Saturday, January 31, 2015

Let's Do The News (January 31, 2015)

Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- According to EU's incoming finance minister Pierre Moscovici during an interview on BBC's Hardtalk, he vows that Greece should stay at the eurozone no matter what but he said that the Greek government had to respect previous commitments.

- According to the US Military, the chemical weapons expert of ISIS, named Abu Malik, has been killed in a coalition airstrike. Malik served as a chemical weapons engineer under former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, before joining al-Qaeda in Iraq and then ISIS. He was killed in a raid near the Islam-controlled Mosul on the 24th of January according to officials.

- Meanwhile, it is believed that the ISIS have attacked Iraq's oil-rich city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq. A car bomb exploded on Friday near police HQ, injuring 2 people. It was followed by a crossfire between three gunmen and Kurdish forces, who say all the insurgents were killed in the shootout.

- The Japanese government are doing their best to gather intel on the situation of hostage Kenji Goto, in the hopes of freeing him from the clutches of ISIS.

- Chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said recently that the group denied coddling international terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir (a.k.a. Marwan) and Abdul Basit Usman. He also denied that President Benigno Aquino III asked the MILF to clear the way for government security forces to arrest Usman, who escaped from the SAF in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao last January 25th, the date when 44 SAF members are killed.

- Government security forces in numerous areas within the Mindanao region have been placed on red alert for the possible retaliation by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in the wake of the death of terrorist Marwan during the Mamasapano incident.

- Two pilots from the Philippine Air Force were killed after their plane crashed off Nasugbu, Batangas Saturday morning during an exhibition flight. The casualties identified as Capt. John Bayao and 2nd Lieutenant Al-Nazer Jana who were on board the SF-260FN aircraft.

- The Lexus LF-LC GT Vision Gran Turismo was revealed and it's set to be playable on the Spring 2015 update of the PS3-exclusive Gran Turismo 6 game.

Lexus LF-LC GT Vision Gran Turismo

- The 2015 Radio Disney Music Awards will be held at the Nokia Theater on April 25th, 2015!

- According to Akio Toyoda, Toyota will return to the World Rally Championship for the 2017 season using a rally-spec Vitz.


"Better Tough Stain Removal In 1 wash"

On the January 30, 2015 episode of Bubble Gang...

- IKAW AT ANG INA takes on...collage

- Robot gags

- The hottest tsismisan is on BALAKUBAK!

- Bubble Gang does Ariel by spoofing this commercial as AERIAL! Better Tough Stain Removal In 1 wash.

- Istambay, Istambay sa Looban, Istorya Ng Isang Balikbayan, Ang Kuwento Ng Ating Tututukan, Masasama Kayo Sa...INGLISAN?!

- News reporter gets interrupted by a massive crowd!

- This bar cares about their customers. That's nice...

Leopaul's Heaven and Hell: Echoes of Maguindanao's bloody fate

Before I begin my opinion about the terrible incidents occurred within the Maguindanao area, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the relatives of the fallen 44 PNP Special Action Forces members. My thoughts and prayers belong to the fallen 44 so God bless these brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their nation.

Maguindanao, ARMM, Philippines

In the beginning, I was going to picture the province of Maguindanao, which is part of the Philippines' Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, to be such a wondrous place for would-be adventurers like you and I. Although, I haven't been to this province in ages because I'm stuck at being a city boy for the rest of my life for no reason, some people say that the province of Maguindanao has the awe-inspiring, bountiful, and historic countryside sceneries.

However, the province's image has changed and it became one of the most dangerous places to live...according to one theory anyway. It was probably not because of the tragic Maguindanao Massacre that killed 58 people, 32 of them are journalists, somewhere in Ampatuan, but also it was the spot of the recent Mamasapano siege that killed 44 of the Philippine National Police's top policemen known as the Special Action Force.

Although the massacre of 2009 and the recent slain of 44 SAF units due to a mis-encounter from the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) were totally different stories, it seems that the echoes of the province's bloody twist of events are starting to slip through my mind like a careless whisper from a devil beside me.

It's hard to fathom that these two gruesome events occurred on such a peaceful province like this. It's like, as always, history repeats itself. You once witnessed the death of journalists six years ago somewhere in Ampatuan, and now, you witnessed the death of the top policemen in Mamasapano due to some misencounter between the two armed factions. Those killings had turned the wondrous Maguindanao province into a death valley where no one's safe, not even journalists and enforcers alike.

