Top Gear Philippines

Hi, Botchi!

I am in the process of selecting the best gift I could give my daughter this Christmas for finishing her medical degree. I am narrowing my search down to a Toyota Vios 1.5(AT) and a Honda City 1.5(AT). What would the best choice be if you were in my shoes?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Happy holidays!

R12


Hi there, R12!

You're such a great parent--paying for your daughter's medical degree and then buying her a new car for Christmas! So lucky! My old man didn't want to pay for my scholarship when I told him I wanted to further my umm, driving education at the Porsche Training Facility in Leipzig, Germany after he buys me a seal gray 997 GT3 RS Mk2!

Anyways, here's what I think...

If your daughter is the conservative-type--very traditional and diligent--she'll probably prefer a sedan. The Toyota Vios and the Honda City are definitely great in their respective rights.

The Toyota Vios has been the number one selling car in the Philippines since its introduction--and with good reason. Bomb-proof reliability, nothing ever goes wrong, the engine is strong low-down making city driving easy. It's also surprisingly roomy inside and the top-model comes with those gorgeous 17-inch alloy wheels. Dynamically, it isn't as sharp as a Honda, but it is really comfortable, as the driving position is geared towards a living room-like feel compared with the semi cockpit-like interior typical of Hondas. And the Toyota Vios feels tough. Ram it against the wall and you will get seriously hurt but the Vios will just shrug it off and motor away peacefully.

If you're daughter is more adventurous, out-going, active and has loads of hobbies and sports, she will prefer a hatchback--thanks to the versatility afforded by having flop-down seats, allowing her to load up more cargo. Either the Honda Jazz or the Toyota Yaris are the usual suspects on this one.

The Honda Jazz is the best in its class--no doubt. It has huge interior space, the best seating position, solid feeling overall with the best driving dynamics. Its sedan twin, the Honda City, dynamically is more toned down, rides more comfortably and is trying its best to feel like a junior executive car versus the more lifestyle oriented Jazz. Personally I find it boring but effective and efficient--a safe, solid choice.

The Toyota Yaris is the best compromise of the bunch and is, in my opinion, the best-priced. But it is not perfect. The boot is tiny--you can't fit a golf bag at the back without dropping the rear seats. But the price, the rest of the features, the solid build quality and the driving dynamics are very, very good. It feels better built and more solid than the Vios from the inside.

The ultimate hatchback cum MPV-soft-roader that is very much lifestyle-oriented though would be the Kia Soul (banish all your biases about Korean cars please!) but this might be outside of how much you're willing to spend at the moment.

I'm recommending this car based primarily on looks. It is just so cute and gorgeous, it projects the image that you are having the time of your life without being ostentatious (it still is a Korean car after all). The interior is very nice, funky, something I really like (I'm in my early 30's) and connectivity to your MP3/media/music player is easy. Dynamically, it feels like a cross between a hatchback and a small soft-roader (think RAV4 or CR-V).

If you've got time, you might also want to wait for the all-new Mazda 2--which also has hatchback and sedan variants. You can already check out the Mazda 2 hatchback in Mazda dealerships; the sedan coming in March 2010.

For me, the top pick would be the Yaris, followed by the Jazz, then the Kia Soul, then the Vios, with the City as last. But I like fun, funky looking cars that have loads of versatility. A sedan just isn't as versatile.

Hope you find these points to ponder useful. Keep us posted, good luck, congratulations on your daughter's accomplishment and for doping a mighty fine job of being an all-around great parent!

Happy holidays!
 
Botchi Santos
Consumer editor
 

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Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor
Botchi eats, lives and breathes cars (aside from hotdogs). Aside from wanting to drive any car, preferably through some scenic destination, he's always thinking of ways to "improve them" by modifying the (insert any car-related word here).
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