You’ve got to hand it to the folks at Toyota; in a span of a few years, maybe two at the most, they’ve managed to inject some adrenaline into their once Valium-inducing line-up. Now, waku-doki or “fun-to-drive” has become the adjective that describes everything that Toyota does. Of course, some are more successful than others, but at the end of the day, they’re intensely focused on delivering cars that are more than just plain reliable and durable. Take for instance, the Vios, Toyota’s B-segment mainstay that’s the favorite of everyone from cabbies to young executives. It’s gone from a simple Point A to Point B transport to a sharply styled number that’s hip.
Now, on top of that, you add the magic of the one-make Vios Cup racing series. The end result is the immortal ethos of motorsports: Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday. However, as much fun as the Vios Cup Car is, it’s not exactly the most practical thing to drive to work or school. It’s tuned for high-end power and track handling, so unless you enjoy wringing the 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and having your dental fillings shaken at every bump, the most practical sporty Vios you can opt for is the Vios TRD Sportivo, which is essentially a Vios (whether 1.3 or 1.5) dressed in original TRD accessories.
Having driven the Vios 1.5 G before, it comes as a surprise that Toyota opted to use the 1.3 E A/T as the starting point for the TRD Sportivo; not that it really matters since with the TRD body kit, it’ll look like essentially the same car (of course with less chrome). In order to merit the “TRD Sportivo” badge, you’ll have to spend quite a bit of money: P 151,300 to be exact. For that, you’ll get: front bumper (P 20,300), side skirts (P 20,900), rear bumper spoiler (P 25,200), trunk lid spoiler (P 28,900), 17-inch TRD alloy wheels with center cap and tire valve cover (P 56,000 or P 14,000 apiece). That bumps up the price of a stock Vios 1.3 G A/T from P 762,000 to P 913,300—a 16-percent price jump. The same kit brings the P 812,000 1.5 G M/T from P 812,000 to P 963,300 or just P 186,700 short of the Vios Cup Car. Mind you, the TRD Sportivo doesn’t even get you other racing goodies like the Limited Slip Differential, roll cage, etc. What it does give you is good looks. Say what you want about the Vios, but after it’s kitted in TRD apparel, it looks pretty sporty. Plus, despite the lower bumpers and side skirts, the Vios TRD Sportivo won’t scrape though anything, guaranteed.
The Vios TRD Sportivo is generally a styling exercise, so there’s nothing changed under the hood. There are no mechanical modifications in here; just a couple of TRD parts such as the radiator and oil cap to add an extra bit of style. Since this is a 1.3-liter Vios, you basically get 85 horsepower and 122 Nm of torque. These figures aren’t sporty by any measure, but the boy racer look notwithstanding, the on-road performance is perfectly fine. Without any instrumented tests, the Vios feels perfectly perky being driven around in traffic, though top-end power is a bit wanting, especially if you traverse expressways a lot. And although the 2NZ-FE engine is known to be rather coarse sounding, its application here is surprisingly quiet; credit that to the Vios’s extensive NVH isolation measures. However, the extra sound deadening also makes this Vios a much heavier car than it ever was. And to top that off, there’s the body kit too. This doesn’t do wonders to the Vios’s fuel economy which is a shocking low 8.28 km/L, compared to the 1.5 A/T’s 10.40 km/L. Of course, the stickier Yokohama A Drive R1 205/45R17W tires do contribute to the poorer fuel economy figures.
Setting your expectation that this is purely a styling exercise, everything begins to fall into place the moment you step into the Vios TRD Sportivo’s cabin. With the 1.5 G’s two-tone black-and-beige cabin, putting on the aggressive aerodynamic kit looks just off. But since the 1.3 E has an all-black interior, it looks all business from the driver’s seat. There’s not one ounce of leather in the 1.3 G, but you won’t miss it. The interior’s well-made with consistent levels of fit and finish. Everything has a solid feel to it, whether it’s the buttons, stalks, levers or what have you. Unlike the exterior, there’s not much TRD bits in here save for what looks to be a Duracon shift knob. Still, there’s no faulting the Vios’s driving position. It’s not sporty as the most comfortable seating position is more upright, but there’s good visibility all around and the flat-bottom steering wheel actually does a great supercar impression.
Although the TRD body kit does seem a bit cost prohibitive for a typical Vios buyer, at least Toyota’s actually now offering would-be owners the chance to spruce up their ride even before they leave the showroom. In addition, if you do get your Vios through financing, the TRD body kit can also be amortized with your car loan; try doing that to an aftermarket body shop. The one-make Vios Cup has certainly raised Toyota’s sporty credentials tenfold and now with the introduction of TRD genuine accessories, they’re doing the next logical step: after all, motorsports is part engineering know-how, part marketing know-how.
2014 Toyota Vios 1.3 G TRD Sportivo
|Ownership||1.3 G A/T TRD Sportivo|
|Body Type||4-door sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||85 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||122 @ 4,000|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 93~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||NA|
|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||Urethane|
|Folding Rear Seat||No|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||4|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|