Editor’s Note: The hard drive of our desk top computer, where we store the images and texts of most of our stories, crashed not long after the author finished editing some of the stories we were about to post. After several months of anxious waiting, we were finally able to retrieve some of the valuable data from that hard drive. Here’s the late post of one of those stories:
When I learned from Stacey Vasquez of Volkswagen Philippines that part of the ride-and-drive activity that they were planning for the media included a lesson in molding clay into a cup or a vase, images of Demi Moore and the late, great Patrick Swayze in the cult classic movie “Ghost” romantically cavorting before a clay spinning table to the tune of “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers danced in my head. I’ve never tried molding clay with my bare hands before, but hey, I’m willing to try anything – with or without Demi Moore.
So, one early morning in the last week of September, I joined several colleagues in the motoring beat at AC Motors Centrale for an idyllic 150-kilometer journey from Bonifacio Global City (BGC) to Tagaytay City with the 2022 Volkswagen T-Cross. Before we left, we had a sumptuous breakfast of a fusion of native treats and we were given a short presentation of the various features of this compact sport utility vehicle (SUV). I must admit that it was very hard to steer my mind away from the “Ghost” movie love-scene-with-the-clay-mold and pay close attention to the VW product guy pointing out to the fine points of the T-Cross’ engineering.
We were told that the T-Cross is produced in four key facilities worldwide – Brazil, China, Germany and India – and that each T-Cross produced in any of these facilities bears the same precision engineering and global standards of craftsmanship the Volkswagen brand has been known for. I also learned that before it was introduced in the Philippines in 2021, it was launched globally and simultaneously in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Shanghai in China in 2018.
VW PH is proud of the fact that the T-Cross that has received multiple awards around the world such as “Best Compact SUV” at Business Car Awards 2019 in the United Kingdom; “Compact SUV of the Year” at the 2020 Continental Tyres Irish Car of the Year in Ireland; “Best Exterior Volume Brand” at Frankfurt Motor Show 2019 in Germany; “Compact SUV of the Year” by UOL Carros 2019 and L’Auto Preferita in Brazil; and a “Compact Family Car” category win in the 5th annual Cars.co.za Consumer Awards in South Africa. Whew! That’s a lot of awards for this compact SUV!
Notes from the Backseat
Even though the journey to Tagaytay and back was supposed to be a “ride-and-drive” event, I let the “young ones”, Wowie Go of C! Magazine and Cesar Miguel of Philkotse.com, share driving duties instead, especially since I’ve already experienced the T-Cross for our “Driven” section just a few weeks prior. Besides, as the more “senior” member of the motoring media in our group, I don’t mind being chauffeured every once in a while. I also think it’s a great way to experience the spacious backseat and test the 329-liter luggage compartment, where we stored most of our stuff, like camera bags, personal items, and whatever we’ll be taking with us from our pottery-making exercise.
As Wowie sped through the highways, the words “solid”, “stable”, and “comfortable” came to my mind. Sitting at the backseat demonstrated the T-Cross’ precise German engineering and their attention to detail. The laser welding technology at the factory along with the forged steel door hinges and high-strength panels contribute to a strong and rigid body structure while the resulting consistent door seals and panel gaps demonstrate its world-class fit-and-finish. I also realized that the 60/40 rear seat could be folded to expand the cargo area up to 1,319 dry liters, which is more than enough if the three of us “upsized” the clay pot we were to supposed to make. (Of course, one of us would have to transfer to another T-Cross if we all “supersized” our work.)
Even with our combined err… “heavy” weight, our T-Cross, with its 1.5-liter Multi Point Injection (MPI) 4-cylinder gasoline engine and 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, breezed through the mountain roads climbing up to Tagaytay. With 111 horsepower (113 PS) and 145 Newton-meters of torque, our Volkswagen crossover made easy work of the 700-meter elevation change while its BlueMotion technology optimizes fuel economy and its Euro 6 standards minimizes emissions without robbing power. I don’t know if Wowie used Cruise Control or the Sport Mode during his turn at wheel but if he did, he sure was smooth because I didn’t feel anything at the back.
