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I can’t deny it. Half of my genes came from my Dad. But when we’re together in a car for any stretch of time, we’d still end up arguing over anything and everything.

He’s already 81, but still drives. He will never let go of that 21-year-old rust bucket of a van he converted to run on LPG a few years ago. Right before the CoViD-19 pandemic exiled him in our house indefinitely, I would occasionally volunteer to drive him to where he needed to be. But not on that rickety van of his. I used my own van, a more roadworthy 16-year-old that also runs on LPG.

Driving for my Dad always begins with some peace and quiet. After a few minutes, he would comment on my driving, which would irritate me. Then I would say something about his diet, which would irritate him. We raise our voices a notch. Then I take a left turn, to which he would snort that I should’ve taken the right one. I retort that since I’m the driver, I get to decide what route to take. Now he compares me to some incompetent public official, and I compare him to another bumbling politician. Now we’re shouting, trying to drown out one another’s voice. By the time we get to the destination, he’s all worked up and red-faced and huffing out of the door. The arguments continue on the way back home.

The good thing about my Dad is that his anger dissipates quickly, like molten lava losing steam immediately after pouring into the ice-cold ocean. It’s that one trait we have in common. So, the next day, we’re like dear old friends again, ready to repeat the cycle.

In early March, a week before Metro Manila was declared under enhanced community quarantine due to the CoViD-19 outbeak, I had the good fortune of being handed the keys to the Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GLS 6DCT (Hybrid) by Hyundai Asia Resources Inc (Hari). This variant, which runs on a gas-electric hybrid power train, featured the 1.6-liter CVVT engine mated to a 6-speed Dual Clutch Transmission.

I used the Ioniq Hybrid to drive my Dad on short trips. Surprisingly, neither one of us was combative during those trips. Still, he had to express his opinion of the car.

“I wouldn’t buy this car”.

“Why?” I asked. “You look like you’re thoroughly enjoying the ride.”

“Because this looks like something I borrowed from a millennial granddaughter,” he chuckled. “It looks like a grinning whale with dangling earrings.”

Amused by my old man’s observations, I did take a closer look at the Ioniq’s fascia, and I couldn’t argue. The wide grille and dotted LEDs below the headlights somehow did suggest that image. My Dad couldn’t admit that the Ioniq’s unconventional lift back design style may have intimidated him.

He was okay, though, to be “swallowed” by this whale. He had nothing but praises for the Ioniq’s interior. The touchscreen display allowed my phone’s Waze to be displayed, so he couldn’t argue with that. He also couldn’t take issue with my driving, because my fuel economy was visibly displayed, and showed a frugal 4.1 liters per 100 km (24.4 km/liter).

On a couple of occasions, he sat at the back to try out the legroom. His verdict: “I could be comfortable here even during long road trips.”

Noticing that the Ioniq was equipped with the smart cruise control, my old-school Dad swore he would never allow his driver to use that. “It would make driving too easy and may induce my driver to sleep. You’re not supposed to be too relaxed when driving. If you’re too lazy to even hold the gas and brake pedals steady, then just be a passenger.”

He thought it was nice and thoughtful of the Ioniq engineers to put in a rear camera with guide lines while on reverse. “That should be very useful since, with this car, people or animals wouldn’t hear you while you’re backing up.”

Then, before I returned the Ioniq to the Hari offices, he had this parting shot for Hyundai: “Hyundai should be very proud that its Ioniq is a hybrid by making the ‘Hybrid’ and ‘Blue Drive’ marks large enough to be seen by other motorists.”

I found myself in this rare position of actually agreeing with my Dad on most of his observations. Thus, for a week that the Ioniq Hybrid was in my possession, we actually enjoyed entire stretches of peace and quiet in the car.

I did get to try the smart cruise control, sans my father, of course. This was when I drove the Ioniq Hybrid to Baguio and back home on the same day. That feature certainly was useful on the long stretches of expressway driving, as I could maintain the safe legal speed limit, slow down, and accelerate—all without having to step on the gas or brake pedals.

The Ioniq isn’t a sports car, but I still had lots of fun driving it up the twisty Kennon Road and down Marcos Highway. The three passengers with me (one was on the heavy side) said that despite the zigzag, they actually felt comfortable with the ride.

