Anton Andres / Kelvin Christian Go, John Barney Biscocho | April 07, 2018 10:50
Highlights of the 2018 Manila International Auto Show
For the past 14 years, the Manila International Auto Show has served as a launchpad for some of the most important cars to hit the market. This year is no exception with the debut of over ten cars that you will probably see prowling the streets in the near future. Besides the new cars, there's the aftermarket scene and custom and classic car show in the adjacent halls. Really, MIAS has been one of the ways for manufacturers and enthusiasts alike to show the motoring public what is trending, and will be trending, in the years to come.
So what were the happenings during this year's MIAS? Read on.
Jaguar and Land Rover are back
After making a brief hiatus from the market, Jaguar and Land Rover are back. With a new exclusive distributor in the name of Coventry Motors, the British marque aim to make a new mark in the premium automotive market with their latest offerings for the Philippine market. Their new flagship showroom in Greenhills is set to open in the second half of 2018.
Ford makes some noise
Ford was relatively quiet last year with no all-new offerings at the time. The American automaker rectified that during this year's MIAS with two offerings straight from the USA. If you want your SUVs king-sized, Ford has got you covered with the launch of the all-new Expedition Limited Max. While it's ever so slightly smaller than a Chevrolet Suburban, you won't really notice it with its 'in your face' styling and sheetmetal that stretches over 5.6 meters long. It's got 385 horsepower too so you can expect quick acceleration from, what essentially is, a luxury suite on wheels.
If you want even more noise, Ford Philippines also debuted the facelifted Mustang. It gets sharper-looking front end, as well as hardware updates with that new ten-speed automatic. The biggest news however will be the delight of three-pedal enthusiasts, as well as those clamoring for a top-down. For the first time since the Mustang went official in 2012, the iconic pony car gets a manual transmission, as well as a convertible body. However, if you do want the coupe, you'll have to get the ten-speed automatic as the six-speed manual is exclusive to the drop top.
Hyundai goes guns blazing in 2018
Perhaps making the biggest bang during the show was Hyundai, with the introduction of four all-new models. Showing off the brand's new corporate look are the first-ever Kona, the hybrid Ioniq and new generation models of the Veloster and Santa Fe.
Hyundai covered both sides of the crossover spectrum with the subcompact and radically styled Kona and the fourth-generation Santa Fe. With crossovers being the hottest sellers worldwide, it's clear that the Korean automaker wants a bigger slice of the global market, as well as ours too. Hyundai says these sharp-suited high-riders will hit the road by the middle of the year.
Of course, Hyundai didn't leave out the driving enthusiasts with the launch of the second-generation Veloster. For those interested in the figures, this low-slung, aggressive-looking coupe makes 204 PS from its 1.6-liter, turbocharged direct injection engine, which should give peppy performance. Like the Kona and Santa Fe, these cars will be in dealerships by June.
Hope for hybrids?
While we're on the subject of Hyundai, there's a quiet revolution on their stand with the Ioniq. Hybrids in the past were relatively expensive, normally priced beyond the reach of the average consumer. The local arm of the Korean automaker aims to end that with their newest model. Why? At Php 1,498,000, it is the most affordable gas-electric vehicle in the market today (according to our buyer's guide). Could the Ioniq be the turning point for hybrids in the country? Well, it's definitely a car to look out for in the future when sales commence by November.
Crossovers and SUVs: Keep 'em coming!
Besides Ford and Hyundai, other manufacturers rolled out their crossovers and SUVs, satisfying the ever growing demand for these vehicles in the country. Isuzu made the public debut of their 1.9-liter, Bluepower engined Mu-X while Foton showed gussied up versions of their Toplander. Of course, there's the Suzuki Vitara displayed to a wider audience while Subaru made the local debut of the updated Outback with Eyesight technology. Last, but definitely not the least, was Jaguar with the introduction of the E-Pace in the Philippines.
Growing segment: Mega vans
Sometimes, a standard van just isn't big enough (apparently). For the past couple of months, the large, high-roof van market is making its presence felt in the local market. The latest entry into this growing segment is Gaz with the Gazelle van line ranging from commercial purposes to ones with customized interiors. Of course, there were other makes that showed off their cruise liners on wheels. Hyundai reminded the showgoers of their H350 while Foton came up with the equally enormous Toano. Not to be outdone, Nissan (sort of) guested this year's MIAS with the Urvan Premium S with interior accommodations courtesy of Atoy Llave.
Despite the ever-growing popularity (and sales) of the crossover, MIAS saw the introduction of two all-new sedans. Chevrolet and Suzuki each showed that the good old four-door still has a lot of life left in them.
While the D-segment (mid-size) market wasn't as big as it was in the 90's, Chevrolet bravely launched the ninth-generation Malibu. The launch of the all-new Malibu came as a bit of a surprise since what was anticipated was the Cruze, the brand's entry in the C-segment crowd. Still, we're not complaining as the car appears to hold a lot of promise from its nine-speed automatic, first-in-class features and its 2.0-liter turbo mill. In essence, Chevrolet is saying there will always be room for a big sedan.
Conversely, the B-segment sedan market is going strong and Suzuki aims to capitalize on that with the Dzire. Formerly known as the Swift Dzire, Suzuki is taking a two-pronged approach in the B-segment market with their other offering being the Ciaz. It seems that, as the Ciaz moves up in price, the Dzire swoops in to take on the role of a more affordable small sedan. Suzuki says that they are aiming for the Dzire's pricing to stay under Php 700,000. It should be interesting how this strategy will pan out for the brand.
Major brands such as BMW, JAC Motors, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, and Mitsubishi Motors were also present with their newest offerings.
Local motorsports bounces back
Besides the new cars, MIAS 2018 saw the launch of two new racing series in the country. First is the Giti Formula V1 series and the other, the King of Nations drift series. Both are aimed to further grow motorsports in the country and, hopefully, bring in more aspiring racers to the track.
Formula V1 is an open cockpit, single-seat car made in partnership between TRS and West Cars Japan. The one-make series starts next month in the Batangas Racing Circuit with three more races on August, October and November.
King of Nations of the other hand is an international drift series that has been around since 2005 and has landed here. Headlined by drifters Luis Gono and David Feliciano, the series kicks off on May 25 at the Clark International Speedway. More local talents are taking part in the series as well.
Advancement in the Art and Science of Wheels
Philippine Aluminum Wheels goes one revolution ahead with the launch of its new 360-degree Flow Forged wheels which takes the local aftermarket product pride to new heights.
More than just showroom cars
The Manila International Auto Show features more than just cars. With the boom in infrastructure and business expansions, truck brands DAF, Foton, Isuzu, JAC, Jinbei, Tata Motors, and Ural also showed their latest and largest products.
As a MIAS tradition, world-renowned precision and stunt driver Russ Swift performed his tricks aboard the latest Subaru vehicles to the awes and cheers of the audience.