Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Manufacturer Press | posted January 16, 2012 16:44
Taking a peek at what was built with the Won and the Yen
So we've covered the upcoming cars from the land of the Euro and the Dollar, now its time to take a peek at what was build with the Won and the Yen.
For our generation, Japan has always produced the standard that many other manufacturers try to meet when it comes to cars. Don't count out Korea, however, as the brands that have emerged from the other Orient has been steadily gnawing at the heels of the Japanese automakers, improving their product quality, customer service and even driving excitement.
Regardless whether you prefer kimchi or tempura, there's a lot to look forward to in 2012 if you're in the market for a new car.
After a very unfortunate 2011, Honda is ready to make its comeback to the market this year starting with the launch of the face-lifted City. Honda Cars Philippines Inc. President and CEO Tatsuya Natsume also announced that they will be launching three more vehicles this year; the much-awaited 2012 Civic, and two more models which he says will be very unique. Honda will also be temporarily importing vehicles from Japan, this includes the Accord, Jazz and the new Civic starting next month.
Well, well. Mazda is about to get their zoom-zoom back as the Japanese automaker (locally under Ford Group Philippines) is set to release two all-new models: the Mazda3 and the CX-5.
Like with the upcoming Ford Focus and even the Fiesta, we've had to wait a while (about 2 years) to get our own crack at the next generation Mazda3. In terms of platforms, its the same as the first generation model (C1 Platform) but has a long list of improvements in design, engines and features.
What we will most likely get is the upcoming facelifted and updated Mazda3 which is rumored to arrive with SkyActiv technology for improved all-around fuel efficiency.
Another one will be the all new Mazda CX-5. If you remember the Tribute crossover, well, the CX-5 is reported to be a very different car altogether. It's a small crossover for 5 people, but gets a long list of high tech improvements which is headlined by SkyActiv. The car is styled around Mazda's Kodo, or soul of motion, design language and is powered by either a 2.2 liter turbodiesel or the 2.0 liter gasoline engine with 162 horsepower, the latter petrol engine being the most likely one to arrive.
Subaru is expected to go full throttle in 2012, as the Japanese niche automaker, represented locally by Motor Image, could be out with 3 new models.
First up is the all new Impreza. Revealed at the 2011 New York Auto Show, the 4th generation Impreza now gets a bold new look as well as an all new powertrain, combining for a claimed fuel efficiency improvement of up to 30 percent compared to the outgoing model. The all new Subaru Impreza is powered by an all-new 148 hp 2 liter Boxer engine, and comes with a choice of a five-speed manual transmission or a second-generation Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission).
More recently, Subaru released the new XV compact crossover at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The new XV crossover is geared for what Subaru calls an "Urban Adventure". The compact SUV gets a stylish design, both inside and out, as well as a new generation of boxer engines that come as either a 1.6 or a 2.0 liter, both of which are matched with a Lineartronic CVT. The XV also comes with an Auto Start-Stop System for better fuel efficiency.The new XV will be assembled in Thailand, so we can expect the pricing to be very competitive.
Last for Subaru is the BRZ, a compact sportscar developed with Toyota. The car is a pure coupe, and will be a front engine, rear-wheel drive layout, and will be getting Subaru's boxer engines. As of press time, the BRZ is currently being readied for its production model debut at the Tokyo Motor Show. STI, or Subaru Tecnica International (the brand's tuning arm) is already starting work on a high performance variant.
Out of the automakers on this list, Toyota has plenty on their plate.
Already the country's top car brand has launched their first car for the year with the all new Avanza, building on their lead in the MPV segment with two entries instead of just one. Also, expect the Toyota Innova to get a refresh this year, again to continue their dominance in the segment.
In the executive segment, Toyota is preparing to launch the all new Camry. In the past few years, the Camry (originally launched in 2006) has seen its lead diminish with the launch of the Sonata and the Accord. With a new model looming, Toyota seeks to re-establish the Camry as the leader in the segment. The Philippine market will be receiving the same Camry as Japan this time around, as opposed to rebadging the Australia-market Aurion for the Asia.
Another car that is destined for our islands is Toyota's side of the Toyo-Baru sportscar project, the 86. Like the BRZ from Subaru, the 86 shares the platform, engine and everything else with the Scooby. Hopefully the 86 comes soon, as Toyota, like Hyundai, could use a halo model to bring the fun back in the brand.
