The third generation of the Toyota Vios makes its official debut on October 19th and with this new generation, Toyota is making it a truly global model by selling it on every continent.
Photos: Andy Goh - Zerotohundred.com
Text: Chips - Motortrader.com.my
The previous two generations of the Vios had been intended primarily for the Asian markets where affordability was an important factor and because of the success of the model – over 445,000 units sold in ten years of two generations – markets like North America, Japan and Australia have also asked for it.
In Malaysia, the first generation of the Vios (which was known as the Soluna) was not sold because it was considered unsuitable for this market and at that time, the Corolla’s price was still ‘affordable’ (it only began to get expensive after the economic recession of the late 1990s). So it was only with the second generation which was introduced in May 2003 that Malaysians came to know the Vios. The timing was right too since Honda’s second generation of the City arrived and Toyota had a direct rival to it. Since that time, some 82,000 units have been sold and the Vios has been the leader in its segment.
First generation (left) called the Soluna never came to Malaysia. Together with the second generation (right), over 445,000 units have been sold
With the third generation, UMW Toyota Motor has added one more version in response to customers’ demand for more variety and more specifically, sportiness. Besides the 1.5G and 1.5E as before, there is now a new grade, the 1.5S, which is positioned higher than the 1.5G and has additional features such as a bodykit and a sportier interior colour scheme.
Contrary to market expectations, the new Vios doesn’t come cheaper than before although that was what UMWT had planned for. According to Dato’ David Chen, the company’s MD, in spite of now having double the amount of Malaysian-sourced parts (a total of 149 items), there were certain issues beyond Toyota’s control that made the price marginally higher than before – 3.5% more for the Vios 1.5E and 1.7% more for the 1.5G.
“Basically, the Thai baht appreciated more than we could absorb and we had no choice but to increase the retail price. Honestly, our original intention was to offer the new Vios at a lower price and we were optimistic about this because Toyota Auto Body had also set up a plant to produce some of the body panels for the new model, saving us some money from having to import them from Thailand. In fact, without the Toyota Auto Body parts, the Vios price would be higher than what we are announcing tonight,” he told MTM.
Peninsular Malaysia prices (with insurance) are as follow:
Toyota Vios 1.5S – RM88,600.00
Toyota Vios 1.5G – RM85,300.00
Toyota Vios 1.5E - RM78,900.00
“We think that even though the prices are slightly higher, the model will be well received and sell better than its predecessor. It will be our core model with a target of 2,400 units a month and should account for 25% of our sales volume in future,” said Dato’ Chen, revealing that over 2,000 orders have already been received nationwide. The prices shown are provisional, pending final endorsement by the relevant government department.
In tune with today’s trends, the new Vios takes on a bolder and youthful appearance, with a sporty impression presented at the front through the use of bumper surface composition with volume and fender lines. The interfaces between body panels are flush and more tight-fitting (the gaps are much narrower than ever before).
Vios 1.5S gets sporty bodykit which gives low-slung look but performance is no different from the other versions as the engine has the same output
The more aerodynamically-efficient shape (but no Cd figure given) still has some cues from the previous generation but the combination of convex and concave surfaces on the door accentuates the flowing form of the body from front to back. Careful attention has been given to achieving balanced proportions even with the longer wheelbase. As with the front, the rear end also has a bolder appearance and imparts a stable image. The rear combination lamps now take on a 3-dimensional image and are positioned at the extremities of the body.
For the Vios 1.5S, Toyota has developed an exclusive bodykit to give a sporty appearance These parts comprise the front bumper spoiler, side skirts and a spoiler on the bootlid, the first two items giving a more low-slung look.
New features for the Vios include the use of a printed antenna on the rear windscreen, making for a neater appearance. The aerodynamically-shaped door mirrors (Vios 1.5S/1.5G only)also have turn indicators incorporated in their housings, signaling the driver’s intentions more obviously.
