It’s been a norm every end of the year that we list down something. Oftentimes it’s a 10 best of a certain category, or an overall list like this. But for this year, my editor and I talked about doing things a bit differently. It’s not going to be the best of the best and instead, the cars that stood out for us personally.
They are listed here in no particular order, not even in a ‘what came to mind first’ arrangement. Anyway, here are the 10 cars that we find particularly interesting that they live rent free in our heads.
Hyundai Stargazer X
The Stargazer X was surprising in two ways. One, I didn’t think Hyundai would put out a gnarlier version of the Stargazer, and two, Hyundai Motor Philippines was quick in bringing it in the country.
Despite having the X factor and positioned as the more raunchy iteration, the Stargazer X is still relatively reserved in its styling. The grille may have been new and 3D, but it’s not outlandish. There are new silver diffusers front and back, new design on the wheels, and larger overfenders on the wheel wells, but overall the Stargazer X still looks classy.
Good styling can only take a car so far, that’s why Hyundai made sure the Stargazer X’s interior can outshine the regular offering. There’s a new piano black housing for the unified digital gauge cluster and touchscreen while the leather seats get red stitching and piping. What really elevates the functionality of this MPV is the availability of the electronic parking brake with auto brake hold which will surely alleviate a lot of fatigue during traffic this month.
Toyota Yaris Cross
The first-ever Toyota Yaris Cross seems to do it all. This baby RAV4-looking crossover is sized smack in the middle of the Raize and Corolla Cross giving you a comfortable space. It’s not too tight when full of five people, nor is it too large when driven alone.
Even in its base form priced at PHP 1.199M, you’ll get nice bits like LED Lighting, Power Folding Mirrors, Automatic Aircon, Wireless Apple CarPlay, 6 Airbags, and Front Sensors. Move up in variant and you’ll get Leather Seats, Panoramic View Monitor, and Toyota Safety Sense that includes Pre-Collision System, Lane Tracing Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control among others.
Not satisfied with the creature comforts they’ve given you, Toyota went ahead and made hybrid powertrain available in the Yaris Cross for those who like to go greener. It has more than enough power and torque to give you better fuel efficiency during Christmas traffic in the city. There are also exclusive bits like 6-speaker Pioneer sound system, EV driving mode, and Panoramic Sunroof in this hybrid form.
This one isn’t officially available here in the Philippines yet but we included it anyway. Chery Auto Philippines is becoming more and more confident in their electrified offerings that in the last Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit, they previewed the EQ7, their first full-electric offering that will be officially brought here.
Chery went out of their way to create this contemporary fully electric SUV and make it unique. Its chassis is made of aluminum and magnesium alloy, making it lighter but just as sturdy as plain steel. Its battery has the highest waterproof protection at IPX9K and is protected with dual armor. It’s also fitted with Level 2+ autonomous driving which means its advanced driver assist features are more than the standard lane keep systems and adaptive cruise controls.
The former subcompact crossover left the country a few years back, but has now returned sharper than ever. The all-new Chevrolet Trax is bigger, bolder, and has more flair than its predecessor in all areas. It comes standard with a 1.2-liter engine that puts out 133 horsepower and 220 Nm of torque, sending power to the front wheel via 6-speed automatic.
While the former is reminiscent of the brand’s muscle cars, this all-new Trax is anything but. It has its own look that’s distinct from its Tracker and Trailblazer brothers. It has a slim DRL with relatively small headlight assembly underneath, while the rear has a unique C-shaped taillight outline that isn’t intrusive to the tailgate.
Inside is a generous space for all occupants as the driver will enjoy the driver-centric layout of the dashboard. Now of course, it will come with a digital gauge cluster, Apple and Android, and Electronic Parking Brake. What really makes the Trax desirable is its array of safety features. All three variants come standard with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems like Panic Brake Assist, Rollover Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, and Enhanced Front Pedestrian Detection among others.
At first glance, it looks like a Lamborghini Urus. If you squint your eyes small enough and look at its red color, it’s similar to Iron Man’s mask, sans the gold accents. Then open your eyes wide to appreciate just how menacing the Jetour Dashing is. Walk to its rear and it would tell you another story – how this crossover is just ready to go anytime you want to.
It runs on a 1.5-liter turbo engine that makes 155 horsepower and 230 Nm of torque, paired to a 6-speed dual clutch matic. It won’t roar like a sports car, but it’s definitely more fun than a similar sized engine without a turbo.
But if that’s not up to your liking, the cabin will definitely pull you in. There are well-bolstered seats up front, accompanied by a minimalist dashboard that’s highlighted by the floating 12.8-inch touchscreen. Then there’s the 2-spoke steering wheel that’s not only unique, but further takes the futuristic aesthetic to the next level.
