This is the all-new 4th-generation Toyota Vios, though in its debut market of Thailand it is known as the Yaris Ativ, debuting for the first time after a considerable amount of anticipation. Hopefully sooner rather than later, this will make its way into Malaysian showrooms in this sedan and hatchback form.
Prices will start in Thailand from 539,000 baht (roughly RM68k) for the baseline Sport variant but can stretch to 689,000 baht (about RM87k) for the fully-loaded Premium Luxury, but expect that to have only slight bearing on what we’ll be expected to pay in Malaysia for the next Vios.
Apart from the significant improvements made to its exterior and interior, this Yaris Ativ is built on the Daihatsu New Global Architecture (DNGA) that underpins the Perodua Ativa, Perodua Alza, and the incoming Toyota Veloz.
As you might expect with every car subsequently getting larger than the one it replaces, the Yaris At...er...Vios is a little bulkier than the outgoing sedan. Its most dramatic dimensional jump is that between its front and rear axle with a wheelbase that now measures 2,620mm.
That’s just 80mm shy of the current E210 Toyota Corolla and previous Honda Civic (FC) and 20mm clear of the Honda City’s 2,600mm wheelbase, which was surely one of the key advantages in mind when the cabin space-oriented DNGA platform was chosen.
Until we manage to sit in one, though, it’s a little premature to expect it to have a class-leading interior expanse, and the Honda might still manage to pip it when it comes to outright packaging and versatility.
In terms of its looks, here’s perhaps where the all-new Vios gains a certain kerb/showroom appeal that all its predecessors lacked to a certain degree. It’s a handsome little thing, clearly trying to steal little visual cues from the Corolla and Camry alike with its big downward-facing hexagonal grille, slim swept-back headlights housing LED main beams and DRLs, 16-inch wheels, and a more coupe-like roofline that hopefully doesn’t compromise rear passenger headroom.
Its silhouette is perhaps one of the most prominent design elements to survive from the Daihatsu DN F-Sedan concept study that was shown off at the 2017 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS). The rear end looks good too, though that tail lamp housing does remind us a little too much of the Honda City, ironically, and by association the G20 BMW 3 Series.
To go along with its more upmarket exterior, the Vios will have a much sleeker, premium-looking interior. This was featured heavily in the pre-reveal teaser but it's much more obvious now that the new boy is a good few notches above even the current car’s offering in terms of perceived quality and plushness.
There’s an almost Mazda-like quality to how the dashboard’s tiered layout comes across with its contrasting wine red accent colour, between which a freestanding touchscreen infotainment panel (up to 9-inches) is sandwiched. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto too if you were wondering.
This is joined by what looks to be a 7-inch fully digitised instrument cluster too depending on the variant chosen - Sport, Smart, or Premium - which also dictates much of the equipment installed as well as the trim and upholstery.
Only the Smart and Premium variants gain active safety from the Toyota Safety Sense suite by way of Pre-Collision (AEB), Lane Departure Alert, Front Departure Alert, and Pedal Mis-operation Control, but the latter also receives Blind Spot Monitoring, Automatic High Beam, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Above this, the range-topping Yaris Ativ Premium Luxury (pictured) gains all the toys and the fanciest interior with those quilted leather (leatherette?) seats and red trim accents. Included in this is also ambient interior lighting with 64 colours, a 6-speaker audio system by Pioneer, and a panoramic view monitor (360 camera).
You’ll be a little disappointed with the engine range here as in Thailand the Yaris Ativ is only available with a sole 1.2-litre 3NR-VE naturally aspirated four-cylinder producing a rather asthmatic 94PS and 110Nm of torque. This is to comply with the country’s Eco Car regulations and the cheaper petrol available at pumps with 20% Ethanol (E20).
Remember, even RON95 is considered ‘premium’ there. Aren’t we lucky? In any case, we’re expecting this car to debut in Malaysia as the Vios with a powertrain package carried over from the current model, meaning a 1.5-litre 2NR-VE four-cylinder with 107PS and 140Nm mated to a CVT gearbox.
Unless, of course, UMW Toyota has something else up their sleeve but in all fairness, Toyota globally doesn’t really have much else to offer for this class of car in terms of anything turbocharged or electrified.
Do you think this packs a mightier punch strong enough to wipe that smug smile off the Honda City?
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.