The year 2020 will likely go down in modern history as one big fender-bender for most people. Yet there are those who managed to walk out of that collision relatively intact, although with a slight concussion or shaken at the very least.
Most of 2020 had unpredictable turns for the automotive industry
As the automotive industry might be wont to say, the wheels just have to keep on turning. Automakers still found ways to churn out new releases despite the sordid reality we all found ourselves in. Some were delayed, while others were as promised. The momentum sputtered and lost traction at some points, but at least it never stalled.
Hopefully, the next year will see things getting back in the groove after a much-needed pit stop. In anticipation of that road to recovery, we take a retrospective look at the releases that made it in 2020.
Ford Philippines led the opening salvo with the Ranger FX4 variant, coming in two transmission options (manual and automatic). The FX4 distinguished itself largely through cosmetic enhancements such as a revised grille, blacked-out wheels, and leather seats. Mechanical underpinnings remained the same, and the initial 4x2 drivetrain was eventually accompanied by a 4x4 version.
Ford Ranger FX4
Mini introduced the Countryman and Clubman decked out in John Cooper Works guise, both running on a BMW-sourced 2.0L TwinPower engine capable of 306 hp and 450 Nm of torque. A new sport brake system was introduced to keep up with the powertrain, while convenience features include a Comfort Access system and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio setup.
BMW launched the all-new 1-Series premium hatchback, which now adopts the same platform used by Mini. Changes include a larger kidney grille on a chiseled fascia, as well as improved cabin space. Buyers can choose from a range of 3- and 4-cylinder engines, spanning both gasoline and diesel.
BMW 1 Series
The new BMW X1 also made its debut, sporting more or less the same aesthetics as the 1-Series. Despite updates such as bigger intakes and new alloy wheels, the new X1 is nearly a million pesos more affordable than its predecessor. However, the tradeoff is in switching from gasoline to diesel power, as well as ditching all-wheel-drive.
Mazda gave its top-spec CX-9 variant the Signature designation. Interior updates are more noticeable than the exterior tweaks, with cooled seats in Nappa leather and a revised instrument cluster. At least it gets a more powerful 2.2L diesel mill, reined in by new suspension tuning and active torque vectoring.
It’s the Everest midsize SUV’s turn to get a refresh, with the Trend 4x2 variant. With a 2.2L TDCi engine, it packs a little less power than its more upscale siblings, but at least the sticker price has been driven down somewhat. It’s smarter too, with a power tailgate and a new SYNC 3 infotainment setup. The top-spec Titanium trim gets upgraded LED lighting and updated 20-inch alloys.
Suzuki’s Ertiga MPV gets a refresh, a very subtle one by way of redesigned alloy wheels. The interior gets a revised color palette, adopting black throughout the range. Automatic climate control also comes to the range-topping GLX. For the most part, it’s still the spacious and frugal family ride that customers can look forward to.
Maxus added the T60 pickup to its local offerings, with a payload capacity of one ton and able to wade through 800mm of water. The 2.8L diesel with variable geometry turbo isn’t the most powerful in the market, but the 5-year/100,000-km warranty somehow compensates for it.
Nissan unleashed the 370Z for the Philippine market, packing 332 horses from its 3.7L V6 engine. The Nismo variant followed suit, boasting an even higher 360 hp and 371 Nm of torque, coming in both 6-speed manual and 7-speed automatic gearbox options.
Mitsubishi Motors brought in the Xpander Cross, a sportier version of its standard Xpander MPV and replacing the GLS Sport trim in the hierarchy. The model carried more body cladding in line with its more activity-oriented positioning, and had LED headlamps that were soon adopted across the entire Xpander range. Despite the raised ground clearance and bigger wheels, its engine and transmission remained the same.
Mitsubishi Xpander Cross
Mitsubishi also launched the Strada Athlete, which is a more stylish version of the regular Strada pickup. Black trim pieces on the grille, door handles, and 18-inch wheels gave it a more aggressive look, accompanied by body graphics. As far as performance goes, it still ran on a 2.4L turbodiesel engine mated to a 6-speed automatic.
Subaru unveiled the Forester GT Edition, coming in with aero tweaks on its Subaru Global Platform body to assist the standard 2.0L boxer engine’s output of 154 hp and 196 Nm of torque. The trademark Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive System continues to make an appearance, as does the EyeSight suite of driver-assist safety features.
Geely launched the follow-up to its successful Coolray subcompact crossover with the Azkarra, introducing its mild hybrid technology paired with the 1.5L 3-cylinder turbocharged engine. The Azkarra also started the trend of having CN95 cabin filters as a precaution against COVID-19, and to date remains the only local Geely model available with an all-wheel drivetrain.
