BMW Launches The 4 Series GranCoupe

Truly, there is nothing like the Germans when building different kinds of cars to satisfy every niche out there. BMW, for instance, produces an SUV (or SAV, in BMW lingo) that has the traits of a coupe, known as the BMW X6 and X4. Then there’s a sedan that combines the practicality of a station wagon, the sloping roofline of a coupe, and the tall sitting position of an SUV, known as the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series Gran Turismo, so it’s no surprise then for Asian Carmakers Corporation to release this, the BMW 4 Series GranCoupe.


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Designed as a more desirable sedan, in the form of a 4-door coupe, including other coupe traits such as a sloping roofline, frameless doors, and 2+2 seating, the BMW  4 Series is a more attainable version of the rather beautiful BMW 6 Series GranCoupe. Just in case you’ve been unaware of the changes behind BMW’s nomenclature, the odd-numbered models are their more conventional vehicles, such as hatchbacks, sedans, wagons, and SUVs. The even-numbered ones are the more desirable body styles, such as coupes and convertibles.


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The interior is carried over from the 4 Series Coupe, with a “floating” center screen design, and a driver oriented cockpit. There are three BMW Lines to choose from. Modern, Sport, and Luxury (excluding the M Sport model), with each line having their own distinct personalities and color schemes.


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The BMW 4 Seres GranCoupe, in 420d guise, is powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine that produces 184 hp and 380 Nm of torque. The only transmission available is an ZF 8-Speed Automatic, propelling the rear wheels.


A few notable features equipped in our 420d GranCoupe are a power liftgate, BMW’s iDrive system, rear aircon vents, and a host of other connectivity and luxury features.

BMW 420d GranCoupe in Three Distinct Lines


Pricing for the BMW 420d GranCoupe starts at P4,290,000.

Honda Wants You To Cruise With The New CR-V Cruiser Edition


In a bid to increase the CR-V’s appeal, Honda introduces the new CR-V Cruise Edition. Available until August 31, 2014, the CR-V Cruiser Edition introduces a new Kenwood entertainment system.

The Kenwood entertainment system has a built-in DVD player and video playback. To aid you in navigating the Philippines, the Kenwood system also has a built-in Garmin navigation system.

The Cruiser Edition is available in two variants of the CR-V. The 2.0 S and 2.4 SX. The Cruiser Edition adds P40,000 to the CR-V’s price tag, with the 2.0 S costing P1,430,000 and the 2.4 SX costing P1,565,000.

Mini Launches The Third Generation Mini Cooper

June 19 marks the day of the iconic Mini Cooper’s arrival in the Philippines. British United Automobiles, Mini’s distributor in the Philippines, launches the third generation model.


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The new Mini Cooper is, err, bigger and more fuel efficient than the model it replaces. A host of new features and new engines further strengthen the Mini’s sporting characteristics.


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Some of its new features include a newer version of BMW’s iDrive, while the most noticeable change is the speedometer, which used to be located in the middle, surrounding the iDrive’s screen. It is now positioned right in front of the driver, making it more visible and practical. A newly developed drive mode selector changes the car’s settings and throttle profiles depending on the selected mode.


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Powering the new not-so-Mini Cooper is a newly developed 1.5 liter three-cylinder engine. While small in displacement, it is however, huge on power, producing 136 hp and 220 Nm of torque, which is achieved through BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology, direct injection, and a variable camshaft intake control. Through this technology, they were also able to bring fuel consumption down by 27%, so they say. The Cooper S meanwhile gets a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 192 hp and 280 Nm of torque.

Things that aren’t so mini about this Mini are its dimensions, being longer by 98 mm, wider by 44 mm, and taller by 7 mm. Despite this, Mini promises that the sporty and go-kart driving dynamics that Minis are known for have been retained.

Mini Cooper – P2,100,000
Mini Cooper S – P2,600,000

Suzuki Launches The Swift 1.2 Liter Variant

In a bid to further increase the Swift’s appeal to a wider audience, Suzuki launches the 1.2 liter variant of their well-loved Swift.


The Suzuki Swift is also known by many as the poor man’s Mini, due to the wheels being located near the car’s overhangs, resulting in a small hatchback that has impeccable handling capabilities that is similar to a… well, Mini.


The Swift is powered by the same 1.2 liter petrol engine from its sedan version called the DZire, producing 87 hp and 114 Nm of torque. It has a higher ground clearance over the 1.4 liter model, mostly due to the thicker 185/65 R15 tires.

The Suzuki Swift 1.2 is yours for P608,000 for the 5-Speed Manual or P648,000 for the 4-Speed Automatic.