Toyota have already released the next generation Yaris in other markets, though it is still unclear if its coming here. The Vios is also due for a next generation soon, as the current 2nd gen model has been around since 2006, but there is no word yet as to whether a new model will be coming this year.
Nevertheless, 2012 is looking to be another great year for the Toyota brand with more new models for the daily commute or the fun weekend drive.
For Mitsubishi, 2012 is going to be an important one.
Already MMPC is doing very well with the Montero Sport and the Strada for the SUV and pick up categories, respectively. The Lancer is still priced too high to make much of an impact in the class dominated by the Altis, but soon Mitsubishi will be coming to the B-segment hatchback market.
At the Tokyo Motor Show, Mitsubishi gave the world a preview of what they will be launching for the B-segment with the reveal of the new Mirage. The new car focuses on maximizing its compact dimensions, affordability and high fuel efficiency to satisfy the needs of the entry level market. In addition, the Mirage features good maneuverability and easy drivability inherent to a compact car while also providing a comfortable interior space for five adults.
Most importantly, Mitsubishi claims that the new Mirage is projected to achieve 30 kilometers to the liter under the JC08 fuel economy cycle. Big claims, indeed, but if if can realistically do it, then its probably the best USP (unique selling proposition) in the class.
Nissan needs a breath of fresh air, and 2012 is looking pretty good. Locally speaking, there are two Nissans: one is Nissan Motors Philippines (for passenger cars, mostly) and the other is Universal Motors Corporation (for commercial vehicles).
A good possibility is the Nissan Almera, the brand's first official (as far as we can remember) B-segment car in the country. Produced at Nissan's plant in Samutprakarn, Thailand, the new car features a modern, stylish exterior with a spacious interior, and showcases Nissan's eco-friendly Pure Drive technology. The Almera is powered by a 1.2-liter, 3-cylinder engine with a maximum output of 79 PS and a maximum torque of 106 Nm.
It's still pretty much speculation for the Almera, as Thailand IS a right hand drive market, and the Philippines (and other LHD markets) will need economies of scale to justify production and competitive prices.
On the side of Universal Motors, Nissan has just launched the NV350 Caravan at the Tokyo Motor Show, signifying the next generation Nissan Urvan. The new van has been restyled, promises improved fuel economy, keyless push button inginion, a dash mounted shift lever and a foot-operated parking brake. The cargo area is 3 meters long. There is no specific date as to when it will arrive, but the Toyota Hiace Grandia and the Hyundai Grand Starex could sure use some competition.
Like Hyundai, Kia is revitalizing their entire lineup. The new family look of Kia is indeed modern, sporty and aggressive, and does set the brand apart from the rest.
So far, Kia has only one model for 2012, the all new Rio. It may just be one, but it is a very significant one, as it will be competing in the subcompact hatch and sedan categories.
The new Rio gets the latest in Kia's Tiger styling, starting with the grille. The Rio gets either a 1.2 liter or a 1.4 liter engine with 87 PS or 107 PS, respectively. Expect the Rio to go toe to toe with the Accent from Hyundai, the Vios from Toyota and the Fiesta from Ford.
The Hyundai brand is on a thunderous roll over the past few years. One successful model after another can do that for any automaker, and 2012 looks like more of the same from Hyundai as they have confirmed 3 new models.
One of them is the Eon, a compact city car. Designed by Hyundai's South Korea and India R&D centers, the Eon is targeted at entry level and first time car buyers, the Eon will slot under the i10. The Eon will be assembled at Hyundai's Chennai, India plant and could be powered by an 814cc 4-cylinder motor
Another model to be excited about is the upcoming all new Santa Fe. There are still no photos of the new model on Hyundai's press site, but expect the new Santa Fe to get Hyundai's new Fluidic Sculpture corporate design identity, coupled with a choice of gasoline and CRDI engines in a 7-seater compact/midsize body.
The third vehicle on the list is the Hyundai Veloster. It's been in other markets for a while, but Hyundai Asia Resources Inc.'s (Hyundai's official distributor) product planning officers were a little wary to bring in their first car with gasoline direct injection engines in a country with inconsistent fuel quality from station to station. Understandably so, as it wouldn't do them any good to bring in a model without proper testing first. Gray market reception has been good, and thus the Veloster will soon be at official dealers soon.