After being formally introduced to the Philippine market, Eurobrands Distribution Inc. (EDI), the new exclusive importer and distributor of Peugeot cars in the Philippines, invited us for a media drive, featuring the model range they are offering locally... just to get a feel for what makes Peugeot unique.

Right after a quick breakfast and a brief introduction about Peugeot's features and technologies at Intercontinental Hotel in Makati, we set out on our drive to Subic. As expected, the vehicles instantly drew attention from fellow motorists traversing EDSA that morning. Given how congested EDSA usually is, it gave them more than enough time to ogle each and every model that Peugeot is offering here in the country. Judging from the way people stared at the vehicles, I can tell that most of them wondered what brand Peugeot, not to mention wondering how to pronounce its name, while some were surely amazed to see the French brand come back to the Philippines and actually run on our streets again.

As the journey continued, it is quite obvious that EDI did a good job on selecting the vehicles to offer the local market. The entire range perfectly suits our country's driving environment. All of them are diesel-fed except for the RCZ, and most are equipped with their own micro-hybrid start and stop system called e-HDI, which stood up outstandingly to its task while the group traversed Metro Manila. Meanwhile, Peugeot's expertise in manufacturing diesel engines certainly shows as the 3008 and the rest of the convoy cruised the highway and managed to easily do some occasional overtaking.

I was impressed with the Peugeot 3008 1.6 eHDi Active model that I drove all the way to Subic. The engine's smooth power delivery and refined sound can easily fool you into thinking it has a gasoline powered engine under the bonnet, while the ride and handling is stable and comfortable; a common factor among European vehicles. Although it is supposed to be Peugeot's entry level crossover, its interior says otherwise as it is packed with premium features like the retractable heads-up display, dual-zone cooling system, panoramic sunroof, and a decent audio system just to name a few.

As it is with all the other cars that you'll eventually own, I'm sure there's always something about it that you'll be needing to live with or will spend some time for you to get used to eventually. In the case of the 3008, specifically the 1.6-liter variant, it will be their six-speed 'automatically controlled manual transmission' that will make driving it for the first few times a bit awkward as it does not shift like your ordinary automatic, and has to be driven with a mindset and habits usually associated with true manual transmissions. For instance, you have to anticipate when the gear usually shifts, subsequently letting go of the accelerator to give the system time to select a gear before you step on the accelerator again.

After a quick lunch, our convoy went on a tour within the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and snuck in some photo op sessions in between stops which gave us time to take a look at and appreciate the rest of EDI's model lineup and their respective variants. There was also plenty of time to appreciate the Peugeot 508's impressive interior and the Peugeot 5008's third row seats that can definitely seat 7 people comfortably.

Last but not the least, the RCZ certainly spoke for itself, as Peugeot's lone sports coupe stood out among the convoy as nobody could resist looking at its sleek silhouette topped by a uniquely-designed double-bubble glass roof; no wonder it has been outselling the Audi TT in Europe. The RCZ is also expected to give the MINI Cooper S and the Audi A1 S-Line a challenging time in our market.

On the way back to Manila, I was reassigned to the 3008, this time I opted to be the passenger. I enjoyed its comfortable ride and since it was already getting dark, we also got to enjoy looking at the starlit sky through the panoramic sunroof.

Given the short amount of driving and seat time that I had with the 3008, I understand why EDI expects it to be their best selling model locally. Firstly, being a crossover helps as for the past few years this segment has been popular in the local market. Secondly, it's diesel-fed, which gives it ample torque to handle the body and for fuel economy. The last factor is the competitive price: the 1.6 eHDi Active model starts at just 1.480 million Pesos which will surely give the Japanese-branded crossovers a run for their money.

To sum it all up, Eurobrands Distributor Inc., led by their very well experienced President and COO Mr. Felix J. Mabilog, Jr., is armed with an impressive product lineup that aims to meet -perhaps even exceed- the standards of the savvy Filipino car buyer.