DOUBLE DRIVING the 2014 Mazda 3: Not A Tool, But An Instrument

When the Mazda 3 was first launched in the Philippines, it set the standard for fun to drive and sporty compact sedans. Launched almost simultaneously with the (FD) Honda Civic, both compact sedans have also set the standard in terms of design. While the first generation Mazda 3 was a success, having also been assembled in Ford’s Sta. Rosa plant, the second generation model had a different fate, being launched by Mazda’s former distributor, Ford Group Philippines, 4 years after it was launched globally. Its pricing didn’t help either, with rumors suggesting that its past distributor wanted to prioritize Ford a lot more as the inflated price’s root cause. Now that Mazda’s relationship with Ford is long and gone, the Mazda brand now has more freedom to create its own vehicles, and as we’ve seen with the Mazda 6 and CX-5, Mazda is able to create game changing cars without any of Ford’s help. Now that the new Mazda 3 is here, let’s take it for a double drive and see what’s up.


2.0 R


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1.5 V


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More European in styling than Japanese, the Mazda 3 is the third vehicle in the line-up to receive Mazda’s Kodo design language. It works really well with both hatchback and sedan models. The design reminds me of a vibe that Alfa Romeos bring, especially the kick in the C-pillar. Expressive and chunky body contours bring the car’s design to a whole new level of sexiness. The huge Kodo grille does wonders to the car’s front, though it’s a shame that the grille is partly covered by the license plate. The 16-inch wheels on the 1.5 V look okay to say the least, but the 18-inch wheels of the 2.0 R are certainly the ones that hits the sweet spot. Apart from the wheels, Bi-Xenon HID Headlamps w/ LED Daytime Running Lights, Sunroof, and the Sharkfin antenna (for the hatchback models at least), the 1.5 V and 2.0 R are pretty much the same deal.


2.0 R


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1.5 V


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Just as expressive and beautiful as the exterior is the interior of the new Mazda 3. The only Japanese car in Ward’s 10 Best Interior for 2014, I can see why it was given such an award. Not only is the design worthy of a vehicle in the premium class, but the materials also should be commended. The minimalistic approach to its design is more Audi rather than mass market Japanese. Soft touch materials on the dashboard and door panels bring the cabin quality to a whole new level, while the mix of piano black and faux aluminum trim further accentuates the car’s premium quality nature. A minor gripe for me in the design is the use of faux carbon fiber material in the steering wheel. It feels out of place and I think that the use of piano black will make the design more cohesive. Other than that, I still think it’s the best interior in the segment.

Space and Practicality

Past iterations of the Mazda 3 were known for cramped back seats. This new generation model fixes this issue, through the stretching of its wheelbase by 60 mm. Rear occupants will appreciate the legroom and tall people won’t struggle to fit in the back. Cubby spaces and storage bins are strategically placed, with 2 cupholders in the front, large door bins that fit large…..things, and a center console bin to store your everyday bits and bobs. Hatchback models have 350 liters of space, which is bigger than the Ford Focus’ 316 liters. Fold the seats flat, and this increases to 1,360 liters. If you want more space, you can save P3,000 by purchasing the sedan version.



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Berjaya Auto Philippines, thankfully, specs their cars generously, and the Mazda 3 is no exception. A new feature that seems to be the first to capture my attention is the updatable MZD Connect infotainment system, controlled by a German luxury sedan-like central knob. This system is a lot better than the ones that are developed by third party companies like AVT, since the graphical user interface (GUI) is consistent and cohesive. Everything is well sorted out, like the Entertainment, in which all your media sources are under one menu and not scattered all over the place. Thank you for that, Mazda. Navigation is new for Mazda, and again, unlike the ones developed by third party companies, the experience is more consistent. For now though, map data for the Philippines is still at the beta phase, and will soon be offered to current and future owners of the Mazda 3, and based on my experience, Mazda 3 owners will be really pleased.

Stepping up to the 2.0 R, and you get a host of SkyActiv technologies. i-ELOOP is a capacitor-based regenerative braking system, which I explained on how it works a year ago in my Mazda 6 review, and i-STOP engine Stop/Start system. Watch out for a separate article in the future on how i-ELOOP works and how intelligent it is compared to battery-based systems. In the meantime, take a look at my take on the Mazda 6 for an explanation on how i-ELOOP works.

Other standard features for both models include paddle shifters, push button start, ABS with EBD, dynamic stability control, and single zone automatic climate control. The 2.0 R, meanwhile, gains automatic headlamp and wipers, leather seats, power folding mirrors, auto dimming rear view mirror, and a first in the segment, a heads up display.


