Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Skoda Fabia Mk.3

2015 Skoda Fabia

The Skoda Fabia is now on its third-generation and for the latest regeneration of Skoda's bestseller, this new model wants to go back to basics with its new platform, new choice of engines, and a new design that looks pretty much average for the motorist's eye.

So, what's new? Everything. The design, the performance, the chassis, everything's new and by the looks of it, it now resembles more like its German twin, the Volkswagen Polo, but with a little more odd ball than the previous model. Because it wears the VW Group's MQB platform, the new Fabia is now 90mm wider and 31mm lower than the previous model. It's now lighter as well because of the new engine choices.

Depending on the variant, the new Fabia comes with a 1.0L MPi, 1.2 TSi, and the 1.4 TDi. The most powerful in the lineup for now is the one with the 1.2 TSi engine developing 110PS of power and 175Nm of torque. With the 7-speed DSG equipped, 0-100kph takes about a moderate 9.4 seconds and a top speed of a not-so-much 196km/h. Not quite as fast as it seems but a little power goes for a long way for first-time drivers who got themselves a driver's license for the very first.

Oh, and before you say it, No. There won't be a high-performance version of the Fabia because the previous version's hot model didn't meet up to its expectations.

2015 Skoda Fabia

Like any other commoner's car, the new Fabia feels somewhat average. It may not be brilliant to drive but it's not quite dull either. You can drive one of these for work or for the fun of it and the Fabia really balanced out with the comfort of the sedan, the touring-ness of a wagon, the spaciousness of the MPV, and the sportiness of a sports car. Still, this is a different story because this is a hatchback while the more roomier Combi version to follow but if you can balance that out, the new Fabia is a car with a whole lot of character to portray as. It can be comfortable, it can be spacious, it can be sporty, but overall, the new Fabia is working very hard to fit into any kind of role it see fit.

2015 Skoda Fabia interior

While the interior is a fair bit of average in terms of quality, it still works exactly as what a car should be and for the fun of it, you can fiddle its infotainment system if you have the knowledge because for the first time, the new Fabia features the new SmartGate function which works like your smartphone as well as the new MirrorLink where your smartphone can be easily paired and use specific apps that both your phone and the car had. Looks like today's going to be a great day for the Fabia thanks to science, after all.

The new Fabia has a techno overload of gadgets. While some provide convenience to the occupants, most of the gadgets are here to make the new Fabia a safer car to be. There's the new Front Assistant with integrated City Emergency Braking Function and the Multi-Collision Brake, Driver Activity Assistant, Speedlimiter, Hill-Hold Control, and electronic tyre pressure monitor.

2015 Skoda Fabia

Should you buy one? The new Skoda Fabia starts at 234,900 Czech Koruny, which is the equivalent of around 8,500 Euros, so it's more affordable to own than the VW Polo or the VW Golf. It's a smart buy for the first timers but you'll need some more cash if you want to opt in for some optional extras as well as the sat-nav that comes with MirrorLink and SmartGate just for the fun of it.

Photo: Skoda Auto a.s.

REMEMBERING 2014 (Conclusion)


Welcome back. Let's continue where we left off...

- DongYan wedding - It was early August 2014 during Marian Rivera's self-titled variety show on GMA when one of the celebrity guests, none other than actor Dingdong Dantes, took the spotlight on national television. What he did is very special as both Marian and Dingdong are engaged as seen on public television. Fast forward to now, and the wedding between Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes finally happened since yesterday, December 30, 2014. Everyone witnessed the most exciting day of the showbiz couple's lives.

- Black people vs. white policemen - The killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner by white policemen that pleaded "not guilty" for their crimes they commit against black people who are law-abiding citizens (or so they thought) sparked anger from the American public where mass protests occurred nationwide demanding justice for the black people killed by white policemen. The city of Ferguson, Missouri, where the shooting of Michael Brown by a white policeman took place, faced violent protests at an unprecedented scale, creating widespread disorder.

The Last Kapit-Bisig - The hit ABS-CBN daytime TV series, Be Careful With My Heart, concluded their two-year run with their final episode aired on November 28, 2014.

The final episode ends at Maya's birthday party where all of Maya's friends and family as well as the Lim family with Sir Chief on it as they said their memorable moments about Maya's life-changing moments that influenced most of the characters in the show. Everyone's together, singing their final Kapit-Bisig song to the very end.

It's been one heck of a wild ride while it lasted and even though this hit TV show ends, we all end up with a slight smile on our faces. Well, the adventures of Maya Dela Rosa and the Lim family have come to a bittersweet end but their KAPIT-BISIG message will live on.

The Be Careful With My Heart finale

Typhoon Hagupit - It was early December 2014 when weather officials reported there is an incoming typhoon approaching in the same region that was devastated by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last year. Called Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit), it would have further intensified with sustained winds up to 175kph, causing heavy rainfall and storm surges. As it continued to track the Eastern Samar-Northern Samar area as of December 5, 2014, Hagupit packs maximum sustained winds of 215kph near the center and gusts of over 250kph. When it made landfall in Eastern Samar since the 6th of December and continues until it exits the Philippines within a week, it weakens and it was downgraded to a Tropical Depression.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, about 18 people died while the Philippine Red Cross states that 27 people have died in the aftermath of Hagupit. Damage to property has reached over 3 billion pesos while less than a million persons remaining in evacuation centers.

Republicans took over the House and the Senate - The Republicans won control of the Senate in the US mid-term elections since early November, increasing their power in the final two years of Barack Obama's presidency. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, poised to take over the chamber, said that their victory is a vote against "a government that people can no longer trust".

Wire-walking through two skyscrapers - famed wire walker Nik Wallenda walked between two Chicago skyscrapers on a wire on the 2nd of November, 2014. His death-defying stunt is seen by many people not just in Chicago but on national television.

