The Models...And Models...Of Manila International Auto Show 2016 Part 1

So as I mentioned in my last post I just got back recently from another trip to my old home country of the Philippines. It just so happened that this time my visit coincided with the biggest car show in the nation, the Manila International Auto Show or MIAS for short. Of course as a diehard petrolhead I wasn't about to miss this chance so on a Saturday morning I braved the crowds hoping to see the best of Philippine motoring.

Since the Philippines is a much smaller country than the US that's located on a bunch of islands separated from the rest of Asia by the South China Sea you might think that there wouldn't be anything like the vehicular variety we enjoy here in the US of A. However, as I've mentioned in my previous article on Philippine car culture, the country has a long-standing love affair with the automobile and with the economy maintaining slow but steady growth there's an amazing amalgam of cars and trucks to choose from. What's even more interesting for the Western gearhead are all the vehicles that aren't sold in North America.

Because of the less-developed roads and frequent flooding in the Philippines the body-on-frame SUV is still a huge seller over there, unlike here in the US where other than a few full-size models and a handful of smaller off-roaders the class has been driven almost to extinction by crossovers. The mid-size market is particularly hotly-contested with top-selling Japanese models like the Mitsubishi Montero Sport and Toyota Fortuner playing a game of regular one-upmanship with new offerings from the Americans like the Ford Everest and Chevy Trailblazer.
The Montero Sport is the hottest seller for Mitsubishi in the Philippines and just had a totally new version go on sale.

You'll also see a lot of cab-forward vans there because of the need for economical transportation for the maximum amount of people in the smallest amount of space. Snub-nosed vans like the brand-new Nissan NV250 Urvan and the market-leading Toyota HiAce have long gone the way of the dodo in the US as vans have become increasingly viewed as rides meant only for couriers, plumbers, and the occasional weirdo who spray paints “Free Candy” on the sides.
Cab-forward vans are alive and well in Asia

It's a shame really that such vehicles are nowhere to be seen in the US because a turbo-diesel SUV is a great go-anywhere vehicle that'll take you on adventures your barmates will never believe and possibly even save your bacon when the Zombie Apocalypse hits (I keep my trusty R51 Pathfinder around just for such undead exigencies). The cab-forward vans are great for road trips with all of your friends and their friends and there's just something oddly cool about driving a vehicle that can hold more bodies than a clown car and where you can see everything in front of you because well, everything is LITERALLY in front of you when your ride has no real nose to speak of.

On the smaller end of the scale you have the tiny econo-cars like the Kia Picanto and Honda Brio that we'll probably never see in the US unless oil becomes a four-letter word. With motors displacing less than a decent bottle of soda and a footprint smaller than Shaquille O'Neal's left shoe it's easy to make fun of them (especially when you think an inattentive American semi would probably grind them into the tarmac with ease) but having owned a Honda Fit before myself as a daily driving counterpart to my R35 GT-R I can readily vouch for the fun of driving a small car. Ragging a tiny car to within an inch of its life at sublight velocities on city streets can be every bit as fun as toeing the knife edge on track with a supercar. And it's much more economical too. If you have doubts about the fun of tiny cars, ask my Indian friend who joined me on a short tire-squealing trip in a rental Dodge Neon years ago. Actually, on second thought don't ask him 'cause I believe he swore never to ride with me again after that. Go figure.
Tucked away in one corner was Kia with the cute little Picanto. Wondering how little power it has? Your guess is as good as mine because they didn't even bother to list it in the stat sheet lol.

Another thing you'll see a lot of in the Philippines but not here in the States are all the Chinese brands plus a few other Asian companies we no longer have or never got. Geely, Chery, and Great Wall are all targeting the Filipino buyer along with Ssangyong from Korea, and Tata and Mahindra from India. Suzuki and Isuzu have pulled out of the US for some time now but they're still alive and well in Asia. Oh yes, and the French want in on the action too with Peugeot hocking their wares prominently at MIAS.
You've probably never heard of Chinese manufacturer Foton before but they had a large area at the show.

There are also the AUV's or Asian Utility Vehicles. They're kind of hard to describe in brief but basically think of them as SUVs-on-the-cheap. They're more prolific than cockroaches in Asia but interestingly none were on display at the show (probably 'cause they sell like bacon-wrapped hotcakes anyway) so I won't talk about them too much here.

One thing that was very much on display at the show was the Filipino fascination with car show models. The Philippines doesn't have many hang-ups about “being sexist” or “objectification of women” so models are everywhere at a typical Filipino car show and some of them enjoy a degree of celebrity. Female readers may think this is an indication of backward Filipino values towards women but honestly the Philippines has a healthy attitude that I think countries like the US could stand to learn from. Despite the penchant of the Filipino male to act the part of the macho gentleman women are treated well and the average Filipina is quite liberated and very comfortable in her stature and role as a female. Hillary may still be trying her darndest to become President in the US but in the Philippines they've already elected two women to that station, speaking volumes about the standing the fairer sex enjoys over there.
Rose at Ford was a perfect example of Filipina beauty and brains (although she is half American so go USA lol!)

