Chery Tiggo 8 goes to Los Baños
Less than 70 km south of Manila lies the city of Los Baños, a popular weekend destination for families for its therapeutic pools of mineral hot springs at the base of the dormant and mystic Mount Makiling. For academics, Los Baños is home to the sprawling University of the Philippines.
For drivers like me who’d love to escape the humdrum and monotony of city life every so often, Los Baños offers mountainside roads that would make you roll down the windows and breathe real forest air.
Specifically, I’m talking about Jamboree road, which begins from the Manila South Road-UPLB junction, and runs for about 5.7 km along the side of Mount Makiling, which at 1,091 meters above sea level, is the highest feature of the Laguna volcanic field.
Along Jamboree Road, I drove with the seven-seater Chery Tiggo’s wide panoramic sunroof fully opened. That experience was a bonus, as I just intended to go on a vegan food trip to Vraja Vegan and Vegetarian Cuisine inside the UPLB campus while driving a luxury automatic transmission SUV. The mountain breeze offered by Makiling turned out to be refreshing “appetizer.”
Vraja—located at the Alumni Plaza along Manuel Roxas Street in UPLB—opened just last November, while the Chery brand, a Chinese automobile manufacturer founded in 1997, was reintroduced to the Philippines also in November of 2019 as Chery Auto Philippines. In a way, Vraja and Chery are two “babies” in local enterprise.
Based on my experience with these two newbies, however, these two have a mountain of potential.
Vraja is classified as a fast food vegan/vegetarian restaurant serving a wide variety of familiar dishes “veganized” or made vegetarian for the UPLB community. Chery Auto Philippines, on the other hand, offers passenger cars, minivans, and SUVs.
What’s different about my experience with Chery is that, the first time the automaker endeavored to do business in this country more than 10 years ago, I had a rather unpleasant test drive experience with its then flagship subcompact hatch model. This time, with Chery under new distributorship with United Asia Automotive Group Inc. (cleverly shortened to UAAGI, the same company that distributes and assembles Foton), my experience so far, particularly with the Tiggo 8, has been far better.
It certainly helps boost any Chery driver’s confidence that Chery Auto Philippines now boasts of a 5-year bumper-to-bumper general vehicle warranty, and a whopping 10-year or 1 million km engine warranty, topped off with a free PMS for three years.
The level of sophistication of the Tiggo 8 itself is impressive. As I entered the vehicle, I heard a techno sound akin to a cellphone powering up, and then the infotainment system turns on even before I power the engine on. The digital dashboard instrumentations are loaded with info, it’s nearly overwhelming. I had to resort to reading the owner’s manual to learn how to reset the average fuel economy, trip meters, etc.
The 10.25-inch HD intelligent touch screen entertainment system also displays a 360-degree HD panoramic view camera for me to see every single spot around the vehicle, complemented by sensors installed at the front and back. Enhancing the level of safety in backing maneuvers are the dynamic track reverse image and front and reverse radar.
Features I also found useful were the dual zone auto climate control consisting of a sensor panel and two knobs, a vent for rear passengers, push button start and stop, and button controls for the sunroof. There’s also the power folding side view mirrors with heater, key sensing tailgate, 6-way electric seat adjustment, and a multifunction squared-off steering wheel with control buttons.
The compact engine of the midsize Chery Tiggo 8 crossover packs enough power to take on the frenetic pace along the expressway, and for a spirited drive even in moderately steep mountain climbs, thanks to the turbocharged intercooler for its 1.5-liter gasoline engine, producing 145 hp and 210 Nm of torque managed by a 6-speed dual clutch transmission. There’s no lumbering feeling at all. For the 130-km round trip, I managed to get up to 7.5 liters per 100 km average fuel mileage (around 13.3 km/liter).
According to Chery Auto Philippines, the Tiggo 8 belongs to a family of Tiggo variants available in the country, and that includes the Tiggo 2, Tiggo 5x and Tiggo 7. The Tiggo 8 is essentially crafted for adventure-seekers, young executives or family-oriented individuals, as Chery Auto Philippines expects the Tiggo 8 to satisfy its target market in terms of style, quality, and dynamics.
The Tiggo 8 is an elegant head turner, sporting 18-inch two-tone coated mag wheels, aggressive radiator grilles and front bumper. At 4.7 meters in length, 1.858 meters in width and 1.746 meters in height, the Tiggo 8 is the biggest in the Tiggo family, as it should if it does intend to carry seven warm bodies and cargo to boot.
For additional safety, the Tiggo 8 is installed with dual, front, and side curtain airbags. It is also equipped with Isofix interface, electronic anti-theft system, and a plethora of driver-assist features such as anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), and hill assist control.
My drive with the Tiggo 8, however, is literally half the story. The destination caps off a great journey. My body’s gas tank was running on empty by the time I parked beside Vraja. So I wasted no time ordering its vegan bestsellers: The Adobo Rice Platter; Vegechon; plant-based Sweet & Sour dish that mimics the taste of chicken nuggets; and Spicy Wingbeans, washed down with ginger beer and pineapple-orange juice.
The establishment itself is visually appealing. The round structures are surrounded by trees, but with enough open spaces conducive for introspection.
The Tiggo 8 and Vraja were certainly not in my bucket list prior to this experience. But life serves up some pleasant surprises, and I’m quite glad I took a second chance on Chery, and this time we started on the right foot.
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