Car review of a first-time driver, first-time owner

Not so many people in this country own a car.

While researching something for work, I came across the World Bank statistics that show the number of cars per 1000 people in different countries, and the Philippines has “30 vehicles per 1000 people” as of 2010, compared with 782 in the US, 518 in the UK, and 149 in Singapore (same year). By 2011, the lowest figure belongs to Nepal (7) and the highest, Monaco (842). Some analysts say that in recent years, it’s the Gen Y (25-35 years old) who’s one of the major drivers of auto sales around the world. And what do we, millenials, look for in a car? Technology, affordability, and fuel efficiency (hello, Tesla?).

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My brother Luis at the back with April, me taking a photo of another brother driving the SUV, and Mike on the wheels (SCTEX-TPLEX)

Mike and I bought our first car in April and we’re still happy with it. It’s a midsize subcompact sedan, the latest of Suzuki Swift models called “Dzire” and it’s relatively affordable because of low downpayment. Compared with other light vehicles, Dzire (or other midsize or small cars) is fuel-efficient, and this is important these days when gasoline prices are quite volatile. The first time my tito saw it, he said it looks like a luxury car with its architectural design and neat cream/beige interiors and sleek dashboard. When my father saw it, he seemed pleased; and the first time he rode–I was driving–he was impressed with the aircon and the economy of space inside.

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Family rides

Gone are the days when a tito or tita or a father would joke “get a car!” after looking at all the stuff I carry with me (there were times when I carry my laptop, my shoes, clothes, notebooks, toiletries and other personal effects with me when I travel from one place to another).

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Joems & Ryan ordering a float after the wedding

Our families have both experienced a ride in Dzire since the day we bought it, with help from Mike’s family. When Mike’s brother tied the knot in April, we sort of became everyone’s service car – taking the relatives to and from point A to B, from the wedding preps in the hotel, to taking home the groom and the bride to their nest (passing through a fastfood drive-thru). The car was cool and quiet all the time (the engine doesn’t roar except during ignition; no noise at all).

Weeks after, my family went to Ilocos Sur on a vacation. This was the first time in recent years that I went home with my mother and brothers. My brothers took turns in driving our family SUV, a Crosswind, while racing with Mike. At many points, my brothers and their girlfriends switched places as passengers in our car. It was about 10 hours of driving from Manila, with stop-overs for fuel fill, breakfast, and pee break. Dzire performed well in that break-in. The turbo “button” aka Overdrive could easily pull us to a speed of 100 and even more than 120 kph – okay, yes, we hit 140 kph (not a good practice when breaking in, we were told).

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City driving

Dzire could be your pal in the city. When I drove the car from Commonwealth (aka the “killer avenue”) to Edsa (the most cursed avenue in the Philippines) to South Luzon Expressway, I knew Dzire is going to be a friend. Heh, I sound like I’m advertising it, but I find the car easy to drive, like a bump car. It rolls smoothly, dashboard is gorgeous, and I love the automatic equipment like side mirrors, steering wheel, and power windows. Sound is “surround” because it has four speakers, and every morning on our way to work (when we decide to use the car, anyway) we listen to our favorite radio trio – Chico, Delamar, and Gino on Monster RX.

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We’re already running almost 6000 kilometers and we’ve had a couple of visits to the casa for change oil and maintenance check. We like to take Saturday (that’s what we call our street car named Dzire) to car wash garages almost every week, especially if we had a long, rough drive out of town. Car wash costs us 75 to 80 pesos but we’re generous with tips because we love how the car comes done with a new polished look, black tires, vacuumed interior and wiped dashboard with a thing the boys like to call “armor all.”

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To end this simple car review, I just want to add that frankly, I don’t want to glamorize car ownership since I don’t want Beijing’s pollution in Manila and I don’t feel like equating success with having a nice car, but mobility is important to me, and so is privacy, so I appreciate these moments when I get to ride a car we can call our own – its being a desirable little bunch of love is a plus.

Dimensions & Weight
Length3995 mm
Width1695 mm
Height1555 mm
Wheelbase2430 mm
Ground Clearance170 mm
Kerb Weight990 kg
Capacity
Seating Capacity5 Person
Doors4 Doors
No of Seating Rows2 Rows
Bootspace320 litres
Fuel Tank Capacity42 litres
Engine & Transmission
Engine TypeK-Series Petrol engine with VVT
Displacement1197 cc
Fuel TypePetrol
Max Power85 bhp @ 6000 RPM
Max Torque114 Nm @ 4000 RPM
Mileage (ARAI)17.4 kmpl
Alternate FuelNot Applicable
Bore x Stroke73 mm x 71.5 mm
Valve/Cylinder (Configuration)4, DOHC
Cylinders4, Inline
Fuel SystemMultipoint injection
Transmission TypeAutomatic
No of gears4 Gears
Dual ClutchNo
Sport ModeNo
DrivetrainFWD
Suspensions, Brakes, Steering & Tyres
Suspension FrontMacPherson Strut
Suspension RearTorsion Beam
Front Brake TypeDisc
Rear Brake TypeDrum
Steering TypePower Steering with Tilt
Minimum Turning Radius4.8 metres
Front Tyres165 / 80 R14
Rear Tyres165 / 80 R14
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