Lightning strikes twice

What were the chances of me test driving two hybrids in succession? Well, like lightning striking twice at the same spot, I was given the opportunity to test the Altis 1.8V Hybrid CVT by Toyota Motor Philippines immediately after my experience with the Ioniq.

Imagine, then, the grin on my old man’s face when I drove it into our garage. Well, I was smiling from ear to ear, too, because this meant another good stretch of quiet time in the cabin between me and him.

He did offer an observation the moment I alighted from the car. “This one looks fiercer, like a shark about to lend you a big sum of money. This is a car for an executive.”

His smile turned into a frown, though, when he saw the rear markings. “Like the Ioniq, this Altis needs to be louder and prouder of its hybrid nature. The ‘hybrid’ signs on the rear and sides are too small to be read by motorists.”

“Ok. I’ll make sure to tell Akio Toyoda that,” I told him, with a hint of sarcasm.

“Yes. Tell him I told you that.” I felt no back bite there.

I could feel that my Dad had an instant personal connection with the Altis, which isn’t at all surprising. My Dad had fond memories of his red Corolla in the 1990s, just like how thousands of other Pinoys remembered theirs.

He sat right away behind the wheel, feeling what was new, and holding on to what went three decades before. Without hesitation, he said, “I’d like to be seen driving this.”

I told him that the Altis Hybrid seamlessly combines an efficient 1.8-liter 4-cylinder in-line DOHC gasoline engine with VVT-I and a high-output, self-charging electric motor.

Dryly, my Dad said, “Those numbers don’t mean anything unless we’re moving.”

And so, we did. He didn’t dare drive, despite his obvious desire to do so. All those dashboard displays, knobs, and buttons would require seniors who’ve gotten so used to driving pre-millennium cars some length of time getting used to.

Riding shotgun, however, he could see all the dashboard displays of the Altis Hybrid in all their colorful glory. Apart from the display of my average fuel consumption (which read 25.2 km/liter, without breaking a sweat). He also saw my Eco Scores on various trips, which prompted him to ask, “Does this car have to rate everything that you do with it?”

Then he noticed that the park brake would automatically activate when I shifted to Park. “Hey, don’t get too used to that. Remember, in ordinary cars, the park brake and Park shift are separate.”

He shook his head when he read the “Shift to P before exiting vehicle” reminder light up on the dashboard. “Idiot-proof for the younger generation,” he laughed.

Like the Ioniq, the Altis is equipped with the rear-view camera, as well as the automatic folding side view mirrors.

Peering into the trunk, my Dad looked genuinely surprised at how spacious it was. “You can fit three people in there,” he said, sounding like a shark about to collect on a long-overdue loan.

As expected, he was dismayed that the Altis also offered cruise control. “This promotes laziness!”, he said, like a judge handing out a guilty verdict.

“No,” I snapped back. “It’s actually a very nice driving feature.”

“It’s not nice, and it’s not necessary!”

I was sensing that my Dad was building up momentum for a heated debate. But I wasn’t ready to break this week-long streak of tranquility between us. Reasoning with him wasn’t enough. I had to resort to something else to ease the tension.

“Papa, without this cruise control with the vehicle-to-vehicle distance control, the likelihood of me rear-ending another vehicle at high speeds on the expressways when I get drowsy or my mind wanders off behind the wheel is significantly increased. This can save your only daughter’s life.” My tone was gentle, fragile, like butterfly wings.

He stayed quiet for a moment, then proceeded to read the owner’s manual. “I like how Toyota made this manual. It may be the thickest one I’ve seen, but it’s easy to read, the letters are printed big enough. If I were a first-time driver of an Altis Hybrid, this manual would really be useful.” The dragon in him was fast asleep again, thankfully.

Then he learned the prices of these hybrids. The Altis 1.8V Hybrid CVT goes for P1.580 million (up to P1.595 million for the white pearl variant), while the Ioniq 1.6 GLS 6DCT (Hybrid) is at P1.548 million.

Looking at me intently, he said, “Just buy another bike, exercise, and pedal fast.”

For more details about Hyundai and Toyota’s hybrids, check out https://www.toyota.com.ph/corolla-altis/1.8-v-cvt and https://www.hyundai.ph/cars/ioniq-hybrid