No matter how gruesome those events are, it seems that the nation's government, currently under the administration of President Noynoy Aquino, remains stagnant when it comes to resolving conflicts, At first, I thought the president wanted the Philippines to cross the straight path to strength and stability just as he promised during the 2010 elections but when he took power, he's facing numerous blows from the public such as the 2010 Quirino hostage drama that killed several Hong Kong tourists (and blamed the police's lack of judgment when it comes to negotiate a hostage taker who is revealed to be a sacked cop), the PDAF Scam, Typhoon Yolanda, and so much more that caused people showing dissatisfaction towards President Aquino.

I'm starting to believe that most Filipinos are starting to depreciate President Aquino's actions after all these years and because it's almost a year away from the next elections, it won't be too long until someone will take over his presidential throne and when it does, he or she will correct all the mistakes PNoy heralded in.

I may be a blogger without an ambition but the reason for writing this article is to awake the government and seek justice not just for those who lost their lives in a morally-desolate province but also the morale of the good nation. We maybe a nation that brings the "fun" into the "more fun in the Philippines" but the dream of a corruption-free country is a very very long road ahead unless the government must change and cooperate with the citizens to establish a new standard for our nation.

As the saying goes, we must let time shed light for the truth. Anyway, I should stop here for a now and I think this is what I'll believe in it. I believe that the nation's government will one day awakened from the truth and undo all of the wrongdoings they have heralded in, even in provinces like Maguindanao where the brutal killings made it morally desolated.

Friday, January 30, 2015

FIA Formula E - Buenos Aires

On the 10th of January, 2015, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the fourth leg of the inaugural FIA Formula E was held, Amlin Aguri's Antonio Felix da Costa was named as the winner of this race followed by e.dams' Nicolas Prost came 2nd and China Racing's Nelson Piquet Jr placed 3rd.

However, Piquet, who placed 3rd, has been handed a 5-place grid penalty at the next race in Miami for speeding under yellow flags. Also, gearbox changes led Jarno Trulli of Trulli to have a 10-place grid penalty as well.


The next race will be held at Miami, USA, this 14th of March, 2015.

PH President attended plant inauguration in the same day the fallen SAF members arrived

The Philippine President, Benigno Aquino III, was absent at the Villamor Air Base where 42 out of the 44 killed Philippine National Police Special Action Force members have arrived Thursday, four days after a police operation in Maguindanao. Reason for his absence is because he attended the inauguration of the Mitsubishi Motors Philippines' Santa Rosa plant, which is the former plant used by Ford Philippines before it was closed in 2012.

His absence sparked fury from netizens, questioning why did he's not present in the arrival of the slain SAF members, but the Malacanang Palace officials denied reports about the president ignoring the slain SAF members because the president will attend the necrological services at Camp Bagong Diwa at 1000 hours, Friday, Philippine Time. The PNP is expected for his presence at the event, which served as the national day of mourning for the elite policemen who were killed last Sunday in an encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Image: AFP/Philippine Daily Inquirer
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer [1][2]

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Let's Do The News (January 29, 2015)

Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- The inquest from last month's Sydney cafe siege heard that Tori Johnson, one of the hostages, was killed by a bullet to the head from gunman Man Haron Monis. 18 people took hostage at the cafe by Monis in a cafe in Martin Place, Sydney, last December 16, that took 17 hours.

- According to Diego Lagomarsino, a colleague of the killed Senior Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, said that he lent Nisman a gun the day before he was found dead in his apartment last January 18 because he didn't trust law enforcements protecting him. Mr. Nisman had been about the testify about alleged attempts to cover up Iranian involvement in the Buenos Aires incident 11 years ago.

- An audio message by a man who claimed to be Japanese captive Kenji Goto has appeared recently. Goto speaks in English for about 30 seconds and he said that the Islamic State is going to kill captive Jordanian pilot Moaz Kasasbeh unless the Jordanian government released death-row inmate Sajida al-Rishawi to the Turkish border in exchange for Goto by Thursday sunset at Mosul, Iraq time. The sunset in Iraq is around 1730 hours.

- Meanwhile, Jordanian state TV reported the government is ready to release death-row inmate Sajida al-Rishawi if Jordanian pilot Moaz Kasasbeh was freed by ISIS. The TV station said that the Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications made the proposal, although no mention of Goto was told.

