Story & photos by Randy S. Peregrino
ONCE again, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has set the bar in organizing their exclusive drive event—worthy of anticipation and recollection. For more than a decade, the annual Toyota Road Trek has touched the hearts and minds of the participants, as it has become a tradition of fun, camaraderie and sociable competition.
Now on its 13th edition, TMP flew in select members of the motoring media to the majestic island of Siargao—the country’s surfing capital. “Siargao is a beautiful place. It has new resorts, and we haven’t been here yet. We felt that this is the place to bring the Road Trek and our activities,” TMP Marketing Manager Carlo Ablaza said.
Divide et impera
For what it’s known for, Toyota Road Trek entails sequences of challenging activities—kept in mystery for the participating groups to tackle as the as the day goes by. Teamed up with our publication’s motoring editor Tet Andolong, veteran columnist Al Mendoza and fellow scribe from another broadsheet Aries Espinosa, we all came prepared for the obstacles ahead. This year, all trivias were about the new Wigo and Siargao.
The initial phase kicked off with three games involving pulling strings with numbers; mystery boxes containing points along with trivia questions; and completing picture puzzles of the new car. Subsequently, the next round in Jafe Resort saw the teams seeking photographed items inside the restaurant and showcasing their creative talents in presenting the closest image rendition of an original photo.
By the time we reached the newly opened Bayud Resort, we savored the sumptuous lunch served with a breathtaking beachfront view. Probably the most spirited round, we went to the famous Cloud 9 surfing grounds to establish the best food photography using a local surfer’s dessert; a groupie photo with the most number of people; and to capture the best surfer-in-action photo. Finally, our last stop was in Siargao Bleu Spa and Resort where the final the bustle took place—to find hidden Toyota emblems with points while we checked in, settled and capped the day with dinner and socials.
Rolling with the Toyotas
TMP commissioned nine of their popular passenger cars. Lined up were two variants of Camry and Yaris, along with three Vios and a lone Prius C plus the newly unveiled Wigo. The initial contest results prompted our group to board the 1.3 E Yaris in dazzling red shade and started rolling with the convoy. Momentarily, it became clear as to why TMP picked their passenger cars to be our transports to various stops. That’s because Siargao, despite being a small island, has well-paved roads and highways.
It was amusing to see an all-Toyota car fleet in different shapes, forms and colors going through winding roads at a steady pace. Inside the Yaris, there’s enough room to accommodate all four of us while enjoying the cozy interior layout with arctic-cold manually controlled aircon. Seats are snug fit to hold you in position during bends and tight turns. Behind the wheel is where you’ll appreciate the driving dynamics of the Yaris. Engine acceleration is as smooth as how the coupled six-speed auto gearbox shifts from gear after gear. Also, the steering feel is light, yet responsive.
The following day was an opportunity for us to do island hopping. As enchanting as it can be, the Guyang islet is surrounded with magnificent rock formations during low tides, while Daco, on the other hand, will greet you with its powdery sands. We made it back to the resort amazed from the picturesque sceneries. Seeing the top spec Camry parked outside, the thought of driving it around to kill time seemed like a good idea. Once inside, the premium feel from all the bells and whistles around was immediately felt. Taking it for a spin was even more pleasurable, as the rural area and its landscapes merely became a scenery from the inside. Everything was virtually seamless and remarkably quiet, which made the spin more of a spa-like session.
First encounter with the new Wigo
First thing to notice is how it finally denotes the keen-look design language present in today’s Toyota vehicles—from the chrome grille, fresh sets of sharp-looking headlamps, pointed chins in the bumper corners, up to the new taillights and rear spoiler. And with the new orange metallic shade, it now certainly looks bolder. Inside, drivers would definitely find that elevated vantage point a plus. Aside from a comfortable legroom, the seats convey a sporty look coming from the orange stitching. Moreover, the new center panel design is now highlighted with silver metallic finish.
Under the hood, Toyota dropped in a new power train (1KR-VE 1.0 liter, three-cylinder, 12-valve, petrol fed) equipped with VVT-i. It generates 65 hp at 6,000 rpm and 89 N-m of maximum torque at 4,000 rpm. Taking it for a spin was even more compelling. You’ll definitely feel that improved output from the smooth and steady acceleration as you reach the cruising speed. The tested variant came with a four-speed gearbox with separate downshifting slots. You’ll find it in handy during ascents with bends as you take control of the shifting patterns. Second gear is where you can squeeze out more torque on ascents. As for maneuverability, it’s downright nimble and handles winding roads while in cruising speeds pretty well. You’ll even find the steering feel fairly responsive and adhering to tight turns. Braking, on the other hand, bits well too.
Our team may have fell short on accumulated points to make it to the top 3 but, nevertheless, our photo for the copycat contest emerged as the best rendition. Meanwhile, a fellow first-timer in Road Trek, TMP Executive Vice President for Marketing Kei Mizuguchi shared exactly how it felt to be part of this event.
“Few days before the Road Trek, I was oriented by our marketing officers with the fun and interesting stories of the legendary event. After all, it has been running for more than a decade. I, as a first time here, look forward to what personal story I can impart to Road Trek’s history,” he said. Indeed, the end of every Road Trek edition is just a prelude to the next upcoming one, which is truly worthwhile.