I don’t think anyone doubted if Nissan Philippines can bring the new Nissan Z here in the country. If they can have the Patrol, GT-R, and Leaf here, why not the Z right? What’s surprising is it only took them a little over a month from the global launch to bring it here.
The iconic Z is back in the Philippines to take drivers away from its Japanese high performance rivals. This 2-seater fastback has a modern retro design that utilizes all the classic elements from iconic generations of the Fairlady. Among them are the elongated headlights, the horizontal bars for the taillight patterns, and the circular accents in the cabin, particularly the trio of gauges at the center of the dash.
Powering the Nissan Z is a 3-liter Twin Turbo V6 that puts out 383 PS and 475 Nm of torque. It sends power to the rear wheels via 9-speed automatic with manual mode, or 6-speed manual with EXEDY high-performance clutch that both come with rev-matching.
It’s not all speed though as it comes fitted with the latest suite of Nissan Intelligent Mobility. This includes Intelligent Cruise Control, Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, and Blind Spot Warning among others.
Fully electric vehicles continue to be introduced into the country one by one. The caveat is most of them are from premium brands. If we want EVs to be adopted more widely, it has to trickle down in price, same with how smartphones did back in the 2010s.
MG did just that with the MG4 that they brought in this year. It will surely start a ripple effect with its PHP 1,468,888 starting price which lands in the same arena as some mid-end crossovers and entry-level hybrids. It has the thinnest battery in its class but can still eke out 350km for the STD variant and up to 435km for the LUX trim.
Its styling is distinct inside and out. There’s a sharp array of LEDs for the headlights, and a low grille between the vertical DRLs. The rear makes the MG4 more unique with its protruding lightbar, same with the spoiler, giving it Gundam vibes despite not being Japanese in any way. Inside there’s a very minimalist dashboard with a smaller than usual gauge cluster and a tray-like housing for the shifter and e-brake. Visually and physically, there’s a lot of space in the cabin of the MG4 which you’ll definitely appreciate if seen in the metal.
There might have been a change in name from XV but the Subaru Crosstrek retains its essence – a crossover for the outdoors. It looks more aggressive in styling thanks to the bigger body cladding in all sides of the car. Lighting was also improved with the availability of steering responsive headlights and cornering lights, so your way is lighted no matter where you’re headed.
It’s still as roomy as ever, but the familiarity ends there. There’s now an 11.6-inch touchscreen at the center of the dash that occupied the space for the aircon controls, leaving the fan control a dedicated space on the screen. Other new bits include USB-C ports front and back, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as new seat contours to keep you more in place during the drive.
There’s still no replacement for displacement as Subaru made use of its 2-liter boxer engine that sends power to all four wheels via Lineartronic CVT. This is complemented by the EyeSight4.0 system that now comes with Automatic Emergency Braking that can steer the vehicle away from potential collision. That alone gave the Crosstrek a deserved spot in this list.
Suzuki S-Presso AGS
There have been a lot of significant movements in the car market in the Philippines but most of them happened beyond the million mark. Suzuki Philippines made strides of their own in the smaller and more attainable segment with the new S-Presso AGS.
They’ve finally granted the wishes of S-Presso fans by giving the small hatchback an automatic transmission. It’s not a 4-speed or a CVT but their own Auto Gear Shift that combines the benefits of a manual and an automated clutch so that there’s only two pedals to operate.
S-Presso fans would’ve been satisfied with that but Suzuki went ahead and gave them more. They brought the S-Presso away from its bare bones characteristic and gave it contemporary amenities. This includes Power Adjustable Mirrors, Engine Auto Start Stop function, Electronic Stability Program, Steering Wheel Audio Controls, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the infotainment touchscreen. Entry level hatchbacks definitely can have some flair too.
They say your only true competition is yourself and that’s true, in a way, for Mazda. It’s perfectly captured in their new CX-90 that flaunts the balance between performance, comfort, and luxury in one package.
It’s more minimalist than before at first glance. The headlights are slimmer, there are less contours, but the elongated taillights give a nice leading line to the relatively small Mazda logo at the tailgate. Inside is a luxurious combination of Nappa leather, Leganu suede inserts, and handcrafted materials complemented by generous space for all occupants. The CX-90 is available as an 8-seater or a 6-seater with captain seats on the second row.
Apart from its opulent styling and cabin, the CX-90 sets itself apart with its electrified engine. The 3.3-liter inline-6 is paired to a 48-volt mild hybrid system that together punches out 284 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque. You’ll be glad to know that despite the mild hybrid moniker, this crossover has the benefit of being exempted from number coding. That’s because its electric motor is placed between the engine and the transmission, meaning it has the ability to move the car on pure electric energy alone despite its small capacity.