Thursday, March 31, 2016

Restaurant Review: Buffalo's Wings N' Things - Voted Best Wings in Buffalo, New York

I'm a big fan of Buffalo-style chicken wings, particularly after I tried the one made by Charlie's Grind and Grill. So whenever the opportunity arises for me to try the offering a new restaurant I've never been to before, I take it. As it so happens, Rachel gave me two Deal Grocer gift vouchers worth P1,000 total for a restaurant called  Buffalo's Wings N' Things last Christmas and since my birthday came up recently, we decided to use it then.

Buffalo's Wings N' Things has a number of branches all over Metro Manila but when Rachel bought the gift vouchers, she was asked which branch these will be used at. Since we haven't been to SM City North EDSA for a long time, she chose the branch there which was located on the ground floor of the Annex building.

Located just inside the building's entrance on EDSA, the restaurant's atmosphere is very casual, brick walls with around five booths with wooden bench seats located by the glass wall and seven more tables with low-backed plastic chairs by the entrance. There are also some stools just outside and around the glass wall-enclosed kitchen area for diners who'd like to see just how their food is being prepared. A nice touch to the restaurant's decor are the stainless steel utensils embedded on the concrete floor.

Since we had browsed through their menu online before our visit, we already had an idea on what we'd order. Cess, the server who accommodated us, was kind enough though to answer our questions prior to us ordering what would be our lunch. So, we ordered the Triple Sampler Buffalo Wings which allowed us to try three different flavors--we chose Honey BBQ, Sriracha Garlic, and Firehouse Classic--at half a pound of serving size each, the Garlic Parmesan boneless Chicken Tenders and Twin Classic Hotdogs for the kids.Cess suggested that we add some rice and nachos to our orders but we passed since we wanted to try the wings on its own to better savor their taste. To wash these all down, we ordered three cups of iced tea and a can of Coke.

As expected, the Garlic Parmesan was tasty that the kids quickly finished it since it was both buttery and cheesy with just a slight tangy taste to tickle their taste buds. The Honey BBQ was okay, sweet and aromatic and a safe choice for the kids. The Sriracha Garlic was a new addition to their menu and was mildly spicy which manifested itself later on. Of the three flavors on our sampler, my favorite was the Firehouse Classic which was comparable to Charlie's Grind and Grill's Hot Chicken Wings which meant it had the right amount of kick from the first bite which then steadily increased with each successive bite until you're dripping in sweat and your nose starts running.

I was unable to take a photo of the kids' Twin Classic Hotdogs and though tasty, they were tiny; Purefoods' regular-sized hotdogs were jumbo-sized compared to these so they're really only for kids--or adults with very, very small appetites.

So, will we go back to Buffalo's Wings N' Things? Sure, the branches are spread across the metro so there should be one that's accessible to wherever you are. And they're actually quite affordable since we spent just a little over P1,000. While Buffalo's Wings N' Things won't displace Charlie's Grind and Grill as my go-to place for Buffalo wings, it's still not bad at all.

Photos taken with Starmobile Muse

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am is back...sort of

If you grew up in the 1970s and 1980s and your father happened to be a petrolhead at that time, then you should be familiar with the Smokey and the Bandit films, the first two of which starred Burt Reynolds and a second-generation Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

If you're not familiar with the film series, the story basically revolves Bandit, played in the first two movies by Reynolds and then by Jerry Reed in the third one, being chased by Sheriff Bufford T. Justice (Smokey as played by Jackie Gleason) as he helps transport various contraband materials across the state line of Texas within a predetermined time frame. In all three movies, the Bandit uses a Pontiac Trans Am.

Now, after 2002, General Motors (GM) retired the Pontiac brand, and with it the Firebird nameplate. In 2012 though, GM signed a licensing deal with Trans Am Depot allowing the latter to use the Trans Am name and Pontiac logos in customized version of a new Trans Am using the platform of the current Chevrolet Camaro. The idea isn't new since the Firebird was actually produced using the same platform and the same assembly line as the Camaro from 1967 to 2002.

