Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven
As the car that practically spearheaded Toyota’s rise as the country’s best-selling automotive brand, the Toyota Vios needs little introduction. It’s the modern day ‘people’s car,’ attracting car shoppers with its affordability, easy maintenance, and of course, its Toyota badge. There was just one problem: its NZ engine, now more than a decade old, was starting to show its age. In terms of fuel economy, it wasn’t keeping up with the competition, and consumers were starting to notice. Toyota isn’t the country’s top automotive marque for nothing, however, and they’ve been keenly listening in to their costumers’ wants and needs. Their response comes in the form of the Vios’ new powertrain — Toyota’s Dual VVT-I 1NR-FE engine paired with a CVT transmission. Let’s take a deeper look to see what else has changed.
The Toyota Vios hasn’t changed its looks much since 2013, and that’s a testament to how well the design holds up over time. Its well-proportioned silhouette is complemented by a large grille, flanked by two chrome-plated foglamp housings. At the rear, the trunk’s chrome strip extends its design across the rear tail lights. It’s a nice touch and shows some attention to detail which you don’t normally see in entry level vehicles. A small spoiler highlights the rear, giving the Vios a touch of sporty attitude. It’s an easy design to play around with, though its looks would be much improved with wheels larger than the 15-inch alloys it comes with.
MORE CHANGES INSIDE
If you’ve got a keen eye, you’ll notice some slight changes with the interior. There are new silver highlights on the AVT touchscreen and shift knob, and brushed aluminum details on the dash and door panels. The soft-touch plastics and leather stitched-style treatment on the dash enhance the premium level of the cabin, to the point where you’ll almost forget you’re in a B-segment vehicle. Typical of Toyota, the interior build quality is remarkable to a car in this price category. Buttons and knobs feel solid to the touch, and the instrument cluster is clear and highly legible. There’s also ample space at the rear for three medium-sized adults, while two large adults will have nothing to complain about. The Vios’ steering wheel still doesn’t support telescopic adjustments, but getting into a comfortable driving position wasn’t a problem at all.
On paper, Toyota’s new NR engine seems like a step down from the old NZ power plant. At 108hp and 140Nm of torque, the new engine has slightly less torque than its predecessor. Whatever the specs are on paper, it’s a different story in the driver’s seat. The engine response is noticeably quicker at low speeds compared to the previous model. Where you once had to get the revs going to gain speed, acceleration happens at a more linear pace, and the Vios feels perfectly at home cruising at speeds of 100 km/h without any drama.
The CVT transmission does take a bit of driving excitement away, but is a sensible addition to the Vios, given its practical nature. The end goal is, after all, improved fuel economy. So how does it do? Thanks to the Dual VVT-I engine (which adjusts timings on both intake and exhaust camshafts) and CVT transmission, the Toyota Vios achieves an average of 10 kilometers per liter on mixed city and highway driving conditions. On pure highway conditions, 15 kilometers per liter is easily attainable. Goal achieved? We certainly think so.
THE ONE TO BEAT
Many have tried to take a slice of the B-segment pie away from the Vios, but Toyota now has all the bases covered and locked down. The Vios offers driver and passenger airbags, complete connectivity to Bluetooth and MirrorLink devices, as well as six speakers, which is a lot of value for a sub-P1M car. With improved fuel efficiency, trustworthy Toyota reliability, and a P902,000 price tag, practicality simply doesn’t get any better than this.