I really felt safe as a backseat passenger because I knew that the T-Cross SE came with safety features such as Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), Hill Hold Control (HHC), and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR). Both of my young drivers also found it easy to park with the Rear Parking Distance Control and the rear camera. We enjoyed the fast lively music playing from Wowie’s phone to the vehicle’s infotainment system, which features an Active Info Display, 9.2-inch infotainment monitor and Wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity. There were times, though, that I found myself lost trying to catch up with the tech jargon coming from my two much-younger car mates.
First Time For Everything
Upon arriving at the Abgatan ti Manila mini-resort in Alfonso, Cavite, we were treated to some light snacks before we started our clay molding activity. Instead of a slow rotating table to mold our clay like what Demi Moore used in the movie, we were ushered to tables where we were going to work on our “obra maestra” (masterpieces). Ms. Rita Badilla-Gudiño mentored us on how to transfer our idea – whether it’s a small vase, tissue holder, or pen holder – into a paper guide from which to mold the clay from. We were taught techniques on how to roll, mold and leave designs or impressions on the clay and we used some of the basic tools to learn these techniques.
Some of my colleagues started working on small vases while some, like Matt Mallari of Motoring Today/Auto Focus, made tissue holders. I initially wanted to make an artsy auto-themed paper weight but later changed it to a pen holder that would look like a groovy Volkswagen Beetle with an open sunroof. Unfortunately, because of the limited materials and time constraints, my work looked more like a Citroen 2CV… or a bad shoe. We were told that the type of clay we used will have to be subjected to a furnace blast for it to harden and glaze like a ceramic tile. I chose a brown-colored glaze for my “work of art” and hoped for the best. But, hey, it’s my first time, okay?!
Windmills of Your Mind
After we had our fun with the clay molds like kids with playdough, we were herded back into our assigned vehicle. Cesar got into the driver’s seat, Wowie rode shotgun while I stayed at the back. We drove to Hillbarn, a restaurant with a large windmill at its façade, and were treated to a sumptuous lunch. We joked that our friends at Volkswagen Philippines were trying to fatten us up so we could really test the suspension and handling characteristics of the T-Cross. We also joked that the extra weight we gained during the day would be useful as extra ballast to improve the fuel mileage when driving down back to the lowlands.
Because my 83-year-old Mama, who was at the hospital recovering from a hip replacement surgery, asked me to buy her some buko (coconut) pie, I had to leave our T-Cross convoy and ride with Louie Ramirez to a pie shop along the highway. Nevertheless, we caught up with the convoy somewhere near the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and then regrouped back at AC Motors Centrale in BGC, where they prepared… you guessed it… another meal. (I think I gained 10 kilos that day!) After a quick bite, I took some photos of the outdoorsy T-Cross they had on display at the showroom before I thanked our friends at Volkswagen Philippines and bid everyone adieu.
On the drive home in my car, I cannot help but marvel at the motoring lifestyle that I just experienced with the T-Cross. The 4-door sedan that I was driving suddenly felt less exciting unlike the “cool” Volkswagen crossover that I was riding in earlier. Perhaps, it was the fun and creative activities of the day, or perhaps it was its versatility, but one thing is for sure – the Volkswagen T-Cross is “More Than One Thing” for those who are lucky enough to own and drive one.
Prices for the 2023 Volkswagen T-Cross starts at PhP1,340,000. Colors available include Tribu Yellow, Syringa Violet, Romance Red, Moonstone Grey, Makena Turquoise, and Pure White. Volkswagen Service Advantage makes maintaining your T-Cross easier with once-a-year or 10,000-kilometer periodic maintenance service (PMS); 100,000 kilometers or 3-year warranty coverage program (whichever comes first), 3-month stock on parts, enhancements in service quality via Express Service, and free 24/7 Emergency Roadside Assistance (ERA). Volkswagen Philippines ensures that only technicians mentored by globally certified trainers, and backed by on-site and virtual diagnostic technical support, look after your T-Cross. “Keep your Volkswagen running like a Volkswagen.”