The Volkswagen Santana was one of the first new nameplates to make it to the Philippines. The Ayala Corporation is the company behind this new wave of cost-effective options from the German brand in the Philippines. This model has been lovingly dubbed by the brand as “Your first Volkswagen,” which is an appropriate name given that it is an entry-level car with a very enticing price tag for what you get.
With several variants to choose from, which one do you pick? The Sanatana features a wide range of prices, and it also has a more special GTS model that features a wagon body style, which makes it the most affordable estate car that you can get in the Philippines. So let’s dive down into the spec-sheets of each and ascertain which variant will be best for you.
At its most value-packed
The Santana starts at only P686,000 for the 1.4 MPI MT Trendline. The variant comes standard with a 5-speed manual transmission, complete with a clutch and gear lever. While we cannot deny that this model is the entry-point for the nameplate, the price that it stands at is pretty good considering that you’re getting a name-brand car that has a good loadout of standard features like power steering and power windows, driver and front passenger airbags, ABS, five 3-point seatbelts, ISOFIX Tethers, and an engine immobilizer. For infotainment, you do only get a basic system, but USB and AUX connectivity options are available.
This variant gets a 1.4-liter MPI engine that produces 89 hp, and 132 Nm of torque. MPI engines from Volkswagen are generally very fuel-efficient, which means that your tank of gas should last you quite a while. The same can also be said about the 1.5-liter motors in the higher trims of the Santana.
Speaking of higher trims
Going up the ladder reveals that the Santana has more to offer its consumers who are looking for even more value through addition. Still, under the Trendline variant name, the P212,000 increase over the base variant is substantial bringing the price to P898,000, but it’s not without key additions that make it a potentially better buy. For example, you get a 1.5-liter engine instead of a 1.4-liter. That extra bump in displacement gives you extra horsepower and torque, and from here on out the Santana will have 108 hp and 150 Nm of torque, which makes it get up to speed a bit quicker. You can also expect a 6-speed automatic transmission to come standard from this model up. These two inclusions alone make it a worthwhile upgrade if you are going to need an automatic transmission which shines in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the city. You also get bigger wheels that are now alloys instead of the steel set with hub caps. These new wheels are 15-inches in diameter which look better than the base model's set.
You still get much of the same kit as you would find on the manual variant, but you don’t have to be limited by the head unit that comes standard with the base variant. Volkswagen has a Blaupunkt touch screen head unit that is optional if you choose to get it installed in the Santana 1.5 MPI S AT. The infotainment system features a 7-inch touchscreen with AUX-in, USB, and Mirror-link connectivity. There is also an SD card reader, like the basic unit, and a CD/DVD slot. For safety, you get the standard loadout, but with an electronic stabilization program (ESP) and anti-slip regulation (ASR).
The snazziest Santana sedan
At the peak of the pecking order for subcompact sedans is the Santana SE Comfortline, which features the same engine and transmission combo as the prior variant, but with several additional features that justify its rather sedate P64,000 price increase. For P962,000, you get a lot more features for the extra that you are paying over the standard Trendline variants.
Starting off with the interior, you get leather inserts that add a touch of durability and luxury to your seats and door trims. There are still cloth elements to the seats, but these panels are located in the middle for more comfort and breathability. You also get a multi-function steering wheel with cruise control. There are also automatic wipers, a sunroof, and front and rear fog lamps. On the topic of safety, the Comfortline has even more kit over its standard brothers. You get an extra set of side airbags, electronic stability control, and rear parking sensors. Instead of the standard 2 speakers, you get a total of 6 in this variant of the Santana. Furthermore, you get a nifty feature called coming home and leaving home headlights. Which keep your low beams on for a short period of time after you leave the car. All of these features can be had for just P64,000 more.
But wait, there’s more… space
There is one ace that Volkswagen Philippines has up its sleeve, and that is the Santana GTS. There is only one variant of this model available, so we decided to add it to the list. At P998,000, the model is quite a good value considering that you get exponentially more space for just an extra P36,000 more. Everything between this variant and the Santana Comfortline Sedan is the same, which means that the extra that you pay on top of that price is for the added storage space at the rear. Don’t get us wrong, the sedan has a perfectly serviceable trunk, but why settle? All of this still under the 7-digit mark.
With all variant comparos that we do on AutoDeal, we stress that is important to buy what you like, but it is more important to buy what you can afford. So, we will be choosing two variants that we think are worth your hard-earned car-buying Peso.
So with that being said, we think that the variant that is most cost-effective is the 1.4 MPI MT Trendline – yes, a base variant is our most value-oriented model. That’s because the price that you have to pay is below P700,000, and you get ample space and an overall serviceable vehicle. You essentially pay the price of a small car for more space and practicality. The only caveat is that you have to know how to drive stick. If you’re planning to get an automatic, the price increase over the base is a bit on the steep side.
However, if you are aiming for an automatic, and want the VW badge on your front grille, then the best Santana we feel is the GTS. It’s an understated car, with enough space to get you through almost anything. The model features even more space than even rivals crossovers. It may be nearing the P1,000,000 mark, but for the toys you get coupled with space and its unique form factor, the Santana GTS is one attractive prospect that you should definitely take a look at in contrast to the rest of the lineup.
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