Raymond D. Young / courtesy of CAGI | December 09, 2008 00:00The top-of-the-line Subaru Impreza WRX STI was awarded by the Car Awards Group, Inc. (CAGI) as the Philippines' Petron 2008 Car of the Year. This is solid proof that this sports sedan won the hearts and minds of the group of motoring journalists from different print, broadcast, and online media.
The Subaru Impreza WRX STi bested other 85 vehicles tested in the weekends of October in a controlled testing facility at the Clark Expo, Angeles, Pampanga. With a 300 Hp 2.5 liter turbocharged engine and the rally-proven Subaru All Wheel Drive System on board, this sports sedan possesses unparalleled handling and cornering characteristics. Aside from being Car of the Year for 2008, it is also bestowed the Best Sports Car award.
Joining the STi in the winners' stable are 19 other vehicles, which have garnered top honors in their respective categories. For the basic sub compact car category, the diminutive Kia Picanto DLX Hatchback have bested other vehicles in this segment, thanks to its 1.1 liter engine and an attractive exterior and interior package. The competitive executive sub compact category, on the other hand, was won by the Toyota Vios, the winning variant being the 1.5 G M/T guise.
As a surprise to everyone who was at the awards night venue, the Hyundai i30 won the compact car segment, beating other established Japanese marques. This European- designed hatchback with a fuel-efficient 1.6 liter CRDi engine was undisputedly the darling of the motoring press for this segment. The similarly competitive midsize segment was won by the all-new Mazda 6 sedan. With new exterior and interior appointments as well as a new 2.5 liter engine, the Zoom-Zoom tradition of building cars is undoubtedly carried over to the entirety of Mazda's vehicle line-up, including its midsize offering. The Best Luxury Sedan award, meanwhile, was won by the Mercedes Benz C200, which has again boasted technological and engineering marvels as always expected from this German moniker. Not to mention being fuel-efficient too.
Moving on to the Crossover and Wagon segment, the 2WD division was won by the Mitsubishi Outlander 2.4 CVT variant. The only SUV in its class with a continuously variable transmission, it not only promises to be capable with diverse duties but also fuel efficient as well, especially in these trying times. The 4WD division was won by another Subaru, the Forester 2.5 XT. Boasting an engine and drive train similar to its Impreza sibling, the Forester offers a great alternative for those who wanted the Impreza but needed more interior space. The Best Luxury Crossover on the other was won by the Volvo XC70 D5, beating other vehicles such as the Mazda CX-9, Dodge Journey, and Subaru Tribeca. The Best Ultra Luxury Crossover was won single handedly by the Mercedes Benz ML-Class Edition 10, proof that Mercedes Benz is still king when it comes to Luxury.
The highly competitive Van/MPV and People Mover segment nominees are a very diverse set as well. At the end of the day, it was Kia's Carens and Carnival LWB (Long Wheelbase) which won the Compact Van and the Luxury Van segments, respectively. The value-for-money Carens has interior comfort and space that is a leader in its class and its CRDi engine definitely is a sipper. The Carnival, meanwhile, boasts of seating for 11 people while keeping its low-floor, minivan profile, which is a plus especially for older people and children. Nissan's Grand Livina MPV offering garnered the executive MPV category. With its 1.8 liter engine and six-speed manual transmission (a first in its class) and seating for seven, the Livina truly is another versatile people mover that deserves a second look.
Moving on to the pick-up category, it's the Nissan Navara 4x2 M/T which won the 4x2 segment. With a class-leading output and torque of its 2.5 liter common rail diesel engine and six-speed manual transmission, it promises to again lead the pack in the segment that it once conquered. The 4x4 category, on the other hand, was won by the Toyota Hilux G A/T. With a proven 3.0 liter diesel engine and a highly sturdy chassis and drive train, this new Hilux iteration joins its predecessors in continuing to be the king of the off-road.
The dominance of Mitsubishi in the realm of SUVs is solidified by its another win, this time the Best Executive SUV Award by its Montero Sport 3.2 GLS Sport. This all-new SUV bested its lone rival, the very perennial Toyota Fortuner. The clincher this time, in favor of the Montero Sport, would be its all new design, both in and out, as well as its 3.2 liter diesel engine that is shared with its larger Pajero sibling. SUVs from the other side of the globe proved to be winners as well, with the Jeep Commander dominating the Luxury SUV category and the Ford Expedition winning unchallenged in the Ultra Luxury SUV class. The lone entry and winner for the Exotic SUV category was the Range Rover Sport TD V6.
The 2008 Car of the Year Awards Night was also the time to give out Special Awards. The AAP Road Safety Campaign was won by Toyota, with its comprehensive activities and initiatives that aim to promote road safety awareness. The Bridgestone Best Handling award was given to the 2008 Car of the Year, the Subaru Impreza WRX STi. Mercedes Benz was once again recognized as a technological pioneer in car technology as it was bestowed the Best in Technical Innovation Award for its Innovative Lighting System. Hyundai garnered two special awards: the first goes to the i10 being the recipient of the SpeedLab's Tuner's Choice Award, and also having the Best Media Launch. Ford, on the other hand was commended for its Alternative Fuel Campaign, with most of its vehicles capable of accepting ethanol up to 20% for its Focus FlexFuel, and up to 85% for the Ford Explorer. For the frugal ones, it's nice to know that the Chery QQ subcompact won the Most Affordable Car Award.
In the visual and aesthetics department of the Special Awards, Concept One's Sexiest Car went to that svelte ragtop they call the Mazda MX-5, while the most attractive SUV goes to the Chevrolet Tahoe. Merits of Participation were also given to the Jaguar XF/XKR and the Chrysler Town and Country 3.7 minivan.
For the first time in five years, CAGI also recognized the immense contribution of the living legend of Philippine motor sports, Pocholo Ramirez. He has spent more than half of his lifetime contributing to the advancement and betterment of Philippine motor sports of all forms, as well as bringing honor to this country by winning various races abroad. His eldest son, Kookie Ramirez was present on the awards night to accept the award on his behalf.
The Petron 2008 Car of the Year Awards Night was held at the One Esplanade on November 19, 2008 and is sponsored by Petron Corporation, Manila International Auto Show, Bridgestone, Automobile Association Philippines (AAP), Standard Insurance, C! Italian Fine Dining Restaurant, Clark Development Corporation (CDC), SpeedLab, Landcraft Adventures, and Sycip, Gorres, and Velayo (SGV) as the group's Audit and Accounting partner.