An affordable European automobile brand, available in the Philippines. Who would’ve guessed, right? Now, why is that exactly? Well, it’s been a stereotype of sorts with car guys and car girls all around the globe that European cars, especially in the Philippine market, can become quite pricey and are the total opposite what one would consider sensible and economical.
Take a look at all the BMWs, the Mercedes-Benzes, the Audis, the Porsches - the list goes on and on. These names usually conjure up thoughts of performance, luxury, or both.
When it comes to Volkswagen however, they’ve decided to release an economy sedan here in the Philippines as a likely contender against the likes of the Toyota’s best-selling Vios subcompact sedan, as well as the Mazda 2, Honda City and the Hyundai Accent.
After all, Volkswagen has a history of producing economic daily drivers, and so the decision to field their own econobox in the Philippines market can be considered as a return of sorts to their more proletarian roots (Volkswagen literally translated as “People’s Car”) with the VW Santana.
The Volkswagen Santana 2020 MPI looks conventionally designed but what VW car isn't?
Now, let’s make things clear; the Santana isn’t exactly a new name. Aside from the 2018 release they also did here in the Philippines, the Santana nameplate goes as far back as 1982 and was mainly successful in China where it was first released, starting out as CKD (completely knocked down) units from Germany before eventually being manufactured on Chinese soil.
The name was retained for both the Brazilian and Japanese markets, while it was also marketed in North America as the VW Quantum, in Argentina as the Carat, and in Mexico as the Corsar, all before 2010. So we can say that Volkswagen has been a global brand all along, one with a well-grounded reputation.
Santana’s success in China paved the way for personal mobility being part and parcel of Chinese daily life. Both the old Santana and the new Santana MPI 2020 are built by SAIC Volkswagen, a joint venture between SAIC Motors of China and Volkswagen. SAIC Volkswagen has been building cars since the 80s and their cars are popular with the Chinese market for a reason.
Notice that the 2020 Santana resembles a number of cars available in the European market. It turns out that the Santana is based on the PQ25 platform, which it shares with at least three other models under the Volkswagen group: the Jetta, the Rapid and the Kamiq, the last two manufactured by VW subsidiary Skoda for the Chinese market.
So, if you are about to purchase a Santana as your next ride, it's worth reading our Volkswagen Santana2020 Philippines review done by Philkotse.com's car experts. Let's get started!
2. Volkswagen Santana 2020 Exterior
Looking at the 2020 Volkswagen Santana exterior, one notes that it hasn’t changed that much from its predecessor. Two character lines on the hood lead towards the minimalist grille, flanked by halogen headlights with integrated signal lights, while fog lights a hand’s span below the headlights complete the look.
Given Santana’s relatively premium stature among its rivals, a pair of LED headlights would have been more appropriate.
The 2020 VW Santana headlights integrating the signal lights
Straight lines dominate the Santana’s profile, running all the way to the rear end where you can find the average-sized trunk, flanked by bright angular brake lights and signal lights. All in all, the 2020 Santana reflects the design ideology of Volkswagen which can either be described as boring on one hand, while conventional, practical, and sensible on the other.
Volkswagen Santana 2020: Dimensions
The Volkswagen Santana 2020 isn’t by any means an old design, nor is it exceedingly modern. It sort of settles in between, an astoundingly sedate affair.
In comparison to its competitors in the local scene, the 2020 Volkswagen Santana MPI reminds you of that stoic, no-nonsense guy wearing a plain t-shirt and denim pants, furiously studying at the back row even as the cool kids are preoccupied among themselves in the classroom.
Don’t be bothered by that comparison, because the 2020 VW Santana MPI does have its share of admirers; those who’d rather have quiet reliability instead of bells and whistles. It’s also worth mentioning how Volkswagen Santana exterior reflects Volkswagen’s general attitude to vehicle design: conventional, simple, and functional. To us here at Philkotse.com, simplicity can also be a thing of beauty.
