(Go Flat Out REVIEW) 2017 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI: Q7 Is For Quick 7-Seater

Audi is no stranger to SUVs. As one of the first to truly offer 7-seater capability, the Audi Q7 quickly became a default choice to those who are looking for a 7-seat premium SUV. Sure, the BMW X5 can be optioned with 7-seats, but that’s it. It is an option, therefore it really never was considered in the design stage that the X5 would be used for regularly carrying 7 normal-sized people. It proved to be popular in the USA, where the demand for 3-row crossovers are high, and Audi won’t be resting on its laurels anytime soon. So, they released this all-new, smarter, lighter, faster, and more fuel-efficient Audi Q7. Will we soon see this roaming around Forbes Park? Let’s see.

Exterior

The Audi Q7’s exterior, when it was first revealed, brought some mixed feelings to the public. Whereas the first Q7 looked like a sleek SUV with its blacked-out cladding and rugged looks, the new Q7 looked too angular and upright for its own good when looking up front, and with the lack of any cladding, it really looked like a long, tall wagon (or avant in Audi’s term). Ordering the Q7 3.0 TDI S Line with its 21 inch alloy wheels and more aggressive body design somehow cures any blandness or awkwardly shaped dimensions to the Q7’s design. Looking at it now, however, nearly 2 years after it was first sold around the world, and I have come to appreciate the Q7’s looks. The Q7’s exterior is not a matter of love-at-first-sight, rather, it’s a matter of having the looks grow on you. The large, trademark Audi single frame grille has been given a three-dimensional design similar to the facelifted Audi Q3, which are flanked by automatic LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. The rear looks undeniably sleek and better looking than the model it replaces, and houses a pair of three-dimensional LED tail lights. At around 5 meters long, this Q7 is definitely a long three-row luxury crossover, and it has a distinct character of its own, despite platform sharing with the posh Bentley Bentayga, sporty Porsche Cayenne, and sensible Volkswagen Touareg.

Interior

While the exterior has raised question marks, the interior is undeniably gorgeous, one of the best in the business. I am particularly a fan of Audi’s interiors, and this Q7 is no exception. As ever, minimalism has played a key role in the interior theme, with few buttons and almost no clutter. Pressing the start button reveals an 8.3 inch display for the Audi MMI system, and a start up ceremony of animations in the Audi Virtual Cockpit, a 12.3 inch TFT LCD display the replaces the traditional gauges. Everywhere else, there’s plenty of plush materials, with almost an absence of hard scratchy plastics within your eye level. Pressing anything inside the cabin has the traditional Audi click, which feels and sounds so mechanically satisfying, it gives an aura of quality and luxury that is even absent in its rivals.

Space and Practicality

As this is a large SUV, there is no denying the abundance of space. While the BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport have third row seats as an option, they all feel like an afterthought, and being there just for the sake of being a 7-seater SUV. The Q7, meanwhile, is genuinely capable of carrying 7 normal people in cosseting luxury. The second row of seats are individually movable fore and aft, therefore the third row passengers can bargain for space to the second row occupants. There’s also a large trunk with all three seats in place, at 295 liters. Fold the third row seats, and that grows to 770 liters. Fold all second and third row seats down, and the space expands to a massive, MPV-like 1,955 liters of space, 100 more than the Volvo XC90’s.

The second row of seats are also quite spacious, wide enough for 3 people abreast. People won’t be fighting for foot room either, as the transmission tunnel is not that large and does not impede foot space for the middle passenger. The first row of seats all have power adjustment, and is therefore flexible enough to have plenty of adjustments, providing the perfect driving position to all types of people.

Elsewhere, there are plenty of cubby spaces dotted around the cabin. There’s a neat place to store your smartphone under the climate controls, and it also has wireless charging capability, should your Android smartphone have that feature. There’ also a large glovebox, which also houses the SD card slot and CD slot, and large door bins, each enough to hold a 1 liter bottle, are placed on all 4 doors.

Features and Safety

Perhaps my most favorite feature in the Audi Q7 is the Virtual Cockpit. The 12.3 inch display is able to display a host of information legibly and it does not intimidate you with an overwhelming amount of information. It is able to minimize the gauges, and can instead provide an unobstructed, enlarged view of the navigation system, or even your music and media. Likewise, the Audi MMI (Multi-Media Interface) is logical and intuitive to use, and is one of my most favorite infotainment systems on all vehicles. The MMI dial is large, and has a satisfying click whenever you turn it. The dial also integrates a touchpad, which enables you to swipe, pinch, and zoom in the navigation screen, or write using your fingers when entering navigation data or entering a phone number to call someone.