Suzuki joined the SUV-styled MPV category with the XL7, the more athletic version of its Ertiga model. Prominent body cladding can be found around the body, while the interior showcases a 10-inch touchscreen head unit. Power still comes from a 1.5L gasoline engine mated to a four-speed automatic.
The second Suzuki offering for the month came in the form of the diminutive S-Presso city car, which supplanted the Alto as the brand’s budget offering. Apart from the tall stance and space-efficient dimensions, the S-Presso turned heads with its Php 518,000 sticker price. Despite being ridiculously affordable, it came with its own 7-inch touchscreen head unit as standard.
Mercedes-Benz took the wraps off what was touted as the “G-Class of SUVs” with the GLS. The bold fascia headlined the model’s Sensual Purity aesthetic, while the interior represented a marriage between refinement and ruggedness. For the Philippine version, a 2.9L capable of 286 hp and 600 Nm of torque lies under the hood.
Yet another update came for the Ford Everest, this time as the Everest Sport variant. Chrome elements on the outside were replaced by black trim or body-colored accessories, accompanied by black Sport badging. It continued to be powered by the same 2.2L turbodiesel yielding 180 hp. Too bad we missed out on the Australia-spec version, which came with a 2.3L bi-turbo mill and terrain response 4WD.
Ford Everest Sport
Jeep launched its Compass compact SUV for the Philippine market, featuring somewhat butch styling in a neat package, with a generous greenhouse for excellent all-around visibility. A 1.4L turbo inline-4 propelled the Compass forward, linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
The brand also brought the Renegade as its entry-level offering, featuring a youthful color palette aimed at urban explorers. It shares the same powertrain as the Compass, although the local Renegade variants miss out on the four-wheel drivetrain available in the U.S.
BMW offered its lineup of new models in its first-ever digital launch in the Philippines. The 520i Sport is a more athletic take on the midsize luxury sedan, the X3 xDrive 20d Business carried premium Vernasca upholstery, while the new Z4 saw a power boost under the hood.
Isuzu introduced the Boondock 4x4 variant of its long-running D-Max pickup, sporting all-terrain rubbers wrapped around 17-inch alloy wheels complementing the raised ride height. Completing the look are roof rails, over-fenders, and a prominent Boondock body graphic along the profile.
It was Toyota’s turn to launch a local model in cyberspace with the new Wigo, which carried more angular exterior styling as well as the addition of a sporty TRD S variant. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard, as well as digital climate controls.
BMW adds the 2 Series Gran Coupe to its Philippine lineup. Despite the name, the car actually features four doors. Purists will likely lament the model’s continuing break from established BMW tradition because of its front-wheel-drive layout.
Ford launched the F-150 full-size pickup, on the heels of the favorable reception surrounding the Ranger Raptor. Although the new truck is actually a generation behind the current U.S. version, the F-150 still has plenty to offer local customers, by way of exterior and interior amenities as well as a 3.5L V6 engine.
Hot on the tail of the Blue Oval is Ram, with its 1500 Laramie. Ram chose the displacement route with a 5.7L HEMI V8 engine packing 395 hp, and is so far the only truck in its class with the available RamBox Cargo Management System.
Chinese carmaker JAC joins the subcompact crossover fray with the S4, jointly designed in Italy and Japan. If the model’s country of origin turns you off, the S4 is actually pretty loaded with features. A 1.5L turbocharged inline-4 powers the crossover across the asphalt or some light trails.
Porsche takes steps to reduce its carbon footprint with the Taycan electric vehicle (EV), packing 761 hp and a range of over 400 km. It’s the first production EV that doubles the standard voltage of 400 volts, while being able to charge batteries faster.
Another carmaker joining the electric route is Jaguar, as it brings the I-PACE which exploits battery electric technology. The rigid chassis houses a 400hp electric motor, powered by a 90 kWh battery. The stunning good looks don’t hurt either, with the I-PACE receiving global acclaim.
Range Rover marks a half century of off-road capability and luxury with the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). Both models come with a 2.0L turbo engine paired with an 85 kW electric motor, together making 404 hp.
Mercedes-Benz makes affluence more affordable by launching the A-Class AMG Line sedan. The sleek silhouette is accompanied by a 1.4L turbocharged engine capable of 136 hp mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
Fresh from its World Car Design of the Year honors, Mazda offered a limited-edition Mazda3 commemorating the carmaker’s 100 years of existence. The Mazda3 edition100 could be had only as a five-door hatchback, featuring glossy 18-inch alloys and a Mazdaspeed body kit.
