European cars are often perceived as unattainable for most Filipinos. But when Volkswagen Philippines recently unveiled its new 2018 models at the Shangri-La at the Fort, it sent a message that Volkswagen cars are now more accessible to Filipinos.
Volkswagen introduced five new models in its lineup: the Lavida 230 TSI DSG Comfortline, the Tiguan 280 TSI DSG Comfortline, the Lamando 280 TSI DSG Highline, the Santana GTS MPI A/T Comfortline, and the Santana MPI M/T Trendline (which was driven by no less than Ayala Corporation president and COO Fernando Zobel de Ayala onto the stage).
Bringing Volkswagen closer to Filipinos and other Asians seems to be part of the car brand’s strategy. In his welcome remarks, Volkswagen Shanghai’s FVP David Powels shared that these five new models were tailor made for Asian customers. The Lavida and the Santana have been particularly successful in China. The Lavida is currently the best-selling sedan in the Chinese market, while the Santana counts among China’s 10 best-selling models in 2017.
Physically, the five new models retain a distinct Volkswagen look with minimalist and conservative exteriors characteristic of German designs. Each one is immediately identifiable as a European car with the VW logo placed predominantly in the center grill.
More than physical attributes, Volkswagen’s new models address some peculiar Asian and Filipino requirements while delivering value for money.
The Santana has a 1.4-liter gasoline engine with a five-speed manual transmission, while the Santana GTS is powered by 1.5-liter gas engine with a six-speed automatic. The Lamando and Lavida both run on a 1.4-liter Turbocharged Stratifed Injection (TSI) gas engine with a seven-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). The Tiguan (a compact SUV) has a 1.4-liter TSI gas engine with six-speed DSG transmission. With power outputs raging from 90ps at 5,500rpm (for the Santana) to 150ps (for the Lamando and Lavida) at 5,000 rpm, the five models deliver modest power and speed. But who needs a very fast or powerful car in the Philippines, especially in traffic-congested Manila, anyway?
The price points for Volkswagen’s new models make them accessible for the Philippine market and more competitive against Asian car brands. Suggested retail prices range from approximately P690,000 (for the Santana) to P1.6 million (for the Tiguan).
Beyond the new models’ German quality and value-for-money specifications, Volkswagen added features that dispel the notion “European cars are expensive to maintain in the Philippines.”
All five models have a general warranty coverage for three years or 100,000-kms, whichever comes first. Volkswagen Philippines also offers a three-year warranty for paint and a three-year warranty for through-corrosion of the main steel body structure.
The periodic maintenance service (PMS) interval schedule for Volkswagen’s new models is required only once a year, or every 10,000 kms, whichever comes first. This is less cumbersome and more cost-efficient compared to the industry standard which requires PMS at 5,000-km intervals.
The Santana, Lavida, and Tiguan are now available at Volkswagen’s eight dealerships in Luzon and Visayas, while the Santana GTS and Lamando will be offered in November.
As the new Volkswagen models add to the growing lineup of VW in the Philippines, the brand’s direction toward practicality and affordability is likely to increase Volkswagen’s integration in the Philippines. It appears Mr. Zobel was being literal when he declared that “more Filipinos who are involved in their own passions — whether they be businessmen, adventurous outdoorsmen, millennials, or even everyday working men or women — can now own a Volkswagen.” This vision was reinforced by AC Industrials president and CEO Arthur Tan who sees Volkswagen as “crossing over many generations and economic classes” in Filipino culture.