Saturday, December 24, 2016

Forza Horizon 3: The Jungle Belle

Although this car says "GT R", this is not what this car seems because if you look closely, the GT R in question is not the Nissan GT-R, but rather a Mercedes-AMG GT R.

Yes. This is the one I was referring to. The high-powered version of the Mercedes-AMG GT sports coupe has arrived in Forza Horizon 3 via the Logitech G Car Pack. With that, players can take the beast from the Green Hell for a spin round the Land Down Under anyway they want.

Before taking this powered-up version of the AMG GT for a drive, what's it all about the AMG GT R? With the success of the the Mercedes-AMG GT, the latest flagship sports coupe that replaces the wondrous SLS AMG, the engineers decided to push this car a little further by injecting all their motorsport experiences into this car to create the AMG GT R. 

While this is basically a road-going version of the AMG GT3 racing machine, this new version features an upgraded 4.0L V8 BiTurbo engine producing 585HP of power as well as an upgraded suspension, new aerodynamics and the intelligent lightweight construction to deliver a race-honed feel on the road and on the track. 

Using the infamous Nurburgring as the benchmark to develop this car, the AMG GT R comes with an exclusive "AMG green hell magno" exterior color that reminds customers that this car was developed at the Nurburgring. It even comes with a special kind of active aerodynamics profile, which is concealed almost invisibly in the underbody in the front of the engine. When in RACE mode and going on 80kph, it automatically moves downward by about 40mm and changes the airflow considerably. With its track-honed dynamics, improved V8 engine, and its clever aerodynamics, the AMG GT R sets the standards for the AMG range and its capabilities are very impossible to ignore.

Spending an hour with this car is a clear reminder why I am tempted by the beast from the Nurburgring and the way the AMG GT R performs is like the Rumble in the Jungle. With that "green hell magno" color, the muscular tone of its V8 engine which isn't so bad for a turbocharged engine (although skeptical, I presume), and its clever aerodynamics that sticks to the road like butter, I had to say that I'm impressed with AMG's latest creation. By turning the AMG GT into a primal predator on a primeval scale, its dynamic character is unique and special in each and other way, although further concentration is very much needed because the next time you're trying to catch up with this car against other muscular machines, the only way to get them is through the corners. That's it. And if you're lucky, you'll be able to slip in like a thief in a night.

Speaking of Rumble in the Jungle, the AMG GT R's ready for its shooting schedule with me, demonstrating its Nurburgring-honed talents in the Land Down Under. However, there are script rewrites occurred for some numerous reasons...

From beast of the Green Hell into a "jungle belle", feels like someone has leapt from the tree for no reason and if anyone see this one with Aikatsu Stars' Yuzu Nikaido on the exterior paint, chances are this beast has turned into a beauty...who leapt from the tree at the school grounds. I am having such a braincrash every time an idol girl is plastered on a car of my choosing, if you know what I mean? Anyway, no time to talk about it because the AMG GT R ready to show the world how it does against other AMG owners playing as background extras. So, are you ready?


It maybe a difficult task to follow but it's good to know that I finally understand how the AMG GT R works during a meeting with other AMG machines all over Australia and while this is insanely a German sportscar with dynamic behavior, its handling and aerodynamics will give a clear reminder that this Nurburgring-engineered machine can do more than just lap times. It's just about having fun as a sportscar made for the discerning few and I have to give Mercedes-AMG a brave thanks.

Bubble Gang - December 23, 2016 #BGChristmas

In the December 23, 2016 episode of Bubble Gang...

- Suhol gags

- A confrontation of a rogue doctor who kills anyone with laughter!

- Christmas Patok Tak-tiks are examined.

- A vendor who sells fireworks that are claimed to be "safe".

- Real-world Facebook are examined.

- The punishment for ugliness reached its verdict.

- A different kind of pain relief.

- James Wang in jail

- Basa-basa-pik!

The Grand Tour - Episode 6

The Grand Tour Episode 6

Fords are the main topic on the sixth episode of Amazon's original car show, The Grand Tour.

