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The top 10 cars that hogged the headlines in 2018

The automobiles that dominated the motoring front page this year

Because the year is drawing to a close, we’re doing clickbait articles just like the other websites recap articles to properly bid 2018 farewell. So here’s our first one, a list of the 10 cars that made the most noise this past 12 months. Take note that the ranking is not based on the vehicles’ sales numbers or performance capabilities or even value for money. Nope, this is just a simple countdown of the new rides which we feel got the most engagement from Filipinos (at least on social media) this year. They’re the cars that always got people liking and commenting and sharing—not to mention judging and mocking each other. In fact, the noise wasn’t always positive; some of these cars were discussed and analyzed in a not-so-flattering light.

Note, too, that these are just cars that made waves in the context of the local automotive industry. So you won’t find automobiles that bowed on the global stage, like the Mazda 3 or the Porsche 911.

Anyway, here is our list of the year’s top four-wheeled newsmakers, arranged from somewhat loud to Metallica-music loud. Feel free to disagree and make fun of our choices. It’s a free country.

Chevrolet Corvette. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

10. Chevrolet Corvette. Yes, this is several years late. Yes, the plain Stingray version is too expensive at P8,546,888. And yes, an all-new generation model is arriving in North America next year. Who cares? This is the effing C-O-R-V-E-T-T-E. Now available through the official distributor (The Covenant Car Company Inc.) and not via the gray market. We’re not complaining.


9. BMW M5. Okay, this car is admittedly on this list largely because of the man standing next to it in the photo. That, of course, is San Miguel Corporation big boss Ramon S. Ang, who enthusiastically faced customers and journalists one early Sunday morning to personally unveil a high-performance sedan that only a privileged few would be able to afford anyway. Consider the occasion his coming-out party as the new owner of BMW’s local distributor, and the M5 the poster car for all the good things he saw in the brand when he decided to be its Philippine representative.


8. Toyota Rush. Fans and critics debated whether this was an SUV or an MPV. The manufacturer insisted it was the former, so subcompact SUV it is. With the introduction of this model, the Japanese car company, which already owns some 40% of our market, tightens its grip on consumers looking for a practical family vehicle. It joins the Avanza, the Innova and the Fortuner in making sure that a devoted parent or a hardworking OFW will find something suitable for their family’s needs and budget inside a Toyota showroom.


7. Hyundai Kona. Finally, the popular Korean automaker has a subcompact crossover for our market, and it was welcomed warmly at the Manila International Auto Show. Stylish, decently appointed and reasonably priced, the Kona will figure prominently in the brand’s sales and marketing efforts in the coming years. Definitely a nice addition to an ultra-competitive segment.

Mitsubishi Xpander. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

6. Mitsubishi Xpander. This vehicle was the singular good thing going for the Japanese brand’s distributor this year. In a time when the importer went through a tension-filled management shake-up, its small MPV generated a lot of positive media mileage. Too bad the units arrived several months after the market launch. But all is well now: This car is killing it on the showroom floor.


5. Toyota Vios. When it comes to hogging the headlines, you can be sure that the bread-and-butter model of the country’s number one carmaker is right up there with the best of them. A car that sells thousands of units every month will always get the biggest slice of its assembler’s marketing pie. Indeed, Toyota produced a TV commercial for its best-selling subcompact sedan that starred Anne Curtis and Gerald Anderson. That’s the company telling everyone that it’s swimming in advertising cash it will exhaust all its available resources just to keep the Vios in the market’s consciousness.

Volkswagen Santana. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

4. Volkswagen Santana. This China-sourced subcompact sedan from the German automaker led the brand’s five-pronged product attack this year. And the market paid a lot of attention—thanks mostly to an incredibly low price tag of P686,000. While many individual customers hesitated due to the car’s manufacturing provenance, business organizations didn’t think twice about making the Santana their new fleet vehicle. Say what you want about this model not being 100% German, but its competitive pricing and too-good-to-be-true value for money will continue to appeal to practical buyers.

Ford Ranger Raptor PHOTO FROM FORD

3. Ford Ranger Raptor. We’d say this pickup truck was the second-most desirable vehicle among those that made the rounds in local motoring media in 2018. From the time it was first unveiled in Bangkok in February to the day it officially entered the Philippine market in September, the Ranger Raptor kept car buyers extremely excited. And with the excise tax exemption that the new TRAIN law extended to pickups, Ford was able to price this beast at an eye-popping P1,898,000. Expect to see a lot of this mean machine on the road in 2019.


2. Nissan Terra. Besides the Vios, this midsize SUV was the one new vehicle that benefited from a seemingly bottomless well of marketing resources. Which shows how important this model is to Nissan and to the brand’s product strategy in the Philippines in the foreseeable future. To be fair, the Terra is a good car on its own merits, but the nonstop advertising barrage that supported its launch guaranteed that SUV buyers would consider it alongside the more established competition.


1. Suzuki Jimny. Ah, what can we say? It speaks to this little SUV’s popularity that it’s at the top of our list even when it’s not yet officially available in our territory. Hands down, the Jimny was the most sought-after vehicle in the country this year. Bar none. If you noticed that we kept publishing articles about this mini G-Wagen, that was because the readers couldn’t get enough of it. It didn’t matter if it was a story or a photo or a video, as long as the post had the new Jimny in it, it was an automatic hit. Our Google Analytics kicked ass whenever we produced Jimny content. And then the consumer mania reached a fever pitch at the Philippine International Motor Show, where Suzuki teased the public with not one, not two, not three, but with a whole fleet of Jimnys. But since the distributor can’t launch the model just yet, it will be very interesting to see if the market’s appetite for the car can be sustained in the coming months.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 26 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.