- Published: Tuesday, 18 April 2017 02:03
A passionate group of Corolla Altis drivers are making no secret of their love for Toyota’s perennial best-seller...
SINGAPORE — Meet the men who want to make the Toyota Corolla Altis great-er. Actually, it’s already great in their eyes, but members of the SG Altis Club intend to spread their enthusiasm for Toyota’s perennial best-seller.
The SG Altis Club is an informal, closed Facebook Group with just under 200 members at the moment. Plans are being made to have the club formally registered, but in the meantime the goal is to get as many people as possible to join. “It's for any Altis owner from past generations to present,” says Den Wong, 35, one of the group’s founding members. “The whole idea is to foster more interaction between members.”
Members currently give technical support to one another, share tips and trade info about how to get the best from their Altis. Through recommendations, they help Altis owners to zoom in on the best Service Advisors at Borneo Motors, for example.
Sometimes the assistance is more direct. Den’s car once had vulgarities carved into its paint by a serial car vandal. A fellow member, who happens to detail cars for a living, helped him to remove as much of the damage as possible before he sent his Altis for a respray.
“We have so-called experts who give advice on anything car-related, and we have people who have all the connections to get almost anything car-related done,” says Wong. “We really help each other out to get the most for our cars.”
That also entails helping members avoid mistakes, adds Terence Tay, 28, another of the club’s co-founders. “As far as possible, we try to encourage members to get original equipment,” he says. “One of our main ideas is to ensure that your Altis is really safe.”
Den says some drivers might want to buy Chinese rims that look good and are cheap, but the members advise them of the potential dangers involved. The solution? Club members help with second-hand rim-hunting.
Of course this is all peripheral stuff - at the heart of any car club is a car, and members are united in their love for the Altis.
That’s in spite of the fact that they each appreciate the Altis for different things. Terence says he chose an Altis because, to him, it’s the most balanced car in its class, offering the best mix between comfort, handling and acceleration. “It suits my needs the best,” he says.
Andrew Him, 41, who runs the SG Altis Club’s social media accounts, says he was attracted to the car’s handling and precision. “I’m conscious about safety while on the road,” he says.
“My wife actually had her eye on another car, and because I'm the chauffeur in the family, I told her that I would only drive if she went with my decision to get the Altis,” says Andrew with a cheeky glint in his eye. “It wasn't difficult to convince her in the end, seeing how she was impressed by the trunk and rear-passenger space.”
Varying reasons for liking the Altis means that club members accessorise their cas differently, which gives them the chance to admire each others’ efforts at meet-ups.
One outing for them came on the back of the TRD Carnival organised by Borneo Motors last year. The SG Altis Club guys enjoyed a day of go-karting at the carnival, and then lingered to check out members’ cars over food and drinks.
They’re sometimes joined on social media by Altis fans from other countries, says Andrew.
“I get into contact with other Altis clubs in other countries like Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia. They’re aware that our group exists, and they interact with our photos,” he says. “A few of them have joined our Facebook group.”
Got an Altis? Then you've got pals-in-waiting, in the form of SG Altis Club members Den, Terence and Andrew...
That allows Altis fans around the region to keep track of what’s trendy. But in the future, the club interaction will take place increasingly in the real world as well as the virtual one, says Den. Getting together for community service is one particular aim of the club.
But in a sense, the members have a broader mission in mind. “One long term goal is that we’re trying to change the public opinion of the Altis,” says Den.
True enough, Toyota’s Corolla Altis is a paragon of reliability, but perhaps it’s this very dependability that sometimes makes people think of it as little more than a safe choice.
“What we want to show is that the Altis is not a normal, bread-and-butter car, it’s actually a very fun car, too,” says Den.
At the moment, a couple of hundred people on Facebook agree, but with any luck, that number will soon grow into the thousands — just like the thousands of drivers in Singapore already experiencing the DriveHappy experience by Borneo Motors, and the ultimate customer satisfaction that it entails.
Is this Singapore's ultimate Altis?