The Philippines being a country that often places well in major international beauty pageants, including having the reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, it's no shock that there were a lot of lovely ladies to catch the eye at MIAS 2016. You'll see many of them in the photos below but special mention goes to Rose Turner at Ford and Leslie at Peugeot who graciously put up with your author's harassment and proved they were more than just pretty faces. It may sadden you to know that Rose used to live here in the US until her family moved from Connecticut to the islands but even sadder for us import fans is that she's into muscle cars. She told me she was half-American but her Instagram elaborates by saying she's half American, half bulldog, and a foodie as well. Yeah, America lost out there when she left. Leslie on the other hand was also very charming and did a great job encouraging people to visit Peugeot's mini-museum where attendees were gently reminded that Peugeot isn't pronounced the same way as the Filipino word for “decapitated”. Good thing to know that.
Leslie was awesome at getting people to check out Peugeot's stand.

Oh yes, I have to mention that unfortunately Nissan Philippines apparently opted out of MIAS and so sadly there was no display there to show off the expanding lineup they have that's seen their sales grow 60% in the last two years. Toyota and Honda opted out too (as well as Mazda for that matter) but for completeness' sake I took time out from my grueling schedule of mall-hopping and beach-combing to visit their local dealerships and share some photos with you, my dear readers. The sacrifices I make for you guys, I tell ya.

And now for part 1 of the photos. Originally this was going to be a single post but I found I had too many photos (and far too much weirdness) for just one serving :)
This being a Nissan-centered blog I'll first show off some pics from Nissan's dealership in Makati City.

It's been here as an Infiniti for a while but pretty soon Nissan USA will also be getting the legendary Patrol as well, renamed an Armada on these shores.

Hopefully we'll also soon get the handsome new Frontier, known as the Navara in the Philippines. It'd be nice if it came with the excellent turbodiesel mill too.

That big plaque in the bed proclaims how the Navara won the 2015 Philippine Truck of the Year honors.

The new NV250 Urvan has been a hot seller for Nissan. They were everywhere on our road trips.

You won't see passenger densities like this in the US 'cause Americans are bigger and cherish their personal space more.

The current Sentra in the US is called the Sylphy in the Philippines hence this banner touting its heritage. Despite a disastrous phase in the early 2000's there's still a lot on Nissan love in the Philippine islands.

The quirky Juke finally joined Nissan's lineup as well, although it ditches the USA's 1.6 liter turbo 4-banger for a more mundane 1.6 liter NA mill better suited to Philippine conditions.

And now for the actual auto show pics. The jeepney is iconic of Philippine motoring and this little facsimile greeted people as they entered the convention center.

A long line of more exotic machinery also greeted attendees including this gorgeous Ferrari 458 Italia and a Rocket Bunny-kitted Lexus RC F.

At the end of the line you had this Mini and a local Toyota Vios race car.
Once you got in your first sight was this awesome Lotus 23 in the Motul stand.

Followed by a pair of Exiges.

Top Gear Philippines had the new Miata on display as its Car of The Year. Tried to get a comment from the Stig but my fluency in Morse code is pretty weak.
At the Ford booth the new Mustang was front and center.

More interesting to me since Mustangs are a dime a dozen here in the US was the Ford EcoSport that we don't get over here.

The EcoSport is basically a taller Ford Fiesta that originally started out in Brazil. Rumors say it may make its way to the US eventually.

The Explorer is gaining a following as a luxury SUV in the Philippines.

Soon to be hitting a Ford dealership near you - the Ford Ranger pickup, although I doubt we'll get the turbodiesel engine or its SUV brother the Everest.

Kudos to Rose for still smiling even after meeting your author. My camera has a function to protect more sensitive viewers from seeing my ugly mug by automatically blanking me out with the Laughing Man graphic from Ghost In The Shell.

Even the humongous Expedition finds buyers in the Philippines. I'd hate to drive one in the cramped streets of Manila though.

Rota Wheels had a display beside Ford's that had another Toyota Vios race car plus some interesting street cars.

It's great to see more old school imports getting saved in the Philippines like this Toyopet Crown.

Clean front and back.

The Toyota 86 has become very popular in the Philippines as an affordable sports car.

Sick Evo 10 but watch out for part 2 of my MIAS post to see an even sicker Evo.
Subaru had a large display with mostly stuff we have here except for the handsome Levorg wagon which we'll never get here because of the crossover craze sweeping the States.

The Viziv 2 concept was on hand to impress crowds with it's never-to-see-production features.

Another automaker you've probably never heard of is Ssangyong, fourth-largest Korean manufacturer behind Hyundai, Kia, and GM Korea.

Named after an Italian town, the Tivoli mini-ute is also supposed to say "I love it" in reverse.

The Korando SUV and Rodius MPV.
Over at the number one Korean car company, Hyundai had its Veloster on center stage. I've always thought of it as a bit of an ugly duck but I just kept my eyes on the lovely model in front of it lol.