Well, as the first Smokey and the Bandit film marks its 40th anniversary in 2017, Trans Am Depot is producing a limited run of 77 modern versions of the Bandit's 1976 Trans Am down to the T-top, Shaker hood, and the Screaming Chicken on the bonnet. Best of all, all 77 units have been autographed by the Bandit himself, Burt Reynolds.

Badged as the Trans Am SE Bandit Edition, the limited-edition car reportedly produces 840hp, which should be more than enough to get the modern-day Bandit out of trouble.

Photos from Trans Am Depot's Facebook page

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mazda shows off all-new MX-5 with retractable hardtop: the Mazda MX-5 RF

It looks like Mazda isn't done with the MX-5 yet. Even before the Mazda MX-5 was named as the 2016 World Car of the Year at the ongoing New York International Auto Show, the Japanese carmaker debuted at the same event its latest development of its popular roadster nameplate: the Mazda MX-5 RF.

Unlike previous MX-5 retractable hardtop models which retained the coupe styling, the MX-5 RF boasts of a fastback roofline that slopes down onto the rear deck. According to Mazda, the MX-5 RF, which is short for Retractable Fastback, offers a "new open-air feeling" with its unique rear roof and retractable back window. The power-operated roof can also be raised and lowered at speeds of up to 10kph. In addition, despite the hardtop roof and fastback styling, Mazda claims that the MX-5 RF has the same amount of trunk space as the ragtop MX-5.

The MX-5 RF will be offered with either the SkyActiv-G 1.5- or 2.0-liter engine, "depending on the market," which probably means we'll get the latter which is the same powerplant used by the Philippine-market soft-top MX-5.

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Mazda MX-5 is the 2016 World Car of the Year AND World Car Design of the Year

Mazda scored dual victories at the 2016 World Car of the Year by bagging both the World Car Design and the World Car of the Year awards for the Mazda MX-5 roadster.

The two other finalists for the World Car of the Year are the Audi A4 Sedan/Avant and the Mercedes-Benz GLC while for the World Car Design, these were the Jaguar XE and the Mazda CX-3.

As for the other category winners of the 2016 World Car of the Year Awards, which was held at the ongoing New York International Auto Show, these are the BMW 7-Series for the World Luxury Car, the Audi R8 Coupe for the World Performance Car, and the Toyota Mirai for the World Green Car of the Year.

"What a wonderful honor, to have the Mazda MX-5 named both World Car of the Year and World Car Design of the Year," said Mazda North American Operations President and CEO and Mazda Motor Corporation Managing Executive Officer Masahiro Moro. "As our iconic MX-5 roadster approaches one-million units of production, this award is proof that it is as young, vibrant, fun and relevant as ever, and proof that every Mazda looks as incredible as it drives, and drives as incredibly as it looks. While I accept this award on behalf of the company, I do so representing every Mazda employee, retail partner and customer around the world who has ever felt the joy of driving a pure roadster. We say 'Driving Matters' in our advertising, and we prove it in our cars."

The 2016 World Car of the Year award is Mazda's second time to nab the highly-coveted award after the Mazda 2 in 2008.This also ties Mazda with Audi as the car manufacturers with the second most number of World Car of the Year awards at two apiece behind Volkswagen's four trophies.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Is McLaren Automotive coming to the Philippines?

After producing the BMW-powered McLaren F1 from 1993 to 1998 and teaming up with Mercedes-Benz to create the SLR McLaren from 2003 to 2009, McLaren Cars decided to go its own way by creating McLaren Automotive and coming up with its own vehicle, the McLaren MP4-12C, which was manufactured and sold from 2011 to 2014.Currently, McLaren has a three-tier structure for its current models: the Sports Series (540C, 570S, 570GT); the Super Series (625C, 650S, 675LT, 675LT Spider); and the Ultimate Series (P1, P1 GTR).

