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2019 Volkswagen Santana 1.4 Trendline: The People’s Car Returns

Volkswagen” is an amalgamated German word that combines “volks” (people) and “wagen” (car) to describe the originator’s goal to create the people’s car or a German car that can be afforded by the masses. The original people’s car was the 1938 Volkswagen Type 1, which could be purchased through a special savings scheme called Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy) or the KdF. The Type 1 was named as the KdF-Wagen but eventually became more popularly known as the “Kafer” or Beetle because of its distinctive shape.

1938 Volkswagen Type 1 – the original people’s car

The factory, which was known as Volkswagenwerke, provided employment, hope and pride for the war-ravaged German people, and was partially responsible for the recovery of the city of Wolfsburg and of the German economy after World War II.  Volkswagenwerke later became the global conglomerate car company, the Volkswagen Group, and expanded to include other luxury and sports car brands such as Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, and Lamborghini, as well as the performance motorcycle, Ducati. Despite their upmarket growth, Volkswagen remained true to its original vision of building a “people’s car” and their latest version is the 2019 Volkswagen Santana 1.4 Trendline.

The Santana 1.4 Trendline is the latest modern volks (peoples) wagen (car).

Ventures Worldwide

With various business ventures in Germany (VW, Audi, Porsche), England (Bentley), Italy (Lamborghini and Ducati), and around the world (assembly plants and distribution networks), Volkswagen was the first European car manufacturer to enter the emerging Chinese market. The car brand became immensely popular across China that a partnership with Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation (SAIC) was formed in 1984. The Volkswagen Group’s partnership with SAIC produced an opportunity to manufacture and assemble cars in the Southeast Asian region at lower costs to achieve the company’s goal of producing a people’s car. Thus, because of the Volkswagen-SAIC connection, AC Motors, the automotive arm of the Ayala Corporation under AC Industrials, and the mother company of Volkswagen Philippines, is able to bring in the base Santana at only P686,000.

That’s right! this handsome European automobile can be had for only P686,000!

For that amount, you get a distinctive European 4-door sedan that’s designed with an unmistakable Teutonic character and reliable German engineering. Our Santana test drive unit looked elegant in Deep Black with the bright works in the headlight reflectors and chrome strips in the grille adding a subtle contrast. The front fascia provides a familial connection to the Volkswagen lineup while the rear design shows conservative restraint with only the chromed VW badge and the “Santana” script adorning the flanks. The side profile is raked at the front to evoke a sense of movement even when the car is parked. Overall, it is a handsome and efficient design.

There’s the familial Volkwagen face with subtle bright work…

… slightly raked side profile…

… and European design restraint at the back.

The 14 x 5J steel wheels with silver plastic covers, shod in Hankook Kinergy EX 175/70R14 tires, reveal that it’s a base Santana.

Vehicular Wonder

Today’s modern computer-aided design and development (CADD), 3D printing, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), and robotic assembly line have conspired to produce automobiles with tight manufacturing tolerances, improved quality, and intelligent use of space. Our base Santana is no exception. The tight fit-and-finish and high quality throughout the exterior is carried on inside the car. The seats are ergonomic, comfortable, amply padded and bolstered, and are covered in durable gray textile with a subtle checkered pattern in the middle. The VW engineers made clever use of the space between the Santana’s compact 2.6-meter wheelbase to fit ample legroom in the front and rear seats, and between the car’s 1.7-meter width to fit ample hip and elbow room. Designers of the original Type 1 Beetle would be astonished with what engineers can accomplish today with the use of advanced technology!

The front seats are ergonomic, comfortable and slightly bolstered.

The Teutonic character continues to the rear seats.

The driver faces a nicely -rimmed steering wheel with a flat bottom, easy-to-reach controls…

… and a highly legible instrument panel with two large dials for the tach and speedo and an LCD screen.

