Usually, we recommend the best in the business in our listicles. However, there is a place for underdogs in the industry. Since the landscape of the Philippine automotive market is very competitive, it is easy for a lot of cars to get overshadowed by the bigger and more established brands.
So let’s shine the spotlight on some of the underrated models in the market today in a list.
While other more common models like the Honda Brio and the Toyota Wigo get all the attention, the Kia Picanto is actually one of the less common but better small hatchbacks out in the market. Equipped with either a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine or a 1.2-liter 4-cylinder, you get up to 83 hp with this model and 121 Nm of torque. On top of that, you get great build quality and a chassis that is very stable and planted even at highway speeds. You also get good sound insulation.
Engineered to take on the higher speeds of European highways, the Kia Picanto’s biggest and most valuable feature are its chassis and driving dynamics. On top of that, you also get some features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and to add icing on an already tasty cake, fuel economy isn’t half bad at 12 km/L in the city and 25 km/L on the highway.
Now here is another car that isn’t really talked about. The Suzuki XL7 is often overshadowed by its more successful brother the Suzuki Ertiga, but it is by far the better option between the two. Equipped with a taller suspension setup resulting in a 200 mm ground clearance figure, the XL7 is nearly as tall as your regular SUV, but it has the unibody chassis that makes it more comfortable.
It does cost more than the Ertiga, but for about P100,000, you get enhanced looks, better features, and the same stellar fuel economy. In an XL7, you can expect to do better than some subcompact vehicles that are lighter and have the same amount of displacement. In the city, expect to do 9 km/L, then once you get on the highway, you get up to 20 km/L which is even better than some diesel SUVs.
GAC's a rather quiet brand that chooses to make its products speak for themselves, and it's for good reason. While most Chinese brands are trying to make as much noise as possible, GAC slots nicely into the subtle end of the market, opting to give concrete evidence that its cars are great rather than touting a bunch of marketing jargon. It's not bad to make some noise, however, but that makes the GN6 a proper underrated choice in the market.
The GAC GN6 was launched without a lot of pretenses. Basically, it's an MPV that has a great fit and finish and a very usable cargo area that folds flat and it even has captains' chairs. Comfort-wise the model features a standard ride that is not too stiff nor too soft and it comes with a turbocharged gasoline engine which is plenty powerful when stacked up against its rivals. With 170 horses to spare and 265 Nm of torque, it's no slouch on paper and on the road.
Changan CS 35 Plus
We all know about the Geely Coolray. The Geely is a great car, but is there anything else that comes close? Changan came to the country without a lot of people knowing about it. At first, we thought that it would be just another Chinese brand, but after testing the CS35 Plus, we got a little excited. The Changan CS35 Plus isn't a luxury automobile, but it has trimmings that make it seem like you're driving something more expensive than it is. Furthermore, the drive isn't half bad either because the steering is light but direct and there's quite a bit of punch coming from the 1.4-liter turbocharged motor.
Here's the kicker, all of this can be had for under a million Philippine Pesos. That's enough to make us wonder how the heck Changan Philippines makes money off of this model?
The Ayala Corporation has a lot of brands under its belt, and with a lot of marques in its portfolio, it’s easy to overlook a few diamonds in the rough or so the saying goes. In the Maxus lineup, the Maxus G50 is literally overshadowed by the rest of the bigger models in the lineup. The V80 alone could cast a shadow that engulfs the G50, but in terms of value for money and features for a passenger car, the G50 is worth considering.
It’s not a 7-seater, but an 8-seater, It looks like a van, but it’s an MPV with a suspension that is pretty comfortable and NVH insulation which is top-notch. These traits are unexpected in a car that costs P1088,000 for its base model and P1,288,000 for its top of the line model. It comes with all the high-end trimmings that you can expect from a crossover from a Japanese brand and more, but for a price that is more accessible than most. On top of that, you’re getting a turbocharged engine for the same amount that a Japanese manufacturer would bill you for a naturally-aspirated gasoline engine.