Test Drive Review : Toyota Sienta

Test Drive Review : Toyota Sienta

What’s This?

The Toyota Sienta is a compact 7-seater people mover built in Indonesia but unlike the Avanza which was specifically designed for emerging markets, the Sienta is also sold in markets like Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The review unit is the range-topping V variant; the lowest being the G.

What About It?

The Sienta is marketed here with a youthful exuberance and the motto, “Fun United”, likely in its aim to make an MPV a hip vehicle to target the younger crowd. Whether its the right marketing strategy or not is debatable but there’s no arguing that the Sienta looks like no other (particularly in Toyota’s stable offered here), with its funky-looking front and rear that strangely reminds me of Johnny Depp’s Tonto in The Lone Ranger movie. The Sienta doesn’t look ugly but it can divide opinion and it’s certainly on the non-conventional side; the fact that it’s also designed as a Japanese Domestic Model (JDM) has something to do with it.

On the outside, the Sienta 1.5V has auto on-off and leveling bi-LED headlights, encompassed by LED guide lights, LED tail lights, 16″ alloy wheels, sliding rear doors and a quasi-spoiler. Over time, the Sienta’s quaint appearance grew on me and I began to appreciate its styling cues (the black accent trim and the horizontal V-shaped lights at the front and rear are consistent, at least), and this MPV has enough styling built in to make the addition of a bodykit look odd.

What’s Inside?

Toyota Sienta 1.5V Cabin - Rear Seats FoldedDespite the Sienta being a 7-seater, it’s in reality about 17 cm shorter than the Vios. However, that didn’t stop Toyota from designing a versatile cabin. The 2nd row seats can recline and easily fold (60:40 split) for easy access to the rear. But due to its compact nature, sitting 3 grown adults in the 2nd row feels a bit of a stretch; legroom is fine though. The 3rd row sits higher than the front rows, theater style, which helps a little when it comes to stowing your feet under the 2nd row as kneeroom is limited. The 3rd row splits 50:50 and either side can be completely folded independently for greater versatility. The best selling point of the 3rd row is its ability to be stowed under the 2nd row bench, making for a flat cargo area (about 575 liters’ worth).

With the 3rd folded into the 2nd row’s floor, and the 2nd row seats tumbled-folded forward, you get a larger area for longer items. Being an MPV, the floor is set lower (some sacrifice to ground clearance) and the roof a little higher (good headroom), making ingress and egress, especially to the rear, relatively easy. What’s not immediately noticeable is the ingenious groove in the B-pillar molding which acts as a hand-grip for the rear passengers. Rear passengers also get the benefit of a rear blower.

The front seats are mildly supportive and could do with better lumbar support (only the driver’s seat adjusts for height). The Sienta is only offered with fabric seats which could put it at a disadvantage if a potential buyer’s priority is seat material.

Initially, the Sienta’s dashboard looks busy with its many planes but is actually quite a functional piece. For instance, it has double glove compartments (the top one doubles as a cooler box) with an open shelf in between. All in, there are 14 compartments in the Sienta, including the cubbies in the 3rd row.

What’s Underneath?

The Sienta has a 7-step continuously variable transmission (CVT), with sport sequential shifting, to transfer power to the front wheels from the 1.5-liter 2NR-FE Dual VVT-i engine. Although its output of 107 PS is lower than its immediate rival (120 PS), peak torque is close (140 Nm vs 145 Nm). So even if the Sienta can’t get to a top speed as high as its rival, it still has similar pulling power to move people and cargo.

This is likely done for fuel economy’s sake. Moreover, how fast do you really want to drive an MPV?

What’s It Like?

It’s not easy to fault the practicality of the Sienta; or even its appearance, as looks are subjective. However, when it comes to driving, it felt a little wanting. When accelerating, there’s a slight dip in torque after 2,500 rpm before it picks up again to give you maximum power at 4,200 rpm before tapering off; I’m not sure if this is due to the fuel efficiency nature of the tuning. The CVT naturally comes with some rubber-banding effect which you can negate by manually shifting the gears. Acceleration (and road noise) is heard in the cabin despite the V variant coming with an acoustic windscreen, but things become more relaxed when cruising. Perhaps upping the insulation will improve cabin ambience.

And the same question gets asked here – can this go up Genting Highlands when loaded? Yes, it can. Just not car-quick. Although the Sienta is built on a car platform, it’s tuned as an MPV. Take a corner too enthusiastically and you will feel body roll and understeer. The electric power steering is set for a more relaxed driving style. On the positive side, it has disc brakes all around (ventilated fronts and solid rears) so there’s ample stopping power and the suspension soaks up bumps and humps well. So drive the Sienta as an MPV and you won’t be disappointed.

On a fairly lonely country road, the Sienta drank 1 liter of petrol in 15.8 km which is pretty good for an MPV. Further, my best average consumption on a short urban drive in smooth traffic was 14.4 km per liter. An ‘Eco’ sign lights up on the meter cluster to indicate when you’re driving efficiently.

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Any Interesting Features?

As mentioned, this is designed for Japan too, which has really tight parking spots, and this explains the powered rear sliding doors which are convenient and take up little space.  The V variant gets 2 powered doors while the G gets 1.

Both variants also come standard with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA), ISOFIX points, 3 airbags and reverse sensors.

The reviewed V variant gets 16″ alloy wheels, leather-wrapped gear knob and steering with info & audio controls, 4.2″ color multi-info display, Optitron meter display, 6.8″ touchscreen DVD player with reverse camera view, digital video recorder, climate control, smart entry and start and Toyota Premium Security & Solar Film.

Who Is It For?

We see the Sienta very suitable as an urban people mover with its practical interior, compact dimensions (makes for easy parking and maneuvering tight double-parked streets), small turning circle, easy driving demeanor, good fuel economy, and not forgetting brand reliability. If these are the attributes you seek then have a look at the Sienta.

How Much?

The fully imported Sienta 1.5V is priced at RM 99,900 (on the road with insurance for private registration in Pen. Malaysia). This includes a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty.



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