The year 2018 is a year that the auto industry is glad to put in the rear view mirror.
New taxes, the economy, and many other factors acted as speed bumps in the robust growth that the Philippine automotive market had been experiencing in the last couple of years.
A new year lays ahead, and with it, new cars that will make it into our showrooms. There are many new exciting cars, trucks, and SUVs in the pipeline, so much so that if we listed them all down, we'd be writing a very long read. So we picked 10 of our favorites that you're confirmed or likely to see in local showrooms. There's something for everyone here whether you're looking for something rugged or refined, big or small, practical or luxurious.
So, if you're in the market for a new drive this 2019, your options, it seems, will be abundant.
The Suzuki Jimny
Honestly, if there's one vehicle on this list that a lot of people are looking forward to, it's this tiny Suzuki off-roader.
Yes, there are those who yearn for off-road trucks and big, luxurious barges of SUVs, but the prospect of a little SUV that can keep up with the big boys has always had a special appeal. And toss in the fact that the last Jimny can easily keep up with bigger, more expensive SUVs when taken off-road, and the appeal is a no-brainer.
The new generation Jimny is, quite frankly, long overdue. The current model has been around since the 1990s, garnering a wide, almost cult-like fanbase. The new model is already keeping up that tradition of the little 4x4 that could, and with looks that somewhat mimic a much larger, more expensive SUV from Mercedes only beefed up the strong desire in the market.
Suzuki actually gave all of us a teaser of so many variants and colors of the Jimny at the Philippine International Motor Show, but announced that customers will have to wait until mid-2019 for deliveries. It''s almost cruel, but judging by the response, the Jimny is going to be well worth the wait.
The Toyota Camry
At the end of 2018, Toyota launched the all-new model of the Camry, replacing the previous generation that has been in the market since 2012 with a facelift in 2015.
The 2019 Camry is truly attractive an an everyday executive car. Things like a tri-zone climate control system, plenty of rear legroom, and a redefined (and refined) style statement bring the Camry to the fore when it comes to picking a new car when a Corolla Altis simply won't do.
Without a doubt, the Camry is the default choice for a comfortable saloon car for the successful executive. Sure, in the United States the Camry is seen as a midsize family sedan, but over here, it's more business than family-friendliness. The new model raises that bar even further.
The Hyundai Accent
There are plenty of good reasons why the Hyundai Accent has been a consistently good selling model in the country. The Accent looks good, it feels great to drive, it's affordable, and in the case of diesels, extremely fuel efficient.
Last month, Hyundai Philippines followed up this successful model line with a new generation Accent. The 2019 model has an entirely new look, featuring the new, edgier design direction of the Hyundai brand for their automobiles. The features-list remains largely the same, though Hyundai has added new air conditioning vents for the rear passengers for better comfort for everyone.
The Accent can be had with either a 100 horsepower 1.4-liter gasoline engine (5-speed M/T or 6-speed A/T) or a 1.6-liter turbo CRDI diesel that makes 128 horsepower and 280 Nm of torque (6-speed M/T or 6-speed A/T). Hyundai says that the prices are not yet finalized, though the Accent is expected to be sold between PhP 700k to about PhP 1 million.
The Subaru Forester
While many Subaru loyalists gravitate towards high performance models like the WRX and the WRX STI, there's no denying the fact that the Forester is a much more important and vital model.
Earlier in 2018, Subaru launched the all new Forester in Geneva, followed by a regional launch in Taiwan. But the Philippine launch of the Forester, given the global demand, was delayed to 2019. But no matter; all good things come to those who wait, right?
The 2019 Forester may not look like it's a revolutionary change over the previous model, but Subarus were never about forging new paths in design. Instead, they focus on making their vehicles drive better, feel better, and become more fuel efficient.
The Mitsubishi Strada
The pick-up truck segment has definitely become the one to watch in the last couple of years with many car companies fielding new and exciting models in the class. Now, Mitsubishi is rejoining the group with a new Strada, and it's bound to get even more interesting.
Strictly speaking, the 2019 Strada is actually a facelifted version of the model generation that Mitsubishi launched in late 2014/early 2015. The body and the frame are relatively unchanged, but the redesign is quite extensive, especially in the front. The new model shares a similar look that Mitsubishi first showed off with the Montero Sport and Xpander, and it has really elevated the first impression that the Strada gives.
The enhancements to the interior likewise make a big improvement in the vehicle's feel, and a new slew of convenience features (i.e. rear aircon circulators) and safety equipment (i.e. automated emergency braking) are very much welcome additions to a class known for workhorses rather than outright automotive sophistication.
The Honda Accord
If the Camry has always been the executive car that any businessman wants (and deserves), then the Accord is the executive car that said businessman's son wants him to get. Why? So he can borrow it on weekends.