Jeep brought its pickup game with the Philippine launch of the Gladiator, based on a Wrangler chassis but offering so much more. Powered by the standard 3.6L Pentastar V6 rests under the hood, the Gladiator is the only Trail-Rated pickup which none of its rivals can claim.
Mercedes-Benz unveiled the new G-Class G 350d, now running on an inline-6 diesel mill delivering 286-hp. The SUV combines on-road manners and refinement with off-road capability and stability, while gifting drivers with improved steering.
The Toyota Vios underwent a makeover for 2020, including a redesigned fascia which subtly references the Lexus spindle grille. With the new look, the subcompact sedan shares its aesthetic with the Camry and the Corolla Altis. The 1.3L and 1.5L engine options remain for the new model.
Speaking of Lexus, the brand introduced the new NX crossover. Adaptive Variable Suspension is now standard, similar to the one used by the LC 500. The model is available in both turbocharged and hybrid powertrains.
Chinese auto marque Chery brought over its first-ever electric car, the Arrizo 5e. The car runs on an electric motor capable of 160 hp and a range approaching 500 km. on just a single charge. Not bad.
Land Rover brought back its Defender line, now updated with an aluminum monocoque chassis as part of the company’s D7x architecture. Permanent all-wheel-drive and an open-differential rear axle are among the standard mechanical features. Coming in a choice of the 90 and the longer-wheelbase 110, the new Defender is available with a mild hybrid powertrain. Expect diesel units to arrive by 2021.
Land Rover Defender 90
Another carmaker making electrifying offerings is Audi, with the A8 L 3.0 TFSI mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV). Its standout feature is the predictive active suspension, which uses electromechanical actuators to regulate individual wheel height, aided by a front-mounted camera.
Ford set its sights on the compact crossover field when it brought the Territory. It’s a technological whiz on wheels, wrapped in a stylish and contemporary package. A turbocharged 1.5L engine motivates the Territory, working with a continuously variable transmission to deliver power to the front wheels.
Small and medium-scale businesses found an ally in Foton as it launched the Gratour TM 300 commercial vehicle. Available in five configurations, the Gratour TM is powered by a 2.2L diesel engine that’s as efficient as it is capable.
Mercedes-Benz unleashed the 7-seater GLB 200 SUV, combining a somewhat short body length with a maximized wheelbase, which still makes enough room for seven occupants. Its turbocharged 1.3L 4-cylinder engine packs 163 hp.
The Corolla nameplate transcends body styles and now includes a crossover, with the Toyota Corolla Cross. It also uses the same TNGA GA-C chassis as its sedan stablemate, and the Philippine-spec variants come available with the first gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain in the segment.
Toyota Corolla Cross
BMW brought along the new 7-Series, prominently displaying the enlarged kidney grilles. Made in two body styles, the 7-Series packs two powertrain options, one a TwinPower turbo engine good for 256 hp, the other a plug-in hybrid capable of 394 hp.
Those looking for family rides have an additional option with the Maxus G50, featuring generous three-row seating for eight, draped in leather to boot. A 12.3-inch touchscreen and panoramic sunroof should provide younger passengers with hours of entertainment on long trips.
Mazda Philippines brought over the Mazda3 and MX-5, both dressed in special trim as part of the automaker’s 100th Anniversary Special Edition series. Noteworthy features include the special anniversary logo and an interior rendered in white and burgundy.
Mitsubishi finally gave the local market a taste of its best-selling plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) by bringing in the Outlander PHEV. The model uses a pair of electric motors to power its 4WD system, supplementing the 2.4L combustion engine’s 128 hp. At full charge and running solely on electric power, the Outlander PHEV can travel up to 55 kilometers.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The refreshed Xpander also made an appearance, featuring a revised grille paired with LED headlamps for the GLS variant. New 16-inch alloy wheels adorn the corners of the MPV, and the rod-type antenna gets axed in favor of a sleeker sharkfin receiver.
Another model which underwent a refresh is the Toyota Hilux, now sporting a more muscular appearance with a restyled fascia and copious amounts of body cladding. A retuned suspension should address concerns over ride quality, while the steering has been revised to reduce driver stress. Both the 2.4L and 2.8L engines have been retained, with increased outputs.
Jaguar let the cat out of the bag with the F-Type two-seat sports car. The slimmer headlamps now look more menacing, combined with the more gaping grille. Drivers will marvel at the interactive display and onboard infotainment system, even on extended journeys.
SsangYong pulled the covers off its refreshed Rexton SUV. Dubbed as the 2020.5 model, the new model is more regal-looking than before, complemented by added amenities such as a new 8-inch infotainment touchscreen and LED ambient lighting.