To further ensure the comfort of the occupants, the air-conditioning system of our base Santana is fitted with a pollen filter. To ensure their safety, the car is fitted with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), dual SRS airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchorage points. Our test unit was fitted with the optional Blaupunkt infotainment system with 7-inch touch screen display, AM/FM radio, CD/MP3 /DVD player, AUX and dual USB connections, SD card storage, and a subwoofer mounted under the driver’s seat. The sound generated by the two front speakers is already rich but some highly discerning car audiophiles might want to add a couple more speakers tweeters at the front, a couple of mid-range speakers at the rear door, and a couple of speakers at the rear parcel shelf. Thankfully, these add-ons can be easily sourced at any aftermarket auto shop around the country.

Rotary volume control and tuning/selector knob of the optional Blaupunkt Philadelphia 865 infotainment system compliments the rotary A/C control knobs.

The Blaupunkt 7-inch touch screen display includes satellite navigation and rear camera monitor functions.

The bass is enhanced by this subwoofer that is mounted underneath the driver’s seat.

We found this control pod and we think it’s for the sat-nav or the equalizer but we’re not really sure.

Very Worthy

Our test base-model Santana is powered by a 1.4-liter multi-point fuel injection (MPI) inline 4-cylinder with double overhead camshafts and 16 valves that churns out 88.5 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. With 132 Newton-meters of torque at 3,800 rpm and a 5-speed manual transmission, our Santana 1.4 Trendline can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 12.4 seconds and reach a factory-claimed top speed of 181 km.h. The factory claims an estimated fuel economy of 4.6 liters per 100 kilometers or 21.7 kilometers per liter. Despite the heavy traffic in the city, we averaged around 10.3 km/L during our one-week stint at the wheel of this Volkswagen.

Transverse-mounted 1,395cc MPI inline-4 makes 90PS@5000rpm and 132Nm@3800rpm…

… and mated to a 5-speed stick shift to reach 0-100 km/h in 12.4 seconds and a top speed of 181 km/h.

The trunk can swallow 466 liters of luggage and other stuff…

… while a full-size spare tire, some tools and an EWD are hidden underneath the carpeted trunk floor cover.

Volkswagen Philippines is enjoining car buyers in the country to make the Santana 1.4 Trendline as “your someday car, your today car“. Aside from its affordable price of P686,000, they cite its once-a-year maintenance or every 10,000-kilometer periodic maintenance service (PMS) as another compelling reason to “drive the German-engineered car of your dreams today.” After driving this car for a week, we agree with their marketing thrust and highly recommend this base-model Volkswagen to first-time car buyers because of its smooth operation, Teutonic character, and high quality. We really enjoyed rowing through the gears with the 5-speed stick in spite of the dreary stop-and-go traffic. Aside from being a true affordable people’s car, this 2019 Volkswagen Santana 1.4 Trendline has also brought “fahrvergnügen” or the joy of driving the wagen back to the volks.

The VW Santana 1.4 Trendline is also available in Polar White…

… and Reflex Silver like those units used by the sales personnel of Home Depot.


Vehicle Type               :           Front-engine, FWD, 4-door sedan

Price                             :           P686,000.00

Engine                         :           Liquid-cooled inline-4 DOHC 16V

Displacement             :           1,395cc

Transmission             :           5-speed manual

Power                           :           88.5hp@5500rpm

Torque                         :           132Nm@3800rpm

Wheelbase                   :           2603 mm

Length                          :           4475 mm

Width                           :           1706 mm

Height                          :           1469 mm

Curb Weight               :           1100 kg

Fuel Tank Capacity   :           55 liters

Front Suspension      :           Independent, McPherson type

Rear Suspension       :           Semi-independent composite torsion beam

Front Brakes              :           Ventilated discs

Rear Brakes                :           Drum

Steering System         :           Rack and pinion

Power Assistance       :           Electric

Wheels                         :           14 x 5J steel wheels with plastic covers

Tires                             :           Hankook Kinergy EX 175/70R14

Claimed Fuel Mileage :           21.7 km/liter (4.6 liters per 100 km)

Ave. Fuel Mileage      :           10.3 km/liter (as tested)



Volkswagen Philippines

11th Floor Bonifacio One Technology Tower

3030 Rizal Drive West corner 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City,

Taguig City, Metro Manila

Tel. No.: (02) 459-4555