Dear sir Botchi:
I always read your articles on TopGear.com.ph. I also sent you an inquiry awhile back but didn't hear from you. I am writing now to inquire about which vehicle under P500,000 you would recommend.
I understand that there are not many choices within this price range, so I have the following considerations:
* Overall value for money is important;
* Fuel efficiency is also a consideration especially with the prices of fuel nowadays;
* Space is also important because I am on the plus size (over 6ft and 250lbs). I will also bring my wife and two kids (a five-year-old and a one-year-old) on road trips;
* Another concern would be power. Can it climb up the steep mountains of Antipolo and Montalban? Can it endure the long drive to Laguna and Batangas?
I am looking at the following as choices:
* Mitsubishi Mirage GLX MT
* Hyundai i10 GL MT
* Suzuki Celerio MT
* Hyundai Eon GLS MT
Other suggestions are most welcome.
Thank you very much! I hope this time I would be able to actually see some answers.
James, we're terribly sorry if we failed to answer your previous e-mail. We get a ton of e-mails every day and we try our best to go through all of them. To make it up to you, we're replying now to your inquiry.
* Hyundai Eon - I'm wary of a car that has an engine smaller than a number of motorcycles. There simply isn't enough power to capably maintain proper highway speed (with a little extra grunt left for overtaking) in a little 800cc engine. Honestly, I have yet to drive it so I can't comment on its performance. It is tight inside, that much I have to admit.
* Hyundai i10 - As with above, but in an older package and with a (slightly) bigger engine. I had a short go in it years ago, and wasn't too impressed. And it's quite tight inside from what I remember.
* Mitsubishi Mirage - Now, this is a very realistic proposition: decent engine, decent interior space, good power and fun even on the track especially with the manual. About the only thing I can complain about is the drony three-cylinder engine. We're all used to how a four-cylinder engine sounds like, so a three-cylinder engine's drone can take some getting used to. But I like this one a lot. Check out the Mirage G4 sedan. It looks less kiddy-like, more mature and more handsome.
* Suzuki Celerio - I never tried it, and don't want to try it. Have you seen how it looks both inside and out? I can't comment about its performance because I've never tried one, and nobody has offered to let me try it. But based on how it looks, I'm not keen on trying it anyway.
You can also check out the Kia Picanto. If the Mirage did have a really serious competitor, this would be it. It has noticeably better suspension and steering feel compared to the Mitsubishi. It has noticeably better interior build quality. The three-cylinder engine isn't as drony as the Mirage's, and it feels (dare i say it?!) classier.
Both the Picanto and the Mirage have enough grunt to take you up Antipolo and Montalban (I frequent Rizal through Antipolo, Teresa and all the way to Jala-Jala); even when fully laden, it's enough to bring you and your family safely to your destination. Of course, don't expect these two cars to be hill-climb monsters especially with your family in tow.
As for long drives, there seems to be a misconception about reliability (or lack thereof) about small-displacement-engine cars being unable to travel far. In the past, car manufacturers lacked the know-how to build reliable engines. Hence, for long drives, the common practice was to build large engines and use them at perhaps only 10% to 30% of their potential on long drives for reliability. This isn't the case nowadays. If I could drive from Manila to Madrid (as in Madrid, Spain) in a Picanto, I would!
So, the short answer to the question is yes, all these cars will be more than enough to take you on long drives.
I hope this helps. Take care, and good luck with your car-shopping!
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