The Mazda 3 1.5 V is powered by a 1.5 liter SkyActiv-G petrol engine that produces 110 hp at 6,000 rpm, and 144 Nm of torque at 3,500 rpm, while the 2.0 R has a 2.0 liter SkyActiv-G petrol engine that produces 153 hp at 6,000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Both engines have a high compression ratio of 13:0, and direct injection. Like all high compression ratio SkyActiv engines, it will run without problems with just regular fuel. Power is sent via a 6-Speed Automatic, the only transmission offered.

How It Drives

2.0 R


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1.5 V


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Past Mazda 3s wowed me with their sporty driving dynamics, and this new model is no exception. The steering wheel is lovely and crisp, having plenty of feedback and is as sharp as a scalpel. Another huge complaint I had with past models is the unrefined nature of the Mazda 3. It was noisy, not helped by the fact that the ride is terrible and really harsh. This new one fixes that, with more sound insulation from road and wind noise. The suspension is well balanced, with a ride that is firm, but not harsh, having the sedate and stable feel of a European luxury saloon. However, the 18-inch rims on the 2.0 R negatively affect the car’s refinement to some extent. Cruising around town is a breeze in the Mazda 3. The steering is light and the engine is zippy, which is perfect when tackling stop and go traffic. From this point on, the differences between the 1.5 V and 2.0 R start to get noticed.

The Mazda 3 2.0 R has 153 hp, which is 43 more than the 1.5 liter engine. Obviously, the 2.0 R has a faster acceleration time, with Mazda quoting it to have an acceleration time in the mid to high 8 second range, while the 1.5 V does the job in the high 11 second range. The Mazda 3 2.0 R is fast, no doubt about that, but it is the 1.5 V that I had the most fun. The 1.5 V seemed more rev happy, and because the engine is a lot lighter than the 2.0 R, it had a lot less weight at its nose, which made it able to tackle the corners better than the 2.0 R. It seems that James May’s statement when he reviewed the Fiat Panda applies here to some extent. It’s not about how much power you have, but how much power you can use, but it doesn’t mean that I find the 1.5 V underpowered. Take the Mazda 3 to a long distance highway cruise, and you start to see the advantage of the 2.0 R over the 1.5 V. The 2.0 R obviously has the advantage when it comes to overtaking, because while the 1.5 V has its peak torque at a lower 3,500 rpm than the 2.0 R, it does lose a little steam at high speed accelerations from lets say, 40-100 or 80-100 km/h. What am I on about then? If you won’t be going out of town that much, yet want to have a little more fun behind the wheel, the Mazda 3 1.5 V is the one to get, but if you want the jack of all trades that can certainly do it all, then the Mazda 3 2.0 R is the one to get.

My past drives with the Mazda 6 and CX-5 showed relatively fuel efficient consumption figures, but in this drive, I was sort of spoiled by the fun to drive nature of the Mazda 3, with most of my drive using the paddle shifters with a bit of aggressive downshifting and bursts of acceleration without braking any speed limits or laws, of course. Because of this, fuel economy is down at 7.9 km/l for the 1.5 V, and 7.3 km/l for the 2.0 R. Considering that these were done in spirited driving situations, then it isn’t really a bad fuel consumption figure to being with.

On The Downside

While I was driving the car in automatic mode, it seems that about 30% of the power is hard to access. The SkyActiv Drive 6-Speed Automatic Transmission only responds in really deep pedal travel, since this transmission is really tuned for excellent fuel economy. It’s only a minor gripe, since paddle shifters are offered for more spirited driving.

Remember when I praised the MZD Connect system? If you go through the settings menu, you may start to become confused. There are an incredible number of settings that the average, non-tech centric driver will get spooked as to what they see.

This next one is specific to the 2.0 R. When I was looking for the settings to adjust the height of the heads up display, I suddenly got confused as to whether I should select the height or calibration settings. It turned out that it really is the height settings I should go to because initially, when I was adjusting the HUD’s height, I thought nothing was happening. Speaking of the heads up display, the information I needed is displayed on the windscreen wiper’s arm, which for my taste isn’t the best position, since head up displays in my experience were really directed at my line of sight, eliminating the need for me to look down on my instruments.


