Dear Mr. Botchi Santos:
Good day to you. My wife and I are planning to buy our first family vehicle that can handle five passengers, but have enough space for another two (just in case) or for common family luggage needed for outings. We have the following considerations:
* budget (around P850,000);
* garage space;
* car-like driving experience;
* automatic transmission (my wife prefers AT because she'll use it most of the time in Metro Manila)
We've fixed our eyes on two specific models: Toyota Avanza and Chevrolet Spin. I like the latter for it is new and has good looks, but my wife wants the former. She's got a point considering after-sales service and parts availability. Her officemates tell her that a Chevrolet vehicle's value depreciates quickly. I have my own points that my wife has also considered, but the battle is now a deadlock.
Now, since we both read your articles (and we really like them), and it seems your advice matters much, we are very sorry (in advance) for putting you in the hot seat for a tiebreaker vote. We want to make a decision fast because the Spin, as you already know, is having an introductory price promo until October 19 only, and the Avanza, on the other hand, has just had its price increased to P877,000 (based on Toyota's website).
We have another question for you: Why is it that both vehicles have the same kind of engine (VVT-i, in-line four-cylinder DOHC 16V with almost the same displacement) but produce different torque and power? By comparing their brochures, I've learned that the Spin has the upper hand in this department. Does it really matter especially when it comes to fuel efficiency? And still with regard to fuel efficiency, based on their claims, the Spin is better than the Avanza.
I'm looking forward to your advice, and thanks in advance. More power to you and to Top Gear Philippines! God bless us all!
Hi, Danny. Thank you for your e-mail.
Unfortunately, I have yet to drive the Chevrolet Spin, so I can't objectively comment on its performance. But I have to admit that I have been very impressed with Chevrolet's current vehicle lineup, so the Spin should carry the banner well for the American brand.
Regarding the output figures, it's actually difficult to explain precisely why their engine outputs vary despite having the same displacement.
One possibility is the method of testing or rating used. Japanese, German, Italian and American auto industry standards use different equipment to measure the output of an engine, hence the calibrations can be slightly different from one another. There are also different units of measurement (PS or Pferdestärke in German, which translates to hp or horsepower for the unit of measurement used in America, and kW or kilowatt for the metric unit of measurement used by other countries). When translating or converting one unit of measurement to another, some things get lost in translation, I guess.
Another possibility is fuel quality. Should you read the fine print, certain manufacturers specify a certain fuel quality/level to achieve the advertised engine output. In the case of Chevrolet versus Toyota, perhaps Chevrolet tested its engines using a higher-quality fuel, whereas Toyota chose a lower-quality fuel in the interest of representing the budgets of the typical Avanza buyers.
Lastly, the truth is that all engines will have varying power outputs. Typically, it should be plus or minus 1-2% of their advertised output. A manufacturer will test the engines randomly and see their actual specific outputs. The manufacturer will then get the relevant range, and list the engines as producing a horsepower figure that represents the mean figure or average output in a batch of engines they tested.
Other manufacturers (Porsche and Toyota as examples) list their engine outputs with the lowest, most conservative reading they got in a test run of a batch of engines.
Lastly, the tuning matters. The saying, "A candle that burns twice as bright lasts half as long," is very true here. Both have 1.5-liter four-cylinder engines, but one is working harder or more stressed to produce a higher output. This engine will experience greater wear and tear compared to the other engine. All things being equal, the harder-working engine will not last as long. But then, other factors come into play: the quality of the harder-working engine's cooling and lubrication system; the air, fuel and oil filtration systems; and the quality of the metals used to build the engine and its internals--plus the overall balance of the engine. All these will help determine an engine's longevity.
My apologies if this sounds confusing, but it is an interesting question we've been asked quite often here at Top Gear Philippines, and I thought I'd help shed some light on the matter.
But for you, the bottom line is this: Both you and the missus should test-drive both cars. I can't tell you what to buy; I merely give the pros and the cons. Although I often tell people what I would get if I were in their shoes, I do so carefully by listing my prerequisites and specific needs, which help shape or determine my choices. These very same prerequisites and needs might be irrelevant or lower down the list for other people, so I always tell readers to test-drive the cars they are looking at.
I hope this helps. Anyway, your fellow readers could help you come up with a choice by taking the poll below. Good luck and be safe.
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