In this episode, following the announcement that Ford will sell the latest Mustang to right hand drive markets, including the United Kingdom, Richard Hammond was excited enough to take the first RHD Mustang on British roads. However, his joyride with the RHD Mustang was interrupted by Jeremy Clarkson and his Ford Focus RS. In here, they've undergone series of arguments until a clear winner was decided, courtesy of The American.

Meanwhile, James May celebrates five decades of Ford's Le Mans win by chronicling the events that led up to this very motorsport milestone from Ford. Then, Kimi Raikkonen was the latest casualty of the Celebrity Braincrash segment and then, some car-related Christmas merchandises are featured.

Friday, December 23, 2016

What to see at the 2016 MMFF?

2016 Metro Manila Film Festival entries

Sunday, December 25, 2016, is officially Christmas Day, but it's also the start of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival where the best Filipino movies are shown only in theaters up until the 7th of January, 2017. For this year, all of the eight films selected by the movie have almost no gimmicks, no show-offs, and best of all, no non-sense because out of the eight films, there are some films that generated quite a buzz in the global stage.

So, what to see at this year's Metro Manila Film Festival?

  • Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough - The sequel to the 2011 indie film shown at the Cinemalaya stars comedienne Eugene Domingo, Kean Cipriano, and Jericho Rosales. This sequel is a satirical take on the mainstream film industry so you can expect lots and lots of references.
  • Die Beautiful - Winner of the 2016 Tokyo International Film Festival, this film stars Eat Bulaga presenter Paolo Ballesteros as a transgender who dies in a beauty pageant and her final wish is to "die beautiful" and become a celebrity for every evening of her wake.
  • Kabisera - Starring the legendary Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, and Jason Abalos, this film is based on real events that happens in Batangas, revolving a close-knit family that copes up with violent crimes and extrajudicial killings, sociopolitical issues that the country is facing right now.
  • Oro - This suspenseful film stars Irma Adlawan, Joem Bascon, and Mercedes Cabral and its about a people in a small mining community that encounters trouble when an armed group claiming to be environmentalists made them miserable and ruled with an iron fist.
  • Saving Sally - This film took 12 years to finish it and now it's finally ready to be shown at the Metro Manila Film Festival. Starring Enzo Marcos and Rhian Ramos, this live-action/cartoon hybrid film is packed with love, monsters, and gadgets, in the eyes of a comic book artists falling in love with his best friend Sally.
  • Seklusyon - Set in the 1940s, this film directed by Erik Matti is about a ritual of seclusion where new priests in training confine themselves in a retreat and left to confront their inner demons and the arrival of a nun and a child.
  • Sunday Beauty Queen - This is the only documentary flick in this year's festival that premiered at this year's Busan International Film Festival. It highlights on the life and times of Filipina OFWs working by any day, became beauty queens by Sundays.
  • Vince & Kath & James - Joshua Garcia, Julia Barretto, and Ronnie Alonte played their titular roles in this teen flick based on an online "textserye" series that went viral.
The 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival will begin on Christmas Day 2016 up until the 7th of January, 2017. Who will be the best among the rest?

Let's Do The News! (December 23, 2016)

- Tropical depression Nock-Ten intensified into a typhoon early yesterday, and was forecast to enter the Philippine area of responsibility as Tropical Storm Nina late last night or early today. As of 4PM yesterday, PAGASA spotted the storm at about 1,320km east of northern Mindanao, moving west-northwest at a speed of 23kph.

- President Rodrigo Duterte wants to amend the provisions in the 1987 Constitution that check a president's power to declare and implement martial law. The chief executive noted that he cannot proceed on declaring martial law in case of war or invasion as such authority is subject to review by Congress and Supreme Court.

- Manila city mayor Joseph Estrada is currently in a hospital for pneumonia, according to his son Senator JV Ejercito during a radio interview. Ejercito said that Estrada was brought to the hospital two nights ago, adding that the 79-year-old former president was pale and had a hard time breathing when he was brought in.

- The House Intelligence Committee study only raises suspicion of links between former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and Russian spies. The panel said in its newly declassified report that Snowden "has had, and continues to have, contract with Russian intelligence services."

- A top Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee's CIA oversight panel warned that President-elect Donald Trump's disparagement of American intelligence agencies is going to prompt even more leaks on sensitive subjects like Russia's alleged hacking of the US electoral process.

