The Toyota Vios entry-level sedan has found itself incredibly popular since its introduction back in 2003. In every new generation, there are some minor, yet insignificant, improvements in terms of features and performance.
This all-new Toyota Vios has finally received the all the technical resources it needs to place itself ahead of the competition.
Prior to its official launch, UMW Toyota Motor invited the motoring media to experience the all-new Toyota Vios to get a better understanding of the significant changes that have been engineered into the new compact sedan.
The all-new Toyota Vios will be available in three key variants - J, E, and G, priced from RM77,200. All variants will feature the carried-over powertrain consisting of the fuel-efficient 2NR-FE 1.5-litre engine paired with a CVT-type automatic that debuted in Malaysia in late 2016.
UMW Toyota Motor will not be offering a 5-speed manual transmission version of the J variant, as there is almost no demand for it.
The company has also addressed many criticisms of its equipment levels, as the previous generation looked uncompetitive.
In the all-new Toyota Vios, standard features found in the entry-level J-variant include automatic air conditioning, ECO-Sport drive modes, seven airbags (inclusive of driver’s knee airbag), hill-start assist control, and integrated LED DRLs.
Other key compact sedans in the segment include:
The all-new Toyota Vios is now assembled at the new Bukit Raja facility, where a new hatchback model is also slated to be assembled there and launched in due course.
Historically, the Toyota Vios has attracted much praise and criticism in the styling of both its exterior and interior. The design we have in this new generation looks good in the metal, with the front design having a strong resemblance to the new Camry and C-HR.
The all-new Toyota Vios is now equipped with integrated LED DRLs, a feature that was untidily fitted in the previous generation as it was an accessory to meet customer demands.
The 1.5G variant continues lighting up the road ahead with projector-type head lamps, now with a follow-me-home function.
The rear design meanwhile features the most distinct identity, especially when the tail lamps are lit. Horizontal LED light guides strike a classy expression in all four light clusters. LED lighting is also used for the brake lights, which is reserved for the higher E- and G-variants.
There are no changes to the dimensions of the all-new Vios. While the brochure states the width has increased by 30 millimetres to 1,730 millimetres, this new figure is obtained through internal measurement which included the large door handles.
A better mix of materials has truly uplifted the ambience in the all-new Vios. Together with the Optitron meters and piano-black panel on the centre console and shift lever surround, the interior is a huge step forward in feel and sight.
The Optitron meter not only provides clear continuous illumination, but it is also paired with the large 4.2-inch colour multi-information display (MID) that also includes a large digital speedometer.
Automatic air conditioning is offered standard across the model range. The blower mode is, however, still limited to the face and a mix of face and feet (two modes). That means the front demister is still absent, a non-feature that has plagued the Vios since the model debuted in 2003.
There are no rear cooling vents unlike the Honda City, but the air conditioning system performed incredibly well, and such warranted the omission.
A major key point that all of us agree and will definitely highlight is the incredibly low noise of the cabin. Toyota has increased the tremendous amounts of damping sheets, noise suppressors, as well as a more rigid bodyshell to create the quietest cabin in the segment.
Large noise suppressing material (white bag) is placed in both front wheel fenders
All these tangible improvements also increased the kerb weight, with the G-variant now tipping the scales at 1,145 kilograms, about 30 kilograms more than the previous generation.
One design weakness in the previous generation was the overuse of faux stitching on the door trim. We are happy to report that the door trim in the all-new Vios has completely ditched this, with the G-variant applying classy genuine white thread stitching on the black soft touch wrapping over the door armrests.
Large bottle holders are also sculpted into the rear door trim, something we truly appreciate on the long drive from Desaru back to Shah Alam. Other improved areas of storage include a larger glovebox, deep cupholders at the centre console, as well as a small flip-out box for small items such as loyalty cards or charging cables.
The placement of the switch to toggle the views of the panoramic view monitor (PVM) is however not ergonomic, completely hidden from sight.
Compared to its arch-rival, the Honda City, the all-new Vios still shows it lacks width inside. Occupants in front will immediately notice and feel that they are seated closer to each other in the Vios compared to the City.
While the powertrain continues with the fuel-efficient 2NR-FE and CVT-type automatic transmission, Toyota has paid attention in delivering a better response to the driver.
When left in normal drive mode, the CVT transmission now delivers a more responsive acceleration relative to the driver’s input. The engine revolution raises naturally in steps to mimic the forward shifting of a virtual seven-speed transmission.
Sport mode further increases the powertrain response, and also keep the engine spinning at a higher revolution, closer to the peak torque at 4,200 rpm.
Shift paddles were only used sparingly in the drive, as the author preferred to use the shift lever to engage the manual mode with seven virtual ratios. There seems to be a difference in shift qualities between the two methods- the steering wheel paddles felt more refined, while the shift lever felt sportier.
Out on the highway, the all-new Vios felt like a vehicle one segment above. Apart from the aforementioned quiet cabin levels, the suspension has been calibrated to deliver a very impressive ride quality.
Toyota brought along a Honda City for the purpose of comparison and the all-new Vios rode along with significantly better body control and comfort compared to the City.
The ride quality in the Honda City felt very ‘busy’, unable to absorb the unevenness in the North-South Highway, transmitting uncomfortable jolts to the occupants.
Back to back, the Honda’s significant increase in engine power outputs (120 PS, 145 Nm) can be felt immediately. It certainly felt more responsive and achieve higher speeds quicker compared to the all-new Vios.
The all-new Vios 1.5 G is fitted with 16-inch rims wrapped with 195/50-section tyres and we are happy to report that the ride quality is equally comfortable over poorly patched roads in the city and over roads undergoing repair works.
Internally, the all-new Toyota Vios is actually termed as a ‘major facelift’. After experiencing the composure on the highway, the quietness of the cabin, and the overall ambience in the new car, we felt that Toyota has carried out many more improvements in this ‘major facelift’ than with previous generations.
Versus the outgoing model, the-all Vios has improved in all areas, with big leaps in the riding comfort and equipment. Against the perennial rival, the Honda City, the all-new Vios exhibits great cabin refinement which is important to those who frequent long highway drives.
For those with families of larger physique, they might also feel the all-new Vios is narrowed between both front seats compared to the Honda City.
The Volkswagen Vento meanwhile has a strong powertrain performance, but the interior space shows it's from the last generation, lacking in legroom and headroom.