|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
With “Waku Doki” or “Fun to Drive” firmly drilled into my head, I can’t help but love the Vios’s new sheet metal that’s aggressive and dynamic. Clearly, the Vios takes its design cues from the likes of the 86 and RAV4 with its highly angular theme; well, maybe except for the 185/60R15 wheels and tires (the all-new Vios screams to run on 16’s at the very least).
Upfront, the new face is striking with an upper grille that seems to traverse through the projector-equipped headlamps. The lower grille is shaped in a trapezoidal fashion with a textured, blacked-out finish just like the 86. The head-turning frontend is matched at the back with the sharply creased taillights for a truly futuristic look. The sharply raked windshield and rear glass connote a very aerodynamic shape emphasized only by the use of aerodynamic fins on the headlights, side mirrors, and taillights. Even the roof is curved with catamaran-style cut to channel airflow much more efficiently. Clearly, the Vios is designed to be aerodynamic resulting in a surprisingly quiet cabin; wind noise is kept low even at triple digit speeds enabling me to carry a regular conversation over a Bluetooth-hands free phone—something close to impossible in the previous generation model.
With an exterior stretched in almost every direction (the wheelbase remains the same), the Vios promises even more cabin space with more head, knee, and shoulder room than ever before. In reality though, Toyota has successfully accomplished this to a degree. Sitting in front, I simply loved the additional room, especially around the hips, knees, and legs. The Vios eschews the latest trend towards deep dashboards and goes for a shallower design that improves exterior visibility and makes this car feel smaller and more compact than it is, perfect for jostling around in traffic. Drivers sit much higher and more upright than any of its sub-compact contemporaries and this takes some getting used to. Still, I found the Vios’s controls easy to master and they all fell within easy reach. The instrument cluster, moving from its controversial center location to a more conventional one, is legible with nice, clear numerals. But I certainly miss the adjustable dimmer function.
Over at the back is where things become more of a mixed bag. Rear seat comfort has been improved with large, individual, and adjustable headrests for everyone and safety’s been upped thanks to three-point seatbelts for everyone. Those with young children will love the fact that the Vios comes standard (at least in the 1.5 G trim) with ISOFIX child seat anchors as well. Despite all these improvements, the Vios’s rear accommodation is good for two at the most. The sharply angled rear glass robs useful headroom for those who have above average height. This is more so for those who’re stuck riding in the middle. I’m 170 centimeters or 5’7”, and my head’s already brushing the ceiling. Imagine if we were to go over a pothole. This certainly won’t be a pleasing experience.
In terms of luggage space, Toyota claims the Vios can swallow up to four golf bags; and I won’t dispute this since the Vios does appear to have one of the biggest and deepest trunks in its class. However, what I didn’t like is the lack of storage compartments for passengers. Yes, there’s a center console bin just in front of the shifter, but it’s barely enough to fit an iPod nano. The center arm console, though tall, is quite narrow. And though there are the cup holders located in front of the driver and passenger air conditioning vents, it can’t fit even a short-sized Starbucks latte. And even if you did manage to squeeze one in there, good luck in pulling it out without spilling a drop.
Gripes about the Vios’s cubby holes and rear seat room aside, I still give it two thumbs up when it comes to designing a thoroughly modern and classy interior. The dashboard is simply lovely with its dramatic lines, chrome accents, and molded stitching. Yes, the plastics are still hard to the touch, but the fit and finish are consistent. The two-tone black and beige color scheme is a ballsy move given the propensity for the colors to be mismatched, but the execution is excellent creating an airy feel for everyone inside. But of course, I can imagine it’s a pain to keep clean.
With multimedia connectivity fast becoming an important feature, the Vios finally moves to the digital age with full iPod connectivity through its integrated head unit. The six-speaker system is nothing to write home about, but it’s good and crisp; and at least you can command it through your fingers via the steering wheel buttons. The cool-blue illumination on the stereo (also used on the multi-information display) does tend to wash out in bright sunlight, but it’s not that of a big deal.
Now to the driving aspect.
With the very same platform, very same 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, and very same 4-speed automatic, you’ll walk away thinking the all-new model to behave the exact same way as before. Well, I’m happy to tell you that it doesn’t.
Surprisingly, the all-new Vios feels much more sorted with a sportier, more refined, and more comfortable driving experience than ever before. For starters, it’s quieter with just a hint of engine coarseness permeating the cabin, and it continues to be so until around 120-130 km/h, when road noise starts to be noticeable. Next, the steering feels more responsive through corners and though the Vios still tends to roll and understeer through a sharp corner, it does feel much more planted and stable than before. Then, the chassis feels better tuned to absorb the punishing undulating roads in Manila (say, those Ninja potholes caused by overnight rains). Lastly, the brakes which were a Waterloo of the previous models bite well and have a very linear pedal feel. Even the exterior visibility is excellent save for the rear view mirrors which I find too tapered, causing motorbikes to fall countlessly into the Vios’s blind spot.
And despite having a carryover engine and a transmission that’s down a gear (or two) compared to the competition, the Vios can surprisingly haul ass. It’s capable of speeds past 140-150 km/h on a long stretch and still manages to return the best city fuel mileage of any gasoline-powered sub-compact: 11.3 km/L, which is itself a ten percent improvement from the previous model. On the highway, this figure climbs up to 17.2 km/L when the “Eco” coaching light is followed religiously (you actually can’t turn it off).
Even before it was available to the public, Toyota predicted a huge uptick in Vios sales and considering the P 847,000 price, it’s certainly possible. Indeed, the all-new Vios is destined to bring Toyota’s product-led transformation to the mainstream. The undisputed leader in its segment, the all-new third-generation Vios aims to cement that further by adding style and sportiness to its highly successful combination of practicality, reliability, and value for money.
2013 Toyota Vios 1.5 G A/T
|Ownership||1.5 G A/T|
|Body Type||4-door sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline 4|
|BHP @ rpm||107 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||142 @ 4,200|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Unleaded / 93~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,060|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Torsion Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||No|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|