- Audi is set to unveil a Q8 concept SUV at next month's NAIAS in Detroit, Michigan. It will serve as a preview of Audi's flagship full-size SUV that slots above the Q7.

- Bandai Namco's Tekken Revolution free-to-play game for the Playstation3 wil end its services this March 2017.

- The first theatrical trailer for the upcoming Biohazard Vendetta 3D animated film is here and this is where the movie's storyline is told regarding Leon and Chris race against time to fight against the terrorist unleashing an attack on New York City.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Assassin's Creed (2016 film)

Assassin's Creed (2016 film)

Since its launch in 2007, the Assassin's Creed franchise rewrites the pages of history from the Holy Land to the Industrial Revolution with the legendary war between Assassins and Templars that have changed history forever. Now, for some unknown reasons, a movie adaptation of the hit video game franchise has arrived and this one is pretty much different to the Assassin's Creed we are familiar with.

Starring Michael Fassbender, and Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard, this Assassin's Creed film centers on the tale of Callum Lynch, who was imprisoned inside the mysterious facility in the present day and thanks to the Animus-a device that allows users to explore genetic memories buried within their DNA, Callum's bloodline traces back to his ancestor named Aguilar, an Assassin in 15th Century Spain. By taking advantage of his newly found bloodline as well as his intelligence and combat skills as an Assassin, Callum must stop at nothing to rewrite history to suppress against the Templar forces of today.

This film is vaguely original compared to the video games it based upon and while it promises fans the same exhilarating feel that fans get from the games, it's kinda hard to imagine why, by surprise, this movie adaptation made like a thief in a night. In fact, it's very as shadowy as what an Assassin should be. Sadly, you don't get the gore and some violent stuff that the games delivered. In fact, it's just tad regular for a movie version of a hit video game franchise. While this is a good movie to watch for the holidays, its lack of strong violence is what doesn't really pleases about this Assassin's Creed movie and because it's vaguely original, there are some questions that need to be answered why.

My rating: 2.7 out of 5.

Let's Do The News! (December 22, 2016)

- President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the 3.35 trillion peso budget for fiscal year 2017 as he vowed to ensure that state funds would benefit the poor and vulnerable sectors. In his speech, Duterte said the 2017 national budget is the "embodiment of Filipinos' clamor for change." He said the first ever budget of his administration would be "pro-people, pro-investment, pro-growth, and pro-development."

- Former police Chief Superintendent Wally Sombero returned the two million pesos, which is part of the alleged fifty million peso bribe money from Chinese casino mogul Jack Lam to the Ombudsman. Sobero also filed before the Ombudsman a supplemental complaint affidavit to his case against Immigration Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles.

- US President-elect Donald Trump has met heads of aircraft makers as he seeks to cut costs of a next generation stealth fighter and a new presidential aircraft. He met up with the CEO of Lockheed Martin about the F-35 program and with the CEO of Boeing, the maker of Air Force One.

- A cargo plane has crashed in eastern Colombia, killing five crew members. The country's aviation authorities say the domestic airplane went down in Puerto Carreno near the Venezuela border on Tuesday. The plane had been heading to an airport in Bogota, carrying six crew members onboard. One of them is injured but rescued.

- German police are searching for a 24-year-old Tunisian male suspect of involvement in the Berlin truck attack on Monday. German investigative authorities on Wednesday released a mug shot of Anis Amri. They say the found an ID document bearing his name inside the truck. The are offering a reward of up to 100,000 euros for information leading to his arrest.

- Nissan and Mitsubishi are joining forces to launch their new SUV on the year 2019.

- See professional driver Tanner Foust driving different kinds of cars in an ode to Quantum Leap.

- There's now a Miki Hoshii figma unveiled and ready to take pre-orders starting at 5,833 Yen plus tax. This figma dons the Million Dreams outfit as seen in not just on the PS3 version of THE IDOLM@STER 2 but also as the cover outfit of The IDOLM@STER Million Live mobile game. Anyway, this figma's ready for pre-order, deliveries will start this June.

figma Miki Hoshii

- Or in the Lovelive side, the third Nendoroid based on the Aqours heroes from Love Live! Sunshine!!, Riko Sakurauchi, has unveiled. Finished in the Aozora Jumping Heart costume, it's available to order starting at 3,241 Yen plus tax and deliveries will commence this June. More to come soon for the Aqours heroes!

