It’s no secret that Volkswagen, translated into English, means “People’s Car.” With its recent introduction of three new affordable models this year, the Tiguan, the Lavida, and the Santana, they are finally within reach of the Filipino car buyer.
To show that these vehicles offer far more than their interesting price points suggest, Volkswagen Philippines invited the media to experience these three on a road trip to, and around Nueva Ecija. With their tagline “Your Drive Just Got Better”, we were going to find out for sure.
On Day 1, we headed out from Volkswagen Quezon Avenue to where we would have a 12-course lunch at the famed Bale Dutung restaurant, in Angeles City. The first car I got to drive was the Lavida, Volkswagen’s compact sedan, powered by the 230 TSI, 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder Blue Motion engine. It produces 130-Ps at 5,000 rpm with 225-Nm of torque between 1,400-3,500 rpms mated to VW’s DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) seven-speed transmission.
Our roughly 230+km drive from Quezon City through the NLEX to Angeles showed the Lavida was very much suited for the trip. Its eight-speaker audio system, spacious interior with “Vienna” leather seats for four passengers, and dual zone air conditioning made sure we were comfortable when we passed through San Fernando and got caught in morning rush hour traffic to Angeles. After lunch, we took advantage of its ample power, acceleration, and impressive handling on the winding country roads en route to our accommodation at the Highland Bali Villas Resort and Spa in Nueva Ecija. The Lavida’s handling was helped along by a suite of safety features, like the Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) with Brake Assistant, ABS, Electronic Differential Lock and Anti Slip Regulation (ASR), and its hill hold control.
On day 2, we drove around the rolling hills of Nueva Ecija, and this time, I got to try the Santana, Volkswagen’s subcompact offering and most affordable locally available car to date. Powered by a four-cylinder 1.4L Multi Point Injection (MPI) engine that puts out a humble 90-Ps at 5,500 rpm with 132-Nm of torque at 3,800rpm, it is mated to a five-speed manual transmission.
Despite the Santana’s lower power output compared to the Lavida I drove the day before, it had little trouble keeping up with the convoy as we sped though the provincial roads on the way to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Muñoz. There, where we got a look at some high tech rice farming after which, we then cruised to our lunch venue at Hapag Vicentico’s in Cabanatuan City.
The Santana is probably what most first-time VW buyers will drive with their families on trips out of town. They will be impressed with its power, economy and space despite its small size. It felt just as solid over the bumps and ruts as the Lavida and Tiguan.
Our last day saw one more car change and this time it was my turn behind the wheel of the Tiguan, VW’s five-seater crossover SUV. Powered by a turbo charged 1.4L gasoline engine that puts out 150-Ps at 5,000 rpm with torque of 250-Nm at 1,750-3,000 rpm mated to a six-speed DSG transmission. Like the Lavida, this too was equipped with ESP, ABS, brake assistant, ASR, EDS, EDTC, and hill hold control.
The Tiguan gave a commanding view of the road as we made our way back from Nueva Ecija to the Barasoain Church and The Museo ng Republika ng 1899 in Malolos, Bulacan. The long drive back proved even more luxurious in the Tiguan, especially with the added opportunity of experiencing the back seat as a passenger. I enjoyed the drive back to our start point even more.
Our 400+km drive over three days goes to show that Volkswagen’s latest offerings do not disappoint. The Tiguan (P1.648M), Lavida (P1.171M) and Santana (P686K) are manufactured in China, and despite what you might think, are built to the same exacting German standards as all the other Volkswagens.
Despite their apparent differences, what these vehicles have in common with each other are the comfort amenities and fuel efficiency which are what the discriminating Pinoy car buyer is looking for. Why not make your next car a German car? With these new VW models, there’s one to suit your budget and you can be sure your drive will definitely get better.
Text and photos by Neil Pagulayan