A standard feature nowadays in most Audis is what is called the Audi Drive Select. The system is able to switch from different driving modes, from comfort, sport, eco, and individual, wherein the driver is able to set its own parameters, such as having a comfort suspension while the engine is in sport, and such. Each driving mode has a truly distinct character, which I’ll discuss further in the driving part.

The Audi Q7 is also packed with safety features, in which two of these systems are unique to the Audi Q7. The first one is called Audi Pre-Sense, which when it detects that danger is imminent, the system will tighten the seatbelts, close the sunroof and any open windows, ensuring that no occupant will be thrown out of the vehicle. The second feature is called Multi-Collision Braking System. It is basically an enhanced version of the automatic emergency braking found in many vehicles nowadays, wherein it applies the brakes automatically to prevent a crash, or if a crash does happen, applies the brakes intermittently to mitigate the effects of crashing further into another object.

Powertrain

All Q7 variants are powered by a 3.0 liter TDI diesel engine, producing 272 hp and a monstrous 600 Nm of torque, enabling this Q7 to have an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h and a 0-100 km/h time of a hot-hatch shaming 6.3 seconds. Power is sent to Audi’s quattro AWD system, via an 8-Speed Automatic.

How It Drives

Pressing the start button is a ceremony of the 8.3 inch MMI screen rising up from the dashboard, and the animations from the Audi Virtual Cockpit settling in. It’s always an occasion starting up this thing. Once settled, just flick the nicely shaped electronic gear lever to drive, and off you go, but if you are parked in a tight corner, a rear view camera with dynamic lines and all-around sensors will aid you out of your spot. Additionally, the Q7 has good sightlines and great outward visibility, making this large SUV less intimidating to drive in tight spaces.

Once you begin venturing out into the road, the Audi Q7 manages to be comfortable without being floaty, being able to maintain composure and stability unless you really throw it hard around a corner. This is due to the Audi Q7’s air suspension with automatic or manual height adjustment. At low speeds, the Q7’s ground clearance is at its normal height, enabling the suspension to have greater travel to better absorb bumps, while out on a faster patch of highway, the Q7 lowers its ride height for better stability and aerodynamics. Additionally, if the vertically challenged are having difficulty loading items into the large trunk, the rear suspension can be lowered with a push of a button.

For a short while, I puttered around town in eco mode. Without a shortage of power, the Audi Q7 does not feel slow or neutered in eco mode, with only a slight delay in the throttle pedal input and the engine actually responding. Aided by the fact that the Q7 3.0 TDI comes standard with a Start/Stop system, which shuts off the engine when in say, a set of stop lights, I was able to yield a fuel consumption figure of 10.3 km/l in mainly the city. Not bad for a large diesel 7-seater SUV with this much power. The steering, a variable electrically assisted unit, delivers little feedback through the steering, but is light enough for darting in and out of traffic.

Placing the Audi Drive Select in sport mode, and a distinct new attitude replaces its tamed, relaxed nature. The gauges change to a more driver oriented set up, the throttle a lot more sharp, the suspension stiffened, the steering more responsive, and the gearbox holding gears and downshifting eagerly in automatic mode. Just a slight tap on the throttle is now enough to make this Q7 lunge forward, making any impromptu drag races in the stoplights possible for this large SUV. In this mode, the Audi Q7 becomes a lively large SUV to drive, defying the laws of physics with its great maneuverability and responsive acceleration. In this mode, all the systems work in harmony to now deliver a fun to drive nature that is unheard off in such a large vehicle.

On The Downside

We need to talk about the electronic shifter. While it does look good, it takes a little time of getting used to, and in many occassions, I was leaving the car in reverse when I really wanted it to be in park, since my mind is calibrated to bring the shift lever all the way back to park, when in fact, park is just a button on the gear lever. This is the same case with BMW’s shifter, and I simply don’t see the point on why companies need to change what has been a control logic or sequence used by mankind since the invention of the automatic transmission.

