from sucking in water.  This makes the Suzuki APV Type II the perfect “baha-buster” that can be relied on even in the worst weather conditions.    With minimum ground clearance of 185mm, the Suzuki APV Type II can safely navigate even knee-high flooded areas.

The Suzuki APV Type II comes in three variants—the GLX 5-speed MT model, priced at P735,000; the SGX 5-speed MT at P775,000; and the SGX 4-speed AT at P810,000.

Suzuki Philippines is the only integrated automotive company in the country, offering passenger cars, commercial vehicles and motorcycles in its model line-up. Suzuki automobiles are available through a network of 18 dealers nationwide.