The Accord has always been that kind of vehicle. It's more appealing to a somewhat more youthful client; a customer that enjoys being driven on weekdays, and driving out by themselves when the traffic opens up on nights and on weekdays. And now, there's a new version; in fact, it's an all new generation.
Now Honda hasn't actually said what version they will release in the Philippine market, but the foreign examples they launched in Asia are very promising. The all-new Accord looks lower, longer, and more dynamic than its predecessor. They even gave it a fastback silhouette; a body style that is normally only seen on sports cars.
It's more luxurious and definitely expected to be more comfortable, but we have a feeling that many are more curious about how it drives. Judging by the choices of engines in other nearby markets such as the1.5-liter VTEC turbo and the more powerful 256 horsepower 2.0-liter VTEC turbo, there's plenty to be excited for indeed.
The Jeep Wrangler
There are only a few vehicles in the world that can honestly claim the status of 'icon', but even fewer that have the lineage of a vehicle that won a war. Yes, we're talking about Jeep, particularly the new generation Wrangler.
If we traced the history of the Wrangler, we'd have to go all the way back to the Willys jeep; the very same 4x4 vehicle that literally moved U.S. soldiers and their allies all around the world. The new Wrangler evolved from the civilian versions that followed the original, and this new model is no different.
The new Wrangler model, called the JL, is the latest evolution of the modern classic. The design may not have changed in a revolutionary way, but that was never needed. The SUV retains its body-on-frame construction and the use of solid axles; two key aspects for true off-road vehicles. Why the resistance to change? The Wrangler is meant to be rugged and capable; two words that are ingrained deeply in its DNA.
The BMW 3 Series
There's a good reason why the launch of a new BMW 3 Series is one of the most awaited in automotive circles. Over the last couple of decades, the 3 Series has set the standard for a premium vehicle, particularly in the way it excites the driver. That's what we've come to know the 3 Series for.
At the Paris motor show in 2018, BMW revealed the new generation model, and yeah, it's impressive. BMW aren't typically liberal about redesigning their cars; their brand design elements and DNA are just too strong, and frankly, that's how we like it. They like shaping their cars to be business-like but surprisingly sleek. They like giving their cars proportions that seem to hug the road just that little bit more, incorporating their signature details along the way like the Hofmeister kink and “angel” eyes. They like to shape the interior and the dashboard to suit the driver, more than anybody else. They just want us to feel the enjoyment and thrills of driving, and we love them for it.
The all-new 3 Series keeps up that proud and distinguished tradition, and throws in many new high tech features and improvements. Don't be surprised if BMW will suddenly rack up a waiting list when they do launch it in the country.
The Porsche 911
If the 3 Series was the benchmark for European sedans, then the Porsche 911 has been the benchmark for sports cars, bar none.
Since the name first debuted in the 1960's, the Porsche 911 has set the standard for how a sports car has to drive. It stirred the loins with its sharp, lively, and unique handling, much of which was brought about by sticking the engine in the back. It has the acceleration to raise the hairs on the back of a driver's neck with an exhaust note to match from the 6-cylinder flat motor. The 911, over so many variants and special editions over 55 years since 1963, has consistently captured the imagination of driving enjoyment.
In November 2018, Porsche wowed the automotive world again with the premiere of the new generation 911. The look, as expected, was an evolution, but it's quite stunning even though it is still every bit as recognizable as before. The interior promises an exquisite new experience. But what excites us the most is how Porsche pushed the boundaries further with more powerful 3.0-liter twin turbo flat 6 motor, 450 horsepower, rear- or four-wheel drive, and an 8-speed dual clutch gearbox.
And mind you, they haven't even released the more powerful Turbo variant yet.
The Mazda 3
The Mazda3 has a unique, albeit unofficial title: it is one of the most affordable and enjoyable cars to drive.
Since the Hiroshima-based automaker launched the current version of their car, it has become the the standard for affordable driving pleasure. And it's easy to see why: where else can you get a handsome family car that has the driving characteristics of a well-tuned sportscar, the practicality of a sedan/hatch, and the price of a compact?
At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Mazda sought to set the standards even higher when they revealed the new generation Mazda3. Sure, there were other stars at the show like the Porsche 911, but the Mazda 3 is the one many of us (who can't afford Porsches... yet) really kept an eye on.
Mazda says the design theme has matured since the 2014 Mazda3, but still produced a car that looks like its moving fast, even when sitting still. They made great improvements to the cabin to further enhance the driving appeal of the Mazda3. But, more importantly, they launched a series of new technologies headlined by a new engine system that produces more power, but for less fuel; they call it SkyActiv-X, and it does look very promising.
If you're thinking of ways to save for a new generation Mazda, don't worry; many of us are saving up too.