Verdict

Weird gear shift lever aside, the Audi Q7 remains to be an excellent large 7-seater crossover SUV. Right now, its fiercest, sole competitor would be the Volvo XC90, and while the Volvo XC90 is distinctly Swedish with its bolder exterior design and remarkable safety cred, the Audi Q7 manages to be the better driving of the two, with its distinctly German sports car-like handling that defies its size. With its easy to use MMI system and logically laid out Audi Virtual Cockpit, the Audi Q7 just might have that little edge over the Volvo XC90 in terms of the overall driving experience. Now that we have driven the two fierce competitors side-by-side, this will make for a great comparison (a future article will be made for this).

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Price: P6,690,000

Our Rating

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

Overall: 4.2 out of 5

2017 Audi Driving Weekend (With Video)

Go Flat Out was fortunate to be invited to the 2017 Audi Driving Weekend, an event designed for people to experience the performance and capabilities of an Audi and its quattro AWD system.

A handling course was set up, and people have the opportunity to ride inside the Audi TT, A1, and Q5 and test their handing and/or off road capabilities, and along with these 3 cars in the handling course, a few select Audis are also on site for people to be able to test and experience the vehicles for themselves.

The Audi R8 V10 Plus is also on display for select viewers to experience and sit inside it.

If you are interested for a test drive, visit your nearest Audi dealership, or contact Audie Llona for your inquiries at 0917-935-4111.

Video

(Go Flat Out REVIEW) 2017 Volvo S90 D4: Beyond The Mainstream (With Video)

If you are interested in purchasing a Volvo XC90 and other Volvos, scroll down to see more details. 

Words: Isaac Atienza, James Tagle
Photos: Isaac Atienza

Volvo has really been on a roll at the moment. After the release of the Volvo XC90, which we found out is a great alternative to the mainstream German competitors, the Volvo S90 was then launched a couple of months ago in the grandest way possible. Now that the Volvo S90 is here, and now on sale for the people to experience Swedish contemporary mobility, what’s it like to drive and own this midsize executive sedan that rivals the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class?

Exterior

B

The Volvo S90 manages to look even nicer than the Volvo XC90 that we’ve been already accustomed to. The wide stance of the S90 makes it look menacing. It’s perfect for mafia gangs especially in this shade of black, in which the elegant and sophisticated silhouette of this car is nicely highlighted. The all-LED headlamps are just stunning, with the “Thor’s Hammer” LED daytime running lights on, you’d feel intimidated when you see it in your rear view mirror. The grille looks slim and wide, and it looks like it would be something from Maserati. Adaptive automatic LED headlights provide safe and bright illumination at night, and can even dim the headlights using its different lenses when left on high beam so that it won’t dazzle oncoming drivers. The side profile is taut and upright, contrary to the usual swoopy, coupe-like designs that many of its rivals are adopting. At the back, the typical Volvo LED tail lights that highlight the shoulders of the car make the rear have a wide and taut stance. Everything about this car’s exterior design is unlike any of the mainstream German competitor’s swoopy and coupe-like designs.

Interior

The S90 comes standard with a remote access smart-key shaped like a card. It’s elegantly designed, lightweight, detailed in chromed and the nicest thing about it is the key is wrapped in the leather you spec your car interior with, and its a very lovely touch. Moving forward, the interior is just nicely proportioned. Simple, elegant and that smooth perforated leather finish. If the Germans typically have plenty of buttons, the S90’s interior is the direct opposite. As a matter of fact, like the XC90, there can be only up to 10 (depending on variant) buttons in the center console, including the hazard switch. The interior is an exercise of Swedish minimalism that is mainly dominated by a horizontal design layout, with the Volvo Sensus infotainment system slightly angled towards the driver. Just like the XC90’s, the interior is beautifully made, albeit monotonous due to the black color. Aluminum accents adorn the interior, while the higher end D5 Inscription model has a two-tone beige interior with open pore wood trim.

Space and Practicality

Up front, there’s plenty of adjustment for the driver’s seat and the steering wheel, ensuring a perfect fit for all body types. Whereas the Germans try to do their best to make an interior the feels like a cockpit that wraps around you, the S90’s interior is more straightforward. Everything up front in the center console is within reach by both the front passenger and driver. The Volvo S90 offers plenty of room for all passengers, even for the middle seat, though due to the transmission tunnel, headroom is slightly compromised. There’s plenty of foot space in the back for all three people, preventing from any fights for foot space from escalating.

