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How did it feel like driving on the streets of Metro Manila during the strictest of the quarantine periods from March through May?

One would imagine the experience quite eerily close to that of some zombie movies, wherein the protagonist is the sole surviving human, the streets are all empty of cars but crawling with the undead, and the only way to safely go from one place to the next was to commandeer a trusty vehicle and drive like hell through a swarm of infected meat eaters.

Ask Leo Tomias, a deputy manager in a business process outsourcing (BPO) company in Taguig City, and he’ll tell you straight to your face, with a laugh: “No, that’s really not how it felt like.”

Leo is dead serious, however, when he told this writer that his Kia Soluto was the single most important item he owned during this pandemic. At the time when public transportation wasn’t yet allowed and he had to report to the office at least once weekly, his Soluto was his sole mobility solution.

It was also the Soluto, his first and only vehicle, that kept him and his family above water, so to speak, in the aftermath of Typhoon Ulysses last November.

“Our house in Bulacan was flooded at the height of the typhoon. We needed to relocate, and the Soluto became doubly useful as we used it to transport us and our belongings, as well.”

Leo’s experience with his Soluto during the pandemic and after Ulysses solidified his belief that Kia’s no-nonsense workhorse of a sedan has exceeded expectations.

It took Leo’s Soluto just less than a year to prove its worth. He bought the car—a Soluto EX variant—brand new in late November 2019. The Soluto compact sedan is powered by a 1.4-liter Kappa inline-4 engine with Dual CVVT (Continuous Variable Valve Timing) and 4-speed automatic transmission that generates 95ps of power and 132Nm of torque. The Soluto was one of the “surprise packages” that Kia Philippines “unboxed” when the Kia brand was re-introduced to the country at the start of 2019 under new management of the Ayala Corp.

Since then, Leo and his car has successfully hurdled a pandemic, the resulting 9 months (and counting) of community quarantines, countless market, grocery, and pharmacy runs, and a tempestuous typhoon.

Within the reassuring confines of the Soluto, Leo and his family have been kept comfy and dry, virus-free, healthy, and always ready to be on the move at a moment’s notice.

Leo’s Soluto has logged nearly 10,000 kms, and for him it sometimes feels like every meter run has been a figurative drive for survival.

What do you do to something that has been so instrumental to you and your family’s very survival? You hold on to it, for as long as it takes.

“I have no plans of selling my car,” Leo stressed. “And If I were made to buy another car again today, I would still buy the Soluto.”

I first interviewed Leo about his Soluto this January, only about three months after his purchase. Then, the Leo that I corresponded with sounded more objective about his observations of his Soluto. He saw the car like just another machine, but with features more suited for his needs and his budget, ergo his decision to buy it.

But now, after all those shared experiences, Leo and his Soluto are quite the inseparable “brothers”, joined at the steering wheel.

Well, Leo is still human after all, and he has this “gripe” about his big bro. “In hot weather I feel that the aircon performs on average at best. I wish that they improve on this area to make the car more appealing to the masses. Adding a branded tint should help in keeping lower temperatures even in summer, and that is what I did.”

And with that, Leo just demonstrated how any relationship lasts: When one becomes hotheaded, the other must cool things down.

Kia Philippines offers a 5-year/160,000km warranty except for the K2500 and 24/7 Emergency Roadside Assistance for every purchase of the Soluto. Check out more details at www.kia.com.

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