Nendoroid Riko Sakurauchi


Forza Horizon 3: Clash of American Heroes

The heated debate between Vipers and Corvettes remained to be the forefront of American sportscar hierarchy even though the muscle car wars in America remains to be the hot topic here. With high-performance versions of these cars like the Dodge Viper ACR and the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, with its 650HP supercharged V8, tensions between these two remain as heated as America versus the communist countries of China and Russia combined.

The Corvette C7 Z06 remains a very special place in my books because while this is essentially called the Z06, it remains, to date, as the most powerful Corvette ever made. I was not a fan of the normal C7 Corvette Stingray when it shook the world by its storm because of personal issues I can think of but with the Z06, my attitude towards the C7 Corvette has changed and I like this Corvette a lot as much as the previous C6 ZR1. While the Z06 was inspired from the C7.R racing machine, it remains a dynamic handling machine that is not fit for the faint at heart and you have to be careful and where you're turning the wheel at because even a slight mistake can punish you big time. Who knew modern American sportscars can be very dynamic and dangerous at a hands of an amateur?

While the Viper is set to be removed from the lineup after the 2017 model year, the ACR is a heartful reminder that this GTS-R-inspired machine wants to die beautiful with all the best bits from its motorsports experience. It still has a 8.4L V10 engine, which is the biggest engine output for a production vehicle ever made, but it's been rooted to 645HP of power and 600ft-lb of torque. Although not as powerful as the Z06, the ACR weighs 1500kg and it comes with track-honed dynamics to keep it competitive on the road and on the track. While it is slower on the straights compared to a normal Viper, its low center of gravity as well as its massive rear wing keeps it very glued on the bends like an extreme track toy. However, despite its motorsport knowhow, the ACr can be very bravado and it takes guts to master this hardcore Viper at ease. I forgot to mentioned that this car is part of Forza Horizon 3's Alpinestars car pack.

Now with the rivalry between the Corvette C7 Z06 and the Dodge Viper ACR has finally arrived on Forza Horizon 3, I have a better way to see which of these American heroes stand out by giving it a timed lap at one part of Byron Bay. Specifically, the Grand Tour Sprint because it has the words "Grand Tour" on it and it reminds me of...well, you get the idea but let's find out which American hero stands out...

After one go, I have the results. The Corvette C7 Z06 did it in 2:29.850 while the Dodge Viper ACR did it in a shocking 2:23.377. It's a shocking victory that with all that grit unleashed on these American heroes, the Viper ACR stands out against the Corvette Z06 and I have no idea how to sum these cars up.

Since I got no idea how to explain why the Dodge Viper ACR is better than the Corvette Z06, I decided to let these American heroes do their activities on their own and that meant I have to make some adjustments to make sure they're ready for their shooting schedules.

The C7 Corvette Z06 wants to meet up with the other Corvettes but first, it needs to be presentable inside and out, and that meant getting dressed for the occasion. Seen here is a familiar theme I made from the second Horizon game a while back. It's themed after THE IDOLM@STER's Iori Minase but it has been improved to Platinum Stars standards.

The Viper ACR doesn't want to be flashy while it tries to meet up 25 years of Vipers but a slight color change would do the trick. Seen here is the similar ACR that the infamous Chris Evans drove in his first and only season as a Top Gear presenter. Believe it or not, the Viper ACR edges off against the Corvette C7 Z06 with Sabine Schmitz behind the wheel and left the fighter pilot sitting next to her throwing up.

It's a great thing to have this rivalry became part of the American car culture, especially in the Land Down Under on Forza Horizon 3 and while the whole world's waving goodbye on these, seems that the age-old rivalry between the Viper and the Corvette will be consigned to the history books. With the Viper is set to be removed from the lineup and the next Corvette will be different, these cars will be surely a blast to drive 'till the bitter end.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Second Generation Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

Up front, it looks like the latest generation of the Chevrolet Cruze. It has the same front view as the saloon, the same five-seater capacity, the same grim reality of having a touch-screen with added connectivity standard, the same peppy 1.4L turbo engine as before, and the same premium amenities you can expect on the latest generation. But look behind and you can see that the Chevrolet Cruze got a different back. In other words, it's a hatchback.

