‘Talisay-burgring’ puts HR-V through its paces


Attractive crossovers in single file

If I could call it an NPE, for want of a more palatable term, then so be it. But if you must know, an NPE is a near-puke experience, like the NDE is of the deathly kind.

It obviously means that I nearly blew—but thankfully I didn’t, or I would be the bubbly, gurgly talk of the town.

I wouldn’t blame the ride, nor the driver. It was the darn course, like we were inside the twisted innards of an enormous dinosaur, and we couldn’t wait to drive out of there.

Maybe, if I were the one driving, I wouldn’t feel my own stomach making somersaults. But being the back seat passenger during a 12-kilometer mountain climb from zero to nearly 700 meters above sea level, featuring non-stop zig-zags and hairpin turns, I thanked God I didn’t eat a full meal before this drive.

Crisp pace led by the Ramirezes

The Tagaytay-Talisay mountain pass is as scenic as it is treacherous, and often called the “killer loop.” I personally call it the Talisay-burgring, in reference to the notorious Nürburgring Grand Prix race track complex in the town of Nürburg in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, which has claimed numerous lives for its deceptively difficult course.

The Talisay-burgring connects the Tagaytay junction in Cavite to Talisay in Batangas.

The magnificent scenery framed by the view of Taal Lake and its active volcano on one side, and of the lush forest on the ridge’s slope on the other, makes this one of my favorite leisure driving spots.

It turns out that this was one of the favorite racing courses of the Ramirez clan decades ago. No surprise, since this pass features 15 hairpin turns and sheer drops at every turn.

So, it wasn’t just coincidence that we were, shall we say, “reminiscing” the old days in a quite hurried manner while Georges and his brother Louis led the way up.

Other than this vertigo-inducing part, the 300-km media ride-and-drive for the new Honda HR-V last Sept. 12 and 13—starting from Bonifacio Global City, to Cavite, Batangas, and finally up to Tagaytay City—was pleasant (to the gut, at least), and truly highlighted the strong points of the 1.8 E CVT and the 1.8 RS Navi CVT of the HR-V crossover SUV.

An elegant Lunar Silver Metallic HR-V

Introduced by Honda Cars Philippines Inc. to the Philippine market last Aug. 23, the new HR-V proved able to handle the rigors of this tortuous climb, its 1.8L i-VTEC engine—generating 141 ps (150 kW) of power for steady cruising during highway run, and 172 NM of torque for acceleration and pulling power—high-revving all the way to the top of the ridge.

For a more spirited drive, I used the Sport mode with our assigned 1.8 E CVT HR-V, wrapped in passion red pearl color.

The Sport mode, combined with the use of the paddle shifters, yielded for us an average fuel consumption of 9.8 km/liter.

The entire route also made us feel the HR-V’s handling capabilities, made more confident with the vehicle stability assist preventing the vehicle from over- or understeering.

The hill start assist, which prevents the vehicle from rolling back during inclined stops, was useful when we had to abruptly stop and line up at steep portions of the route for one reason or another, all the while with the vehicle behind us too close for comfort.

The next day, Sept. 13, on our way back to Manila from Tagaytay, I drove the 1.8RS Navi CVT variant on mostly downhill and level highway runs, so I switched to Economy mode, which gave out a fuel mileage reading of 17.3 km.

When the economy mode is activated, all vital systems are optimized for improved fuel efficiency, though at the expense of the spirited S drive.

The eco-coaching ambient meter helpfully indicated at a glance how efficiently I was driving.

Considering the HR-V is a compact crossover, it does have spacious legroom and headroom.

Aside from space and fuel-efficiency, the HR-V and its new RS variant’s refreshed exterior styling emanates that yuppie appeal.

Check out the RS variant’s revitalized front facia with its new front grille and distinctive LED headlights, and the new wheel design (17-inch sport black alloy wheels).

“The perfect compact SUV for Filipinos with an active lifestyle,” is how HCPI’s president and general manager Noriyuki Takakura describes the new HR-V.

Wet and bright-eyed in Talisay

“With all these new upgrades and features found in the 2018 HR-V, we look forward to providing more joy to our customers as we try to further cater to the needs and demands of the Filipino market. As always, we do our very best to serve and satisfy more Filipino customers and families to make their dreams of owning a Honda come true,” he adds.

I got hold of an owner of the 2018 HR-V E CVT variant via the Honda HR-V Club Philippines, and asked him why he decided to buy the vehicle.

“Initially, I wanted a seven-seater, like the Toyota Rush, Mitsubishi Xpander or the Honda BR-V. However, they were big bodied with small 1.5-liter engines. Being a Honda small car user since the late 1990s, I turned my eye to the HR-V with its 1800cc engine with the same platform as the Jazz, cargo space-wise,” this new buyer, who requested anonymity, said.

The compact crossover HR-V is priced from P1.295 million to P1.495 million. If you’re in the market for a spacious, big-engine compact crossover, you can head on to any of the 38 Honda dealerships nationwide, or log on to www.hondaphil.com.

And if you’re trying the Talisay-burgring, make sure you do a BLOWBAG check on your vehicle, plus provide a blowbag to any hapless backseat passenger you’ll be bringing along.

A streak of red amidst the lush greens

Members of the Philippine motoring media after tackling the climb from Bonifacio Global City to Tagaytay City via Cavite and Batangas

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