“This is it. Several weeks after Toyota launched a teaser for the next-generation Vios, the world’s largest automaker has pulled the covers off its newest subcompact sedan in Thailand, where the model is known as the Yaris Ativ. The next-gen Vios boasts an all-new exterior and interior, as well as a platform set to underpin more Toyota models for the Asia-Pacific region.
“After nearly a decade of using the same chassis, Toyota has finally given the Vios a full-model change from bumper to bumper. The Japanese automaker isn’t shy from showing it either with a far more dramatic and aggressive look compared to the outgoing model. With those headlights, the slim grille, and a gaping lower intake, influences from the Corolla Altis and the Camry are loud and clear.
“But what’s interesting here is the side profile of the 2023 Vios. Whereas previous models were upright, the roof of the new car has a fastback-like shape. That’s not all—the sedan also has a six-window configuration, which is a first for the Vios. As for the rear, a set of slim taillights take center stage with clusters similar to that of the Raize.
“Owners of previous Vios models will be in for a treat with the 2023 model. It’s a huge leap forward in terms of cabin design. The two-tier dash takes a page from the Avanza and the Veloz, along with the free-floating center touchscreen. Of course, we’re not expecting a whole lot of soft-touch materials, but the design does a good job of looking more premium.
“Lower-spec versions in Thailand get an analog instrument cluster, while the more expensive trims get a fully-digital gauge. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are, of course, standard. It will be interesting to see if the local-spec Vios will get the same treatment.
“In Thailand, at least, all Vios variants have stability control, traction control, hill-start assist, and six airbags. If you move up the range, you get either a reverse cam for the mid-spec trim, or a 360-degree camera for the upper models. Cruise control is standard for all except the base trim, and the full Toyota Safety Sense package is for the top two trim levels. Yes, we are now in an age where a Vios has automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
“Powering the Thai-market Vios is a 1.2-liter, four-cylinder that's not related to the Raize. It has a little more power than the crossover at 93hp and 110Nm of torque. For reference, the Raize has 87hp, but a bit more torque at 113Nm to move its taller body. That said, it will be interesting to see if Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) will still stick to the 1.3-liter and 1.5-liter engines used in the fourth-generation model. Another thing worth pointing out is the lack of a manual-transmission option in Thailand as all variants sold there have a CVT.”
“The current Mitsubishi Strada is now the most dated truck among all the heavy-hitters in the local midsize-pickup segment. This fact has now grown even more evident, with the recent launch of the all-new Ford Ranger.
“There’s still no next-generation Strada to launch yet, so Mitsubishi Motors Philippines (MMPC) couldn’t shake up its lineup even if it wanted to. The Japanese carmaker has just launched a new special-edition Strada in Malaysia, though, and it might be something MMPC could use right now: the Mitsubishi Triton Phantom Plus Edition.
“The Triton is what other markets call the Strada. This Phantom Plus Edition is a dressed-up version with exterior and interior accessories to the package. On the outside, the pickup gets front and rear bumper garnishes with red accents, a new plastic trim on the roof with LED lighting, and a beefier wheel arch that houses the 18-inch gloss-black alloys shod in all-terrain tires. There are also Phantom Plus body decals all around.
“Said decals can also be found stitched on the seats’ headrests inside the cabin. These seats are also highlighted with red stitches for a sportier look. Added Phantom Plus and Triton badging can be found on the new carpet mats and door sills, respectively.
“No mechanical changes were mentioned, so this pickup still packs a 2.4-liter turbodiesel that churns out 178hp and 430Nm of torque. Seeing as those are off-road-ready shoes this Strada sits on, we reckon the Phantom Plus Edition comes with the 4x4 drivetrain. Other added tech here include a nine-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a standard dashcam, and a tailgate lift assist feature.”
“Well, that was quick. We just reported about the imminent reveal of the new Mitsubishi Xpander Cross, and the next thing we know, it’s already here. And by here we mean in Indonesia where Xpanders are made.
“Mitsubishi has officially pulled the wraps off the facelifted Xpander Cross at this year’s Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show. It sports that new stylish Xpander design paired with the signature rugged Cross look. Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield is still visible up front, but the grille is now flanked by a pair of large T-shaped headlights.
“More black plastic trim extending from the underbody claddings can be found on the front fascia, and there are now added gray trim strips that accentuate the doors. Out back, the Cross also sports the same pair of taillights as the refreshed Xpander. The bumper on this end looks more subdued than before, though, as Mitsubishi has dialed down the ruggedness and reduced some of the plastic claddings.
“As expected, however, no changes can be found under the hood. The new Mitsubishi Xpander Cross is still powered by a familiar 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that generates 103hp at 6,000rpm and 141Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. Unlike Philippine-spec Xpanders, though, Indonesia’s Cross is fitted with a CVT instead of a traditional automatic gearbox.”
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“Have you heard? There’s another new crossover in town. As promised, Nissan Philippines (NPI) has finally launched the new Kicks.
“The Kicks lands in our market as the first Nissan e-Power model, equipped with the brand’s new electrified powertrain that we were first able to try out just a couple of months back.
“There are three Kicks variants available at launch, all of which pack the same e-Power setup. The range starts at a reasonable price of P1.209 million. Check out the full price list below.
