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BUYER’S GUIDE: 2018 Volkswagen Santana

It’s been dubbed the cheapest Volkswagen to date. And with the German car brand’s reputation for being expensive, it’s only fair to ask: should we fear the 2018 Volkswagen Santana because of its price? CARMUDI PHILIPPINES takes a look at whether VW’s most affordable offering deserve your hard-earned moolah.

First, a bit of a background–the primary reason for the Santana’s rock-bottom (in VW terms) price is that the car is made in China, where labor and parts are much cheaper than in VW’s home base of Germany. That said, the car maker is quick to emphasize that cheap here is not synonymous with low quality, and the brand’s lengthy experience making cars gives them a unique pulse on what the market is looking for. Without further ado, check out our BUYER’S GUIDE for the 2018 Volkswagen Santana.


The Santana’s power comes courtesy of a 1.4-liter MPI four-cylinder gas engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission–a front-wheel drive pairing that helps the three-box sedan deliver 89 hp and 132 Nm of torque. Designed for urban flexibility, the focus of the naturally aspirated engine is more on economy and durability than powerful performance. Zero to 100 kph can be achieved in 12.4 seconds, while top speed is 181 kph.


Sleek and curvy it is not–the Santana eschews the waves and bulges that characterize modern cars in favor of a more classic approach made up of straight lines and subtle muscular forms. Other exterior design elements lean on the tried-and-true as well, including the blade-type radiator grille, boxy halogen lights, and conservative wheel arches. The color options pretty much lean on the safe side, too: Polar White, Reflex Silver, Pepper Grey, and Deep Black. The Santana uses 14-inch wheels and 175/70 R14 tires. Front and rear fog lamps are standard.


As expected in this price range, the Santana’s interior features are pretty basic. Conservative is again a keyword, with fuss-free plastics, fabric upholstery, and monochrome styling all throughout. The overall design harkens back to the Toyota Corollas of the 90s, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the look does tend to come off as dated. Notable interior features include a height-adjustable driver seat, height-adjustable steering column, front reading lights, a pollen filter on the AC system, and central locking with remote control. For entertainment, buyers get a two-speaker audio system with AM/FM radio, USB, Aux-in, and SD card capabilities.


The Santana makes use of ventilated discs at the front and drum brakes at the rear. The cable-type clutch has been designed to be very driver-friendly and along with the brakes, deliver reliable and consistent performance. Should an owner be unable to step on the brakes in time, VW Santana has driver/passenger airbags and three-point seatbelts for every seat position. That’s already a step up over many of the cars in its category, in which the middle rear seatbelt is usually a two-pointer. The Santana also has anti-lock braking system, immobilizer ISOFIX anchor points and safety cage technology that help absorb crash energy.

Our Verdict

The Volkswagen Beetle was one of the least expensive cars of its era, and it turned out to be an icon over the years. Will the Santana mirror its predecessor’s success? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, despite the Santana’s no-frills design, buyers are assured of the Volkswagen quality they have come to know.

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