Volvo C30 is Philippine CoTY
After months of rigorous testing and evaluation, the Car Awards Group Inc. announced the winners of the 2007 Petron Car of the Year-Philippines (COTY-Phils). Taking the top prize is the new sporty hatchback from Volvo, the C30. In an award ceremony on 15 November, the group also handed out awards for 23 vehicle categories.

CAGI is a non-stock, non-profit organization made up of writers for various motoring, business, and lifestyle publications and broadcast outfits. The award is unique because it does not solicit sponsorship from any car manufacturer or distributor.

Testing was done in two phases. Instrumented testing consists of a 0-60 km/h acceleration run followed by full-force braking; results were recorded using a RaceLogic DriftBox meter supplied by Speed Lab car tuning shop. The GPS-based performance device is used in D1 Grand Prix as basis for judging and scoring of drift events. The performance data is an average of five test runs from professional test drivers.

For the subjective portion, the assembled writers then drive the car along a circuit section of San Lazaro Leisure Park. The journalists then score each of the cars in multiple categories including comfort, ride, handling, and interior space.

Basic Subcompact Car
The Kia Picanto 1.1 DLX proves that entry-level can be pretty decent. Cheeky, cheerful and probably cheap to run, the Picanto will make a good choice for first-time buyers.

Executive Subcompact Car
The Kia Rio 1.4 sedan successfully defends its category title. First previewed in April 2006, the Rio combines a surprisingly roomy interior and competent mechanical components with an affordable price tag.

Luxury Subcompact Car
Not all subcompacts are made equal, as luxury can also come in small packages. The Volvo C30 may have a small footprint, but every square cm inside is replete with understated refinement and luxury features.

Compact Car
The previous Car of the Year, the Honda Civic, takes the prize again in its category. Recognized for its supreme engine and transmission, the Civic also offers the biggest cabin in its class. The Honda Civic 1.8 AT was also the fastest through COTY’s handling test course.

Midsize Car
The best-selling Toyota Camry powered past its compatriots to take the midsize category crown. The Camry 3.5Q logged in the best acceleration and braking in its class.

Executive Car
The Volvo S60 T5 combines a powerful turbocharged engine, superb braking and confident handling, at a price tag that’s not outrageous. The beautiful sheet metal still looks good, making the S60 an enticing choice.

Luxury Car
The new Volvo S80 2.5L completes the company’s dominance of the luxury category. Also taking the best in safety award, the sedan was the fastest in braking in the entire test fleet.

Ultra-luxury Car
Beyond the luxury class is the rarified air of no-holds barred power and comfort. The Audi A6 won out for its technical brilliance and superb interior quality.

Sports Car
The Subaru Impreza 2.5 WRX provides the turbo power and four-wheel-drive handling of a pure sports car for what one might pay for an executive car. Rivals should take note that even as the outgoing model gets the award, a new and improved model is set to debut this week.

Crossover and wagon 2WD
If you’re looking for a vehicle with the all the advantages of an SUV but none of the drawbacks, the all-new Honda CR-V beckons. It has a compact exterior but large interior; it’s safe, solid, and predictable on-road. Build quality and fuel efficiency are exemplary.

Crossover and Wagon 4WD
The Subaru Forester 2.5XT may have the space and configuration of a wagon, but it has the driving dynamics of a sports sedan. The turbocharged flat-four engine provides instant torque at any rpm, and a sophisticated four-wheel drive system delivers it to the pavement.

Luxury Crossover and Wagon
Based on the Legacy wagon, the Subaru Outback 3.0R ups the ante with a powerful flat-six engine and raised ground clearance. Acceleration and handling times were the best in its class.

Ultra-luxury Crossover and Wagon
The BMW X5 rewrote the rulebook on large crossovers, providing a driving experience every bit as engaging as its sports sedans. The all-new model expands its appeal by providing a bigger interior that can seat seven.

Compact Van and MPV
Engineered and built for the global market, the Kia Carens CRDi brings a bit of style to the segment. Priced competitively and equipped with a modern diesel engine, the Carens is surprisingly good.

Executive Van and MPV
The Kia Carnival makes a comeback, as the LX short-wheelbase version takes the category prize. For the price of other brands’ entry-level offerings, the Carnival provides the space and features of a full-size MPV.

Luxury Van and MPV
The new Hyundai Grand Starex combines a huge interior good for twelve passengers with a state-of-the-art diesel engine that provides enormous torque despite its moderate displacement.

Ultra Luxury Van and MPV
One of the pioneers in the MPV category, the Chrysler Town & Country, shows that it still has some tricks up its sleeve. The Town & Country features the unique Stow and Go hideaway seats and all-power door setup for easy ingress and egress.

2WD pickup
The new Ford Ranger Trekker debuted this year with updated mechanical bits, chief among them a powerful new 2.5 liter turbo diesel paired to a choice of five speed manual or auto transmissions.

4WD pickup
When you reign, it pours. So it goes for the Ford Ranger XLT, which picks up a second award for its 4x4 version. The new Ranger is built to tackle the toughest off-road challenges and haul the heaviest loads yet it feels confident on the highway.

Compact SUV
The Suzuki Grand Vitara combines the tough chassis of its predecessor with modern engines and an attractive exterior that won’t be out of place at the country club.

Executive SUV
Ford extends its winning streak with the Ford Everest 4x2. Its drivetrain is the best in class, in particular with the excellent five-speed automatic.

Luxury SUV
Mitsubishi’s made-for-America import, the Mitsubishi Endeavor gets the nod for its comfortable ride and relatively affordable price tag.

Ultra-luxury SUV
The size-no-object Chevrolet Suburban takes the prize as ultra-luxury SUV. V8 power and seating for nine make this the choice of those with unlimited budgets.

Car of the Year
Taking the top prize this year is the Volvo C30 hatchback. Volvo made its name in family sedans and wagons, and the C30 is a departure of sorts for the company. Perhaps its sexiest car yet and its most personal vehicle, the C30 expands the brand’s audience yet retains its core values of style, excellent build quality, and safety.

CAGI expanded and revised the categories this year to make the awards more relevant to the car-buying public. The awards were conducted in partnership with Globe Telecoms, Bridgestone, Rockwell Land, The Manila International Auto Show, San Miguel Corp., Standard Insurance, Bosch, San Lazaro Leisure Park, Concept One, Speedlab, Makati Skyline, Xenon Bulbs, H&R, A-Toy Body Kits and Jollibee.

The Car of the Year will also have a special display at the Manila International Auto Show on 3-6 April 2008 at the World Trade Center.

By Jason Ang
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