What it is is not a Chevrolet Cruze as we know it and with that striking rear view reminiscent of the Kia K3 Euro, this is the future. This is the first-ever Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback. The most obvious difference you can observe on this model is the extra space on the back and with the rear seats folded, the Cruze hatchback provides 47.2 cubic feet of boot space, more than enough to fit whatever activities they want. 

So, why the Cruze hatchback? In the beginning, the Cruze hatchback sold exclusively in Europe, South Korea, and Oceania, with some countries except the United States. However, with Chevrolet pulling out from the European market and with numerous stuff I don't really understand, looks like they made the perfect timing to introduce the hatchback version of the second-generation Cruze to the American market. If Europeans come across through this car, this is something they would really miss ever since Chevrolet departed from the European market for good to make room for Opel. Hmmm....

Sadly, today's Chevrolet Cruze is available only in the North American market and looks like the South Koreans won't be having this kind of Cruze any day now unless GM Korea Company changed their minds into selling the latest Cruze in sedan and hatchback forms. The rest of the world are begging to have this kind of car but for now, the second-generation Cruze, in saloon and hatchback forms, will remain exclusive to North America (well, save for China because they had one, only different) and for the hatchback version, starting at 22,115 US Dollars MSRP, it sounds reasonably priced but the whole world's going to beg for this kind of car which has the same tech, the same 1.4L turbocharged petrol engine, and the same world-class quality they expect for a Chevrolet. Sadly, the world should wave hi to the hatchback from far between the Atlantic and the Pacific. That's a shame...

Photo: General Motors

Let's Do The News! (December 21, 2016)

- The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas yesterday released the first batch Peso bills with signatures from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte worth 8.75 million pesos. BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said the 27 million pieces of P20, P50, P100, P200, P500 and P1,000 new generation currency (NGC) bills were released to banks in the National Capital Region and areas outside NCR.

- Although President Duterte supports family planning, he clarified that he's opposed to abortion. Duterte believes that cutting population growth can help improve the country's economy, which grew by 7.1 percent in the third quarter.

- Conglomerate Alliance Global, Inc. pledged on Tuesday to allot 1.2 billion pesos for the construction of drug rehabilitation centers in the country as part of the government's ongoing war on drugs. With this, AGI committed to build a new drug rehabilitation facility in Taguig, the second following the Davao facility.

- The evacuation of the Syrian city of Aleppo could be completed by tomorrow. Civilians trapped in battle areas are evacuating and insurgents are withdrawing after the rebels agreed to surrender the remaining areas under their control. The International Committee of the Red Cross says about 25,000 people have left the city.

- Authorities in Germany, France, and other European countries have tightened security in the wake of the Berlin truck attack. Germany has deployed more police officers across the country. Paris has blocked vehicles from an area of the Champs-Elysees where a Christmas market is underway. So far, German investigators detained a Pakistani and later released him, citing lack of evidence.

- A massive explosion has ripped through a fireworks market in Mexico, killing 31 people and hurt 72 others. Authorities say over 40 people remained missing. The blast occurred at an open-air market in Tultepec, sending plumes of smoke high into the air and causing people to flee.

- The facelifted Skoda Octavia can now be offered in either a high-performance RS variant or a Scout crossover wagon.

2017 Skoda Octavia RS
2017 Skoda Octavia Scout

- Felipe Massa returns to Williams F1 team for the 2017 season.

- No. This is not a terrorist attack occurred at a mall in Dubai. The footage of an military vehicle ramming through the mall in Dubai was just one of the footage for an upcoming episode of Amazon's The Grand Tour.


Mitsubishi eK Space and Nissan Dayz Roox (2017 Minor Change)

2017 Mitsubishi eK Space
2017 Mitsubishi eK Space Custom
2017 Nissan Dayz Roox

Having been returned from the lineup numerous months after the fuel efficiency fiasco that forced Mitsubishi to temporarily suspend most of their kei car sales after Nissan discovered what's wrong with their fuel efficiency numbers and then sparked a takeover on Mitsubishi Motors following the wrongdoing, looks like the taller equivalents of the Mitsubishi eK and Nissan Dayz, the eK Space and Dayz Roox, has been given a facelift and let's hope that these latest versions are as honest as this morning's newspaper.

