With launches, drives and events happening all year round, 2015 has been very eventful for all things automotive. Over 20 cars entered the local market this year, and cumulative sales will reach a new all-time high (and the traffic along with it). Many new players came into the industry, like Mahindra and even Aston Martin. Social media exploded with all kinds of events, viral videos, license plates not being served, road rage scandals, and the like. And we also celebrated our 15th year. So yes, overall, we've had a busy time covering everything that's happened in 2015.
But it's time for us to recall the year that was and see which cars, trucks, SUVs, events and drives really impressed us in their own unique ways.
AutoIndustriya.com Editors' Choice 2015: Motoring Event
When Toti Zara (Nissan Philippines, Inc. president) kicked up dirt when he challenged other brands to bring on the truck wars, we didn't think he would take it so literally.
This was the kind of driving you only see on YouTube, particularly if you search for Dakar Rally. The thing is, this was Ilocos Norte, more specifically the sand dunes of La Paz, and Nissan took us there to max out their newly launched Navara pick-up.
The dunes proved to be the perfect stomping grounds for a well-sorted truck. We jumped at the experience because, quite frankly, you'd have to fly out to places like Dubai to drive on dunes as fast as this, get sideways and kick up so much sand.
AutoIndustriya.com Editors' Choice 2015: Destination Drive
We've driven to many parts of the country before, but this is our first time on these roads outside of Bacolod. The provincial highways, the winding mountain roads, the rough dirt paths (yes, dirt), and the scenic coastal vistas of one of the lesser seen parts of the country were all made fun behind the wheel of the BMW Active Tourer.
We thought BMW could have fallen off their rockers with the 2-Series Active Tourer; the first front-wheel drive model that the company (known for front-engine, rear-wheel drive vehicles) has ever released. But after spending some time with it on the roads of Negros Occidental, it started to make sense. And the punchy nature of the turbo engine made it even more so.
Honorable Mention: Subaru Eco Adventure Drive
Subaru vehicles in Pampanga
We're no strangers to the lahar beds and Sacobia River in Pampanga, having traversed both with ladder-frame 4x4 SUVs, pickups, and even Polaris UTVs. Yet we hadn't counted on Subaru to take us to the same proving grounds with their showroom stock crossover cars.
The event began with a fuel economy run in the highway, before heading out to the muddy stuff. This was all in the midst of a typhoon, mind you, when water levels were at their highest. Subaru remained undaunted and pushed through with the event, impressing us in the process, by tackling the same 4x4 trails, at much higher speeds, with their vehicles, using nothing more than the built-in X-mode all-wheel program to tackle the terrain. A professional instructor even crossed the Sacobia River to demonstrate that an XV can hold its own alongside a Land Rover Defender.
AutoIndustriya.com Editors' Choice 2015: The Cars
Nissan NP300 Navara
The Navara stands here as the only pick-up truck; an unusual accomplishment because trucks are usually based on a very tough but often rudimentary formula, which usually affects how they drive and ride.
Nissan turned that on its head a bit, creating a truck that defies the prevalent theory that Asian pick-ups must have leaf springs in the back. The result is the revolutionary coil-sprung NP300 Navara; a truck that blends the modern conveniences of executive cars (ride, features, feel) with the capabilities of a pick-up.
The truck drives and rides with a balance unheard of in its class, and that's a winner in our books. Our pick of the litter is the 4x2 with the automatic gearbox — a great all around truck.
The Honda Mobilio deserves its spot here simply because of what it offers the consumer. Honda took the Brio platform, stretched it a bit, put in seven seats and a 1.5-liter engine to make a neat little MPV.
On these roads and with our population growth rate, a small seven seater really will fit the bill. Practical, efficient, and with Honda's reputation for reliability, quality and a solid drive, the Mobilio should be high up the list for small (or even medium) size families all around the country.
The latest Mazda MX-5 is really the distillation of the brand's soul. The driving position is perfect. The handling is superbly tuned. The chassis feels stiff, the steering makes you feel connected to the road. The power is just right. The drop top makes the car lighter overall. And it's efficient too. We think we could do without the idle auto start/stop and capacitive charging system, but we don't mind it all too much.
Fun, exhilarating, light, and pure in every respect, the new MX-5 is a testament to their goal of building a true driver's car, bar none.
The Ford Everest represents a redefinition of the pick-up passenger vehicle category; it's a full level up from what was previously expected in the class.
Ford really went for the full court press with the Everest, covering every base and then some. Upscale yet rugged design? Check. A premium interior? Got it. Advanced engines and gearboxes? Yes. Features befitting the more expensive models? Done.
Given all that, it comes as no surprise that the Everest racked up some impressive sales numbers as it arrived at a time when the two leaders in the PPV category were still working on their own contenders.
One true standout car of 2015 has to be the Mazda2, especially the hatchback. Mazda really was building up to come out with the 2 with two very strong showings in the 3 and 6.
Take it on an open mountain road and it will deliver; even so on a technical racetrack. The 1.5-liter SkyActiv motor is great to play with, as well as the 6-speed automatic which actually has a normal drive mode as well as a sport program. Mazda built a practical little car that drives and handles like a dream; light, quick, efficient, and no nonsense, just the way we like it.