The trunk is spacious too, with 500 liters of space, though not class leading, and with a square opening, it is easy to load things in and out of the trunk. Apart from the trunk, other storage spaces include a generously sized glovebox, trays in the center console with a damped covers, and a large door bins on all 4 doors. The rear seats can also be folded down for more space, and there is also a ski hatch in the middle seat, if you are a fool to do skiing here in our country.

Features and Safety

As ever, the Volvo S90 is packed with safety features to the brim, such as Volvo City Safety, which includes pedestrian detection, collision mitigation, and a host of other safety features designed to make our drivers in the chaotic city of Manila more bearable. Making driving even a lot more bearable, especially for those who are challenged in parking, is the automatic parking feature of the S90, which can be used for parallel and reverse parking. Oddly enough, this feature is not equipped in the base XC90 Momentum variant.

Despite being the base variant, the S90 is packed with features, especially for its price. The S90 D4 even includes an electric trunk, opening and closing on its own with a push of a button. Additionally, all rear facing mirrors are heated, meaning should a sudden downpour or moist morning air impair your mirror’s reflectivity, these mirrors can heat themselves up to remove unnecessary moisture.

Volvo Sensus, which includes a 9-inch TFT LCD touchscreen display, and a 12-inch TFT LCD instrument panel, which is able to display a host of information in a legible and easy to read manner. The main touch screen unit, like in the XC90, is easy to use and feels natural to those of us who are accustomed to using an iPad. It uses swipe, pinch to zoom, and scroll functions just like you would do in iOS or Android, and speaking of mobile operating systems, Volvo Sensus in the S90 comes with both Android Auto and Apple Carplay, so whether you have a Galaxy S7 or an iPhone 7, your smartphone will be well integrated into the vehicle, and while doing so, you will be able to play your Spotify tunes into the car’s Harman Kardon sound system, which already sounds excellent to begin with.

Powertrain

With this being the S90 D4 variant, it is powered by a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder common rail direct-injected diesel engine that produces 187 hp @ 4,250 rpm and 400 Nm of torque @ 1,750-2,500 rpm. Power is sent through the front wheels via an 8-Speed Automatic Transmission. Paddle shifters are not equipped as standard.

How It Drives

Entering and starting the car is as easy as keeping the awesome keycard in your pocket from using the smart entry and twisting the elegant knob behind the gear lever. Pottering the Volvo S90 around the streets, and immediately noticeable is how the car feels stable and planted in pothole ridden streets. The S90 does not feel unsettled, and is able to absorb the bumps really well without being floaty. If you are looking for a canyon carver, look elsewhere, as the Volvo S90 has been made primarily for comfort in mind. As with the Volvo XC90, we felt refreshed and relaxed, as we’ve been accustomed to driving cars with firm suspensions or cars that don’t ride as well as this S90. Without pretentions of being sporty, the Volvo S90 lunges forward with less immediacy of a BMW 5 Series, and most people will find that completely fine.

Further aiding its comfort oriented nature is its relaxed steering, because while it is accurate and responsive, provides little in terms of feedback, though it is not completely nu mb, still providing enough messages to the driver as to what is happening to the front wheels. Refinement is also top notch, with the engine barely producing any noise when treated sensibly, and the thick insulation around the body and the sound deadening glass will easily put every passengers into a sleep.

The 2.0 liter diesel engine and 8-Speed Automatic is a great match in city and relaxed cruising, as the gearbox is perfectly refined and shifts are imperceptible, and driving through corners keeps this sedan unfazed despite its comfortable nature. There are no hints of the S90 being boat-like when driven hard. Treat the car sensibly, and you shall be rewarded with great fuel economy numbers. At this primarily city drive, the S90 D4 netted a fuel economy figure of 10.7 km/l in our hands, which is great for a car of this size and power.

On The Downside

However, when the S90 is driven really hard, the 2.0 liter diesel engine becomes quite vocal inside than usual, even more than the Volvo Xc90, though it is still slightly quieter than BMW’s 2.0 liter diesel engines, and just like the XC90’s 8-Speed Automatic, it does have turbo lag when suddenly mashing the gas pedal, and it is something that can be cured when left in Sport mode.

