The Car of The Year-Philippines (CoTY-P) Awards Group recently began its second testfest at Forest Hills Golf and Country Club in Antipolo, Rizal.

The testfest began on three straight weekends, starting from January 14-15, 2006 up to January 28-29, 2006. The testfest featured over 20 vehicles from different marques and manufacturers, all rated and tested by COTY-P members from different broadsheets, magazines, TV shows and websites.

Following the same format of other internationally recognized Car of the Year awards, CoTY-P will only consider new or revised vehicle models sold between September 1, 2004 to December 31, 2005 as eligible to join the testfest. The different category winners from last year's CoTY-P testfest - if still being sold - are expected to defend their respective titles.

For the second testfest, models were classified into 11 different categories, all based on price following feedback from manufacturers, distributors and the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (CAMPI). The categories were the following: 1) Compact Cars (PhP 751,000 to Php 999,000); 2) Entry Level Multipurpose Vehicles or Entry Level MPVs (Php 1.2M and below); 3) Luxury MPVs (Php 1.201M and above); 4) Mini/Subcompact Cars (P 750,000 and below); 5) Pickups; 6) Executive Cars (Php1M-Php2.499M); 7) Luxury Sedans (Php 2.5M-Php 3.999M); 8) Ultraluxury Cars (Php 4M and above); 9) Entry Level Sport Utility Vehicles or Entry Level SUVs (Php 1.4M and below); 10) Luxury SUVs (Php 1.401M-Php 3.999M); and 11) Ultraluxury SUVs (Php 4M and above).

The testsfest featured two phases; the first was an instrumented test where the entries were subjected to a 0-60 kph acceleration test, followed by a test of 60kph to zero braking ability. Each vehicle's performance is then recorded in a current model GTech meter and tabulated on a computer.

The second phase was a qualitative test where journalists drove each vehicle in a predetermined route around the Forest Hills Golf and Country Club. This was done to gauge matters such as ergonomics, ride, handling, ventilation, safety, audio system performance and visibility. The predetermined route within Forest Hills included realistic obstacles such as a cul-de-sac (to determine a vehicle's turning radius), extensive gradient changes, a 35-degree uphill slope (to determine torque), change-of-camber curves and speed bumps.

The first testfest weekend (January 14-15, 2006) focused on the compact car category. Although the defending champion (the Ford Lynx RS) could not be present because it was a discontinued model, Ford brought a one-two punch as the Lynx's hopeful successors - the Ford Focus 1.8L Ghia four-door and the Focus 2.0L Sport five-door. Other compact cars that showed up for the testfest were the Mitsubishi Lancer MX Limited, the Mazda 3 2.0R and the Mazda 3 1.6S five-door. Hyundai's Matrix CRDi showed up (and was rated/graded), but is slated to compete in the Mini/Subcompact Car.

The weekend of January 21-22, 2006 saw the Forest Hills Golf and Country Club play host to a bevy of MPVs. With the Asian utility vehicle (AUV) virtually extinct, CoTY-P saw it fit to subdivide the MPV/people Carrier categories into two - Entry Level and Luxury. This way, vehicles which used to be classified under the AUV category could still join. Likewise, with the entrance of high-quality, high-priced luxury MPVs, the group also found it appropriate to add an additional segment as not to completely penalize them from competing with more affordable models.


The entry level MPV category was a dieselfest, with the Hyundai Starex CRDi (defending champion in the Vans category in COTY-P's first testfest), the Isuzu Crosswind Sportivo, the Mitsubishi Adventure GLS Sport diesel (defending champion in the AUV category in COTY-P's first testfest) and the Toyota Innova G D4-D. Surprisingly, only two luxury MPVs took to COTY-P's call - the Chrysler Town and Country and the Mitsubishi Grandis.

Pickups and mini/subcompact cars were the order of the day on the weekend of January 28-29, 2006. The said weekend proved to be the toughest yet for COTY-P members, mainly because of the sheer number of vehicles involved in the test. For this weekend, the group had to shuttle a total of 11 vehicles to compete in the pickup and mini/subcompact categories. The last weekend of January also saw journalists take first crack at the new Hyundai Accent CRDi.

Five workhorses came to play in the pickup category - the Ford Ranger XLT (defending champion), the Isuzu D-Max 4x4 LS, the Mitsubishi L200 Strada GLX, the Nissan Frontier Titanium 3 and the Toyota Hilux G.

In the mini/subcompact car showdown, Honda brought a two-pronged attack to stake its claim in the said category - the Honda City 1.3L S and the Honda Jazz 1.5L VTEC. Not to be outdone, the seldom noisemaking Koreans brought out their own big sticks in the Hyundai Getz 1.1 GL and the Kia Picanto LX. And the presence of the Vios 1.5L G served notice that the road to the Mini/Subcompact Car of the Year goes through Toyota.

After a grueling straight three-weekend test fest, the CAGI members will take a break and testing will resume on the second week of February 2006. The unveiling of the Car of the Year - Philippines will be on March 29, 2006 at The Rockwell Tent, The Powerplant Mall, Makati City. The public unveiling of the winner will coincide with the opening of the Manila International Motor Show on April 6, 2006 at The World Trade Center, Roxas Boulevard.