Volkswagen Philippines fielded three vehicles at the recent Phoenix Petroleum 2019 Sunshine Television Ventures (STV) Auto Rally Corporate Challenge (ARCC) held at the huge and sprawling Clark Global City in Pampanga.

The ARCC, organized by STV, which produces long-running motoring TV and online programs Motoring Today and Auto Focus, is an “on time, all the time” auto rally exclusive among the country’s automobile manufacturers and importers, and is currently the only motorsports competition where auto industry players openly compete against each other.

The Volkswagen Tiguan on the grid

The ARCC is a revival of the Sampaguita Rally, a popular motorsport discipline in the 1960s equivalent to the European Tulip Rally, wherein participants are required to travel distances on given timelines. Every second beyond or less than the prescribed travel time would mean a demerit and the team that acquires the least number of demerits wins. The rally runs on public roads, and participants are not exempt from traffic laws and regulations, thus road safety and road discipline are emphasized.

Volkswagen Philippines fielded three teams, each composed of three members of the local motoring media, using a VW Tiguan 280 TSI DSG SE compact crossover, a compact 5-door VW Santana GTS 180 MPI AT SE, and a VW Santana 180 MPI AT SE compact sedan.

The Tiguan was driven by this writer, Andrei Laurel of Top Gear Philippines, and Nics Calanoc of C! Magazine, while the Santana GTS was assigned to Elaine Lara (Top Gear Philippines), Aries Espinosa (Business World and TessDrive.com), and Ron de los Reyes (Auto Review). Lastly, the Santana 180 MPI AT SE was driven by Earl Lee (Autodeal.com.ph) and Chewy Buhion (Manila Times).

The Volkswagen Tiguan

Felipe Estrella, president of Volkswagen Philippines, expressed confidence with the participating Volkswagens. “Volkswagen vehicles are engineered, designed and manufactured with the renowned German automotive precision, and that makes them perfect for a car rally that espouses an ‘on time, all the time’ mantra. Precision makes Volkswagen’s timeless design, legendary safety, and German engineering come together seamlessly. It’s what makes a Volkswagen, a Volkswagen. Our three media teams would see and experience for themselves how all these things actually work in the Tiguan and Santana.”

Our P1,648,000 Tiguan “racecar” delivered the German-engineered SUV experience throughout the drive, which included highways and secondary roads.The Tiguan offered the space, versatility, and power that gave me and my two tall and stocky teammates and our gear a spacious, comfortable, and satisfying drive.

The Tiguan 280 TSI DSG SE has a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder turbo fuel-injected petrol engine with BlueMotion Technology mated to a 6-speed DSG transmission. It generates 150ps and 250Nm of torque. Its interior features and comfort amenities include “Vienna” leather seat material, 2-zone Climatronic airconditioning, panoramic sunroof, eight speakers, and power 12-way driver’s seat adjustment. Safety systems include ISOFIX anchorage points, ESP, ASR, EDS, EDTC, hill hold control, and rear PDC with acoustic warning signal.

The Santana 180 MPI AT SE, meanwhile, offers premium engineering, design, styling, safety, power and fuel efficiency for the first-time new car buyer. The Santana, which comes in sedan and wagon (as the Santana GTS) body styles, takes the place of the iconic Polo hatch/sedan.

The Volkswagen Santana

The Santana 180 MPI AT SE is equipped with a 1.4 liter engine 4-cylinder fuel-injected petrol engine with BlueMotion Technology mated to a 6-speed automatic. This engine develops 110ps and 150Nm of torque.

Safety highlights of the Santana SE incudes front dual and side airbags, Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP) and Anti-Slip Reguation (ASR), rear Park Distance Control (PDC), immobilizer and ISOFIX anchorage points. It comes with leather and fabric seat material, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, automatic headlights with leaving and coming home function, rain sensing wipers and sunroof.

Last but not least, the Santana GTS takes the Santana ownership experience a notch higher. With its wagon body type and flexible interior configuration, the Santana GTS offers the styling, comfort, power, space and design touches ideal for those who want the space and versatility of an SUV or crossover and the easy-to-drive characteristics of a sedan.

The Santana GTS 180 MPI AT SE has the same engine and safety features as its sedan counterpart. In addition, it has leather and fabric seat material with red stitching, cruise control, sunroof, 60:40 split folding rear seats and 372 liters of cargo space.

The Volkswagen Santana GTS  

One thing I learned driving a Volkswagen in the ARCC, when you time your route wisely, respect road rules, and combine sound driving habits with the world-class automobile craftsmanship, design, and engineering of a German icon, that’s when you know — with Volkswagen, Your Drive Just Got Better.

Indeed.