Lastly, I’m not sure if it’s just us, but we find the electronic parking brake’s Auto Hold to be too sensitive and too touchy, annoying even. While parking this Volvo S90 in reverse, a simple and short stop when changing from Drive to Reverse is enough for the system to engage the parking brake, and it does not even disengage when we step on the gas pedal and/or lift my foot off the brake. It’s really annoying, and it made us turn off the feature for the entire time. It’s something we have not encountered with the Volvo XC90, Honda Civic, Audi Q7, and other car’s with an electronic parking brake with Auto Hold.

Verdict

The Volvo S90, as we’ve mainly established from the beginning, diverges away from the mainstream. Whereas the Germans focus on swoopy designs, often button-filled interiors, driver-focused cabins, and sporty driving dynamics, the Swedes look back to their core competency. Like the Xc90, the Volvo S90 does not try to outdo the Germans by being like the Germans. Instead, it focuses on being Swedish to the core, from the car’s philosophy, to the way the car drives, looks, and works. Too many companies nowadays try to focus on beating the Germans by trying their best to being just like them, and just as countless people have told us, just be yourself, or rather, be a better version of yourself.

Price: P3,995,000

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Our Rating

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

Overall: 4.4 out of 5

Video

Special thanks to Justin Villareal for taking the video

Special thanks to Volvo Alabang for providing us the Volvo XC90 D4 Momentum. If you are interested in this Volvo XC90 and other Volvos, contact Glenn Janson at (0977) 621 8948 for more information. 

2017 Porsche Roadshow (With Video)

Go Flat Out has been fortunate to be invited to the 2017 Porsche Roadshow at Bonifacio Global City. In the event are different Porsches, ranging from the 718 Boxster, Cayman GTS, Macan GTS, Panamera, Cayenne Diesel, 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet, and 911 Turbo S. Watch the video below to see the rest of the event.

For more Porsche queries, you may contact Raffy De Leon by calling (+632) 727-0381 to 85

Karting At CityKart Makati (With Video)

As a way to end this year, we decided to try something new, sort of. While this isn’t our first time to try go karting, this was the first time for us to try karting at CityKart Makati, and we checked what’s up and what sets this apart from Enchanted Kingdom’s go kart offering.

First off, there are different tiers to choose from. There’s a beginner, intermediate, and a professional tier. People from a wide variety of ages can try go karting, even kids. As confident as we think we are with our “skills”, we confidently tried the professional tier.

The professional tier gets you the most powerful and grippiest go kart offering. Since it’s been a very long time since I went karting, I first familiarized myself with how a go kart handles, and how much of its handling can I fully extract.

As it turns out, go karts are extremely grippy. At first, I thought I needed to brake in the first set 90 degree corners of CityKart’s race track, but as I was soon able to familiarize myself with the kart’s capabilities, I didn’t need to. The go karts have unrealistically capable grip levels, it fools me of thinking that I need to brake into those corners, but all I have to do was clip the apex and just lift off the gas. Impressive stuff. We really never knew go karts could be this capable.

As James Tagle (aka Stiggy as he named himself in this session) had better skills than me in the track from day 1, I already knew I wouldn’t beat him to it. Unfortunately for him, he had wasted 2 laps due to his unfortunate experiences with a go kart he was driving. Here are the lap times we achieved in the 3 rounds we took to the track.

Round 1

round-1

Round 2

round-2

Round 3

round-3

CityKart Makati is also a pretty good place to hang for petrolheads. There’s a restaurant and a bar inside, and is a perfect venue for a petrolhead’s birthday celebration, as the venue can be rented for such events.

Interested? You can register via an iOS or Android App by CityKart Makati, and if you log in via Facebook, you are able to keep your profile and save your records in your associated Facebook account. CityKart Makati is open every day, 3 pm to 11 pm on Mondays to Thursdays, and 11 am to 11 pm on Fridays to Sundays. Happy Karting, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year guys!

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(Go Flat Out REVIEW) 2016 Honda Civic 1.8 E: Sweet Yet Guilt Free

*Note: The black grille is an aftermarket accessory. The 1.8 E comes standard with a chrome grille.