On the Mitsubishi side, the redesigned front face makes it well-civilized and cozy for the normal eK Space while the eK Space Custom gets it all futuristic and sharp. On the Nissan side, both the normal and the Highway Star variants received Nissan's corporate V-motion grille to make it more welcome to the family. Although the new look makes them more updated, they're still the same thing, although they are finally come clean with their fuel efficiency numbers.

For all models, it comes with the 660cc engine producing 49PS of power and 59Nm of torque. Turbocharged models get around 64PS of power, in case you missed it. Fuel efficiency? They're at a very honest 20.4 to 22.2km/L based on Japan's JC08 Mode standards. This is as fuel efficient as these wagons go, otherwise, they would exaggerate it against its fuel efficient rivals from Daihatsu and Suzuki and then cause any trouble again. Not in this case, it ain't because customers who bought this car will have to keep an eye on its fuel efficiency in the hopes that they don't get deceived by its exaggeration.

Anyway, some safety tech is loaded in both models such as the autonomous braking system called FCM-City, Active Stability Control, Emergency Stop Signal System, ABS brakes, and much more, all in the name of being one of the safest kei minivans in the market, as if those cars like the Tanto and the Spacia can do the job better than those but that's not the case for those kei minivans trying to come clean and win back the motoring public after that fiasco that sent them homespun.

At a Mitsubishi dealership, the eK Space starts at 1,239,840 Yen while the eK Space Custom starts at 1,568,160 Yen. At a Nissan dealership, meanwhile, the Dayz Roox starts at 1,306,800 Yen and it comes with different variants ranging from the normal, Highway Star, Bolero, and Rider. Both the Bolero and the Rider are made courtesy of Autech Japan. So, with everything's come clean for these facelifted models, can the new eK Space and the new Dayz Roox win back the motoring public? Only time will tell.

Photo: Mitsubishi Motors/Nissan

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Let's Do The News! (December 20, 2016)

- Senator Ralph Recto said that President Rodrigo Duterte's independent foreign policy should mean maintaining friendship with all nations. Recto stressed that the Philippines should maintain its alliance with world superpowers for trade and aid.

- Philippine National Police Director General Roland "Bato" dela Rosa said big cash bonuses for high-ranking police officials will no longer released, adding cops might instead get sacks of rice. Earlier, officials would be receiving big sum of cash gifts from President Duterte.

- Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday claimed there was a plot to oust him from his post, but the plotters failed as he has the trust of President Duterte. Aguirre said he already knows who the people behind such plut were and hinted that group includes people from both the government and private sector.

- Despite statewide protests, US President-Elect Donald Trump has won the Electoral College vote by racking up the 270 electoral votes needed to send him to the White House. The Republican-controlled Congress will certify the results on the 6th of January and Trump will be inaugurated on the 20th.

- Late Monday night, a truck filled with steel beams rammed into the crowded Christmas market in Berlin, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens, Police arrested the suspect near the scene after the driver escaped. A passenger of the truck, a Polish national, was found dead inside the cab, police said. The German police will investigate if the Berlin truck attack is an act of terrorism.

- The Lamborghini Aventador S, the updated version of Lamborghini's flagship sportscar, has been unveiled, featuring an added 40PS of power output on its 6.5L V12 engine,

2017 Lamborghini Aventador S

- Actor and environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio was named as the brand ambassador for China's car company BYD. As a Chinese car company that leads the electric car market, BYD currently offered three electric vehicles such as the e5, e6, and Qin EV300, as well as numerous hybrid models in their range.

- Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office junked charges against musician Aska from the duo Chage and Aska, for allegedly using stimulants in violation of Japan's drug control laws. The office couldn't obtain evidence to indict Aska and was released.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Second-Generation Mazda CX-5

Since 2012, the Mazda CX-5 changed the midsize crossover market forever with its groundbreaking performance and efficiency that makes it a clear win for customers worldwide. Through the years, Mazda couldn't manage to perfect the already perfect attributes of the CX-5 crossover especially when it gave numerous updates to see how propagating this crossover is but now, just before this crossover reaches its fifth year in 2017, Mazda finally done it and introduced the second-generation Mazda CX-5 at a crowd in Los Angeles and it's destined to hit stores in Japan this February.

