If the implementation of the TRAIN Law excise taxes on vehicles has shelved your car shopping plans, it’s time to revisit them. That new car you’re been dreaming of just might be within financial reach again.
It’s all made possible by Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc.’s latest entry into the small sedan segment, the Reina. Made available just last week, the Reina is letting you ‘Rule the Road’, as Hyundai puts it, for as little as P598,000 for a manual or P648,000 for an automatic (special introductory price). Naturally, an attractive price isn’t all it takes to sway a buyer, so to properly introduce us to its newest model, Hyundai arranged for a quick drive with the vehicle up to the windmills of Pililla, Rizal.
But first, a proper introduction is needed. If the Reina looks rather familiar, it’s because its platform is based on its big brother, the Accent. It’s been designed with Hyundai’s Fluidic Scupture 2.0 design directive, and it certainly shows when parked beside the rest of the stable. The Reina may be positioned below the Accent in the line-up, but save for a few inconsequential millimeters, it’s almost the same size.
The right equipment
Inside, the Reina ticks off the basics of what you’d want in a car. There’s the modern dashboard design, digital trip info, a stereo with USB connectivity, power mirror adjustment, and power windows. It comfortably seats four occupants but can take on five passengers if needed. Even with the maximum capacity, all five passengers will each have a three-point seatbelt. Itching for an out of town drive? The Reina can easily swallow three medium-sized travel bags with space to spare.
Powering it is a 1.4-liter multi-point injection gasoline engine that produces 95-Ps and 132-Nm of torque. As mentioned before, it can be availed with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
Putting a first-time driver behind the wheel shouldn’t cause any worries either, as all Reinas come equipped with speed-sensing door-locks (automatically locks doors when travelling above 20 km/h), a driver and passenger airbag, and ABS.
It’s rather apt that Hyundai chose to have us drive it through Antipolo and into Pililla, Rizal. As many drivers from the area know, Ortigas extension, Sumulong Highway, and the Marikana-Infanta highway can present a number of challenges. Nonetheless, the Reina made the drive quite enjoyable.
An enjoyable drive
First of all, driving up with three passengers and their bags, the power was ample enough to make it up the inclines. The Reina’s electric power steering returned precise steering feedback, allowing us to stay in our lane even through the challenging turns en route. The handling was even enjoyable, easily squeezing through tight gaps and maintaining grip on the road.
Passengers were quite comfortable, too, with tunes coming from a flash disc connected to the stereo and phones charging via the built-in power port and USB slot. The front seats are quite comfortable, and do well to keep passengers in place when cornering. The second row provides a great deal of head- and legroom even for tall passengers, allowing me to cross my legs during one part of the trip. Best of all, the ride was very comfortable, smoothening out most of the bumps on the road without compromising handling. My only complaint would be the rather stiff cushioning of the backrest of the rear seats.
Besides that, the Reina performed better than we expected, making for an enjoyable and reassuring drive one does not typically expect from cars in this segment. The vehicle will easily return at least 10 km/L in the city and an even higher 14 km/L in the highway. It’s not blazingly fast, but it does have enough grunt to get around town and take on daily driving duties.
The tax on vehicles may have put many of our vehicle choices out of financial reach, but cars like the Reina prove that a bargain price does not have to come with compromises. It may not come with many modern conveniences found in larger sedans, but the whole package makes it very worth every penny. At a time when it seems like we aren’t getting our money’s worth, a car like the Reina goes a long, long way.
Text and photos by Iñigo S. Roces