>>> Suggested car comparisons for further reference:
As with the exterior of the car, the 2020 Volkswagen Santana interior can also be called conventional, spartan even. The dashboard holds the typical controls you’ll find on a contemporary passenger car, set against a backdrop of relatively sturdy plastic; that is, an exercise in substance over style.
The three-spoke steering wheel is also very stark in its design, with the VW emblem, horn and not much else; the column can be adjusted for tilt. The seats are relatively comfortable, while the in-dash infotainment system has quite comprehensive functions, offering SD card, AUX-IN, and USB connectivity.
The dashboard of the 2020VW Santana MPI looks conventional but functional
And did we mention that the Volkswagen Santana interior comes with an optional 7-inch Blaupunkt touchscreen infotainment monitor? Now that’s cool.
Headroom and legroom for both front and rear seats are quite ample for Asian-sized occupants. Passengers in the back row have easy access to the centrally-mounted cabin light, two cubby holes on the interior door panels, and a cupholder between the two front seats. The Volkswagen Santanaalso comes with an optional sunroof; a rarity among subcompacts in its class.
The 2020 Santana comes with an optional sunroof. Cool!
How well does it drive? Well as you might expect, the 2020 VW Santana MPI’s capability on the road is fairly standard, in line with other models in its class; the Santana is neither a racer nor a grand tourer, after all.
The automatic transmission can be quite tentative and sluggish during uphill drives or when passing/overtaking other vehicles as it takes a bit of time to downshift. That conundrum can be solved with the Sport mode on the automatic variant, as the manual simply doesn’t have this problem.
The engine is a simple yet reliable 1.5L BlueMotion multiport injection engine, rated at 89 hp for the manual and 108 hp for the AT.
The 1.5L BlueMotion multiport injection engine under the hood of the Santana
These are plenty adequate for the Santana to reach highway cruising speeds. We would have appreciated a slightly more powerful engine option, but then again, hardly anyone buys a Santana to drag the strip. To complement the engine’s efficiency, the Santana comes with a 50-liter fuel tank, larger than its competitors, that practically guarantees extended range.
Despite the VW Santana MPI 2020 price point and apparently very functional overall feel and look, Volkswagen didn’t scrimp on its safety features. For starters, the 2019 Santana MPI is equipped with ABS, as well as a full complement of driver, passenger and side airbags on the top-spec Comfortline AT variant.
Another noteworthy safety feature is the ISOFIX latch system that you can use to secure child seats on board. The Trendline and Comfortline AT variants come with an Electronic Stabilization Program that uses speed and braking sensors to detect loss of traction, automatically applying the brakes where necessary. This can be useful in slippery terrain and other driving situations.
The VW Santana's Electronic Stabilization Program in action
>>> Visit our cars for sale section to extend your options to more affordable car deals
6. Volkswagen Santana Philippines Price
The VW Santana MPI 2020 is quite an attractive option within the subcompact segment; for the price, you get German engineering and reliability that will certainly last you a long time. It also comes in four different variants to fit a range of budgets and preferences.
To buy or not to buy a new Volkswagen Santana MPI?
In conclusion, we at Philkotse.com greatly appreciate the practicality and simplicity of the 2020 Volkswagen Santana MPI. As one of Volkswagen’s entries into the economy car market, we are glad that it came to the Philippines.
The more conservative styling is also a welcome change, at a time when increasingly radical and flamboyant designs are becoming the norm. As always, it is our pleasure to help consumers in choosing the most appropriate model for their needs and tastes; if you fancy yourself as the rather conventional type, you might enjoy the 2019 VW Santana. Thank you for reading and drive safe!
Cesar learned how to drive a car years before he got his license. Today, he's still looking for that perfect '90s Japanese coupe to drive into the sunset while listening to Crazy Little Love by Nuage. Also has a thing for badass off-road vehicles and weird engine swaps.