Style and Sensibilities
The Toyota Vios is the best selling car in the country. Surely, a journey around the Philippines will make you realize the popularity of the Vios, may it be a family carrying Vios, a Vios serving it’s taxi duties, or an enthusiast who owns a souped up TRD Vios. It is popular for it’s versatility and practicality, serving many people and sectors of the society and the industry. Despite the popularity, it never actually stirred the souls and trousers of car enthusiasts. Not that is was terrible to drive, quite the opposite actually, but if you are looking for a fun to drive subcompact saloon or hatch, you’d be focusing on the Honda City, Jazz, or the Ford Fiesta. Toyota, as of now, is still known in making appliances or cars that served the purpose of simply transporting the masses from A to B without any fuss and excitement. This, to you and I, is the period of time when the boffins at Toyota stopped making exciting cars like Supras, MR2s and AE86s, focusing too much perhaps on comfort, and reliability. Now though, things have changed in their corporate world.
Under the new leadership of Akio Toyoda, he promises to bring the excitement of driving back to Toyota and Lexus, in which Toyota is now making a sports car, which is known as the Toyota 86. Same goes with it’s luxury marque Lexus which now creates luxury cars that are exciting to look at and drive. Lexus even created the best supercar in the world (for me, though) which is the Lexus LFA. The new Vios then, seems to be a result of that change in Toyota. Marketed by Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation with the tagline “Start The Fun”, everything seems to be going the right direction in changing the public’s perception of the Toyota brand, or is it?
(I really do must apologize for the quality of the pictures. I was not aware that it will be raining in the afternoon. It was raining hard, and I didn’t have an umbrella with me, therefore it was hard taking pictures. Add to that the fogging of the lens, and it was really hard taking photos.)
In the design front, Toyota is going in the right direction in changing the public’s perception to the brand. The past two generations of the Vios were never known for their style. Gone are the boring and conservative shapes in exchange for a more youthful design with aggressive lines and creases. The front grille cleanly unites with the projector headlamp design, a similar design trait in Mazdas of late. A large black intake completes and defines the Vios’ new face. It definitely increases road presence and makes it a standout in the subcompact category. Well, until the Philippine roads are full of Vios-es. Towards the side, an aggressive crease running from the headlamps and into the rear lights make for a look that emphasizes it’s length, which by the way, did increase by 110 mm.
The interior is a step up in design and quality. If you’re expectations are too high, you will definitely be disappointed. Why? Upon looking at the interior pictures of the new Vios, I really did think the upper part of the dashboard and doors are covered in padded, soft touch materials, mainly because of the stitching details. My expectations were further raised when the interior of the Camry and RAV4 had real stitching details. I was rather happy for Toyota upping the ante in interior quality in all of their cars, but when I touched and scanned the dashboard, it was hard plastic. Even the stitching, which isn’t even real, but only a pattern embedded in the plastic to mimic stitches. That doesn’t mean that the interior is very cheap, because though the plastics are hard, it isn’t exactly scratchy and brittle. Take note, we’re talking about a subcompact car here, and if you want the most upmarket cabin in the category, go for the Kia Rio. Props to Toyota though, for its efforts in making the interior of the new Vios look very beautiful and upmarket.
Space and Practicality
The previous versions of the Toyota Vios was on the snug side. Headroom and legroom is only satisfactory. Because of the Vios’ substantial increase in length, Vios owners won’t fret for not being able to afford a Corolla Altis, because legroom in the back is a lot better than before. Having a slight increase in height also means that there is an increase in headroom. Also, the trunk benefits from that increase in length. In case you are wondering, no, the Vios still does not have folding rear seats.
A new feature across the range is the availability of dual SRS airbags in all variants. In the past two generations, the 1.3 J and 1.3 Base aren’t equipped with airbags, and it’s a good thing Toyota now offers it across the range. As this is the top trim 1.5 G model, you get all the necessary bells and whistles like power folding mirrors, windows and locks, Integrated Audio Head Unit with CD and USB, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, back pockets, disc brakes in the rear instead of drums, and projector halogen headlamps.
Powering the new Toyota Vios is still the same 1NZ-FE 1.5 liter VVT-i engine. It produces 107 hp at 6,000 rpm and 142 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm, driving the front wheels. It may sound like a terrible idea to use an engine that has been offered since the first generation Toyota Echo/Yaris/Vitz, but what that means is that it’s durability and it’s ability to withstand the test of time is second to none. There are two transmission choices, and if you guessed the 4-speed automatic and the 5-speed manual that has been used since the first generation Vios/Yaris/Vitz/Echo, you’re right. In my case, I drove the Vios equipped with the 4-speed automatic.
How It Drives
The first thing I noticed about the new Vios is, well, what’s new? It’s hard to distinguish the difference in the way it drives, if there are any, but if I must point out a change, then it would be the ride. It’s a bit firmer than before, but not uncomfortable, and proved to make the car lean less in corners. At town speeds, the new Vios is still pleasant to drive. Engine and gearbox response is adequate, rather than sharp, but it never was. Take it out into the open road and it still drives the same like it’s predecessor. The whole car is still reasonably comfortable and pleasant to drive. What I did notice while I was driving on a highway is the slight improvement in NVH levels. In the old Vios, you’d sometimes question yourself if the car had any sound insulation, because there was a lot of road noise. Now though, road noise has been minimized, but it’s still there. Fuel consumption figures from the way I drove the car was *10.1 km/l combined city and highway driving.
On The Downside
Having little to no changes in the way the Vios drives means that whatever downsides the second generation Vios had still remained in this car. The new design of the Vios certainly does evoke fun, but not wholly in the way it drives. Though there is a little less body roll in cornering, it isn’t helped by having a vague steering wheel. Though there’s very little feedback on center, it’s still slow to respond to driver inputs. Also, though the car is a tad more fun to drive, it’s not exactly smile inducing. Therefore, if you want the most fun to drive and sporty subcompact car, you have to pick yet again, the Honda Jazz, City, or Ford Fiesta.
Though the way the new Vios drives is still the same, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. What it means is, loyal Vios buyers will love the new Vios even more, which is backed up by new, head turning looks (at least for now), a spacious cabin, improved interior quality, and the Toyota durability that we all love. The Toyota Vios will continue to be Toyota’s money maker, and the Filipino’s everyday workhorse, wrapped in a more youthful packaging. I did wish it had inherited a bit more excitement from Toyota’s new and exciting to drive cars like the 86 and the new RAV4 in the way the new Vios drives, but for the general Filipino buyer, this is still the car of choice.
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Quality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
OVERALL: 3.78 out of 5
*Fuel consumption results may vary depending on conditions and the driver itself.