Considering the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini now have local dealerships in the Philippines, the question inside every local petrolhead's mind was when will McLaren join the fray? Well, apparently, McLaren Automotive has been monitoring the country closely all along.

According to our source, a local automotive dealer and importer has talked with McLaren Automotive about the possibility of opening up a dealership in the Philippines. In response, the supercar manufacturer supposedly laid down a few demands, some of which are: that the dealership be separate from its after-service facility; that the dealership be a standalone structure and not be located side-by-side with another vehicle brand that the importer sells; and that it be located in Bonifacio Global City, specifically within the newly-opened Shangri-La at the Fort.

Unfortunately, the supposed deal-breaker between McLaren Automotive and the local dealer and importer was the location since the cost per sqm of the leasable space within the hotel was reportedly too high, making it an impractical investment.

So, will we ever see McLaren Automotive officially enter the Phiippine market? Maybe, if a local dealer thinks the cost--and risk--involved is worth it or if McLaren softens its stance in the local market. Until then, interested McLaren owners can only rely on the gray-market route for now.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The all-new Subaru Impreza looks like the old Subaru Impreza

Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), the manufacturing conglomerate behind the Subaru brand of vehicles, has revealed the all-new, fifth-generation Subaru Impreza in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback form at the New York International Auto Show.

While FHI claims though that the all-new Subaru Impreza debuts the brand’s new design language on top of its equally-new Subaru Global Platform architecture, it seems Subaru's designers were uninspired when they were creating the vehicle. That's because while it doesn't quite look like the outgoing Impreza, its front end does resemble the WRX and the WRX STI, which are basically restyled high-performance Imprezas. Here's a look at the front fascia of the current WRX on the left and the all-new Impreza on the right.

Still, the all-new Subaru Impreza isn't that bad. The new car is much bigger than the outgoing model, with a wheelbase increase of one inch, the length by 1.6in, and the width by 1.5in to give it a roomier cabin despite being lower by 0.4in to help improve its aerodynamics by giving it a lower drag coefficient.

Behind the signature hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights is an updated version of the current 2.0-liter, flat-four FB engine that puts out 152hp. Mated to it is Subaru's Lineartronic continuously variable transmission which has a seven-speed manual mode.

As for the aforementioned Subaru Global Platform architecture, which will be used to underpin future vehicle models from the Japanese carmaker, it has optimized cross sections and highly-stiffened joints between structures which enhances its straight-line stability, agility and ride comfort while suppressing noise, vibration and harshness "to a degree not seen in the compact class." It also increases the rigidity of the unitized body structure by over 70% and, in addition to its lower center of gravity (by 5mm) and revised suspension systems--specifically its double-wishbone independent rear suspension which mounts its rear stabilizer bar directly to the body and helps reduce body roll by 50% compared to the outgoing model--FHI claims that the new platform is "the biggest-ever leap in Subaru’s performance evolution."

The all-new Subaru Impreza is scheduled to go on sale in the Unites States in late 2016. No word yet on when Subaru's ASEAN distributor, Motor Image Group, will bring the car to the region.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Cars and Motorcycles of the 2016 Bangkok International Motor Show

Thanks to my old job with Top Gear Philippines, I have been able to attend motor shows in Thailand quite a number of times. As a matter of fact, for the Bangkok International Motor Show, which is organized by Grand Prix International and is currently ongoing at the IMPACT Muong Thong Thani Challenger Complex outside of Bangkok until April 3, I was able to cover it for four of the six years I was a part of Top Gear Philippines.

So, while I'm busy making a name for myself out here in the Philippine automotive blogosphere and hoping that I can cover international motor shows again soon, here are the photos of the cars and motorcycles that you'll find at the show courtesy of the organizer.

I don't know about you but I'm loving the redesigned Chevrolet Colorado and Trailblazer. Enjoy!

The Cars

The Motorcycles



The Concept Cars and Motorcycles