MMDA enforcers - On the 27th of November, 2014, an MMDA enforcer named Jorby Adriatico was reportedly beaten up by an owner of a Maserati Ghibli saloon after taking a picture of him making an illegal turn in Quezon City. 

Then, on the 19th of December, 2014, an MMDA enforcer named Sonny Acosta was heavily injured after being dragged an run over by a car in Cubao, Quezon City. He died on the 23rd at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City at about 2:30 PM.

2014 Super GT - For the 2014 Season, the GT500 champion for this season is the #23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R, driven by Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli and the GT300 champion for this season is the #11 GAINER DIXCEL SLS driven by Katsuyuki Hiranaka and Bjorn Wirdheim.

The US-Cuban ties - After over five decades of hostility, the agreement between US and Cuba has been normalized. US President Barack Obama said that their policy against Cuba has failed and it's time to move on to work alongside with the Cuban government. Even Pope Francis is very happy to see the two nations working together for the first time. However, the trade embargo that plagued the Cuban economy since the nation turned to communism during the Cold War, lies within the US Congress and with the Republicans taking over, looks like it's a long way to normalize the relations between the two countries.

The Interview - The Interview is a comedy movie which stars comedians Seth Rogen and James Franco as journalists assigned by the CIA to bring down the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Ahead of the movie's release, this film was jeopardized ever since Sony Pictures Entertainment's website's been hacked and threatened to terrorize movie theaters showing that film. Days later despite the risk of cancelling The Interview, Sony decided to resume releasing The Interview at selected cinemas across the US on Christmas Day.

2014 LA Auto Show - Cars like the Toyota Mirai, the new Mustang GT350, the Cadillac ATS-V, the Mazda CX-3, and more were featured at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show which ran from the 21st until the 30th of November at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Takata Airbag Recall - Japanese car parts maker Takata Corporation faced its biggest scandal of 2014 as this troubled company recalled over 17 million vehicles in the US and another 7 million globally due to the airbag's defective inflator and propellent devices that can be highly lethal when in the event of a crash, firing fragments into the occupants. Carmakers have recalled millions of vehicles with Takata airbags over fears of flying shrapnel from exploding airbags.

AirAsia Flight QZ8501 - On the 28th of December, the Air Asia Flight QZ8501 plane carrying 162 people, destined from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore have disappeared. So far, the six bodies were found and at least three were recovered during the search. According to reports, they were spotted along with debris floating in the Java Sea off Borneo.

...anyway, there are so many stuff occurred over this year. Some are mentioned, others aren't but I think that's enough for that. Well, I guess this concludes this special segment about things I remembered in 2014. I hope the year 2015 will be a better one for me but I wouldn't waste some time telling some new year's resolution jibber jabber but here's hoping for a happy new year.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

REMEMBERING 2014 (Part Six)


Welcome back. Let's continue where we left off...

Rose Fostanes - A 47-year-old Filipina caregiver named Rose Fostanes became the first ever winner in The X Factor Israel after her performance of Frank Sinatra's My Way.

GA's Delfin Lee arrested - The founder of the troubled Globe Asiatique, named Delfin Lee, was arrested over a P6.6 billion syndicated estafa case and accused of using fake documents to secure billions in peso' worth of loans for "ghost borrowers". He was arrested by the PNP's Task Force Tugis outside Hyatt Hotel in Malate, Manila.

Palawan is one of the best islands in the world - According to the Conde Nast's Reader's Choice Awards 2014, the beautiful Philippine paradise of Palawan is ranked as the #1 island in the world after it garnered 76,000 votes from readers.

2014 Mondial de l'Automobile - Cars like the new Audi TT, new BMW X6, Jaguar XE, new Mazda Roadster ND, new Mercedes-AMG C63, and many others were unveiled at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, held at the Paris expo Porte de Versailles since October.

Hong Kong protests - Protesters occupied the central district of Hong Kong since late September after hundreds of people opposing the pro-democracy occupation tried to tear down barricades. This phenomenon happened in Hong Kong is known as the "umbrella revolution".

Pistorius imprisoned - Handicapped Olympian who represented South Africa from the Olympics two years ago, Oscar Pistorius, is sentenced to five year imprisonment after being convicted of culpable homicide in the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

BRING BACK OUR GIRLS - An Islamic extremist group known as the Boko Haram abducted over 273 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

Mazda Demio is Japan's 2014-2015 COTY - After numerous votes from the judges, the winner for Japan's 2014-2015 Car of the Year goes to the recently-launched, fourth-generation Mazda Demio (known as the Mazda2 in the world market), beating the likes of the Mercedes C-Class W205 and the BMW i3. With its 1.3L petrol and 1.5L diesel engines available as well as its innovative design, legendary Mazda dynamics, and its reasonable price, it's good to know that the new Demio is a sure winner to the home crowd.

2015 Mazda Demio
Top Gear in trouble in Argentina - While filming for the recently-aired Patagonia special, one such controversy occurred when the cast and crew of the BBC hit TV series had escaped from Argentina when the car in question Jeremy Clarkson used has a plate number in reference to the Falkland War in 1982. The Falklands War veterans got so angry, they're going to take them down so that's why, the whole Top Gear team have escaped.

Tia Pusit died - Veteran comedienne Tia Pusit died on the 2nd of October, 2014, at the age of 66 years old. That was confirmed by her buddy Inday Garutay. Tia Pusit, known by her real name Myrna Villanueva, was the youngest sibling of veteran comedienne Nova Villa and her acting career began in the 80's. Her last appearance was in the TV5 comedy series Confessions of a Torpe, which stars Ogie Alcasid, Alice Dixson, and Gelli de Belen.

Death of Juan Flavier - On the 30th of October, 2014, former Department of Health secretary Juan Flavier, famed for his "Let's DOH it" campaign, passed away of multiple organ failure. The remains of the former DOH secretary and senator was brought to the DOH complex for a necrological service on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014. Present DOH secretary Enrique Ona delivered a eulogy in his first public appearance since his controversial leave of absence.