Engine is same 1.5-litre unit with output unchanged but retuning is said to enhance performance
4-speed automatic transmission shifter has no OD button now
The engine is the same as the one used before (1NZ-FE) and from its 1497 cc comes the same power output of 80 kW/109 ps at 6000 rpm with 141 Nm of torque at 4200 rpm. However, improvements have been made to enhance low and midrange torque and among the improvements is the redesign of the air intake and exhaust system. The ECU programming has also been revised along with the programming of the Transmission Control Unit (TCU). Needless to say, this engine has VVT-i, Toyota’s variable valve timing mechanism.
“There’s no change in the output numbers on paper but when you drive the new Vios, you will find that its performance is not the same as before,” assured Yoshihiro Sawa, Executive Chief Engineer for the new model. He also mentioned that the emission control standard for the engine is now upgraded to Euro-4.
The 4-speed automatic transmission is a Super ECT type which has uphill/downhill shift control for the optimal gear position when driving on hilly terrain. The system detects the conditions based on the throttle opening and vehicle speed; ‘hunting’ of gears on uphill stretches is reduced while going downhill, a lower gear is maintained to provide additional engine braking force.
Interestingly, there is no longer an ‘OD’ button to disengage the overdrive top gear and instead, there is a gate-type shift pattern. This is said to be more convenient for the driver and also offer the possibility of a ‘manual-like’ driving feel for those drivers who like it.
When asked why Toyota had not offered a CVT (which is actually available in the Japanese version of the Vios which is called the Belta), Mr Sawa said that they felt the 4-speed automatic transmission was a better transmission for the needs of customers in this region. He said that there was also feedback which showed that not all customers liked the CVT character although he did not rule out its installation in future Vios models.
Suspension layout is basically same as before but lightened. Tuning is more firm than Japanese version to offer sportier handling
The suspension layout is the same (adapted from the Yaris) as before with independent MacPherson struts in front (a stabilizer bar is also installed) and a torsion beam rear suspension which does not require a separate anti-roll bar. A thorough review of all suspension components led to a reduction in weight in this area. One example of the weight-reducing measures is the redesign of the from suspension mounting which now has one bolt instead of three.
For those who expect the Vios 1.5S to have a different suspension setting for sportier handling, sorry but this is not the case and all three versions have the same settings. However, Mr Sawa said that from extensive testing in the region as well as customer feedback, it was found that ASEAN customers prefer a firmer ride so the suspension has been tuned that way and is different from the softer setting used for the Japanese version.
For wheels, there are two sizes – the 1.5E gets 14-inch alloys with 175/65 tyres while the 1.5G/1.5S gets 15-inch alloys with 185/60 tyres. The spare tyres are full-sized tyres, not skinny space-savers.
For increased stopping power, larger disc brakes are fitted to the Vios 1.5S and 1.5G. These versions now have 15-inch diameter disc brakes (ventilated in front) for the front and rear wheels while the 1.5E continues with 14-inch diameter front ventilated discs and rear drum brakes.
Of note, however, is that all versions now get ABS as standard, along with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. This is an important contribution to driving safety as these three features would be come into use frequently and help a drive avoid an accident – unlike airbags which only serve their purpose when a major frontal collision occurs. Nevertheless, airbags are also present in the new Vios (but the Vios 1.5E gets only one for the driver).
In keeping with industry trends, Electric Power Steering is fitted which helps to reduce fuel consumption because it does not draw power from the engine to operate. An electric motor provides the assistance which is varied according to the car’s speed, diminishing at higher speeds so that the driver has a better feel of the roads.
With the longer wheelbase, the new Vios gains a more spacious cabin which was designed with the concept of ‘Simple is Cool’. With simplicity and a clean layout, the impression of quality is heightened. In planning the cabin, the interior designers divided it into two zones – ‘Elaborate’ and ‘Clean’. The ‘Elaborate Zone’ covers the front half of the cabin where the dashboard is. Here, the focal point is the centrally mounted control panel with the instrument panel situated in the middle as well (as before), while the ‘Clean Zone’ is towards the rear where the occupants have a more spacious seating area.
The increased wheelbase has resulted in an interior length of 1965 mm which is 120 mm longer than before, with most of the increase being used to extend legroom for the rear occupants. Also contributing to the sense of spaciousness is the flat floor at the rear which is possible due to the design of the new chassis. While designing the chassis, the engineers routed the exhaust pipe in a way that eliminates the intrusive hump on the floor.