- Sadness broke silence when the first C-130 plane has recently landed at the Villamor Air Base carrying the bodies of the killed 42 out of the 44 PNP Special Action Force units in it. The remaining slain two members were already in Mindanao following Islamic tradition. The 44 SAF units were killed during the police operation on Sunday in Maguindanao.

- Nissan Motor Company called off plans to produce IDx, BladeGlider, and Q50 Eau Rouge concepts due to the Japanese carmaker's shift of focus from driver-oriented to volume, according to one report.

- McLaren teased a more powerful 675LT supercar ahead of its Geneva Motor Show debut. As the name implies, it will be a more powerful version of the 650S with the added long tail.

McLaren 675LT teaser

- Sakamichi Onoda and Yusuke Makishima, stars from the Yowapeda GRANDE ROAD anime series, will be getting their own figmas courtesy of Good Smile Company. Anyway, the figma of Yowapeda's Sakamichi Onoda is back by popular demand and it's set for its re-release this June for 5,370 Yen plus tax. Meanwhile, the recently added figma of the "Peak Spider" will be riding to your stores this July for 5,741 Yen plus tax.

figma Yusuke Makishima

figma Sakamichi Onoda

- IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Japanese gaming conglomerate Nintendo will cease their Brazilian operations due to high import duties.

- MMA fans in the Philippines be ready because UFC, the popular mixed martial arts championship, is coming to the SM Mall of Asia Arena this 16th of May, 2015.

- IN CASE YOU REALLY REALLY MISSED IT: Gravure 4 U or G4U is back and this time, you can now take pics of your favorite Cinderella Girls from The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls TV anime. With the release of the iM@S CG Blu-Ray Vol.1, buyers can also get the iM@S CG G4U Vol.1 PS3 game as well as the 346 Productions Fan Club Cinderella Cafe Vol.1 book. It will be launched this 23rd of April and there will be a total of 9 volumes on the timetable.


Forza Horizon 2: A classic Ferrari that redefines itself


Well, what do we have here? I've never seen this classic Ferrari for a while. It's a little dusty in here but this vintage Ferrari racing machine is part of Forza Horizon 2's G-SHOCK Car Pack, now on sale. What this is is the mythical Ferrari Sport Prototype 500 Mondial. A racing machine that redefined Ferrari in post-WWII Italy.

Built in the post-war era, the 500 Mondial is the first of the Ferraris that was made by Scaglietti and draws inspiration from a design penned by Enzo's son, Dino.

The models that was built for public selling were made under Pininfarina's supervision and only 15 of these are made.

The 500 Mondial is powered by a small 2.0L 4-cylinder engine mounted in the front rather than in the middle like most Ferraris do. It produces 170HP of power and couple that with the 5-speed gearbox, the top speed of this Ferrari is around 236kph, which sounds quick even by today's standards.

Apart from that, it weighs 720kg of weigh thanks to the use of its tubular steel frame for its chassis. The front features an independent suspension with unequal-length wishbones, transverse leaf spring and Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers while the rear features a de Dion suspension with twin radius arms, transverse leaf spring, and Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers.

500m (2)

For millennials, it's hard to get along with this classic Ferrari because while it was born in the age where anti-lock brakes and traction control hasn't invented yet, driving it can be hardly a challenge and no matter how hard you try, it's like gravity will pull you down to the very end. If you are experienced enough, then this Ferrari is a very respectable car that you can brave on. Old-school or not, it's all about gaining the respect of the car you're mastering and if you're getting used to it, it feels like your car can really hear you.

500m (3)

I was given an opportunity to give the mythical 500 Mondial the Forza Horizon 2 treatment it deserves and for this treatment, I'm trying to make the 500 Mondial relive its glory days just like every Ferrari in the history does. So, I've signed this car to a championship related to Classic Racers like this but first, I've given the 500 Mondial some vintage racer looks so it looks like it's going to take on vintage races in Southern Europe.

Like classic racers taking on the Mille Miglia, me and my 500 Mondial are taking on a road trip of a lifetime and it's a road trip to San Giovanni, where the championship I've signed up is held.

With me arrived at the said destination, the 500 Mondial is off for the race of its lifetime. Now, I was going to tweak it out so it can stay competitive against other classic racers like the Ford GT40 but upon witnessing its weaknesses during the road trip and I'm afraid I might go wrong with the improvements, I've decided to source it from another player. Yes, the tuning setup sourced from another player. You just give him a pat in the back for his setup done for you, right?