20 years of Tekken - Tekken, the famed fighting franchise from Bandai Namco Games, celebrated its 20th anniversary and they've celebrated it with the announcement of the upcoming Tekken 7 as well as their collaboration with Pokemon for their Pokken Tournament.

Landing on a comet - On the 12th of November, 2014, after seven hours of waiting at the European Space Agency's mission control in Darmstadt, the people in charge of the Rosetta mission celebrated their historic accomplishment as the Philae spacecraft safely landed on the target comet and with the success of the Rosetta mission, scientists are able to witness what is like to be with the comet and study close up what happens when it gets closer to the sun. It occurred at 1600 hours GMT (0000 hours or midnight Philippine Standard Time) and they've landed twice according to Philae lander manager at the DLR German space center, Stephan Ulamec, because the probe's two harpoons haven't fired to fasten the craft down in the ultra-low gravity.

Philae lander

Welcome back to the Advanced Generation - Last November 2014, Pokemon fans from all over the world are enjoying with one of the most anticipated 3DS titles of 2014 which is more of a revived version of the original Pocket Monsters Ruby & Sapphire versions called Pocket Monsters Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

Whether if they're a battle-ready veteran or a battle-shy rookie, these games will turn themselves into the deadliest of the ace trainers as they embark on a wonderful Hoenn region like they've never seen before. Whether they can choose between Treecko, Torchic, or Mudkip, collect different kinds of Pokemon, train them to unleash utter devastation with clinical precision, battle against some of Hoenn's highly skilled trainers, wow the crowd with your Pokemon's moves in the Pokemon Contest Spectacular, fend off the war between Team Aqua and Team Magma, uncover the hidden prophecies lurking around the Hoenn region, make your own Secret Bases and share it to the world, go on a free-flight with Latias or Latios, witness new Mega Evolutions from your favorite Pokemons, and overall, unleash Groudon and Kyogre's true selves with Primal Reversion. There's even online connectivity where ace trainers meet up to battle or trade with their Pokemons.



...we'll continue this on the final part of this special segment. Please be patient...

Let's Do The News! (December 30, 2014)



Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- Onto the situation of Tropical Storm Seniang (Jangmi), it has been accelerated through Luzon's Cuyo Island. According to PAGASA, the estimated rainfall amount is from 7.5 to 15mm per hour within the 300km diameter of the Tropical Storm.  As of 1600 hours Philippine Standard Time, the center of Seniang was estimated based on all available data including Cebu Doppler radar at 108km Southwest of Iloilo City. Max sustained winds is 65kph near the center and gustiness of up to 80kph. Areas under Signal No. 2 warning are Cuyo Island, Palawan, Guimaras, Southern Antique, and Southern Iloilo. Areas under Signal No. 1 are Calamian Group of Islands, Negros Occidental, Aklan, Capiz, rest of Iloilo, and the rest of Antique.

- Six bodies were found and at least three recovered in the search of the missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501 plane. According to reports, they were spotted along with debris floating in the Java Sea off the Indonesian part of Borneo. An official told that 95% of the debris were likely from the missing aircraft. Last Sunday, the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 plane carrying 162 people from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore have disappeared.

- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a critic against leader Vladimir Putin, was given a suspended prison sentence of three-and-a-half years after being convicted in a high-profile fraud case while his brother Oleg is facing a three-and-a-half year custodial sentence. The brothers were convicted of stealing 30 million roubles from the firms, one of which is an affiliate of Yves Rocher, a French cosmetics company.

- Yamaguchi officials are culling over 37,000 chickens at a poultry farm after some dead chickens were tested positive for "bird flu". They're taking measures after receiving a report from the farm in Nagato City that 21 chickens are found dead on Sunday and Monday.

- According to the Department of Health, the prohibited firecracker known as the "piccolo" was identified as the main cause of fireworks-related injuries nationwide. According to their latest bulletin, about 113 out of 162 posted fireworks-related injuries were caused by piccolo and current figure on fireworks-related injuries are 67 cases lower than from 2009 to 2013.

- Teaser video of the upcoming 22nd season of Top Gear showed up. Stig's holiday is over. It's time to back to work very soon.



- Honda delays launch of their JDM Legend flagship hybrid saloon to February 20, 2014 due to quality concerns.

- Takara Tomy announced new additions to their Pokemon XY range of toys based from the game and TV series for the month of January 2015. Mega Metagross, Salamence, and Luxio are added to the MonColle lineup as well as three new Mega Evolution Packs to the lineup. The first features Magikarp, Gyarados, and Mega Gyarados, the second features Treecko, Grovyle, Sceptile, and Mega Sceptile, and the last features Mudkip, Marshtomp, Swampert, and Mega Swampert.

TTFN!!!

Gran Turismo 6: The Mazda LM55 VGT

City of Arts and Sciences - Night

So, this is Mazda's Christmas Present to all of the players of Gran Turismo 6, their representative of the game's Vision Gran Turismo range called the LM55 Vision Gran Turismo.


Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca_1

So, what's it all about the LM55? For a start, Mazda's virtual racing is the pinnacle of Mazda's motorsport heritage which dates back to the 787B, the first and only Japanese machine that won the 24 Heures du Mans since 1991. By the looks of it, it really resembles like the legendary 787B and this racing machine incorporates Mazda's Kodo -Soul in Motion- design philosophy that has been stapled through their production vehicles.

This is the first time I have ever seen a Kodo-designed Mazda in the history of video games but not what I'm expecting at because this is a fantasy machine forged from the minds of both carmaker Mazda Motor Corporation and developer Polyphony Digital Inc.

