Sister marques Jaguar and Land Rover make the most vehicles among UK-headquartered companies, and count themselves in the ranks of the world’s most prestigious brands. However, dealer principals pointed to the then impending TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) implementation–a government tax measure widely expected to significantly jack up automobile prices, particularly of luxury vehicles–as their main reason for pulling the plug on local distribution. With this, enthusiasts from the Philippines expressed their rightful concern with the shuttering of Jaguar Land Rover.
Yet even before TRAIN happened earlier this year, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Asia Pacific Importers inked a contract with Coventry Motors Corporation (CMC) last November, appointing it as the official Philippine importer of the Tata Group-controlled British auto brands. It thus ended a brief six-month absence of the UK brands.
For JLR Asia Pacific managing director Robin Colgan, the Philippines is a “market that holds remarkable promise and potential for quality premium cars that will meet the needs of a sophisticated and developed consumer base,” and added that “it was a very easy decision” to have chosen CMC as JLR’s local partner, describing the company as being “head and shoulders above many other candidates… (displaying) a really deep understanding of the premium customer in the Philippines–their expectations in terms of service and facilities, and overall customer experience.”
Indeed, a “fully-functional service workshop facility” was swiftly established and opened at JLR’s new home along EDSA in Greenhills–seamlessly providing authorized service on “all Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles… regardless of whether the units were bought from the current or former distributor.”
According to officials, this present display will be replaced by a 450-square-meter facility set to open soon. Additionally, the Mercedes-Benz dealership on 32nd Street in Bonifacio Global City is set to close shop and move to a CATS Group facility on the corner of 5th and 24th Streets. This new location will also feature a JLR showroom that can house up to four or five cars. The Mercedes-Benz portion should be open by the end of the year; the JLR display will be in business about six months later.
The very first ride-and-drive event of the new establishment–meant to “dovetail on the brand’s re-entry to the market”–selected members of the motoring media experienced the current offerings of the two brands. Hosted by All British Cars, the exclusive dealer of Jaguar and Land Rover in the Philippines, the drive was to and from the EDSA dealership and Tagaytay City. Members of the media were handed the keys to the Jaguar XE, XJ, and F-Pace; the Land Rover Discovery and Discovery Sport; and the Range Rover Evoque, Velar, and Sport.
For the drive up, this writer was assigned to a Land Rover Discovery Sport SE. An attractively designed sport ute priced from P4.39 million, the vehicle is a good introduction as any to the famous 4×4 brand. Powered by a 2.0-liter diesel engine developing 150ps and 380Nm, this Land Rover is equipped with a lot of tech niceties which conspire to make negotiating (and enduring) chaotic city traffic a lot less painful. A nine-speed transmission system makes the most out of the supplied grunt.
The interiors are classy as expected, although the front console design might be a little too understated for its price point. Its two-zone climate control system is robust, and a welcome feature for finicky individuals who can’t agree on a temperature setting. The second-row, pillar-mounted vents are also a thoughtful touch.
After lunch, and for the drive back to Manila, we moved to a diesel-powered Jaguar XE. Priced from P3.69 million, the sedan is Jaguar’s “most advanced, efficient and refined sports sedan (it) has ever produced,” due to its “lightweight construction, streamlined styling, and outstanding ride and handling.” We found it compliant and enjoyable to drive even in the throes of traffic. Acceleration (rated at a maximum of 430Nm, to go with 180ps) is sprightly and rewarding.
As with the Discovery Sport, the XE bears a convenient a Stop/Start button, and the driver gets to shift gears via a rotary knob. But while the Land Rover is a picture of muted luxury, this Jaguar serves up more obvious hints to its pedigree–from the twin-needle leather stitching on leather surfaces, generous, comfortable seating, to satin chrome air vents, to wood-grain accents.
These are but two treats in the JLR’s selection of rarefied rides, but definitely typify what the UK siblings are about. For now, the motoring world is been made right again.