Band of movers (Business Mirror (Philippines))

A REWARDING trip begins with a great vehicle and ends with a spectacular destination. There are also essentials along the way that make every excursion safe, convenient, comfortable and unwinding.

This was demonstrated when Peugeot Philippines, Total Philippines Corp., Cavitex Infrastructure Corp. (CIC), EasyDrive and Pico de Loro, recently teamed up to stage Southern Sojourn-a two-day fun drive, which underlined the values of coziness, ease of use and premium quality. It all started with an early morning assembly at the Peugeot Pasay showroom, where five new 2008 mini-crossovers lined up together with two brand-new 508 executive sedans, a 5008 and two other vehicles.

The invited members of major media outfits reconvened at Total Newport for a short briefing and presentation from representatives of the Southern Sojourn ensemble. Peugeot Philippines began with the highlights of the new 2008 urban mini-crossover followed by Total Philippines, who featured their premium gasoline and diesel, Total Excellium, Cafe Bonjour and the Peugeot exclusive lubricant for the event, Quartz Ineo ECS. CIC promoted the Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) as a major development, which is contributing to faster travel times to the western part of Cavite Province all the way to Nasugbu, Batangas.

EasyDrive, meanwhile, gave insights into the benefits of electronic toll collection and the RFID sticker tag.

After the initial group photo op, the media drive officially flagged off with teams boarding their respective vehicles along with Peugeot Philippines Marketing and Communications Director Dong Magsajo, and other company execs. Paired with Powerwheels Magazine Publisher Lester Dizon, who took the wheel, this writer boarded a 508 executive sedan and joined the convoy.

Several traffic jams later, the convoy reached the Coastal Road and momentarily made a stopover at the EasyDrive loading station for a quick demonstration on the proper installation of the electronic tag.

This writer took the wheel and we merged with the group to access the RFID designated tollgate leading to the remaining stretch of the freeway. One by one, we passed the gate with ease thanks to the electronic tag installed. Soon after, we reached Cavitex, which greeted the fleet with smooth asphalt and two wide lanes.

The drive with the 508 became even more indulging with the way it behaved on the expressway-quiet and stable. Traveling within speed limits, it only took less than 15 minutes for the entire column to reach the end of Cavitex. After passing several towns, we reached the winding Ternate-Nasugbu highway with its varying terrains and breathtaking landscapes of Mount Palay National Park. The convoy pulled over after passing through Kaybiang Tunnel for a brief snapshot with the mountain and ocean as backdrop. We then resumed until we finally reached the grounds of Pico de Loro.

At the high-class resort, we enjoyed the sumptuous lunch served, while the management staff pitched the resort’s topnotch facilities. We then settled and checked in to our respective rooms to freshen up and relax for the evening program. When the time came to regroup, everyone got the surprise of their lives when we were told that the next agenda was actually a Cook-Off Challenge! Six groups were formed to present their own versions of the famous Filipino comfort food-adobo. No other than Manila Times motoring section editor, Anjo Perez, hosted the program as the celebrity chef.

Everybody took the challenge and successfully exhibited their respective recipes as members of the judges-including Peugeot Philippines President Glen Dasig, who did the taste tests and rated each team. In the end, the talented team of Mika David, Lester Dizon and Nicolas Calanoc emerged as the victors. The next day, vehicle assignments were rotated and it was time for this author to run the new Peugeot 2008 mini-crossover. Stepping inside the cockpit lets you appreciate the ergonomic layout, particularly the relatively smaller yet grippy steering wheel. When we left Pico de Loro and started navigating the same winding highway with varying topographies, it did not take long to realize how comfortable and driver oriented the 2008 is.

True enough, the responsive steering with power assist made turns and curves seamless. Thrusting the 1.6-liter petrol engine with four-speed A/T toward the mid-range delivers the desired torque on ascents and enough quickness on level roads.

The entire transport was stimulating and relaxing thanks to the quiet and comfy ride with wide panoramic glass roof supplementing the soothing ambiance. The almost three-hour voyage back to Manila with the occasionally slow moving traffic was stress-free. Finally, we all made it back safe and sound to the Peugeot Pasay showroom and successfully concluded Southern Sojourn.

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