Going high-end: what to buy before excise tax increases

By Jason K. Ang Philippine Daily Inquirer September 06,2017

It’s a twist on the “What car would you buy if you won the lotto” question. This time, it’s: “What car will you buy before the excise tax increases?”

It may seem like a problem of the wealthy, but with many midlevel vehicles, such as the Ford Everest and Toyota Fortuner, breaching the P2-million mark, many buyers and not just the ultra-rich, are ponying up to buy their wheels this year rather than next.

The planned increase in excise tax in 2018 and beyond, rising rapidly for vehicles priced above P2.1 million, has stimulated demand here and now.

What vehicles are worth buying that may be priced out of reach once the new excise tax kicks in? Here are some worth considering:

MINI Clubman

MINI Clubman

Current price: P3.3 million
It’s a logical choice because it has space for five people and luggage. MINI has taken seriously its mission of turning its hatchback into a proper station wagon. That means more space for both luggage and people.

It’s also cheaper than the Countryman and the related BMW X1. But you really want the MINI hatchback for the looks and handling.

That stretched profile and those un-MINI like taillights grow on you. Add to that the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and you have one very warm station wagon.


Current price: P6.08 million
It’s a compact two-door sedan with space for four. The interior features such niceties as embossed sport seats and carbon fiber trim.

You’d really want it for that 3.0-liter inline-six engine. With 374 ps and 465 Nm coursing through a dual-clutch gearbox, the M2 powers to 100 ph in 4.3 seconds.

The sophisticated chassis promises handling heaven commensurate with the M badge. The looks are just the right balance of discreetness with aggression.

Porsche Macan

Current price: P5.5 million
It’s a logical choice because it’s a Porsche with room for five, and has a big trunk.

Its tall ride height gives the driver a commanding view of the road and a sense of security in a downpour.

But you’d really want it for 90 percent of the driving experience of a 911, without the compromises in space and comfort.

For the high net worth individual with a bad back, this is the sports car to go for.

Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback

Current price: P2.288 million
It’s a logical choice because it has the space and ground clearance of an SUV. But it’s a tall wagon, so it looks better, and doesn’t drive like a lumbering giant.

All-wheel drive and the X-Mode electronic assistance give it quite a bit of rough-road capability.

You’d really want it for the performance from the 3.6-liter flat-six engine. Six-cylinder normally-aspirated engines will likely disappear soon, so it’s best to experience one, before we all buy electric cars.

With 260 ps and 350 Nm, it’s smooth as silk, and with a hint of spine-tingling noise at high revs.

Ford Explorer Sport 3.5L Sport

Current price: P2.905 million
It’s a logical choice because it’s a roomy SUV with seating for seven, and it’s loaded with convenience features.

But you really want it for that sweet 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged engine. If your family status really rules out a Mustang, this could be the next best thing.

The snarl of the engine as it releases 370 ps is, alone, almost worth the price of admission.

Nissan GT-R

Current price: P7.35 million
It’s a logical choice because it’s quieter, more comfortable, and easier to drive than ever. It drives like a sports sedan when you feel like taking it easy.

But you really want it because it’s a GT-R: a supercar-killer in real-world conditions.

Honda Pilot

Honda Pilot

Current price: P3.385 million
It’s a logical choice because it’s one of the best family cars that money can buy.

The looks are rather conservative, but it’s inside where it counts. Honda really thought out the interior of this one, with one delightful feature after another.

Toyota Land Cruiser

Current price: P4,507 million
It’s a logical choice because it seems to defy usual measures of value.

Sure, it’s almost the same price as in the US, which is one of the most competitive auto markets. But P5 million and more for a Toyota SUV still seems like a huge amount of cash.

Huge demand, both for new and used units, almost seems to guarantee that you’ll get your money’s worth for this one.
But you really want it for the commanding driving position and go-anywhere feel.

Volkswagen Passat

Current price: P2.253 million
It’s a logical choice because it’s a German sedan with near-luxury features, at a relatively affordable price.

But you really want it for the elegant and immaculately assembled interior that makes you feel like a chancellor every time you ride it.

Audi A4

Audi A4

Current price: P4.1 million
It’s a logical choice because it’s an Audi that won’t break the bank (as much). The new chassis holds up really well to the demands of both comfort and enthusiastic driving.

But you’d really want it for the sharp look. Inside and out, the A4 is full of handsome touches and details that make it look much more expensive than it is. The virtual instrument panel is super useful.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Current price: P4.79 million
It’s a logical choice because it has the classic good looks and inimitable comfort of a Mercedes-Benz. It has a roomy, high-tech interior that’s as quiet as a church.

But you really want it for the Burmester sound system that easily shatters that silence with concert-level quality.

Mazda CX-9

Current price: P2.78 milion
It’s a logical choice because it seats seven and is powered by a turbocharged gasoline engine, which should help with the fuel economy.

But you’d really want it for the gorgeous looks. The CX-9 has the styling and desirability of cars costing twice as much.

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