To whoever made this setup possible, I say thanks because thanks to this clever setup, I've snagged another championship win and with 4 championships left for me to unlock the finale, the journey's end is fast approaching but I must not give up on my adventure for the quest to be one of Horizon's finest.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Let's Do The News (January 28, 2015)

Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- Japanese PM Shinzo Abe opposes the latest video from ISIS, which threatens to kill hostage Kenji Goto, within a day, calling it "despicable". In the said footage, a voice that believes to be the Japanese captive's says that he and the Jordanian pilot will be killed unless Jordan frees an Iraqi woman held on death row. The Japanese prime minister will be coordinating with Jordan officials to secure their release.

- Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, warned that the world is "dangerously unprepared" for deadly pandemics like West Africa's Ebola Outbreak. He said it was vital that governments, corporations, aid agencies, and insurance companies must coordinate to prepare against incoming outbreaks and they need to learn lessons from the recent Ebola crisis.

- A 15-foot megamouth shark was found dead by fishermen along the shores of Barangay Marigondon in Pio Duran, Albay. No one knows what killed this shark but it was believed to be either trapped in the fishing net or had eating poisonous orgasms.

- Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor, the spokesperson of the Philippine National Police, has been relived from his position despite the controversial report that a police operation in the Maguindanao province that killed 44 elite policemen.

- The presenters of the hit TV show Top Gear are near to have their contracts renewed for another three years. That's good news for fans of the hit BBC automotive TV show.

- EA's popular racing app game, Real Racing 3 is now 2 years old since its 2013 launch and to celebrate, there's a brand new update featuring new events as well as the addition of Italy's boutique supercar, the Spada Codatronca. Plus, beware and keep playing because over the coming days, a prestigious automaker is about to announce a new vehicle and Real Racing 3 will have an exclusive worldwide reveal to this mystery car. What could it be? Stay tuned!

- Out tomorrow, it's the 9th DLC Catalog for the PS3-exclusive The iDOLM@STER ONE FOR ALL game! For this catalog, Uzuki Shimamura from The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls will be making a special guest appearance! Also, new outfits such as ドリーミン⌒イリース, Fuwafuwa Otome Pajama, and Newcomer Sunrise, and the brand new song titled We Have A Dream.

765SHOP Catalog Vol.09

- The Automobile Association Philippines, the country's oldest and largest motoring club, pushed an advocacy that they want all road signs to be cleared of advertising, stating that road signs with advertisements are confusing to motorists.

- The Mitsuoka Himiko, a Mazda Roadster NC in Morgan Roadster's clothing, is now on its 2015 model year. 36 colors, 481 variations, only 15 units will be made.

2015 Mitsuoka Himiko

- The Alpine Vision Gran Turismo was unveiled and it's set to be playable in the upcoming March 2015 update of the PS3-exclusive Gran Turismo 6 video game.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Let's Do The News (January 27, 2015)

Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- The East Coast is bracing for the impact of Winter Storm Juno as New York City and other areas in the northeast have shut down as "historic" snowstorm approaches and expected to dump as much as 90cm of snow. All non-essential vehicles are not allowed to drive through NYC from 2300 hours Eastern Standard Time and subway services were suspended. The states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are placed within a state of emergency.

- The Syriza far-left party of the Greek government, which won Sunday's general election, wants to renegotiate the nation's 240 billion euro bailout by international lenders. They have warned that the debt repayment in Greek debt in full is "unrealistic".

- An audio statement from the Islamic State militant groups are calling for attacks against Western countries and praised for recent terror attacks in France, Australia, and other countries in a speech purportedly made by its spokesperson. It's all just a bunch of enemy propaganda we suppose.

- Meanwhile in China, there was a report told that the top Chinese officials dine on a critically endangered giant salamander and became violent when journalists photographed the banquet. The 28 diners included senior police officials from the southern city of Shenzhen, according to one report.

- The Department of Justice denied the bid to dismiss US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton for his murder charges against transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude in Olongapo last October.

- There was a shooting occurred at Tukwila's Westfield Southcenter and police arrested four people after a fight during which someone fired a handgun inside the mall. The fight left one person in minor injury and that's what the reports told.

- Get ready rugby fans! The Six Nations 2015 kicks off this 6th of February!

- Just before Cinderella hits theaters this Spring, Disney announced that there will be a live-action Beauty and the Beast movie in the works and it will star Harry Potter's Emma Watson as princess Belle.