Its performance remains a mystery but the drivetrain is 4WD, allowing this machine to get through corners with unprecedented grip and agility. Aside from that, the extensive use of carbon fiber components and an advanced drivetrain technology, which remains a mystery for now, provides the LM55 an outstanding power-to-weight ratio beyond compare of its class.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca_2

I tried one of these via a special Seasonal Event made specifically for this car and whatever lap they set can own the LM55 VGT for no charge in-game but I decided to go for the Gold Target Time to see how good the LM55 really is. It feels twitchy at first and it's a bit difficult to master for a future LMP prototype like this when going too fast but when I'm becoming more careful and brave through the LM55's key fundamentals, I'm starting to realize how the LM55 learned its lesson from its 787B predecessor and no matter how tight the bends are and how high the elevation is, this machine really does the talking and with my great execution towards this machine, I've snagged the Gold Target in 1:15.509. Regardless of lap time, I got to keep it for use in-game.

Circuit de la Sarthe 2013Circuit de la Sarthe 2013_1

With the LM55 under my care, looks like I decided to challenge this car against its predecessors at the Circuit de la Sarthe. First up is the 787B, the first and only Japanese Le Mans contender to win this enduring race and the other the Furai Concept, the concept that was once destroyed by a famed motoring show by accident. You may remember that pitiful moment, right? But no matter. I pit these two predecessors to the famed Le Mans Circuit and keep track of the times set. The legendary 787B set a lap time of 3:41.058 while the Furai Concept's lap time is 3:59.366.

Circuit de la Sarthe 2013_2

The LM55 Vision Gran Turismo combines the best of both worlds. From the heritage of the 787B to the future technology of the Furai, the LM55 harmonizes both past and present from Mazda's motorsports involvement and when the going gets tough, this future machine keeps on going all the way through the very end. When I keep longing to this machine, I'm starting to respect its overwhelming performance carried out from the 787B and as the saying goes, great power comes great responsibility. It takes responsibility to master the LM55's hidden talent if I want to survive long tracks like this. After one lap round the Sarthe, the LM55 did it in 3:37.828, quicker than the 787B!

So there we are. The LM55 VGT follows where the 787B and the Furai Concept left off and when taken with great responsibility, this machine is worth capable of unleashing its inner potential, resulting to its winning formula that the 787B pulled off from its glorious past. With the LM55, the Vision GT lineup is now consisting of 12 fantasy machines starting from the Mercedes-Benz VGT. Look forward for more VGT cars coming this 2015!

City of Arts and Sciences - Night_1

BMW M4 Cabriolet

2015 BMW M4 Cabriolet
A few months ago, the first ever M4 Coupe was born to succeed where the old M3 Coupes of yesteryears left off but from all the wrong and right reasons. Although the inline-6 turbo engine wasn't as better sounding as the old M3's V8 engine, the power steering is a bit vague for a car like this, and the conspiracy of why their chassis codes are different from the normal 4-Series Coupe, it's more powerful than the old M3's V8 engine, more lighter than the old M3, and overall, a lot more fun to drive.

With the arrival of the brand new M4 Cabriolet, can the open-top version be as fun as the Coupe equivalent? The answer can be a yes or a no.

First and foremost, it still comes with the same 3.0L TwinPower Turbo engine as the coupe version, producing 431PS of power output and 550Nm of torque, and it's available with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed double clutch gearbox, but like all convertible models do, the M4 Cabriolet adds 250kg of weight and 0-100kph time has been harshly dropped to 4.6 seconds with the manual or 4.4 seconds with the DCT. Despite the added weight, thanks to added body reinforcements like all cabrios do, this car is 60kg lighter than the old M3 Cabriolet, and even though this is drastically heavier than the M4 Coupe, it still handles just like the coupe does.

Although not suitable for track use unlike the M3 Sedan and the M4 Coupe does, it still knows how to throw in a party or two when it corners and if the timing's just right, this car can drift for fun. Who doesn't want to drift a turbocharged German convertible on the open space?

And when you're not on the track and on the road, you can press a button to open or close the roof within 20 seconds. With the roof open, it engages the so-called Air Collar, which is a fan mounted between the headrest and upper seat bolster to keep everyone's necks warm while the roof is open. That sounds reasonable but there's no wind deflectors found so when you're wearing a hat, chances of getting your hats blown away is extremely likely. Of course, you can still hear the noise from the exhaust but the blowing winds hamper your hearing when approaching built speed. Gets worse, some microscopic debris in the form of flying insects, falling leaves, or pages from newspaper may flew either your windscreen or your face when going in too fast. Oh geez. This is getting to complicated for a high-performance convertible version of the 4-Series, eh?

The new M4 Cabriolet starts at 78,500 Euros, which is 6,000 Euros more than the Coupe version, and you'll have to charge more for the available extras. So, if you're interested for the M4, go for the coupe version because it's affordable and more faster than the cabriolet but despite having its downsides, this is worth adding to your garage full of cars if you have the cash to pool it in. Besides, despite its weight disadvantage, the M4 Convertible still handles like an M4 but with the roof open, that's just a different story and you'll never know what might hit you while going in too fast.

Photo: BMW AG

Seat Leon X-Perience vs. Skoda Octavia (Typ 5E) Scout

2015 Seat Leon X-Perience

When the third-generation Seat Leon launched two years ago and being the first for Seat to wear the groundbreaking VW Group's MQB platform, the once five-door hatchback-only Leon has grown into different body styles ranging from the three door SC, high-performance Cupra, ST estate, and now this, the X-Perience crossover.

2015 Seat Leon X-Perience interior

2015 Seat Leon X-Perience

At first glance, the X-Perience looks nothing more than the rugged version of the Leon ST, the estate version, but for this model, this was made for those who are thrill seekers and those who want to go all out to experience their outdoor lifestyles their way. To differentiate it from the ST, the X-Perience is 27mm higher than the mentioned model and unlike any other cars that focused on toughening their looks for styling purposes and not for the outdoor-minded kind of way, the X-Perience is fitted with the permanent AWD system featuring a Haldex multi-plate clutch with hydraulic actuation and electronic control.

