Sedans, especially huge ones, are becoming a niche in the Philippines. That’s because of crossovers and SUVs. Simply put, with the price of compact and midsize sedans, you can already buy a crossover or even a full-fledged midsize SUV, which people perceive as bigger and come with a nudge in status.
But there are still those who love the great driving dynamics of sedans, myself included, and for us, there are still good choices in the market. One of them is the VW Lamando, and I drove one for a week for this review.
The Volkswagen Lamando can come in any color and it will still look exciting. It’s still straightforward and business-like, but it has a hint of sportiness that isn’t found in any other VW sedans sold in the Philippines. It’s like the small version of the Arteon – VW’s global flagship sedan – save for the astronomical grille, which is a good thing.
The Lamando comes with a lot of toys on the outside. VW armed it with a number of LEDs for lighting, while 17-inch alloys add to the sporty appeal as they look a bit bigger than what they really are.
The black sunroof affects the overall aura, though. I somehow wish that it continues down at the back for a more streamlined design. Another gripe would be the fake exhaust chrome outlines – a VW thing that should really go.
The Lamando’s no-nonsense dashboard layout is something that’s embedded in the automaker’s DNA. Controls are clustered together nicely while the materials used aren’t exactly plush but they don’t look cheap either. Soft-touch plastics are admittedly found, as well as a synthetic leather trim that lines the top of the dashboard. The leather-wrapped tiller felt nice to the touch.
One complaint in the cabin would be the relatively tall dashboard, which forced me to seat higher than what I’d usually prefer. Finding a comfortable driving position is also a challenge despite the electronic adjustments. Another gripe would be the extensive use of piano black plastics, which we all know don’t age well and are prone to scratches and fingerprint marks.
Beyond those, the Lamando has plenty of it whether you’re the driver, front passenger, or rear occupants. Three people would fit snugly at the back so long as the tallest one stands below 5’10” and with a medium build. Two would be nicer though, especially with the foldable center armrest with two cupholders. Trunk, on the other hand, is quite spacious as expected – two months’ worth of groceries and a standard-sized child stroller could fit without any issues.
Tech & safety
The Lamando is filled with tech features that owners will love. These include automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, climate control, brake hold, door locks, side mirror folding, and up/down windows on all fours. There are parking sensors on all corners, plus a good-looking rear camera display, shown on the clear 9.2-inch infotainment screen.
Speaking of infotainment, the Lamando comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless smartphone connectivity. The sound from the speakers is on average and could cater to most genres.
In its top-level trim, the Lamando comes with several safety features to keep the occupants from harm. There are seven airbags inside the car plus other standard features such as ABS with EBD, stability control, ISOFIX child seat tethers, seatbelt reminder for the driver and front passenger, tire pressure monitor, and proximity sensors.
Driving & handling
The Lamando is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter gasoline engine that makes 150 metric horses and 250Nm of torque. These are sent to the front wheels via a 7-speed DSG transmission, which is a dual-clutch gearbox in VW speak.
Despite the small engine, the Lamando proved that the small displacement wasn’t an issue – at least during high-speed runs. In the city, however, the DCT seemed hesitant to move from a standstill. That, and the lack of the turbo’s help at lower RPMs, makes for a challenging drive within the city.
At faster paces, the Lamando was a different animal. Accelerator responses were quick and composed, plus manual gear shifting through the lever has minimal lag; it’s a shame the car didn’t come with paddle shifters.
The Lamando’s electronic power steering was dynamic: light in slow maneuvers, tight in high-speed runs. Surprisingly, it has the cornering ability of a sporty sedan – almost flat at corners with very negligible body roll. It’s almost as if it has an adaptive suspension, but it doesn’t.
Probably the best trait of the Lamando is its exceptional ride quality. It leans towards the soft and comfortable suspension setup, able to absorb road imperfections without transferring the impact to its passengers. The NVH insulation’s superb at all times, too.
The VW Lamando wasn’t exactly thrifty within the confines of the city but it does impress with its numbers on the highway. During heavy traffic, it returned 7.7 km/l.
On the highway, with cruise control nailed at 90 km/h, the Lamando yielded 21.7 km/l, which was close to what a small sedan can do during expressway runs – and that’s with a bigger car with a wildly bigger cabin.
The VW Lamando in its SEL trim sells for P1,703,000. In comparison to its segment rivals, it matches the price point of compact sedans like the Honda Civic or the Mazda3.
However, keep in mind that the Lamando is bigger, ergo, has a bigger interior. Plus the fact that it also performs well and is equipped with usable features you’ll probably use daily.
That said, I can’t help but consider the Lamando an underrated nameplate. People aren’t simply buying into the nameplate simply because huge sedans are becoming a niche in the country (thanks, SUVs). But for the mode discerning buyers, you should definitely check out the Lamando.