- More news for iM@S collectors as Good Smile Company announced a new Chihaya Kisaragi Yutaka Version figure which will go on sale this July for 9,074 Yen plus tax.

Chihaya Kisaragi
-Yutaka ver-

- The classic Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 saloon is the highlight on the latest Jay Leno's Garage webisode.


Top Gear S22E01

Series 22 of BBC Top Gear kicks off with the epic race across St. Petersburg, Russia, where the presenters are finding out who makes it to the finish line first while surviving against traffic in this Russian city. Jeremy Clarkson drives a hovercraft, Richard Hammond rides a bike, James May drives an electric-powered Renault Twizy, and The Stig...well, you know.

In the end, it was the Twizy that arrived on the unpronounceable palace first, proving the car, no matter what powers it, is better. As for The Stig...his head's banging onto something.

Meanwhile, Richard Hammond takes a spin on Lambo's newest V10 monster, the Huracan, and while he's in doubt in the end, The Stig lapped this one round the track in 1:15.8.

Famous celebrity Ed Sheeran is this episode's Star In A Reasonably Priced Car and he did it in 1:54.3 in wet conditions round the Top Gear track.

Forza Horizon 2: The Evo's dying wish


With news reporting that the Lancer Evolution saga will end within a few short moments and Mitsubishi Motors have no plans to replace it with something exciting because they have other things on their mind, all we can felt is sadness for Mitsubishi's world because now that they've out of their motorsport business and with Ralliart gone for good (well, some parts of the world had), performance is no longer part of the Mitsubishi Motors timeshare.

Now that the Evo is on its last legs, guess I had no choice but to fulfill its dying wish here in Forza Horizon 2 on my XBOX One gaming console.

evo (2)

The Evo X is, well according to one theory, named as the final Lancer Evolution ever made and while this itineration, which is based on the aging Galant Fortis (Lancer in the world market) saloon, maybe over half a decade old when it was launched in Japan since 2007, there's still a lot of love for this old-timer, even when Subaru's downing this car for the count with their latest WRX STi (which so far, Turn 10 haven't feature it on FH2 until further notice). With features such as S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control), 6-speed TC-SST, 4B11 MIVEC engine, and other unique features, the Lancer Evolution X is an Evo that loves to fight till its last breath.

evo (3)

To prepare for the Evo's final days on planet earth before Mitsubishi Motors closes the saga of every speedo boys' favorite, I gave it some minor improvements before getting ready for the championship I've signed up for this car. See those HKS logos I've planted on the Evo's body? I've made them myself.

I took this one on a road trip to remember...

...and then I took this Evo on the championship I've signed up. The events I've signed up for this car are all set in France's Sisteron and because it was classified as a Modern Rally car, it will be facing punishing road conditions even during cross countries but since the Evo's been through tough times, I'm sure it will have some fighting chance.

I've finally fulfilled the Evo's one last wish; to race like what other Evos do during their glory days and while the Evo's dying wish came true, I still have a few championships left before the finale on FH2 so it's time to head back home and lay plans. See you soon!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Miss Colombia is named Miss Universe

Photo: Getty Images

Paulina Vega, a beauty queen representing her country of Colombia is named as Miss Universe in the 63rd annual Miss Universe Pageant held at Miami's Florida International University. She was the first Colombiana to gain the title for over 5 decades but she's the fifth out of the last seven Miss Universe winners hailed from South America. She edges out the likes of Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell, Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha, Miss Netherlands Yasmin Verheijen, and Miss USA Nia Sanchez.

NOTE: Sadly, our very own Miss Philippines MJ Lastimosa couldn't make it to the top five but she's so pleased that she's part of the top ten semi-finalists. Oh well...

New Toyota Alphard and Vellfire (H30W)

2016 Toyota Alphard

2016 Toyota Vellfire
Toyota's flagship MPVs are now regenerated for their brand new generation and the brand new Alphard and Vellfire are now ready to aim for the luxury minivan spotlight that was taken from the likes of the Nissan Elgrand and the Honda Odyssey. Yes. The luxury minivans coveted by mostly ASEANS are back with a brand new look and features that will surely begged to have one until Toyota gives a go to send Japan's top-notch minivans to those greedy ASEANs. Oh, and if you don't mind, don't bother telling the differences between these two because mechanically, they're the same cars with different faces just like the Noah and Voxy.