Which means, this is unlike any other crossover variations that only comes with front-wheel drive and this is a great car to drive on a day-to-day basis, even when the weather starts to go wet or cold, or when facing against a tarmac, gravel, or snow. On the road, it's not afraid to face another road bump or pothole it face against although some thudding may occur and when taken off the road, you can really feel how its AWD system do its magic. It feels a lot mild to drive as well because this is an all-rounder that you can afford one for only 23,730 Euros in Spain. That sounds more expensive than the ST where it's based at but for an all-rounder, you can afford one than one of these I lined up...

2015 Skoda Octavia Scout

This is the brand new Octavia Scout from Skoda. Although this is priced at around 690,900 Kč or around 25,000 Euros, it still has the same all-wheel drive system as the Leon X-Perience as well as the increased height capable for a tall wagon like this. They both work well on and off the road but the differences between those two lies within their bonnets.

On the X-Perience, it's available with a turbocharged 1.8 TSi, a 1.6 TDi, and a 2.0 TDi engine with two different power outputs, where the top tier has 184PS of power output and mated with the double clutch gearbox. The Scout, on the other hand, has the same 1.8 TSi petrol and the 2.0 TDi diesel engine as the X-Perience with the high-end model has the same 184PS of power output and a 6-speed DSG gearbox as well! In terms of fuel economy, the X-Perience with the 2.0 TDi and DSG can achieve a combined fuel economy of 4.9L/100km while the Scout with the same spec as the X-Perience's can achieve a combined fuel economy of 5.1L/100km.

For the X-Perience with the said specs, 0-100kph takes about 7.1 seconds and top speed of 224kph while the Scout with the said specs can get to 100kph in 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 228kph. Looks like both of them can trade punches every time now, proving which one is better for a family outing during the long winter months.

2015 Skoda Octavia Scout interior

2015 Skoda Octavia Scout
So, while the bigger Scout has identical characteristics compared to the smaller X-Perience, what's like to drive the car that costs more than the X-Perience? Well, even if it's more expensive than the Seat, it still works very well either on and off the road and it has enough room for some emergency supplies in case the wind gets more briskier as well as enough room for an arctic commando to carry around with you if you need advice to set up a shelter on the snow. That sounds stupid but on these conditions, this sport utility wagon does work its magic very well and unlike its chief rival, the Subaru Outback, it feels more engaging than ever and a lot more fun to drive.

If this car works well for a ski holiday, I would want to have one of these but in case when the temperatures start to improve slightly, feels like its adventurous character is slowly fading and it's reverting into a car suitable to drive at your nearest grocery but it doesn't even matter because adventurous or not, the Octavia Scout knows that every day is an adventure. It's like a young man doing wakeboarding by day and goes to the office with his coat and tie ready while getting rid of water from his head after hours of getting wiped out during wakeboarding hours.

2015 Seat Leon X-Perience

2015 Skoda Octavia Scout
Of course, both the Leon X-Perience and the Octavia Scout have the same all-wheel drive, the same heightened ground clearance fit for crossovers too many, the same luggage space that works well with winter emergency supplies, and nearly the same engine choices but when it comes to price and performance, it's hard to sum up which one is better but either way, those sport utility wagons do work well on any road surface and they're nearly capable of being weekend dads just to pass the time. Try both and you decide before you buy.

Photo: SEAT, Skoda Auto

Monday, December 29, 2014

REMEMBERING 2014 (Part Five)


Welcome back. Let's continue where we left off...

Ebola Outbreak

The widespread of the Ebola virus originated in Guinea and spreaded through neighboring countries throughout the West Africa and a few nations outside with isolated cases in Spain and the US. The Ebola virus is a zoonotic disease fatal to both humans and primates. It spreads by directly contact through the body fluids. Some say, fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural hosts of Ebola, thus naming them "ebola bats". Now, the World Health Organization announced a formal trial of a Canadian experimental vaccine called ZEBOV that cured two Ebola patients in the US. There's still more into this Ebola Outbreak.

ISIS

The Islamic State extremists that called themselves the ISIS have sparked headlines through this year. At the beginning of 2014, the ISIS took over Iraq and Syria with a massive group of armed terrorists. Started out in life as an al Qaeda splinter group and headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the goal of ISIS is to create an Islamic state across the Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria. They're notorious for killing dozens of people and carrying out televised executions, crucifixions and other acts.

Originally, extortion and robbery is their initial strategy for revenue but their leader shifted this strategy to generating resources through large-scale attacks aimed at capturing and holding territory.

Japan's top-secret stealth aircraft

Unable to purchase the high-tech F22 Raptor, the Japanese government secretly developed their own 5th generation fighter jet codenamed the ATD-X. This top-secret aircraft will incorporate three-paddle 3-axis thrust-vectoring, a fly-by-optics flight control system, active phased array radar, ECM, ESM, and Self Repairing Flight Control Capability. They're going to roll-out this Japan-made stealth aircraft by decade's end, 2018 to be exact.


Goodbye Car Town



Since its launch on the summer of 2010, Car Town, the social game on Facebook allows car enthusiasts to create garages, do jobs, collect and build cars, race against friends, and go on adventures. In its four year lifespan, Car Town's roster of cars; from JDM tuners, offroaders, American muscles, European exotics, service vehicles, and many others has been growing and it has partnered with Universal (for Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, and The Fast and The Furious franchises), BBC (for Top Gear), IndyCar, NASCAR, NHRA, Sony Pictures (for Ghostbusters) and so much more. The game's fan base keeps on growing thanks to the feature where players can create their own templates and show off their work on the global scale.

Sadly, the game's developer, Cie Games, announced that on the 29th of August, 2014, Car Town will be shutting down.

Hello Kitty's not a cat!