Don’t you just love desserts? I particularly like matcha, but what does matcha have to do with the all-new Honda Civic. If you are an impatient chap, you could simply scroll down and just see why, but no one simply watches Rogue One straight to the end just to find out what happens to Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, right? Anyway, the automobile was designed in the late 1800s for one thing only, and that is, to transport us from A to B faster than horses could. Nothing more, nothing less. If we considers cars as merely a method of transportation, our world will be very boring indeed both to car enthusiasts and to other people, and that is a lesson that Honda has learned in designing the all-new Honda Civic. As an owner of the 9th generation (FB) Civic, I can clearly tell the difference between driving my Civic and this all-new, 10th (FC) generation Civic, and what changes Honda has made.The Honda Civic has always fulfilled a sort of jack-of-all-trades role. Sporty, but not impractical for family or daily use, yet is also reliable enough to merit it as a staple car in our world, but when Honda developed the FB (9th generation) Civic, they were on a confused track under Takanobu Ito’s leadership. The FB Civic generation, while it still had a little fun dialed in, it was a greatly less fun car than its predecessors, while being more sensible and practical, following the philosophy of fulfilling its role as daily transportation. With the Mazda 3 knocking out the Civic in every possible way, Honda needs to step up its A-game and bring back the Civic’s role as merely another mode of transportation.

Exterior

And its transformation starts in its all-new exterior design. My Civic could actually be mistaken for the 8th generation Civic, and in Honda’s pursuit of addressing that, they created an all-new, clean sheet design, and it really has paid off. This all-new Civic is the best looking it has ever been. Even this base (if you could call it that) 1.8 E is blessed with upmarket features such as full-LED headlamps, LED tail lights, 16-inch two tone alloy wheels, and a body that looks more European than Japanese. Most of the world’s greatest looking cars have one thing in common, long hoods. This design makes a car evoke power and authority, especially from the side where it looks even nicer, and seems to carry that “rear wheel drive” look. It’s a formula that no other car company than Mazda has pulled off nicely, winning design awards in the process. The Civic’s wheel arches that flare from the A-pillar to the headlights add depth to its fascia, while a sloping coupe-like roofline elegantly flows to the back, and yet despite the Civic’s beautiful silhouette, it still manages to create enough space for 3 adults in the back. At night, the tail lights look nothing short of spectacular, with all my friends staring in awe at the C-shaped LED tail lights. The black grille piece up front is an aftermarket accessory, and it somehow provides a nice contrast to the White Orchid Peal finish rather the standard large slab of chrome.

Interior

Whereas the exterior has flowing lines and taut curves, the interior is more angular and more conventional than its predecessor. Gone is the two-tier instrument cluster, now replaced by a more traditional arrangement, but that’s where the traditional look ends. Housed inside the instrument binnacle is a full-color TFT LCD instrument cluster that is reminiscent of starting up the Enterprise from Star Trek. It’s a great ceremony of welcome animations, gauges, and dials coming into place ready to relay all the information you need as you drive. Commanding the Civic is a great experience, because all the materials feel great and have a hefty feeling. My slight complaints are the cheap materials found in the lower parts of the cabin, but other than that, there’s plenty of space, and thanks to the electronic parking brake freeing up space in the center console, there’s a ginormous center console bin, which large enough to store a 12-inch iPad Pro.

Space and Practicality

The all-new Civic not only manages to be better looking than its predecessor, but it also manages to be very practical as well. Aside from the aforementioned ginormous center console bin, the glove box, door bins, and trunk are all large for this class of vehicle. Despite the Civic’s sloping roofline, the rear seats still have enough space for 3 adults. There’s generous amounts of leg, head, and shoulder room for everyone to move around despite the center tunnel. If you need to carry longer items, 60:40 split folding rear seats come as standard.

Features

This 1.8 E Honda Civic, despite being the base of the range, should prove to be the pick of most people. Not a lot of features separate the 1.8 E from the 1.5 RS Turbo, and it starts with the aforementioned automatic LED head and tail lights with LED daytime running lights, rain sensing wipers, automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reverse camera, electronic parking brake with brake hold function, and a host of other safety features such as Hill Start Assist, ABS with EBD, Emergency Stop Signal (a feature which flashes the signal lights when the Civic brakes really hard).

