The Volkswagen Lamando SEL reminds me of the iPhone 12 Mini

I have a personal affinity with this generation of Volkswagens because of their look. It’s so elegant and classy that even the Santana looks more expensive than it really is. With this Lamando, everything is a few notches higher. It sits low and wide, doesn’t have any trace of aggression or sportiness but has this mature demeanor that I really find attractive. What’s more, it’s this kind of design that has the potential to be timeless. It didn’t follow any trend and so it’s not compartmentalized to a certain era in design. I just really love it.

Looks can be deceiving though so I took it out for a drive. I want to know if it’s all a facade or if the Lamando has substance to back up its aesthetics.

Something was already off within a few seconds of starting the car. I found that the throttle needs a deeper press than what I’m used to when accelerating. This turned out to be a double-edged blade for the Lamando because at first, it made the car feel underpowered. It can be frustrating at low speeds especially in chaotic intersections where you want to insert your car in a gap to get through.

Later on, this mild delivery of power turned out to be an asset since it diminished abrupt surges of power unless I really floor it. Some won’t like it, since your quick overtakes will be done with your head not buried on the headrest, but for me I’d prefer that since it saves me that slight headache. It also wasn’t long before I got used to the throttle’s tendencies so the underpowered feeling quickly went away.

After that I’m off to race against the rush hour. Pre-pandemic traffic was making a comeback before ECQ and EDSA was unforgiving again despite the 2pm time on the clock. I was at ease while the Lamando crawled in Guadalupe since I was able to find my perfect driving position. Add to that the presence of the auto brake hold which made the stop and go traffic a lot easier on the leg. It helps that it operates like a human would so it’s very smooth in both engaging and letting go of the brake.

The Lamando further showcased its strengths once I got past the choke points of EDSA northbound. At speed, the throttle obeys your response quicker but still maintains the mild delivery that I’ve come to like. The nice cabin isolation and acceptable suspension allowed me to sit back and chill the rest of my way.

It’s only a bit irritating that the horn on the steering wheel is too stiff that it’s hard to make quick beeps – a necessary trait when navigating through the metro. Also the cover for the sunroof is too thin that when the sun is directly up, you’d really have to bump up your aircon.

I guess the mild power delivery was a proper investment because despite the relatively smaller 1.4L turbo engine with 150hp, the Lamando was able to run at 7.5km/l during the almost pre-pandemic traffic. Take it out on a Sunday morning and it’s a healthy 14km/l.

The Lamando will take care of its driver in and out of the city, from driving to safety tech. It has a 12-way powered driver’s seat, adaptive cruise control, 6 airbags, dual zone climate system, electronic parking brake with auto hold, front and rear parking distance control, rear camera, and tire pressure monitor among others.

There are small caveats though if you are a passenger. First, there’s no Android Auto. It has Apple CarPlay but won’t entertain the Google side of things. Second, there’s a slight issue with the backseat. It’s listed as a 5-seater but the backseat is molded for two passengers only since there’s a high almost-divider between the two. Sitting here would mean an awkward position during the ride and as 5’6 me tried, my head was two fingers away from the headliner. Any small bump and my head would touch it.

Speaking of space, it’s also the biggest quirk of the Lamando. This sedan is priced at P1,703,000 and poised to take on the likes of the Camry and Accord but its length is more like the Altis and Civic. Is it good or bad? Depends how you look at it, really. I see it as having a suit tailored for me. Not much gaps, but it’s the perfect fit and I’ll look my best with it. Besides, in a tight city like ours, the Lamando’s size is perfect.

The Volkswagen Lamando SEL reminds me of the iPhone 12 Mini. It has the latest tech but for the price, you can get other phones with much larger screens. However, the point of the 12 Mini is there’s a bunch of people out there who want the latest tech in a more handy package. It’s the same with the Volkswagen Lamando. Not everyone wants to be driven around in the backseat, nor would they want to haul a long sedan everywhere. They want something compact but has better amenities.

The Lamando is not a crowd pleaser. One would need to have a very specific set of needs and wants in a sedan for it to suit them and that’s okay. This is why we have options in the market. But if the Lamando’s classy looks, handful of nice tech, and really smooth drive checks all your boxes, then you’re in for a great treat.

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