For 2018, Volkswagen is entering a new era in the Philippines. The German automaker has launched not one, not two but five all-new models for the country. Each of these cars are set to take on the B and C-segment, along with the crossover class.
The new VW Philippines range consists of the Santana, Santana Plus, Lavida, Lamando, and the long-wheelbase Tiguan. Encouraged by favorable tariffs due to the implementation of the ACFTA (ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement), VW Philippines has started sourcing new models from China.
Starting with the Santana and Santana GTS, these cars are the brand's entries in the volume-selling B-segment. The standard Santana is a sedan and similar in form to the Polo Notch. Once out, it is set to go out against the likes of the Toyota Vios, Honda City and Suzuki Ciaz to name a few. Volkswagen also announced prices for the Santana and it starts at Php 686,000 for the entry-level, manual-equipped model. The automatic will be introduced later this year. Power comes courtesy of a 1.4-liter gas engine.
As for the Santana GTS, Volkswagen markets it as a station wagon, featuring an extended rear section for a larger cargo floor. It's also worth pointing out that this model is the only station wagon present in the B-segment. Engine size is slightly larger than the sedan at 1.5-liters and it comes with conveniences such as a six-speed automatic and cruise control.
Moving up to the C-segment, Volkswagen Philippines introduces the Lavida As a lower-priced alternative to the current local Jetta. Essentially, it is the brand's entry-level C-segment sedan but comes equipped with niceties like a sunroof and automatic climate control. As for looks, it is reminiscent of the US-spec Passat, albeit in a smaller size.
Volkswagen takes a two-pronged approach for the C-segment by offering the Lamando in the Philippine market as well. In terms of positioning, the Lamando 280 TSI is in middle of the C and D-segment and serves as the more upmarket offering among the five new cars. A half panoramic sunroof is standard and is packed with features seen in more upscale executive sedans. It gets turbo power too courtesy of VW's 1.4 TSI engine and it shifts via a dual-clutch transmission.
For the vital crossover segment, Volkswagen Philippines is now offering a stretched version of the Tiguan. The Tiguan 280 TSI is the previous-generation model with a couple more inches put in the middle for a longer wheelbase. No diesel power for this model; like the Lamando, it uses VW's 1.4 TSI engine mated to a dual-clutch transmission.
This is a particularly important for Volkswagen as the China models trickle through the rest of the ASEAN region. The pilot shipment was actually made to the Philippines as early as January 2018 and the result is an overhauled local range. Volkswagen targets to deliver several thousand cars to customers annually in this region in the years to come.