Interestingly Hyundai's selling the Accent in the Philippines with a DI turbodiesel AND a SEVEN-speed DCT tranny. Pretty nice tech for a low-budget car.

Another of the subcompacts we'll never get here: the Hyundai Eon, powered by a 1-liter three-pot motor with all of 69 thundering horses.

Hyundai had a Tucson where you were supposed to write eco-minded messages with markers - knowing how Filipinos think I figured this couldn't end well...

...and it didn't take long to find this little gem.

Ford's space was beside Hyundai's. Hmmm.....

Of course yours truly had to get in on the fun.
Jaguar had a small booth but compensated by showing off the massively sexy F-Type.

Mercedes had a much larger space that included yet another wagon we won't get here in the States (wagon being a four-letter word here in the US).

Yes, we get these in the States but I've always liked the old-school look of the G-class so I had to snap a pic.

The cars weren't the only things imported by Mercedes at its display.

Don't ask me why Jeep had some rando's mug shot up on its stand.

I mentioned earlier that China's Foton had a large booth. This was the first thing you saw - the Toplander SUV. Okay, the model was the first thing you saw, THEN you noticed the generic SUV behind her.

Snorkels have long been a favorite accessory in the Philippines. Although the floods during typhoon season can make Katrina look like your neighbor Timmy's backyard pool party these things are frankly an affectation for the most part. Automotive penis extenders come in many forms.

Beside the Toplander you had the Thunder, it's name just oozing machismo that the limp styling couldn't quite match.

Yes, there's a van in this picture. Moving on...

Chevy chose MIAS to debut its new Sail subcompact sedan. Sail...would it surprise you it was named in China?

In the better-named vehicles category you had the Chevy Trailblazer. The name is familiar since the previous generation was as prolific in pre-bankruptcy GM's divisions as herpes and about as fun except for the late SS version. Now sold in Asia and Oz but not in the US, the new generation is a bit more interesting and the badge-engineering much less contagious (though Isuzu still caught it with the oddly-named Mu-X).

We do have the Chevy Colorado now in the States and it can even be had with a turbodiesel but I don't think too many will have the Philippine-spec snorkel.
Mitsubishi was right in the center of the hall showing off wares that would make American Diamond Star fans even more sad at the sorry state of affairs of Mitsubishi USA. The excellent Montero Sport proudly boasted it's new 2.4 liter MIVEC turbodiesel coupled to an EIGHT-speed automatic. Meanwhile in the US the biggest news we've gotten is how Mitsu falsified fuel economy results on a bunch of it's Japanese kei-cars. Whoopee.

I love LED DRL's and the Montero Sport had some nice ones.

Along with the new drivetrain and exterior the interior was all-new.

If only Mitsu USA put in half this much effort into its cars.

Oh wait, I forgot - they will be giving us this updated Lancer! And kill off the Evo X. Arrggghhhh....
Petron is a local gasoline brand. They had a Lambo Murcielago with a Liberty Walk-style body kit on display which I tried to take a photo of but couldn't due to the mob that was always around it. So I dutifully took pics of the models instead. Job done.

Ah, China's Great Wall Motors. Source of endless amusement for its wonderfully named pickup. I shit you not, it's called the "Wingle". I'd love to brag about having one to my neighbor with the Raptor. Oh yeah, they also used to sell a ripoff of the 1st-gen Scion Xb called the "Coolbear". Somebody call the ROFLcopter!!!
Meanwhile over at Peugeot they were vainly trying to teach people how to say the name correctly. If you're wondering it's Poo-jho, although I prefer to say Peyoohgeyot just to mess with people.

While they conducted the pronunciation lessons I amused myself by checking out the natty display of Peyoohgeyot emblems over the years.

Got to hand it to the French, they may not be known much for relaibility but they do have style. I'd gladly hoon the 308 GTi with it's race-inspired steering wheel, nice shifter, and perfectly-placed pedals until it broke.

Once again thanks to Leslie for putting up with the weird Asian dude with the American accent. Mersee mademoyselluh.
Tata are from India. You may have heard of them because of the microscopic Nano city car. Personally I think they should hook up with Great Wall so we can all die of laughter from checking out the Tata Wingle. Hee hee.

Enough joking aboutt their name, let's check out some Tatas. Get your mind out of the gutter people!

Tata at least had my favorite vehicle of the show, the amazing RESCUE BOY! Yes, that's a WHEELED boat on top of the roof. If I had a Rescue Boy I'd name it Thunderbird 23 and do International Rescue proud! Captain Kallen James can be my co-pilot! (Nerd alert! Nerd alert!)
It even has its own widdle mascot! D'awww!
You gotta hand it to the Hyundai Trucks models for bringing the sexy despite the vehicles they were posing with.

"Hey boy, you wanna come help me load these cinder blocks?"
And with that I'll conclude part 1. I hope it amused you enough to come back for part 2 - I promise even more cars, craziness, and cool beauties in that installment!


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