Let’s talk about Apple CarPlay for a minute, because this Civic is one of the first in the Philippines to have this feature as standard alongside Android Auto. Smartphone integration into the car has never been so important, because we are so hooked with our smartphones in our everyday lives. Since I use an iPhone 7 Plus, the Smartphone Integration lights up as Apple CarPlay in the Honda Display Audio system. Despite the 1.8 E having no navigation, Apple Maps can be used and becomes integrated into the infotainment system. As for Spotify, my songs appear in the display, complete with the title and the album artwork, which can also be seen in the instrument cluster. This system also integrates Siri into the car’s voice command, and makes the whole operation of the infotainment system as easy as your smartphone. This is why the release of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, because these Smartphone Integration features utilize a similar user interface as your smartphone, making the system easy and fuss free to use.

Powertrain

This being the 1.8 E variant, this is not powered by the small 1.5 liter VTEC Turbo engine that produces 172 hp. Instead, this gets a more conventional 1.8 liter naturally aspirated petrol engine, which is the R18Z1 i-VTEC SOHC engine carried over from the previous generation. It produces 139 hp @ 6,500 pm and 174 Nm of torque @ 4,500 rpm. The transmission is mated solely to an Earth Dreams CVT with Sport Mode (S in the gear selector), but no paddle shifters.

How It Drives

This all-new Honda Civic has a clean sheet design from the platform, suspension, structure, and other components. Almost nothing is shared from past Civics, and its only good for Honda to start fresh. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be strange for Honda to even rename the Civic because of this. Being a clean sheet design introduces a host of improvements to the driving experience, and let’s start with its role as a mode of transportation from A to B. The engineers at Honda have benchmarked the Audi A3 for its ride and handling characteristics, and while it does feel anything but an Audi A3, it does come close. The new platform utilizes higher strength steel, making the body 68 lbs lighter than its predecessor, whilst improving rigidity. Passing over some cracked and lifted concrete that the roads around Laguna Boulevard are notorious for due to the trailers regularly passing by, the greatly improved NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels are felt. Driving my Civic and this Civic back to back on this road, and the more composed ride of the new Civic is immediately felt. Small, sharp bumps and expansion joints do not upset the Civic’s ride anymore. Travelling on coarse, rough tarmac immediately shows the improved sound insulation that has been implemented in this new Civic, with noticeably less road noise and wind noise creeping into the cabin. Despite the rakish and sleek appearance of the new Civic, visibility has not been compromised, a typical Honda trait of being able to eke out great visibility in literally almost all of their cars. Thin roof pillars make it a doddle to see out of when crossing junctions.

CVT transmission are notorious for its rubber band feel, wherein the engine constantly revs until you get up to speed, as there is of course an absence of gears in a Continuously Variable Transmission, but Honda’s CVTs have been engineered to do their best in mimicking a traditional torque converter automatic transmission. This also enables the Civic to have great fuel consumption, which is at 9 km/l in the city, and 16 km/l on the highway, for an average of 12 km/l, which is slightly better than my usual in my 1.8 EXI Civic’s at 11 km/l average.

So now we’ve established that as a daily mode of transportation, the all-new Civic has been greatly improved, but how about the sporty and fun to drive nature that the Civic has lost in the past generation? Well, I am happy to report that this all-new Civic is a step in the right direction for Honda. While it never feels as sporty as the Mazda 3, it still does not disappoint, with a heftier steering feel than the overly light steering from my Civic. This is due to a new variable gear ratio electric power steering system that enables it to be light in city driving, and hefty when driven fast, useful when throwing this car in and out of corners. The Civic remains unfazed, with a more planted and substantial feel than the Civic it replaces. The increased chassis rigidity has not only greatly improved ride comfort, but also its handling prowess as the new Civic feels tighter and more solid when going through tight bends. Powering out of the corner, and the CVT does a better job of sending power to the wheels than the 5-Speed automatic transmission it replaces. In Sport Mode, the CVT is able to hold revs, even able to add stepped ratios that mimic a traditional torque converter automatic, providing a sportier, more natural feel when accelerating in and out of corners or overtaking on expressways. What Honda has managed to achieve here is a car that is more comfortable yet more fun to drive than the car it replaces, traits that the Honda Civic has always been known for in years past.