Yes, they're different in their exterior designs and to sum things up, here's what you can expect on the outside of these two. On the new Toyota Alphard, which is now on its 3rd generation, the front face now looks like it came from the latest Toyota Crown saloon. The new Vellfire, meanwhile, has a front face that looks like it came from the Nissan Dayz, the Highway Star version. The faces are different but they have a completely new side view that looks more streamlined and the rear view that looks like it copied the Elgrand's rear for whatever reasons. Although, they look like they're a distorted mess, both the new Alphard and the new Vellfire's design really make the cut above the rest of those Japanese luxury MPVs.

2016 Toyota Alphard interior

2016 Toyota Alphard interior

2016 Toyota Vellfire interior

2016 Toyota Vellfire interior

The interior has been the grand stage for both the Alphard and the Vellfire and for this latest generation, it has been given a major overhaul to make it as luxurious as possible and it did. The dashboard looks like it took from the Land Cruiser Prado but it pushes all the right buttons as planned. As for the sat-nav system, it's now integrated with Toyota's T-Connect telematics system first applied on the recently facelifted Camry last year.

If you never know what that is, T-Connect is Toyota's new telematics services along with sat-navs compatible with this and a smartphone app.  In addition to the voice controls, T-Connect allows third-party apps to be downloaded to the navigation system. There's an online help service that integrates and improves on the functions the G-BOOK currently provided. In short; T-Connect from Toyota features interactive voice response, service for downloading apps to the sat-nav, improved online help, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Both the new Alphard and the new Vellfire are available with the choice of a 7 or 8 seater but for those who prefer the seven seater might come in for a treat because depending on the variant, it can be offered with three ottoman seats, one in the passenger side and the other two on the second row seats. They can be adjusted forwards or backwards and between you and me, there's no other luxury MPV that would have done such, having an ottoman seat on the passenger side that can be adjusted forwards or backwards so you can feel like you're the boss.

For an added surprise, the new models now come with the first ever cargo area under the third row seat sliding mechanism. You can store up to 148-liters of storage under the floor and the deck board can be folded into three sections to provide both a sliding third-row and under-floor storage.

There's also the first-ever Smart Entry and Push Start System which automatically opens the sliding door as the user approaches after setting up a reservation and can be locked automatically after it closes.

There are so many conveniences you can find on the new Alphard and Vellfire such as the available rear-seat entertainment system, the JBL Sound System, and many more.

2016 Toyota Alphard

2016 Toyota Vellfire

The cheaper versions have increased the size of their 4-cylinder engines from the former 2.4L to 2.5L! With added displacement comes with added performance because this 2.5L 2AR-FE engine produces 182PS of power and 235Nm of torque. Couple that with the Super CVT-i (with 7-speed manual mode) and an idling stop feature and you can expect up to 12.8km/L of fuel economy as calculated by JC08 Mode standards.

The-top-of-the-line models still comes with the same 3.5L V6 engine that produces 280PS of power and 344Nm of torque while mated with a 6-speed Super ECT. Fuel economy is a thirsty 9.5km/L.

On the hybrid models, the hybrid system has now been reworked and it now features the same 2AR-FXE 2.5L Atkinson-cycle engine as seen from the Camry while connected with two electric motors, generating a total output of a modest 197PS of power output and an improved fuel economy of up to 19.4km/L, depending on the variant.

Apart from the engine choices, the new Alphard and Vellfire now comes with a revised bodywork made of high-tensile strength steel for added rigidity as well as a new double-wishbone rear suspension just like the ones you found on your Honda Odyssey. This results to a comfortable mobility and added stability while reduced NVH results to a quiet ride while in motion, giving these minivans the touch and class of a flagship premium saloon.

The new Alphard and Vellfire starts at 3,197,782 up to 7,036,691 Japanese Yen (around $32,000 to $71,000). Yes. You can afford one than the Nissan Elgrand for now and you can take advantage of the new features that its rival minivans of its class don't.

Available colors (Alphard): White Pearl Crystal Shine, Luxury White Crystal Shine Glass Flake, Silver Metallic, Grey Metallic, Black, Sparkling Black Pearl Crystal Shine, and Greyish Blue Mica Metallic

Available colors (Vellfire): White Pearl Crystal Shine, Silver Metallic, Grey Metallic, Black, Sparkling Black Pearl Crystal Shine, Burning Black Crystal Shine, and Greyish Blue Mica Metallic.