The year 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most loved cute characters of all time, Hello Kitty. When it was launched in 1974 by Sanrio, Hello Kitty won millions of fans and not only that, she spawned countless merchandises from toys, video games, clothing lines, and tons of Kitty-ness. If I can only remember that in the Philippines, there was a store called the Gift Gate where Hello Kitty and other Sanrio merchandises were sold exclusively there.

For its 40th birthday, Hello Kitty had a special exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, located somewhere in Los Angeles, California, since mid-October and after the exhibit, there's going to be a first-ever Hello Kitty-dedicated convention at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Christine R. Yano, the anthropologist from the University of Hawaii and author of her book titled "Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty's Trek Across the Pacific" revealed that when she was working for the script for the show, the folks from Sanrio stopped by and told that Hello Kitty is NOT a cat.

Also, it is revealed that Hello Kitty is not her real name. In fact, her real name is in fact Kitty White. Her parents are named George and Mary. Her birthdate is November 1st, she's a Scorpio, she's a third-grader, and she has a twin sister named Mimmy (but we know that). What we also didn't know is...she's British.

FIA Formula E

The year 2014 gives birth to a brand new generation of motorsport. The FIA Formula-E Championship is a brand new FIA single-seater championship and the world's first fully-electric racing series. The inaugural season starts from September 2014 to June 2015, spanning 10 different locations from London, Beijing, and Miami.

The Spark-Renault SRT_01E is the first ever open-wheeler electric racing machine to be homologated by the FIA and this zero-emission racer aims to turn the tables of what is achievable in electric motorsport while balancing cost-effectiveness and sustainability.

It was built by the newly-established Spark Racing Technology while the monocoque chassis, built from carbon fiber and aluminum, was done by Dallara. The electric powertrain and electronics was sourced by McLaren Electronics System while the battery was sourced by the Williams F1 Team, producing 200kw of power while linked to a 5-speed Hewland sequential gearbox with fixed ratios.


In the opener of the FIA Formula E Championship, 10 teams, with two drivers each, are competing in the first season. The teams are AMLIN AGURI, ANDRETTI FORMULA E, AUDI SPORT ABT, CHINA RACING, DRAGON RACING, E.DAMS-RENAULT, MAHINDRA RACING, TRULLI, VENTURI, and VIRGIN RACING. There are selection of aces taking part in the opener; aces of all kinds such as motorsport icons, F1 testers, former Formula 1 racing drivers, even female drivers. The opening match will be in Beijing, the capital city of the People's Republic of China, on the 13th of September.

Enzo Pastor murder case

Race car driver Enzo Pastor shot dead in Quezon City last night

Filipino racing driver Enzo Pastor was reportedly shot dead on the 12th of June, 2014 by some unknown assailants while he was in a tow truck carrying an Asian V8 car to Clark International Speedway. Businessman Doming de Guzman III was arrested in Muntinlupa City since August 26 while PO2 Edgar Angel was arrested on the 23rd of August. Both are linked to Enzo's murder. Also, Enzo Pastor's wife, Dalia, was involved in the murder case as reports told she had an affair with de Guzman.

BMW's first FWD

Much to the dismay from BMW loyalists, the Germna luxury carmaker unveiled the 2-Series Active Tourer which is known to be the brand's first FWD car which uses the same platform as the New Mini F56. It was unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show last March and sales commenced last fall. This is just a start because by 2017, BMW plans to launch six FWD models including a next-gen 1-Series, next-gen X1, and more.

Death of Mark Gil

Veteran actor Mark Gil died on the 1st of September, 2014, at the age of 52 due to liver cirrhosis disease. Known by his full name Raphael Joseph Eigenmann, Mark Gil was born on the 25th of September, 1961 and he is one of the three children of Eddie Mesa and Rosemarie Gil. He was the middle of the three siblings between Michael de Mesa and Cherie Gil, both are celebs. Most of Mark Gil's children have different showbiz careers. He was married to Maricar Jacinto eight years ago. His last appearance on television was in ABS-CBN's The Legal Wife, which starred Angel Locsin, Maja Salvador, and Jericho Rosales.

Apple iPhone 6



The 6th-generation Apple iPhone has been launched. It's available in two different sizes from the normal iPhone 6 and the taller iPhone 6 Plus. Whichever the iPhone 6 customers choose, they will be benefitted with enhanced retina display, improved iSight camera with new sensor with Focus Pixels and new video features, faster LTE download speeds, Touch ID technology, and the most advanced iOS8 operating system.

Twitpic shutdown



Twitpic, a site that lets user share pics on Twitter, has been shut down on the 25th of September, 2014. Reason for this closure is when a few weeks ago, Twitter demanded Twitpic to abandon their trademark application or risk losing access to their API.  Twitpic was launched in 2008 and its trademark application has been in the USPTO 5 years ago. Sadly, they don't have enough resources to maintain their trademark against Twitter.

NO to Scottish independence

Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom after 55% of the Scottish voters are against Scotland's independence while 45% of the voters want the two nations separated. It has been forewarned that when Scotland gained its independence, not only it will not be part of Great Britain but it will also means exit from the European Union and NATO.

Family Guy-Simpsons crossover

The Simpsons, one of the world's animated comedy greats that has been around for 25 years now, and Family Guy, even called a rip-off, it's Seth MacFarlane's biggest attempt to create a TV show that drives people crazy with its toilet humor, strong-ish language, sexual fantasies, and numerous references from other stuff. Now, what happens when they combine these two? The result, in all-out clash of two cartoon comedy greats showing who's boss, although there are a few trespassers popped out during this episode.


And yes, our dream of seeing Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson in a fistfight has finally came true. We've been waiting for this right moment to come in this special episode.

