In a recent celebration hosted for the motoring and economic media, Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation (TMPC or Toyota) had two good news bits to show to the public despite apparently trying economic times.

The first was TMPC's posting of 45,915 units sold in 2008, an all time high in any single year and assured the company of its seventh straight triple crown (number one in passenger cars commercial vehicles and overall sales). The sales figure based on Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) statistics - was complemented with a 36.9 percent overall market share and a two percent overall sales growth from 2007. The number one manufacturer in the Philippines tallied 18,323 passenger cars sold, while commercial vehicle sales reached 27,592 units. The bulk of Toyota's 2008 numbers crunch can be attributed to the sales of the following vehicles the Vios subcompact car (12,020 units sold, 38 percent growth), the Innova midlevel multi-purpose vehicle or MPV (10,000 units), the Fortuner midsize diesel SUV (5,588 units) and the Avanza entry level MPV (5,515). "We have also experienced an upward trend market share towards the last two months of 2008. Our November and December shares posted highest for the year at 42.2 percent and 39.6 percent respectively due to the strong sales of our Vios, Innova, Fortuner, Avanza, Hilux and Camry models, which are all leaders in their respective segments. We hope this trend continues but we are carefully reviewing our 2009 forecast with a conservative outlook," said TMPC first vice-president for vehicle sales Raymond Rodriguez.

Then there's the second good bit of news. The current Corolla is finally dipping into the 2.0L passenger car segment as an answer or perhaps THE answer - to the 2.0L Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Lancer, Ford Focus and the Mazda 3.

Retaining most of the features and design found in its outgoing 1.8L a/t sibling, the P 1.1 million 2.0 V Corolla can compete with the aforementioned cars while showing the segment that it's more than a "me wanna" player. The two liter four banger pumps out 140 hp and 189 NM of torque, aided by a four-speed automatic with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The headlights are now HID units, while the windshield has an auto rain sensor that turns on the wipers should the windshield receive a slight drizzle. The driver's seat has eight way power assisted adjustment (including lumbar support), and has a DOT Matrix multi-information display. And it has a push-button engine start feature similar to that on the 3.5L V6 Toyota Camry, requiring the key fob to be within the vicinity of the cabin in order to turn on the ignition.

When the country woke up the previous day, news from the World Economic Summit in Davos (Switzerland) indicated tough times globally. Both bits of news from the top global automaker albeit in a local setting showed that there's still bloom amid the gloom.