Out of all the sedans, from subcompacts to compacts, mid- and even full-size, one seemingly ordinary vehicle out there owns more than 43-percent of its segment. It has sold close to 300,000 units locally, making it the undisputed king of all passenger sedans. That, ladies and gents, is the humble Vios.
But even with numbers that warrant a ‘pambansang sasakyan’ label, Toyota hasn’t rested on their laurels and instead went out and created another Vios trim, the Prime. To see what it’s all about, I take the mid-level 1.3 E Prime CVT out and these are five things I love about it.
The Prime look
Aside from the new face (a smaller implementation of the ‘Keen look’, shiny new wraparound headlamps and the large intake panel), the shoulder line is a lot more expressive now as it sweeps up from the front fender, through the doors, and up until the rear quarter panel. It also comes with a shark’s fin antenna which helps make its overall package appear like a baby Altis in profile view. From the rear it still appears subcompact-slim but I do like how the rear lights were redesigned to make it look more stylish. But what really makes it a Prime is its exclusive front and rear bumper skirts, side skirts, a rear spoiler, and new multi-spoke, 15-inch wheels.
Remote trunk unlock
Usually a feature reserved for higher trims and models, click a button on the keyfob to remotely open the trunk. It makes the vehicle appear more upscale and it comes in handy when you’re in a hurry and want to dump your stuff pronto. The trunk itself doesn’t have a physical button on it so aside from the one of the keyfob, the lever at the botton left of the driver’s seat will open it as well.
Engine and fuel economy
It uses a 1.3L gasoline engine with dual Variable Valve Timing, which puts out 98-Hp and 123-Nm of torque. Now the numbers don’t lie. You’ll be ok if cruising is your thing, but if you’ve got overtaking in mind, it can, but you’ll need to exert some pressure on the throttle to feel the pull needed to pass.
Being a small displacement engine, it somewhat crawls up to speed but it gets there. It can even maintain 100 km/h easily on SLEX, and it doesn’t even feel like it’s straining the engine. Maybe it’s better insulation and sealants but engine noise barely comes into the cabin even at higher revs.
It averaged around 8.5 kilometers per liter in the city and with just a day’s drive on the highway.
Seven-inch infotainment system
This feature brings it up to par with segment competitors; a seven-inch touchscreen system with iOS and Android connection, Bluetooth, a USB and AUX port, and even a CD player. As it only has limited slots to pair via Bluetooth, you’ll need to delete connections not being used. How to delete took some figuring out for me. Once you’re paired, handsfree is easy. The mic is good and audio is clear both ways. The four-speaker system isn’t going to please audiophiles but if you just want to hear music in traffic, that will do the trick.
Vehicle Stability Control and Hill-Start Assist Control
A week’s drive, mostly in the city, won’t be challenging enough to test Vehicle Stability Control but in bumper-to-bumper traffic climbing up flyovers and bridges, Hill-Start Assist Control is heaven-sent.
It’s self-explanatory so won’t go into detail about it, but even if you’ve mastered the manual, when you’re parked on an incline and only have inches of clearance front and rear, this is when you’ll thank Toyota for putting this safety feature in.
The real mover
Its sheer numbers are a testament to the trust Filipinos have given the Vios and kudos to Toyota from continuing to innovate the nameplate to match the market’s enthusiasm.
The price is a little tricky at P933,000; almost a million and just a subcompact. But consider this; the glowing reputation (and durability) of Toyotas, the price hike from TRAIN, the spacious interior, the continuously variable transmission, and the fuel savings you get from it as an everyday car. It’s hard to ask for more from your daily beater. If you want something that looks good and can move you around for a long time, got to give the 1.3 E Prime CVT a long hard look.
Text and photos by Eric Tipan