As you will notice, all my negatives are quite minor, and it’s something that can be easily forgiven. The Mazda 3 represents Mazda’s goal to bring excitement back to the compact segment, and while the Toyota Corolla Altis will forever remain the top seller in the segment, the Mazda 3 will remain to be the top athlete in the segment. Many people buy the Toyota Corolla Altis because they simply want to go from A to B with no fuss and no problem at all. It’s simply the sensible thing to buy, a tool, per se. The Mazda 3 however, caters to people where the journey from A to B is the most exciting part of their travel. Whereas the Toyota Corolla Altis is a tool to go from A to B, the Mazda 3, is an instrument, where the whole driving experience itself is an art.

Prices (Introductory)

Mazda 3 1.5 V Sedan: P945,000
Mazda 3 1.5 V Hatchback: P948,000
Mazda 3 2.0 R Sedan: P1,195,000
Mazda 3 20 R Hatchback: P1,198,000


Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Quality: ★★★★★
Features: ★★★★☆
Acceleration: ★★★★☆
Handling: ★★★★☆
Comfort: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆

OVERALL: 4.33 out of 5


2012 Honda Civic 1.8 EXI
2012 Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GL AT

See Also: 

2013 Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS-V 4×2 AT
2013 Chevrolet Trailblazer LTZ 4×4 AT
2014 Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport
2014 Toyota Vios 1.5 G AT
2014 Ford EcoSport 1.5 Titanium
2014 Peugeot 5008 1.6 eHDI Active
2014 Peugeot 3008 1.6 eHDI Active
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited

Honda Nips and Tucks The Civic, Modulo and Mugen Kits Now Standard

The Honda Civic is Honda’s bread and butter model. The poster boy for what is called the sports car in the compact segment. However, it is now accepted that each new iteration of the Civic will never be as sporty as the EK, or the sixth generation Civic, though it doesn’t mean they’re not fun to drive machines today. In a bid to reinvigorate the Honda Civic, HCPI releases the new 2014 model, with three distinct variants to choose from, the 1.8 S, 1.8 E Modulo, and 2.0 EL Mugen.


1.8 S: P978,000

The most obvious change from the previous model is the new honeycomb chrome grille, and a new chrome bar underneath it. Offered now as standard on all models are fog lights, which used to be standard only on the top spec 2.0 EL.

1.8 E Modulo: P1,118,000


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More changes are apparent on the Modulo and Mugen duo. New, two-tone 16 inch rims and a standard Modulo kit enhance the sporty look of the Honda Civic. Inside, a few first-in-class features come as standard. Some features from the Honda Accord and City eventually trickled to the Civic, including the Multi-Angle Rear View Camera, and the 7-inch Display Audio touch screen unit with HDMI to display the smartphone onto the Display Audio. Power folding mirrors and cruise control are now standard.

2.0 EL Mugen: P1,378,000


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The 2.0 EL Mugen has all the features of the 1.8 E Modulo, but with the addition of a better Multi-Angle Rear View Camera, which now includes dynamic guide lines, 6 airbags, Vehicle Stability Assist, automatic climate control, and leather seats. 17 inch two-tone rims and a Mugen kit further differentiates it from the 1.8 E Modulo.

Autostrada Motore Inc. Launches The New Maserati Ghibli

The Maserati Ghibli marks a turning point in the Maserati brand. In pursuit of their goal to sell 50,000 units globally by 2015, creating a midsize luxury sports sedan to rival huge sellers from Germany is by all means necessary, and this is the first time in their history that they will have 2 sedans in their lineup. What used to be a coupe is now a midsize sedan. This is the all-new Maserati Ghibli.


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Launched at this year’s Trans Sport Show, the Maserati Ghibli aims to offer something different, carrying the Italian pedigree along whilst competing with the higher end offerings of its German rivals, the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Audi A6.


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Its exterior is graced by its coupe-like roofline and its distinctive C-pillar design, which carries the iconic Saetta Maserati logo. The trademark triple air vents behind the front wheel arches further add character and immediately hints onlookers that this isn’t your typical midsize German luxury sedan.



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The interior is dominated by a huge touchscreen which is based on Chrysler’s UConnect system. Leather crafted by Poltrona Frau keeps its occupants in opulent luxury, while optional features such as the Bower and Wilkins sound system and other customization features should keep the most demanding customers satisfied.


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Keeping it distinct from its rivals are its trio of twin turbocharged engines, all of which are developed together with Ferrari. Two twin-turbo petrol, and one diesel. Only the petrol will be offered in the Philippines, the first of which, powers the standard model, producing 330 hp and 500 Nm of torque. The other petrol engine powers the more powerful S and S Q4 with AWD model, producing 410 hp and 550 Nm of torque. Only one transmission is available, a ZF 8-Speed Automatic.


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