The new GLA from Mercedes-Benz also made its debut, the eighth model bearing the brand’s Modular Front Architecture. For Philippine customers, there’s only one available engine, a 1.3L forced-induction engine capable of 163 hp.
The Trax Premier is Chevrolet’s update to the standard Trax, featuring refreshed styling by way of the black bowtie, carbon gray alloys, and working crossbars, among other modifications. For occupants, the Trax Premier features an all-weather cargo tray, as well as a cabin air ionizer.
Kia brought along the Stonic subcompact hatchback, designed by Kia design boss Peter Schreyer. As with other recent offerings from the South Korean carmaker, the Stonic features a very European flair, powered by a 1.4L inline-4 gasoline engine.
Toyota spruced up its Fortuner midsize SUV to keep up with its competitors. The fascia is now more chiseled thanks to a redesigned grille and revised bumpers. Two new variants mark the range, and Toyota Safety Sense is now standard.
Mini brings the John Cooper Works GP to the Philippines, its fastest and most capable road-legal model. Only 3,000 examples have been made worldwide, and it’s even more of a rocket than the standard JCW variant with an upgraded engine and lightweight construction.
The new Honda City made its debut, now on its fifth generation. Honda’s subcompact sedan now has a sportier look, and includes the RS trim as the range-topping variant. A new 8-inch touchscreen offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, while a 1.5L engine powers all variants across the range.
Another Honda best-seller that’s been upgraded is the CR-V compact crossover, which now adopts the front chrome strip found on the U.S.-spec version. The Driver Attention Monitor is now a standard feature, as well as the Honda SENSING suite of driver-assist features.
Hyundai released its smallest crossover ever with the Venue. The squared-off proportions belie the model’s interior flexibility. But don’t be fooled by the small footprint, as the Venue features Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS) in its construction.
The 2021 Mazda MX-5 set foot on our shores for its global debut, now coming with a premium-spec version that entails a stick shift. Other than a new color palette, the roadster will also feature improved brake pads concealed behind 17-inch alloy wheels. The 9-speaker Bose audio setup still sounds good, even with the top down.
SsangYong brings back the gasoline Tivoli variant, positioning it as a midrange model. It sports the diesel variant’s generous dimensions, yet offers a familiar and refined driving feel for SsangYong fans.
True to its promise of introducing new models every six months, Geely unveiled the Okavango seven-seater. Straddling the line between an MPV and an SUV, the Okavango features loads of space with individually adjustable seats, and the same mild hybrid powertrain found on the Azkarra.
Lexus bared its IS sport sedan, with improved rigidity that produces better driving performance and riding comfort. Sporting a wide and low design, the IS hugs the road while being powered by either a 3.5L V6 or a 2.5L hybrid powertrain.
Cherry launched a two-tone variant for its Tiggo 2 subcompact crossover. This involved a blacked-out roof and pillars to stand in contrast with the rest of the body, giving the Tiggo 2 a more dynamic look that should appeal to younger buyers.
Chery Tiggo 2 two-tone
Mazda hopes to raise environmental awareness with the BT-50 Pangolin. Based on the top-spec 4x4 trim, the truck carries a large graphic image of the endangered mammal along its profile. Other notable exterior features are black 17-inch alloy wheels inside black fender flares, black tubular sports bar, black step boards, and all chrome elements rendered in body color.
Changan brought in five models at once, as a power play to assert its status as one of China’s Big Four car brands: the subcompact Alsvin, the C35 Plus subcompact crossover, the CS75 Plus midsize crossover, the CS95 7-seat midsize SUV, and the Eado EV460 electric sedan.
Lexus uncovered its LM MPV, offered in 4- and 7-seater configurations. Both variants are adorned with the ornate Gin Sui Boku design. The former comes with adjustable captain’s chairs as well as automatic ottomans and a 26-inch high definition multimedia screen. It’s practically a lounge on wheels.
JAC brought in the T8 pickup as a follow-up to the T60, marketed as a more lifestyle-oriented model. A 2.0L turbodiesel mill powers the T8, mated to a 6-speed manual. It doesn’t look very luxurious outside, but it does come with leather seats and an 8-inch multimedia touchscreen.
As its final entry for quite a prolific year, Toyota released the 2021 Yaris subcompact hatchback. Featuring a restyled exterior that echoes its Vios sedan sibling, the Yaris will likewise offer a selection of two engines, both connected to a continuously variable transmission.
Find more notable cars that have been released as the year draws to a close at Philkotse.com.
Joseph Paolo Estabillo