...oops. Time to exit this segment for a while. Maybe on Part Six perhaps...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

REMEMBERING 2014 (Part Four)


Welcome back. Let's continue where we left off...

iM@S ONE FOR ALL



Launched on May 15, 2014, this PS3-exclusive iM@S game, titled The iDOLM@STER ONE FOR ALL, where, for the first time in the franchise, iM@S OFA gives players a chance to produce all 13 765PRO idols from Haruka Amami to Chihaya Kisaragi, from Ami and Mami Futami to Hibiki Ganaha, from Iori Minase to Yayoi Takatsuki. ONE FOR ALL is now story-focused, meaning the producer, that's you or me, will risk everything to help the idol overcome their personal difficulties and blossom into artists once and for all. The road of becoming a top idol was not easy because it takes an available resource and funds needed to keep them happy and pumped up from rehearsals, auditions, and from a live studio audience desperate for the idols to sing their face off.

Ace Combat Infinity



Launched in mid-May 2014, Ace Combat Infinity is the series' first-ever free-to-play flight shooting game made exclusively for the Playstation3. Whether if its a veteran mercenary or a battle-shy rookie, Ace Combat Infinity pits players behind the cockpit of some of the world's best aircrafts from the F22 Raptor, F14 Tomcat, F15 Strike Eagle, Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale, Mirage 2000, T50, or any other well-known aircrafts in history as well as fictitious ones as seen in numerous installments such as the Morgan from The Belkan War and the ASF-X Shinden II from Assault Horizon. Over two million players have been downloaded this free-to-play PS3 exclusive since its launch and engage in either campaign or online co-ops as well as the weekly challenges where prizes include special aircrafts, new emblems, research reports, or other prizes.

Elliot Rodger

It was the 24th of May, 2014, at around 9:30PM when a young adult named Elliot Rodger killed six people and injuring over a dozen of people in an area near the University of California. He crashed his BMW into a parked car and shot himself in the head after a crossfire with the cops. Elliot's been positively identified as the father who is an assistant director for The Hunger Games movie. Cops reported that this suspect's been mentally disturbed but a viral video revealed his hatred against women for not giving him romantic attention and lamented that he's still a virgin.

Thai coup d'etat

Moments after the ousting of Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra on charges of abuse of power since the 7th of May, 2014, the top officers from the Thai army have staged a coup d'etat, placing the entire nation under martial law. Three months later, the junta leader responsible for overthrowing an elected civilian government during the May 22 coup, that is General Prayuth Chan-ocha, took over Thailand as the nation's new prime minister following a royal endorsement from the nation's monarch.

Typhoon Rammasun a.k.a. Glenda

Between July 10 to 20, 2014, one of the strongest storms of 2014 that is Typhoon Rammasun, known by Filipinos as Glenda, wreak havoc on the Philippines, China, and Vietnam, killing over a hundred people at the affected areas.

2014 24 Hours of Le Mans



Even with Toyota's TS040 pole position and Porsche's return to Le Mans via the 919 Hybrid, it seems that Audi is still the king of 24 Heures du Mans after a 1-2 finish with the #2 R18 e-tron and the #1 R18 e-tron. The winning #2 R18 e-tron was driven by Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer for the LMP1 category. In the LMP2 category, a class win goes to the Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan driven by Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Oliver Turvey while in the GTE-Pro class, winner goes to the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 driven by Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella.

2014 Goodwood FoS

Every year, the latest models, concept cars, and historics, have been gathered at the glorious Goodwood Hill Climb for the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed. While nobody can beat the legendary record set by Nick Heidfeld in the past, this year's fastest on the Goodwood Fos belongs to the Peugeot 208 T16 driven by Sebastien Loeb.



The 7D



Aired on Disney XD since July 7, 2014, The 7D puts a new spin to the seven dwarves of the Snow White story. While it was made to about everything you knew about the seven dwarves ever again, The 7D, ordered by the Queen Delightful of Jollywood, are here to save the day from the troubles, especially against the Glooms.

Two new Vivillon patterns added!


Vivillon (Poke Ball pattern)


The Fancy Pattern Vivillon
Vivillon is mostly traded by players of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y because of different patterns most Pokemaniacs dying to collect them all. For 2014, two new limited-time Vivillon patterns have been distributed for the lucky gamers. First, there's the Fancy Pattern Vivillon which commemorates the Pokemon GTS' 100,000,000 trades milestone. Then, there's the Poke Ball Pattern Vivillon which was distributed by any other means worldwide.

Throughout the entire August, participating Pokemon Centers from all over Japan offered customers a special Poke Ball-pattered Vivillon (the one we saw in France last June) to use on the Pokemon X/Pokemon Y game on the 3DS. The special Poke Ball Vivillon is in Level 12 and it comes with a Classic Ribbon.


The Mythical Pokemon, Diancie



The 719th Pokemon, that is the Jewel Pokemon named Diancie, has been unveiled in preparation for the 2014 Pokemon XY movie titled Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction, which was shown in Japanese cinemas since July 19, 2014. Moviegoers in Japan had gotten a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get their own Diancie on Pokemon X or Pokemon Y via Mystery Gift and when Pokemon OR/AS was released on November, they can bring this mythical Pokemon in-game and receive a special Mega Stone essential to mega evolve it into Mega Diancie.

Also part of the movie's premiere is the special limited-time Pikachu Cafe held at Roppongi Hills last Summer.

Invasion of Pikachu at Yokohama Minato Mirai



From August 9 to 17, 2014, the streets of Yokohama Minato Mirai has been taken over by a horde of Pikachus from the Pokemon franchise for a very special event. There has been some fun and games as well as distribution of a special Pikachu nicknamed "ランドマーク" and it's in Level 10. The special event Pikachu learns Thunderbolt, Quick Attack, Surf, and Holding Hands. It even comes with the Event Ribbon commemorating this said event.

Yoshi's name is...

Yoshi (日本名:ヨッシー), one of our favorite video game characters and one of Mario's friends who loves to eat just about everything in one gulp...or spitting fire or whatever the heck Yoshi does. Some conspiracist uncovered the long lost full name of Yoshi and that sparked outrage on us, video game geeks, or as I like to prefer, "childhood ruined".