Photo: Toyota Motor Corporation

Second-Generation Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90. When it was launched over a decade ago, it was their first attempt to take on luxury SUVs from Germany but as when time pass by, even with numerous improvements to keep it afloat, the XC90 has been decaying for so long and no matter how time passed by, the XC90 still looks pretty much the same. Now, for the first time, the XC90 finally got the regeneration it deserves and OH MY GAS! It looks perfect to look at.

2015 Volvo XC90

Well, here it is. They've all been waiting for this moment to come. This is the all-new Volvo XC90 and Volvo really mean it about the "all-new" phrase because it REALLY is all new.

First, the exterior design is brand new and this is the first to carry Vovlo's new signature look as well as its new Volvo logo in the front. No longer the male sign logo, it's now pointier than ever for a Volvo. The headlamps are now wearing the Mjolnir, or Thor's hammer for those who are gibberish about the M-word and although it wasn't more of a Mjolnir as we hoped for, this new look will be the forefront of future Volvo designs.

The new XC90 is armed with a brand new platform which is stronger and lighter than the previous platform the first one used. Because of this new platform, next-gen Volvos are looking forward to wear such a breakthrough platform but Volvo remains mum on this because they are on a "slow and steady" progress on rebuilding the Swedish carmaker, which became the pioneer of safety since the second-generation S60 of 2010. Apart from its new platform, the new car is now sharper and stable than ever thanks to its double wishbone front suspension and a new lightweight integral link rear axle. The air suspension is an optional extra and when you have it, it can be adjusted into five different modes, be it high or low depending on the road conditions.

2015 Volvo XC90 interior

On the inside, the new XC90 is now more high-tech than ever and because this car focuses more on the future rather than the past, everything's digitalized now and bad new for those music lovers, the CD player's nowhere to be found. Instead, you'll find this big screen dashboard just like you saw on the Tesla Model S. On this dashboard, you can take advantage of the built-in wi-fi hotspot, real-time navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, and so much more. The interior's pretty harsh for us because it was the first to see the future when all cars doesn't have CD players anymore and replaced by those...things. Looks like the end of the CD era's fast approaching, don't you think and pretty soon, we won't be relying on physical media anymore and that's kinda sad.

Anyway, forget the harsh word because the interior is now as luxurious as a new Range Rover and because it's now longer and taller than the previous generation, getting inside in one of those is like having a first class trip to your office and way back home. It also works as a family car because it can seat up to seven people but if you're a little grumpy and if your mother asks to seat at the back, this is one thing you would pray that this will not happen to you unless you have a newborn crybaby and a child seat that adds your misery of having your parents force you to seat at the back. Ugh...

2015 Volvo XC90

All engines in the new XC90 are 2.0L and at launch, you can have either the twin-turbo 225HP D5 or the twincharged 320HP T6 but later on, you will be able to take on the top-of-the-line T8 Twin-Engine model. Yes. there's a PHEV that is way beyond compare than your average PHEV because with the combination of the T8 engine and the electric motor, over 400HP of power and 640Nm of torque is produce. That's four times more than what your Outlander PHEV had! And no matter which engine choice you'll pick, it's mated with Volvo's 8-speed Geartronic transmission, which isn't so bad for an everyday car.

2015 Volvo XC90

Because safety is the forefront of Volvo, the new XC90 is now fully prepared with the next-generation of safety features as well as two of the world's first safety technologies. There's the run-off road protection which detects what comes next on the road and the front safety belts are tightened to keep occupants in place. Lastly, there's the auto brake in intersections when in the event the driver turns in front of an oncoming car, it automatically halts this car full stop. There are so many safety gadgets loaded in this Volvo but I can't tell what are those or this will be one heck of a snoozefest but with all of these features, this new model believes the future really is now thanks to science. Very clever but car enthusiasts weren't so sure whether they like this car or not now that it becomes a car that feels like it's been made from the future and it's been made to avoid accidents once and for all. Hmmm...

The new XC90 starts at 554,000 Krona (or around 60,000 Euros estimated), which is more expensive than any other Volvos in the lineup but that's more affordable than the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. That's one luxury SUV you can afford on.

The new Volvo XC90 isn't just more of a full model change, it's about rebuilding the Swedish carmaker into new and exciting ways and I can expect big things for Volvo for now.

Photo: Volvo Cars
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