As I write this, Opus Macchina will have turned 8 months old already. It has been the most amazing ride thus far.
We have been on full throttle since day one and we haven't had enough time to stop and appreciate how much we've grown over the past couple of months. It's no secret that the very existence of this outfit is credited to nothing more than a drunken conversation topped off with some serendipitous events. It's been a dream of ours to get our hands on the most coveted cars in the world and to bring them closer to the general public. With the help of our friends who own these cars personally as well as the the local distributors in the Philippines, we were able to turn this dream into a very tangible reality.
It is beyond doubt that we have a long, long way to go and nothing excites us more than the adventures, or (mis)adventures, that lay before us. Since we have gained a little bit of a reputation for only featuring the higher end spectrum of cars, we decided to end the year by picking our favorite cars under 2 million pesos. It doesn't necessarily have to be the best, but it has to be one that we connected with. And because Miguel, Stefano, and I share very little in common apart from our unfathomable passion for automobiles, none of us picked the same car. Great then, this is going to be epic.
Naturally, we wanted to head to a destination with a set of open highway roads, some twisties, and a little bit of city traffic to get the best sense of daily usability. It could only be Subic, which was great because that meant we would be staying in our favorite home in the North, the ever so gorgeous and cozy Lighthouse Marina Resort.
Join our journey, and click the videoS.
Stefano, being the juvenile person he is, picked the Mazda MX-5 fitted with a manual transmission. His choice did not shock me, for I've always known of his serious obsession for cars without roofs. Being that the MX-5 is one of the best cars we've driven all year, it was almost a certainty that it would be his choice for 2016. Miguel on the other hand, picked the Civic RS Turbo. In my eyes, this car was the biggest surprise of the year. The puny engine displacement, CVT transmission, and geeky instrument cluster seemed like a well curated recipe for disaster.
Of course, it couldn't have been further from the truth. It is perhaps the most impressive car I've driven under 2 million pesos, and in the company it's keeping for this trip, it's the cheapest too. Lastly, my choice, the Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT-S. It is without a doubt the most controversial and polarizing car in the group, but as I mentioned earlier, it isn't about what the categorical best is. It's all about which cars we connected with the most, and in this red paint job, superior all-wheel-drive system, and drop dead gorgeous wagon design - I was confident my partners would see the light.
Confidence in motion.
On the highways, Miguel seemed to have the most fun. He had all the power he needed and all the space his kids desired. The cabin was quiet and it was the only car here fitted with Apple Car Play, a new industry standard for Apple users like us. Talia and Erin were happily hanging out in the back of the Civic because those rear seats are excellent. Kaye was busy working on New Media Factory affairs. It's either our mother company has got some really important things that need some attention or she was getting bored at how Miguel must have been rambling on about his Civic. Although, he does have a lot to ramble about because the Civic is annoyingly good. It's clinical, but it delivers.
Stefano was all but a tiny white and blue spec through my windshield. With an outside temperature of 37 degrees and the hot air blowing through the cabin of the MX-5, I can hardly understand the joy in that. With buses, dusty construction sites, and trucks cutting you left and right - the appeal of an open top roadster started to dwindle. Maybe it isn't suited for our country, but hey, Stefano was having the time of his life, and none of us wanted to be Scrooge - it's Christmas. After all, he was the one with a really precise 6-speed manual gearbox and pure sports car dynamics. Surely, when we got to the twisties in Subic, there were times when I wished I was in that ceramic roadster.
As for me, I was enjoying the Levorg's versatility. I had a lot of things stowed at the almost limitless boot space, the cabin was cool, and the steering feel was delicious. If there were two things I wished it had, it would be more power and a better transmission. On the highway, you don't feel a lot of its shortcomings, but on the hilly and twisty roads of the North, it feels like it can't even get out of its own way. The CVT transmission is this car's achilles heel. The engine has so much more performance potential, but it's hampered by an oppressive party-pooper of a gear-less tranny. Thank goodness it flows through the twisty roads with so much poise and grace. It has immense grip and for that alone, I see through the haze.
We can go on and on about how we think the cars we've chosen are better, but that would be the equivalent of a republican talking politics with a democrat. It's going to be endless. The fact here is that these three cars are all amazing in their own right. The MX-5 is a piece of motoring folklore, a future classic. It is without doubt the most exciting sports car within the budget for the simple reason that it delivers a very pure and old school experience infused with the niceties of modern technological advancements. It's light on its feet, it's quick, and it's painfully pretty in the correct color scheme.
The Civic is the new annoying kid on the block. It's that classmate of yours that would get drunk before the exams, but passes it with flying colors. The CVT transmission should have destroyed the car completely, yet it was only when we read the spec sheet that we realized it had the devil's transmission. Plus, with an engine size so puny, it punches well-above its weight class. It's so damn fast, a car from Stuttgart could barely keep up with it. There was a reason why the Civic was a cult car and today, that force is stronger than ever.
The Levorg is the best example of how some cars can be magnetic. It is a beautiful thing to look at, especially in red. There's so much more to a car than what's explained in a spec sheet, and the Levorg is the best representation of that. It is a walking contradiction of sportiness, comfort, and versatility. It has an x factor that no one can deny, and I am one of the many people who have fallen hard for it. In the end, Miguel, Stefano, and I were absolutely delighted with the cars we've brought up to Subic and they have remained to be our choices to drive back down to Manila.
It has been the most unreal start to Opus Macchina and we are looking forward to our journey in 2017.