The larger body also allows the boot space to be greater - 75 more litres for a total of 475 litres in volume (400 litres before). When necessary, the divided rear backrests can be folded flat to extend the cargo floor so that long items can be accommodated. The 60:40 split means that there is flexibility for both passengers and cargo to be carried. Incidentally, opening of the bootlid has to be done with a key or pulling the lever by the driver’s seat as there is no switch on the bootlid.
Dashboard or Vios 1.5E and 1.5G on left and on the right is the dashboard for the Vios 1.5S
As with the previous Vios, the instrument panel is mounted in the middle of the dashboard, rather than directly ahead of the driver. Although this position may be unconventional, it has been found to be beneficial from the ergonomic point of view. Researchers found that drivers could focus on the meters faster after looking at the road ahead, than they would with meters in the usual position. The reduction in re-focussing as well as eye movement in the vertical plane means that fatigue is also reduced, contributing to safer driving. The position also helps older drivers whose vision may have declined a bit with age.
Opitron meters only for Vios 1.5S
Amber-coloured Optitron meters are provided for the Vios 1.5G, and these meters (originally developed for Lexus models) are highly legible in all lighting conditions. The top version also gets a Multi-Information Display (MID) which provides the following information: odometer, two tripmeters, real-time fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, range on remaining fuel and the average vehicle speed. The MID is also used to adjust the level of illumination for the instrument panel.
For easier access by the driver, the handle for the glovebox is now offset to the right side. This makes it less of a reach for the driver who may need to get the Owner’s Manual or other personal items stored in the glovebox.
Some new features are also evident such as power-retractable mirrors (1.5S/1.5G), cupholders neatly incorporated on the extremities of the dashboard and a teh tarik hook that folds out from the back of the front passenger’s seat (finally, a truly ASEAN feature!).
For those who want to know about the audio system, the Vios 1.5S/1.5G get a system with MP3/WMA capability and 6 speakers. Automatic Sound Leveling is also present and this automatically adjusts the volume appropriately based on the car’s speed to compensate for the higher road and wind noise. For further convenience, audio switches are incorporated in the steering wheel. The Vios 1.5E doesn’t have the MP3/WMA and has only four speakers and no steering wheel switches.
The new Vios has a highly rigid yet lightweight structure incorporating strategic use of high-tensile steel which provides strong resistance against impacts. As with all Toyota models, it satisfies Toyota’s Global Outstanding Assessment (GOA) which is a tough in-house safety standard that is equivalent to international requirements and in some aspects, exceeds them. The Vios body is designed to absorb and disperse impact energy to the entire body frame during a collision, reducing the effect of a collision on the occupants. One of the requirements of GOA is the protection of the head and to meet this requirement, the cabin interior has impact protection padding integrated into the pillar areas. Other areas also have softer materials to help provide cushioning during an accident. Whiplash-reducing seat headrests are also fitted to the front seats.
Toyota’s concern for safety also extends to pedestrians and the front end of the new Vios has been shaped with pedestrians in mind. The areas around the front fenders, cowl, panel and bonnet have been designed with an impact-absorbing structure so that pedestrians will sustain less severe injuries during an accident.
Other safety features include anti-jam power windows so someone’s head doesn’t get trapped by the rising glass, laminated glass for the windscreen and a sensor which will stop fuel flow if there is a severe impact during an accident.
Being popular cars in Malaysia, it’s not surprising that Toyotas are favourite choices of thieves and to help a Vios owner keep his car, the security system provided has been custom-designed for the model. It’s a comprehensive security system that consists of an engine immobiliser, cabin sensor and siren with a back-up battery. As an additional measure, a tilt sensor is also included to detect unauthorized towing of the car.
While the new Vios will only officially go on sale on October 19th, the public will get a chance to see it up close at certain venues around the country. To start off, there is a 1-day preview this Friday (October 5th) at the MidValley Megamall Exhibition Centre on the third floor (next to the food court) from 5 pm to 10 pm. Besides the display of the new Toyota, there will also be performances by Reshmonu, Danny One, as well as Akademi Fantasia 5 winners Mila, Ebi and Aswad. Details of other venues as well as information about the new Vios can be found at Toyota .