[Review] The 2014 Toyota Vios

Front

The third generation Toyota Vios is indeed an eye-turner. Moving out of it’s traditional curves and weird bubble-shaped design, the new 1,497cc Vios has much to offer compared to its predecessor.

I was fortunate to be able to get a feel of the new Vios, barely a fortnight after the car was launched in Singapore. Bearing a fresh new look for both its exterior and interior, I must say the Vios looks impressive from the front and sides, though a foot inside would bring it’s “satki” (read: impressive) level down by a notch. Let me explain why.

Design

Headlamps

With the new Vios, Toyota Singapore now offers two variants of this model, the E and the G grades Vios. The E is a basic model which features the standard equipment just barely enough for the common driver, while the G would attract drivers who fancy equipments and technology more.

I found the front air intake vent at the bottom of the grill a tad too huge for the Vios, making it look like it was gaping at whoever was in front of it. The G variant also comes with projector headlights (albeit it still not being Xenon-enabled), but I guess that would not stop car enthusiasts from changing the ballast and bulb aftermarket.

Both variants come standard with fog lamps, indicators on the retractable side mirrors and door lock functions, pretty much the same as most cars on the road. As a special touch to the additional S$4,000 you will pay for the more “premium” G variant, Toyota has now installed what they call an “acoustic” front windscreen in a bid to muffle out road noise. Honestly, the basic E variant was quite well insulated, so I don’t really see the use and need for the “acoustic” glass.

Rear

And if you’re looking for a reverse camera to aid your parking, you’d be disappointed to find out that there is none fitted, and is not even an option. Kind of disappointing, I must say, considering that quite a number of cars in the market now come fitted with a reverse camera as stock equipment.

Interior

The image you see above is the basic E variant, where the car lacks the DVD entertainment screen in the front center console, air conditioning climate control, a multi-function steering wheel, and the 60:40 split rear seat – all of which can be only found in the “premium” G variant. I was not surprised to note that both audio sets (be it the standard one in the E variant and the DVD touch screen system in the G variant) are both locally fitted, and not in Thailand where the car is manufactured.

The gear stick in the central console box felt a little flimsy when I cruised around and toyed with the manual 3-2-L options, unlike the solid feel that you would get in perhaps a Mazda 3 or equivalent.

Dash

The last major change you’d notice about the new Vios is the re-placement of the dial screens from the centre to the driver’s side now. I found the old Vios irritating in the sense that I could not get my speed and RPM by just looking straight ahead past by steering wheel, but rather, had to turn my head to the left into the oh-so-ugly instrument clutter.

The new Vios now features a blue-ring backlit speedometer and tachometer rev counter, with a small information screen nestled below showing you the odometer, fuel consumption and other basic settings.

PanelIf there is something that I am truly pleased with about this Vios, the workmanship of the interior is worth commending. The dash is stitched to perfection, leaving a visible line of thread that brings out the detail of the workmanship. It probably is not hand-stitched given the fact that Vios is considered just an entry-level car, but I felt it was good enough to impress one who would be out looking for these minute details.

SeatsThe “premium” G also allows for 60:40 seat split at the rear, which can come in useful if you need more space than what is already provided for you in the boot.

The drive and technicalities

At 1,497 cc, I don’t think we should expect much from the Vios. The in-line 4 rides pretty smoothly, despite the fact that it was only putting out 107 horses from the VVT-i engine. My ride was reasonably quiet and smooth, less those noisy clanks and rev noises that the old Vios tends to emit.

I felt that the 4-speed gearbox could be a little more refined, as it has the tendency to jump gears unnecessarily. This was proven after a u-turn I performed, when the gearbox suddenly decided that gear 2 was a bit too much for me to handle even at 20 km/h, and suddenly shifted me down to 1, spiking the RPM up by a huge notch to hit 3,000. A similar encounter when I was slowing down at the lights and decided to move off again when it turned green. Unpleasant jerk(s) and noise(s), I must say.

If that’s not bad enough, the fact that it holds a 4-speed drags you for quite a bit especially when accelerating. So, don’t be alarmed when your second gear starts dragging above 40 km/h into the 50 km/h range.

The improved VVT-i engine is supposedly much more fuel efficient compared to the old Vios. The fuel tank of the new Vios holds slightly above 40 litres of unleaded petrol, but unfortunately, I feel it’s 4-speed box would not do justice to the fuel consumption. The recorded fuel consumption for urban driving stands at 15.8 km/l, or 6.3 l/100km, but at the rate it’s dragging its gear during take-offs, this would be hard to achieve.

Toyota has now also included a “ECO” indicator to aid “smarter” driving – in their words. It supposedly is meant to allow you to gauge your own driving patterns in attempts to save fuel, though I was told it is quite pointless and not reliable. My Elantra has that and it does nothing close to what it is supposed to.

Side

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the new Vios is a wonder from Toyota – and I must commend them for the effort in this facelift. The drive is significantly smoother and quieter compared to the old one, and it’s design and styling two notches up. If you’re looking for a refreshing new look that is not as sporty as others in its class, this could be the more “toned-down-yet-still-luxurious” car for you.

However, as I have mentioned earlier, if you’re the kind of driver who stresses on minute details and perfection in the vehicle he handles, perhaps the Hyundai i30, which comes with a huge handful of high-tech gadgets, would make a better choice for you.

————————————————————–

Pros:

  • Fresh new aggressive styling (both interior and exterior)
  • Quieter drive with a more economical engine
  • Upgraded equipment list compared to its predecessor

Cons:

  • Awfully expensive for a 1.6 litre car
  • Lack of technology and gadgets compared to other makes of equal class
  • Tends to drag gears (especially its second gear) due to the 4-speed box

 

The Toyota Vios is now on sale at all Toyota showrooms and parallel importers (with no waiting time – they have abundance of stock, according to the sales executive). It has 7 different colours for you to choose from for the exterior body, and 2 different shades for the interior.

Prices range from S$106,988 for the basic E variant to S$110,988 for the “premium” G variant. All vehicles come with 3 years service.

 

*All images courtesy of Toyota Singapore. All information and prices are correct at the time of publication of this review.

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