A great way to introduce a brand into the collective consciousness of the local market is to demonstrate how economical its vehicles are. That is exactly what Volkswagen Philippines set out to do with the second staging of its Eco Fun Run. Its cars naturally cost more than their Japanese counterparts, but there is some pretty advanced technology under the hood that will help motorists get the most out of every drop of fuel. And to prove it, a select group of Volkswagen customers were invited to join this event, with a few of us media folks tagging along.
Eight teams took part in this event, driving three Polos, two Tourans and three Beetles. At the end of the day, we were going to see which driver from each category could deliver the best mileage, without any crazy and unsafe eco-driving tricks. Top Gear's steed was a red-with-black-racing-stripes 1.4 Beetle. Distance from Bonifacio Global City to Cintai (Corito's Garden) in Lipa, Batangas, and back was a total of 137.1km.
Under the sloping hood of the Beetle is a gasoline-fed 1.4-liter TSI engine that is twin-charged, meaning it has a supercharger and a turbocharger that work together to eliminate any form of turbo lag. Acceleration is rapid when putting the pedal to the floor, so it was tempting to just forget about the eco-run aspect and enjoy a quick drive to the turnaround point. We decided to drive normally, though, and were shocked at the results.
We managed a very impressive 16.32km/L. Of help was the cruise control, which I had set to 90kph when the highway opened up. And I'm sure the shift-shock-free seven-speed DSG transmission also played a role in keeping consumption down. My eco-driving secrets? Just gentle acceleration and preserving momentum. I wanted the results to be as realistic as possible without employing any eco-driving tricks. My closest rival managed 16.16km/L, while the third-placer delivered 14.76km/L. These figures are quite impressive for a car that can provide neck-snapping acceleration when you want it.
In the diesel-powered Polo and Touran categories, the results were very good. The winning Polo managed 30.47km/L, and the winning Touran delivered 21.93km/L. These numbers aren't unheard of. Trips to Baguio from Manila (and back) can be done with only half a tank of diesel, especially with very advanced diesel-injection technology at the driver's disposal.
Volkswagen Philippines marketing director Arnel Doria said it best: "Volkwagen's German engineers have always told us that they have excellent turbo direct-injection for the diesels, and excellent turbo stratified-injection for the gasoline engines. But we wanted to check these claims against our local road conditions and the quality of our fuel. What we did today is confirm that what the engineers say is really true. By doing this, we and our customers are able to prove that Volkswagen cars are fuel-efficient."
Events like this are also excellent ways to get customers involved. Emmanuel Mariano chose a Beetle because it is his wife's dream car, and he brought his entire family along. "It is all fun--no need for a contest, really," he said. "It is great to hang out with other VW owners."
Niño Sinco is very happy with his Polo, and he is pleased with how Volkswagen Philippines is doing things like this. "The brand is re-entering the market, and the efficiency of the newer models is really amazing,” he shared. "When I heard VW was arriving, I decided to wait instead of getting a gray-market Beetle." Niño is also an owner of 1960 Beetle, so he is a bit of a fan.
We're sure more customers will be looking forward to eco-driving events in the future. And it really would be great to see more VWs on the road. They really are efficient.