Home > Journeys > 2023 Foton Thunder 2.0 4×2 A/T Media Drive: Bring on the Thunder, Automatically!

2023 Foton Thunder 2.0 4×2 A/T Media Drive: Bring on the Thunder, Automatically!

We first got a sneak peek at Foton Motor Philippines’ latest entry in the pickup truck segment, the all-new Thunder 2.0, during the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) in April 2022. FMP executives led by United Asia Automotive Group, Inc. (UAAGI) Chairman Rommel Sytin, Director Kenneth Sytin, President Errol Duenas, FMP General Manager Levy Santos unveiled the Thunder 2.0 4×2 M/T with 6-speed manual transmission during the event and announced its P1,180,000 suggested retail price.

Popular singer Bamboo serenades the crowd during the All-New Foton Thunder 2.0 4×2 M/T launch at MIAS 2022.

During the Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) in September 2022, UAAGI and FMP officials teased the audience when they showcased the Thunder 2.0 4×2 A/T variant with 6-speed automatic transmission and boasted that the P1,350,000 pickup truck is “Proudly Made in the Philippines” at the FMP assembly plant in Clark, Pampanga. They fitted the show truck with off-road accessories that created a crowd around the display and appealed to the overlanding enthusiasts. They have succeeded in showing how Foton has definitely gone upmarket since their first Blizzard pickup trucks.

An accessorized Foton Thunder 2.0 4×2 A/T was a crowd favorite at PIMS 2022.

Stealing the Thunder

FMP made us salivate with anticipation for a few months (probably due to the restrictions on activities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic) before they finally gave us a chance to experience the all-new Thunder 2.0 4×2 A/T last January 30th. FMP prepared several units for select members of the local motoring media to drive from the Foton A. Bonifacio dealership in Balintawak, Quezon City to Pampanga and back, but not before we had an early hearty breakfast.

Several Thunder 2.0 4×2 A/T pickup trucks were waiting for us at the Foton A. Bonifacio dealership.

We had the requisite group photo before we drove off.

We immediately jumped into this metallic gray Foton Thunder 2.0 4×2 A/T and drove it like we stole it.

We gladly “stole” one of the gray Thunder pickups and drove off from the Balintawak dealership, on to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), and exited at San Fernando, Pampanga to drive to the new Foton Bacolor dealership located on Jose Abad Santos Avenue, Bacolor, Pampanga. At the dealership, we got to take another sneak peek at the Thunder 2.0 4×4 M/T variant that will be unveiled during the Foton Big Show on February 10-12, 2023 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. The SRP of the 4-wheel drive variant is pegged at P1,298,000.

A white Thunder 2.0 4×2 M/T with factory accessories was on display in front of the Foton Bacolor dealership.

Our small convoy of Thunder 2.0 A/T pickups gathered at the dealership facade.

We took a peek underneath the Thunder 2.0 that was displayed inside the clean showroom.

Taking the Longer Route

After another hearty meal at Foton Bacolor, we got into our respective Thunder pickup trucks and drove through the Mega Dike Access Road where we experienced the Foton’s riding comfort over various types of terrain. We found the ride a bit choppy during slow drives over uneven concrete roads, which is normal for a pickup truck with a heavy duty suspension that has a payload rating of 1,000 kilograms. It seems that despite two hearty morning meals, three well-fed passengers with full bellies are still not much of a load for our Thunder.

We drove through the Mega Dike Access Road in full airconditioned comfort without a care in the world.

Riding comfortably at the back was Steven Edward Yu of C! Magazine, who found the ride a bit choppy but expected of a pickup truck with a payload of 1 metric ton.

We stayed on the access road until we got to the Bayung Porac Mini Park, where we maneuvered on the Manibaug-Mancaitan main road over the Pasig-Potrero River, and into the Porac Access Road. The Thunder 2.0 4×2 A/T was easy to drive and highly maneuverable through the tight sections of the access roads and through city traffic, while its 265/60R18 tires mounted on 12-spoke 6-lug 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels rolled effortlessly on anything that went underneath our pickup truck’s 220-millimeter-high ground clearance.

With improved ergonomics, the best seat in the house for the author is the driver’s seat.

Besides being car-like, the leather interior is decidedly more luxurious and comfortable.

It’s an Aerodynamic Flying Brick      

After skirting around the Alveo Land and Alviera Industrial Park development in Porac, we entered the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and upon clearing the turnpike, we immediately felt the satisfying acceleration provided by 390 Newton-meters of torque coming from its Aucan 2.0-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder engine. On the tollway, we were able to reach the 100km/h speed limit very quickly, especially when we shifted the driving mode of the automatic transmission from E (economy) to S (sport).

The Thunder 2.0 cuts a handsome utilitarian figure as it pulls away on the highway.

With 160 horsepower propelling 2,605 kilograms of a muscularly handsome brick of a pickup truck, we did not expect to break any land speed record, but sufficed to say, our Foton thundered way past the speed limit easily and effortlessly. Its double wishbone independent front suspension and leaf spring-mounted live rear axle worked with the plush cushioned ergonomic leather seats to provide enough comfort on the highways. The best seats in the house are the front seats, of course, but the rear bench seat, while spacious, can be quite choppy when the pickup bed is carrying nothing.

Even on the go, it’s a good-looking pickup with large 18-inch wheels, fat tires and muscular wheel arches.

Proudly Made in the Philippines

We exited SCTEX at Clark South and drove on the nice concrete and asphalt roads around the former American military airbase to get a feel of how the Thunder behaves in city traffic. Because of the increasing number of vehicles on the road and the increasingly heavy traffic, we feel that a thrifty yet torquey turbodiesel mated to an automatic transmission, like the drivetrain of our Thunder, is a near-perfect combination for an everyday workhorse. In fact, the fuel gauge of our Foton barely moved even after driving from Metro Manila to Bacolor, through Porac and into Clark.

We got into the Foton Motor Philippines factory at a little past our schedule…

… but we had enough time to tour the growing factory and its expanding land area.

We reached the Foton Motor Philippines factory a little after 1:00 PM. We were given a little tour of the assembly line where Foton vehicles are made. Unfortunately, we went to the factory several days after a batch of Thunder pickup trucks were assembled, so we were not able to take photos of its assembly process. Because we were behind schedule, our factory tour was shortened so we can proceed to our last stop – lunch at the Americi, a popular Italian restaurant at the Royce Hotel. After a delicious and heavy lunch, we got back into our respective vehicles and drove into the NLEX for a quick drive back to Balintawak.


On the drive back, we felt patriotic and proud that the pickup truck that we’ve been driving all day was assembled by Filipino workers in a Filipino-owned company. We were also awed by how the FMP factory has grown and expanded, even throughout the pandemic economy. Not only were we impressed with the overall performance of our pickup truck, we suddenly felt compelled to patronize Philippine-made products to help strengthen our national economy and promote national pride.

Foton Philippines GM Levy Santos poses proudly with our convoy of Philippine-made Foton Thunder 2.0 4×2 A/T.

Which begs a compelling question: “How can we quickly raise P1.35M so we can get our own 2023 Thunder 2.0 4×2 A/T pickup truck?” Hmm…