On The Downside

While this Civic feels faster than the previous generation of the Civic with the same engine, there are times that the transmission still feels lethargic when overtaking. It is solved if the transmission is in Sport Mode (S), but for the most part, it does not feel as connected and as engaging as the Skyactiv Drive 6-Speed Automatic from the Mazda 3’s. Speaking of the Mazda 3, the Hiroshima-based manufacturer still manages to make the sportier car among the two, with a tighter steering ratio and quicker reflexes than the all-new Civic when thrown around corners.

Being picky now, the controls for the automatic climate control system in my opinion took a step back. What used to be a one step process now takes two or more steps. In order to dive in to the deeper settings of the climate control system, it now means you have to go through another menu, whereas this should only be a one step process. Lastly, see the electrostatic controls for the volume in the all-new Civic? It looks cool doesn’t it? You simply swipe up or down to change the volume. Well, I initially thought it was cool too, until I learned it the hard way that the volume control system is very sensitive to accidental swiped by accidentally blasting the volume from 10 to 25, blaring my ears with a very loud tone from The Weeknd’s Starboy playing through Spotify.

Verdict

Honda has clearly had some missteps in the past, and this new Civic is a reassurance that Honda is headed in the right direction. Remember that the Honda Civic was not known merely as a mode of transportation. It’s more than that. The Civic manages to fulfill both, which is why there is a sub-culture of Civic owners around the world who share the same sentiments, and we’d like Honda to keep it that way. This new Civic then, is not just a mode of transportation. It manages to provide a fun driving experience once again. Think of it as a matcha dessert. I like matcha, some of my friends like it too, and other don’t like it at all. It clearly has its niches. Some people like it, some people hate it, but those who like matcha know that just like the Honda Civic, it manages to be somewhat healthy, and yet it tastes so good. Don’t you just love being able to have your matcha cake and eat it guilt-free? Okay, fine, a lot of matcha desserts are not as healthy as pure matcha, but it is still definitely healthier than a dessert that uses chemical sugar substitutes. For P1,088,000, the 1.8 E is already a sweet, guilt-free package. One that is somewhat sporty, yet it remains one of the most practical choices. Unless a faster sedan is what you seek, that’s where the 1.5 RS Turbo comes in.

More Photos

Our Rating

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

Overall: 4.6 out of 5

Toyota Motor Philippines Facelifts The Corolla Altis

This year marks 50 years since the first Toyota Corolla rolled off the production line, and yet here we are, the world’s best selling car continues to be revamped and refreshed to meet the ever changing demands of customers.

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One of those demands is a better looking car, and it’s no question that many want a great looking car. This facelift has brought in some major changes in the car’s front fascia, notably, the addition of project-type headlamps with LED daytime running lights across the entire line-up, a redesigned front bumper with faux vents on the sides, and a slightly redesigned LED rear combination lights. The 2.0 V meanwhile gets full-LED automatic headlights, a bodykit, and newly designed 17 inch alloy wheels.

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Another changing consumer demand is a quest for a more opulent and premium cabin experience. Inside, plenty of effort has been made to uplift the cabin ambience. The materials have been improved to make the Corolla Altis feel less utilitarian and more upscale. A leather padded areas has been added in the dashboard to further make the interior a nice place to be in. The most noticeable addition perhaps is the new Toyota touch screen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity. 8-way power adjustable seats are adorned by the 2.0 V variants.

Mechanically, the Corolla Altis is unchanged, still powered by a 1.6 liter 1ZR-FE Dual VVT-i petrol engine that produces 122 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 154 Nm of torque @ 5,200 rpm, or a 2.0 liter Dual VVT-i 3ZR-FE petrol engine, which produces 145 hp @ 6,200 rpm and 187 Nm of torque @ 3,600 rpm. The 1.6 liter is can be mated to a 6-Speed manual or a CVT, while the 2.0 liter is only available with a CVT equipped with paddle shifters.

One of the biggest changes that Toyota Motor Philippines touts it has made in the new Corolla Altis is in the area of safety, and we at Go Flat Out highly admire this move for a push in the country’s improvement of its safety standards. All variants now come with 7 airbags, which includes one for the driver’s knee, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat mounts, and Vehicle Stability Control.

1.6 E MT: P894,000
1.6 G MT: P934,000
1.6 G AT: P990,000
1.6 V AT: P1,074,000 (White Pearl +P15,000)
2.0 V AT: P1,318,000 (White Pearl +P15,000)