2017 Mazda CX-5
2017 Mazda CX-5 interior

The all-new Mazda CX-5, by the looks of it, looks pretty much the same as the outgoing model, as well as the choice of engines, but what's underneath it is worth of a change of heart for Mazda's strong-selling crossover. Although the design looks pretty much the same, it's now wider than the outgoing model, and the new Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint for this new model really adds some vivid look to the new model.

Step inside the new CX-5 and you are greeted by Mazda's now trademark interior look commonly seen in most models like the Axela, Demio, CX-3, and the Roadster. While the signature Mazda design interior is mainly driver focused, there are brand new stuff you can check on its inside such as the brand new Active Driving Display on the windscreen. Once more, the dashboard is all talk and no show, and while basically a five-seater, it's now slightly spacious than the outgoing model by about two liters. All the more reasons why someone would want to save some cash on the crossover with a driver focused interior and practicality fit enough for work and weekend nightlife with mates.

2017 Mazda CX-5

While this is new, the engine choices remained the same, meaning you still have a choice of either a 2.2L SKYACTIV-D, 2.0L SKYACTIV-G, and the more powerful 2.5L SKYACTIV-G with 184PS of power output, all mated to a 6-speed SKYACTIV-DRIVE automatic gearbox and that's it. No questions and further explanations asked, although fuel efficiency by JC08 Mode standards can be ranged from 14.6 to 18km/L, depending on the variant.

Now, what's new on the CX-5 is i-ACTIV AWD and G-VECTORING CONTROL, features that remained unknown to those who haven't taste it on the road. The i-ACTIV AWD system adapts control of the driving force distribution between the front and rear wheels while the new G-VECTORING CONTROL  varies engine torque in response to steering inputs, subtly controlling lateral and longitudinal acceleration forces, which works like a traction control but it modulates the throttle to optimise vertical control on each wheel. The updated Mazda models had that kind of stuff, well except for the Roadster per se, and this CX-5 really knows how to take it very easy and very seriously for the driver who understands its hidden potential.

2017 Mazda CX-5

To keep it civilized on the city streets, the new Mazda CX-5 is offered with Mazda's i-ACTIVSENSE suite of safety systems such as Smart Brake Support, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Smart City Brake Support, Hi-Beam Control System, Lane Departure Warning System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Blind Spot Monitoring. With these features, you'll be sure that you're in safe hands unless you got some explaining to the insurers about how safe is your driving record. Worse, you could getting too much of those safe driving bonus checks from the insurers because of the car's safety tech armed on the new CX-5. How are you going to explain that?

Prices for the new CX-5 starts at 2,462,400 Japanese Yen for the 2.0L petrol variant while the 2.0L clean diesel variant starts at 2,775,600 Japanese Yen. Of course, while the clean diesel promises to be the fuel-efficient variant for this new model, recent woes over diesel engines would add worry to those who are willing to buy this because there could be the sudden case of cheating its fuel efficiency just like what any Volkswagen did in its time before it was uncovered to the public. Still, while the inevitable is imminent, let's take time to assume that the new CX-5 is an overall improvement to the last model, although the looks and the performance are stale if I'm honest. With all the tech and the G-Vectoring Control explored, there's one major reason why the CX-5 is a great crossover in this category and's a Mazda and this is what makes you "be a driver."

Available colors: Soul Red Crystal Metallic, Machine Grey Premium Metallic, Jet Black Mica, Titanium Flash Mica, Sonic Silver Metallic, Deep Crystal Blue Mica, Eternal Blue Mica, and Snowflake White Pearl Mica.

Photo: Mazda Motor Corporation

Let's Do The News! (December 19, 2016)

- Following China's seizure of a United States oceanographic drone at the South China Sea, a Kabayan representative said both countries didn't act in ways that respect the rights of the Philippines following this incident. Harry Roque noted that it was within the Philippines's exclusive economic zone, 50 nautical miles off Subic Bay.