Nissan Kicks 2023 prices:
- Nissan Kicks VL e-Power AT – P1,509,000
- Nissan Kicks VE e-Power AT – P1,309,000
- Nissan Kicks EL e-Power AT – P1,209,000
“The sole e-Power setup available in the Kicks range is comprised by a 1.2-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine that charges an electric motor, which then drives the front wheels. The system puts out 134hp and 280Nm of torque. So yes, it still does consume gasoline, and also has a typical 41-liter fuel tank.”
“A few months ago, we floated the idea of the Toyota Raize Hybrid—Daihatsu Rocky e-Smart Hybrid—making its way to our market. It really seemed like a long shot then, seeing as the vehicle was only available in Japan where it was launched in November 2021.
“Fast-forward to August 2022, though, and the electrified crossover has now made its way to ASEAN. Granted, it’s just a preview at the ongoing 2022 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show, but it could mean that the Japanese carmaker is testing the waters to see the public’s perception of the hybrid. And if the Raize Hybrid does land in Indonesia, it’ll only be a matter of time before the model arrives in our market. A man can dream, right?
“The Raize Hybrid is equipped with Daihatsu’s new e-Smart Hybrid powertrain that’s made up of a 1.2-liter gasoline engine complemented by an electric motor and a 4.3Ah lithium-ion battery. It can supposedly do around 28km/L.”
“The Wigo is easily one of Toyota’s most fuel-efficient models. But considering how steep pump prices are these days, we’re sure people wouldn’t mind if the affordable little hatchback were made even more frugal.
“How so? Perhaps taking out the internal combustion engine under the hood and replacing it with an electrified powertrain could work. It’s more than possible, as Toyota already has a concept available—in fact, all that’s left is for the carmaker to actually build it.
“The electric Wigo we’re talking about comes in the form of the Daihatsu Ayla EV, one of the many vehicles Daihatsu has on display at the 2022 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show.
“This battery electric vehicle is built at Daihatsu’s R&D center in Indonesia. Looking at it from up front, it doesn’t look much like a Wigo, as it boasts a very modern EV-like design. At the rear, however, you’ll find familiar C-shaped taillights. Daihatsu didn’t show much of the interior during the online launch event, but we do see from the preview two sizeable screens on the dash and on the instrument cluster.
“As for the powertrain, the Ayla EV packs an 80hp electric motor and a 32kWh EV battery. Daihatsu has yet to provide any figures, but we reckon the Ayla EV’s range will be impressive, considering the Nissan Leaf’s 40kWh battery promises more than 300km on just one full charge—and in a much larger vehicle at that.”
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“After the local launches of the all-new S-Class and E-Class, some folks were wondering when Mercedes-Benz Philippines will bring in the next-gen C-Class. Besides, the executive sedan is one of the best-sellers from the three-pointed star. It may have taken a while due to the global chip shortage, but the long wait is over. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the W206 C-Class.
“No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, that really is a C-Class. While the C-Class has (for the most part) looked like a shrunken S-Class over the years, it’s more obvious with the W206 generation. From its slim headlights, wide grille, and lower bumper elements, you might mistake it for the flagship sedan. It’s the same story when you go to the back as the taillight design has a similar triangular treatment to its larger counterparts.
“If you’re coming from the previous-gen C-Class, it’ll be quite a shock. It has a massive infotainment screen in the middle, just like the S-Class and E-Class. And if that wasn’t enough, the conventional instrument cluster is now a free-floating screen. The 11.9-inch screen houses the latest MBUX Multimedia that includes ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The new C-Class also has power front seats with memory, power lumbar support, auto dimming rearview mirror, and ambient lighting with 64 colors.
“For now, the only engine option for the Philippines is a turbocharged 1.5-liter mild-hybrid. It’s good for 170hp and 250Nm of torque, and shifts with a nine-speed automatic transmission (9G-Tronic). Performance and economy figures from the factory claim a 0-100kph time of 8.6sec, a top speed of 231kph (not that you’ll try that here), and a combined fuel economy figure of up to 16.1km/L.
“The lone variant here is the C180 Avantgarde and it starts at P3,890,000. That’s a special introductory price so it might change in the coming months.”
“Slowly but surely, electric-powered offerings have begun trickling into the Philippine auto market. That said, we’re still a long way from saying the technology has planted its roots locally.
“Next year, though, the local EV industry might finally be getting its big break. No, we aren’t just referring to the hope the country’s Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA) might finally make its presence felt—this breakthrough will be felt in showrooms across the nation: Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP), the country’s number one car brand, has announced that it will be launching the Toyota bZ4X and Lexus RZ locally in 2023.
“The Japanese car brand bared the news earlier today during the inauguration of Toyota Mobility Solutions Philippines. We’ll have more on Toyota’s mobility shift shortly, but for now, let’s get to the upcoming EVs.
“‘As we increase the availability of hybrid models in our line-up, we are also preparing for the battery EV Lexus RZ and the Toyota bZ models,’ TMP chairman Alfred Ty said in a speech during the event. ‘I expect that we can make this happen by next year and beyond. We are seriously committed to helping build an electric future for mobility in the Philippines and to partner with the government in achieving its sustainable goals.’
“This news shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise if you’ve been paying attention to the news. If you’ll recall, Toyota has already announced that the bZ4X would be introduced to Southeast Asian markets. In fact, the manufacturer is aiming to make Thailand a production hub for its EVs. All this considered, bringing the vehicle into our market makes sense.”