Blake Harris, the author of Console Wars, obtained a highly top-secret document from Nintendo, in the form of a 1993 Nintendo character guide published so employees of licensing companies keep their facts straight. The top-secret document states that Yoshi's full name is "T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas". Aside from Yoshi's full name, that top-secret document also states that Mario's scientific name is "homo nintendonus", which explains a lot, Link almost killed Zelda, and Peach's gown is literally magically clean.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The year 2014 brought one of the most crazed internet attempts ever done by netizens worldwide. It's called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. What is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Although it remains shrouded in mystery, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a method to spread awareness towards the ALS disease or Lou Gehrig's Disease, a muscular degenerative disorder that affects the body's muscle neurons, rendering them immobilized, vital organ failure, and possibly fatal.

This challenge pits ordinary people filming themselves while getting spilled by a bucket full of ice cold water. Then, they nominate random people to do it in less than 24 hours or donate to the ALS foundation.

Doctor Who World Tour

To celebrate Season 8 of Doctor Who, featuring Peter Capaldi as The Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara, the BBC initiated a World Tour spanning across a multitude of countries including South Korea, New York, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, and of course United Kingdom (including Wales).

The epic finale of the FPV saga





Ford Australia's high-performance FPV division revealed the epic finale of the FPV saga; the limited edition FPV GT F 351 saloon and the FPV Pursuit Ute. The FPV GT F features the Boss 5.0L supercharged aluminum V8 engine which develops 351kW (471HP) of power output, making this the most powerful engine ever made from Ford Australia. The Pursuit Ute uses the same V8 engine as the GT F but it produces 315kW (422HP) of power. Only 500 of the GT F models will be made as well as 120 Pursuit Utes but still, these are an appropriate grand goodbye to FPV.

...oh would you look at the time. Let's continue some time on Part Five.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Mercedes-AMG S63/S65 Coupe

2015 Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe

2015 Mercedes-AMG S65 Coupe


With the AMG versions of the first-ever Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, you will feel like you're a bit of a loony when you drive one of these at the south of France on the weekends. For the AMG version, you have two choices; one is the S63 Coupe which comes with the 5.5L V8 Twin Turbo engine mated with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT and it's available with either a rear-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive and the other is the RWD-only and slightly mad S65 AMG with the turbocharged 6.0L V12 engine and with the SPEEDSHIFT PLUS gearbox. In translation, there's an AMG S-Class Coupe that is up against a Bentley Continental GT V8 S and the other that is up against the Bentley Continental GT Speed. Hmmm....

The Germans strongly believed that these high-performance versions of the S-Class Coupe had got what it takes to compete against other grand tourers but when it comes to pricing, those six-digit price tags really incinerate my eyebrows because the S63 model costs 170,587 Euros, which is almost 14,000 Euros cheaper than the Bentley Continental GT V8 S, and that's good. However, the V12-powered S65 model is priced at a painstakingly 244,010 Euros, which is almost 33,000 Euros more than its rival, the Bentley Continental GT Speed!

The pricing isn't the least of our problems for the V12-powered S65 Coupe because while this car's 5PS more than the CGT Speed and it's 0.1 second less than the CGT Speed's 0-100kph time, the S65 Coupe's top speed is electronically limited to 250kph while the CGT Speed keeps on going to 330kph. That sounds embarrassing but because the S65 Coupe is RWD-only compared to the 4WD-only CGT Speed, it's over a hundred kilos lighter, which means, this car is pretty much dynamic to drive and drivers need to take serious precaution while handling this because...here come the tongue twisters and if you're getting slipped, you're going on a siege with this machine while controlling it back to normal. Even if its loaded with so much technology, the added power and the torque really sets you on fire and pretty soon, you could get thrown off the ground.

Rookies shouldn't drive that car because they're kids, especially this V8-powered S63 Coupe version which produces more power than the CGT V8 S but the S63's top speed is also limited to 250kph compared to the CGT V8 S's 309kph speed.

I know that this car maybe as fragile as your gram's fine china she spend with her retirement money but there's so much fun to drive this V8-powered S-Coupe AMG model because this variant comes with two versions with two distinct characteristics. The rear-wheel drive model is equipped with MAGIC BODY CONTROL which makes this car well-responded to your handling actions and it goes as it should be, and lastly, the four-wheel drive model with the AIRMATIC air suspension with the adaptive damping system ADS PLUS. Whichever S63 you're choosing, this grand tourer knows that every mile is a story because while this is essentially a two-door version of Mercedes' flagship saloon, being sleek and sporty isn't enough for the AMG version of the S-Class Coupe because when you get inside, it feels like you're in complete control of this car because of so much high-tech gadgetry surrounding you. It's like you're the AWACS kind of plane but with a million times more fun than a kiddie ride from the shops.

If I had a choice, I'd go for the S63 model because not only it's less expensive than the CGT V8 8 but with such dynamics, I can have as much fun as I like and I can still arrive at the Monaco casino in style.

Photo: Daimler AG

#BGYearEnder

The year 2014 is almost at an end and for the December 26, 2014 episode, it's time to look back the best of Bubble Gang since 2014 with the Year Ender special. So, what 2014 moment did Bubble Gang pulled off from the wraps when this year began?

- Ex-Vice Mayor Dodo Be-Nice

Ex-Vice Mayor Dodo Be-Nice

- Elevator gags

- Kabit gags

- Lala Ytera

- Bubble Gang does Dove Ultimate White Deodorant by spoofing this commercial as LOVE ULTIMATE WHITE DEODORANT! Love's ultimate solution to lighten stubborn dark spots.



- Mr. Matapobre

- Boat gags

- Bubble Shakers

- Don Cantoni

- Bubble Gang does Lactum by spoofing this commercial as LAFTUM! 100% Nourished Kid!


- T3 Nyo

- The Gentleman

- The Kwek Kwek Song by P.A.R.D

- Spoiled na Misis
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