- Meanwhile, China can return the drone back to the US but President-elect Donald Trump wants them to keep it.

- Once the death penalty is revived, President Rodrigo Duterte wants to executive five or six death row convicts daily.

- Contrary to popular belief, a Catholic bishop says that completing nine days of simbang gabi won't grant anyone wishes.

- Demonstrators from across the USA held peaceful vigils to urge electors to reject Donald Trump. Unite for America held a bi-partisan rally on the capitol steps to ask the Electoral College not to vote for Donald Trump.

- Evacuations have resumed of people trapped in the war-torn city of Aleppo in northern Syria. Last week, Syrian government forces regained control of almost all of Aleppo, the rebel forces' biggest stronghold. This represents a major advance for the government forces after almost five years of fighting.

- The Islamic State militants claimed responsibility from the suicide attack near a military camp in Yemen on Sunday in the southern city of Aden, killing at least 49 people and 60 are hurt. The bombing occurred as soldiers were lining up to collect their salaries near the camp for government forces.

- Toyota showcased their next-generation taxi for the Japanese motoring public and it will be powered by a 1.5-litre LPG hybrid powertrain. It will be set to be launched this 2017.

Toyota's next JPN TAXI 
- Chevrolet teases their next-generation Traverse crossover before its unveiling at next month's North American International Auto Show.

Teaser for the next Chevrolet Traverse


Forza Horizon 3: Living like The Rock

See this hunk of metal I got from this weekend's Forzathon challenge? That's the Terradyne Gurkha LAPV and you are probably familiar with this behemoth as the one Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson drove on Fast Five. Yep. The wrestler turned action star played federal agent Luke Hobbs. The muscle who tries to gun down Dom and his crew on Fast Five, then later assists the gang on Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7, and now a fierce rival who will stop at nothing to bring down the betrayed Dom on next year's The Fate of the Furious.

However, the Gurkha seen here isn't the same as the one Hobbs drove in Fast Five. This is the normal Terradyne Gurkha LAPV. Made by the Ontario-based armored vehicle company, the Gurkha is a tactical vehicle based on the Ford F-350 pickup truck. Apart from the LAPV shown here, there are other Gurkhas offered in the lineup such as the MPV for military purposes and a civilian-spec RPV pickup.

The LAPV is powered by a 6.7L V8 turbodiesel engine from Ford, which produces 300HP of power and 660lb-ft of torque, while mated to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Because it weighs 15,000 to 19,000 pounds, the top speed is limited to 110kph. Not that quick by modern standards but because it's made to get through the roughest terrains like most military vehicles do, the Gurkha can get through points A to B with just a minor scratch but in one piece without worrying about the personnel onboard. Because it uses CEN B7/STANAG 2 armoring on the bodywork, even shrapnels of bombs can't hurt the Gurkha on the move. Now that's intimidating for a Canadian-made military vehicle based on a Ford F-350.

Driving one of these will make anyone think you're Dwayne Johnson except you're not The Rock. You're just the genius confabulator ready for some script rewrites to make actors a lot more miserable. If I were a genius confabulator, I would do a script rewrite to make use of The Rock's favorite beast from Fast Five, and that mean't I should take the Gurkha to...Blizzard Mountain!

The freezing temperatures, the severe blizzard warning, that's perfect to test out the Gurkha's toughness, even though its armored bodywork can sustain against the harshest elements that climate change can throw at it. Now, I want to see if the Gurkha lives up to The Rock's role. Otherwise, it would be just another one of The Rock's roles that doesn't look tough was that again? Oh well...

On the scale of which The Rock role am I, feels like I'm not on the same level as Hobbs from the Fast & Furious series but rather...hmmm...nope, not The Scorpion King because I'm driving on ice. Perhaps, I feel like the hero from a disaster flick San Andreas! Nope, no. This isn't California. Sorry. Still, driving the Gurkha gives you an impression that you're living like The Rock in so many ways and no matter where you're taking this hunk of metal on it, it feels like it's another day for The Rock as he gets off from his luxury home and into the movie set to do some action star stuff. This car, like the actor, always have The Game Plan, which I should have said it in the first place.
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