Unfazed by the bad publicity hounding its mother company in Germany, Volkswagen Philippines (VWPH) held its first ever ride-and-drive event a fortnight ago to promote the exquisite features of its flagship sport utility vehicle – the Touareg.
The 800-kilometer jaunt would bring the motoring-media participants on a scenic and challenging drive to Baguio in Benguet province, and from Baguio to Sagada in Mountain Province.
Six spanking-new units of the Touareg were used for the event including the Touareg Sport Edition that is powered a 3.0-liter V6 common rail turbo direct injection (TDI) diesel engine that delivers a maximum output of 245 PS (241 horsepower) at 3,800 to 4,400 revolutions per minute and maximum torque of 550 Newton-meters at 1,750 to 2,750 rpm.
Prior to flagging off at the VW dealership in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, VWPH president JP Orbeta urged the participants to totally enjoy the experience of driving and riding in the Touareg, since the route they planned provided the best possible driving environment suited for this class of vehicle.
“We will take you on a very scenic, rustic and even romantic, drive from here to Baguio in Benguet province and from Baguio to Sagada in Mountain Province. All of us have been to Baguio, so I guess you have an idea of the route we’ll be taking. The NLEX-SCTEX-TPLEX route will give you the opportunity to get a feel of the Touareg Sport Edition and its luxury features and functions before you really get to test its capabilities,” he said.
“Then, from Baguio, all the way to Sagada town, you will experience for yourselves the power of the Touareg Sport Edition, and you’ll discover that despite the long hours of being subjected to the challenging uphills and downhills of the mountain passes and zigzag roads, you’ll still find yourselves riding in luxurious comfort,” Orbeta added.
Feeling down with the flu, Orbeta tasked Franz Decleodt, VWPH’s new director for marketing, and Timmy Naval-De Leon, VWPH communications head, to accompany the group in the three-day jaunt. Tagging along was VWPH Chief Operating Adviser Klaus Schadewald, who was to make a very important announcement during the trip.
From the dealership in Taguig, the convoy of Touaregs left right smack in the middle of the morning rush-hour traffic, taking north-bound EDSA toward the North Luzon Expressway. The passengers immediately got to experience the Touareg’s uncompromising comfort through the leather seats, superb audio system and soft ride (provided by the air-suspension), which made the EDSA crawl surprisingly enjoyable.
The drive along NLEX, SCTEX and TPLEX was uneventful with traffic becoming light and highway traffic enforcers making sure that everyone followed the speed limit. Even the drive up along Kennon Road was unexciting as our maximum speed was limited as most of the participants had to take pictures and videos of the convoy.
From Baguio to Sagada
After a 250-kilometer drive, our group finally reached Baguio City, stopping at the Ben Cal Museum for a hearty lunch. The second stop was at the Manor, where the group checked in to rest and prepare for the 150-kilometer drive toward Sagada.
One way 150 kilometers may seem short—but not the Halsema Highway. Halsema is considered as one of the most treacherous highways in the Philippines, considering that its is full of tight twists and turns—with parts getting easily washed away from landslides. Just 10 years ago, travel time from Baguio City to Sagada took almost eight hours, one-way, as the Halsema was paved with rocks and dirt. Now, the entire highway is paved with concrete. However, the average speed is still limited to 30 kilometers per hour as the highway follows the tight and twisty contour of the boonies.
Halsema’s road condition was perfect for the Touaregs. Packed with endless turns and short stretches, the Halsema proved how the Touareg’s Adaptive Chassis Control adapted dynamically to the road condition at hand as well as our driving style. We were like kids set lose in the playground—with everyone punching the powerful engine at every opportunity of a straight road portion. Braking before every tight corner was forthright, with the SUV taking every corner like its on rails, thanks to its 4Motion All Wheel Drive system.
The tight twists and turns went on for 150 kilometers until we reached Sagada, just in time for lunch. There, Klaus Schadewald made the announcement that VW Germany had ascertained that none of the VW units sold in the country are affected by software loaded in US-made cars. “All vehicles distributed and sold by Volkswagen Philippines comply with Philippine emissions regulations and standards,“ Schadewald said. “We at Volkswagen Philippines sincerely apologize to all our customers for the undue stress and inconvenience this issue may have caused,“ the VW exec added.
After the quick lunch, heavy rain started to pour so the group decided to forego the planned Sagada tour and head back to Baguio and avoid possible landslide that may be caused by the downpour. The 150-kilometer trip took another five hours, yet the long tortuous drive did not make us feel fatigued. Surprisingly, everyone in the convoy still had the power to have dinner and drinks until the wee hours of the night.
By the way, did I mention that the Touareg averaged 14 kilometers per liter consumption along the highway and 9-kilometers per liter consumption on the boonies?
The drive to Sagada and back proved how functional and luxurious the Touareg really is. Imagine all the power and luxury you get, the safety it provides, the technology that comes with it, the comfort of a true-blue SUV and the fuel-efficiency that goes with it—the Touareg truly is something to be desired.