Life, Lavida style
When I tried to figure out Volkswagen’s running theme when it came to the names of their releases, their product specialist said he’d get back to me on it.
It’s the response I kind of expected anyway, with nameplates like Beetle, Touareg, Tiguan, Passat, Jetta, Golf, and Santana.
It had been a while since my last VW test drive, so I was pretty curious about the new Lavida.
The definition on your first Kilometer
Life, is what the all-knowing Google translates la vida. VW fused the words to one, but it’s still undeniably what it implies.
On an all-stock, refrigerator white compact sedan with understated aesthetics, you’d wonder why it’s named so.
Pulling out of a parking slot gave me a couple of clues. Steering was light, and the car’s response to gentle pressure on the throttle was a surprisingly eager.
The first word I muttered (with a smile) while in the driver’s seat was “torquey.”
Exiting the parking building, I had a good idea of what to expect.
As a compact sedan, it’s about the size of, and competing directly with, the likes of the Toyota Altis, Hyundai Elantra, and Ford Focus, and honestly among those that I’ve mentioned, the Volkswagen Lavida to me is the most understated.
In white and fitted with stock wheels, its look runs the risk of being called bland.
I had really been enamored with its bigger brother, the Passat, on which it bears a striking resemblance—so I was preparing for a surprise. I was right.
On my first kilometer, sifting through mid-afternoon traffic in a business district, the Lavida revealed its most salient characteristic—effortless and agile handling.
Sure, some of its counterparts in the compact car category have abundant power on tap, but at the expense of larger engine displacements. The Lavida is equipped with a compact 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with Bluemotion technology, which utilizes a set of technical enhancements to keep the engine light and fuel-efficient, and reduce emission levels to a minimum.
Teetering at the edge of being a full-sized sedan, this compact car is relatively roomy. How it behaves and handles, however, is its most impressive attribute.
It accelerates like a typical torque-y diesel engine-powered premium luxury European sedan that’s at three times its price, so right there is an instant benefit for the Lavida owner. The P1,171 million price tag certainly illustrates it more vividly.
The Volkswagen Lavida’s powerful engine is optimally mated to a 7-speed DSG (direct shift gearbox) transmission that enables it to shift smoother and faster, minimizing power wastage in between gears, which provides for a seamless assertive acceleration in the most fuel-efficient manner.
Couple that with a well-connected steering feel (that you normally get from costlier cars), and you’ve got a car that is the definition of an effortless drive.
I stepped out of this car feeling a lot less tired and harassed from the 2-3 hour drive of our typical rush hour traffic, compared to a car with the same kind of power and all the aesthetic frills and maxed-out bells and whistles.
The Lavida’s monochromatic, mostly black, interior is pretty straightforward.
Its instrumentation is all business, with an ignition start/stop button located near the base of its A/T shifter.
Its Climatronic airconditioning system even has an air-quality sensor and an anti-allergenic filter to keep the cabin cool and fresh.
So, if there’s a car that would take the most stress out of driving, this has got to be a top candidate.
The Lavida is packed with the stuff that really matters, and you’ll quickly grow attached to it especially if you prioritize performance and driving fulfillment over a car that mainly capitalizes on its exterior design.
It’s what’s beyond the packaging that counts, and I think that’s what life—and Lavida is all about.