A Closer Look At The 2023 Toyota Vios 1.5G
The Toyota Vios made its debut in Malaysia in 2003 and it was a hit. It was the most affordable Toyota sedan in the market at that time, priced around the RM75k – RM80k range and targeted at the middle income group and the upgraders who had been driving the national brands.
Yet although Toyota continued to enjoy success with the next few generations of the Vios, one also couldn’t help but feel that the accountants had a large responsibility in developing this ASEAN / emerging markets car. This is because over the years, other brands also gave the Vios a challenge in its segment with very compelling products.
The Toyota Vios is now in its 4th generation, and with it, the company had a goal to defy expectations. Of course, your expectations need to be managed. For instance, a V6 turbo hybrid with sports suspension, 19″ wheels, and nappa leather seats require a different set of expectations for the price tag and customer demographics. Toyota still wants to target the young families (and singles) who want to buy a B-segment sedan for about RM96k.
But Toyota also wants improve the all-new Vios in a significant way over the preceding model, while keeping to its target price and customer requirements. The 2023 Vios is now built on the DNGA platform and has a longer wheelbase than its predecessor (2,620 mm vs 2,550 mm). The new car’s physical dimensions are also bigger overall at 4,425 mm long, 1,740 mm wide and 1,480 mm tall (vs 4,420 mm (l), 1,730 mm (w), 1,475 mm (h)).
The car’s length can be a misleading indicator for interior space as it also takes account of how much the front and rear bumpers protrude. The longer wheelbase (and generally the width too) would give a better clue. And while the new model is a little taller, it is also designed with a fastback silhouette which compromises on rear passenger headroom. This, we learned, was to give the new Vios a sleeker look and improve aerodynamics.
We also learned that the all-new Vios gets a variation of the 1.5L 2NR series engine i.e. the 2NR-VE with Dual VVT-i. This engine provides 106 PS (105 hp) @ 6,000 rpm and 138 Nm @ 4,200 Nm and is paired with a 7-speed CVT with sequential shiftmatic. If this sounds familiar, it is the same as the Veloz, as well as the Perodua Alza and Myvi.
Moreover, despite the new car being slightly down on power compared to the old, real world driving shows that this is pretty much on paper only. To start, the transmission is tuned differently for the Vios compared to the Veloz. We also learned that the new Vios is lighter than the old one by up to 110 kg. This combination actually made the new Vios a sprightlier animal. There is no hiding that this car is limited to 106 PS but you would only feel that limitation as you approach its official maximum speed of 180 km/h. In normal driving whether on the highway, in the city or on winding roads, a relatively steep torque curve which flattens out early is more useful and appreciated. I don’t have the Vios’ torque curve on hand but there was no problem with sluggishness while running away from a green light nor overtaking another vehicle. And there is also a set of paddle shifters in the range-topping 1.5G to step down and run off.
We were also told that the new model is up to 2 seconds faster than the old one in a 0 – 100 km/h sprint due to the various improvements. We did not test this, though it certainly felt that way. We did however, spend a few days in Langkawi getting to know the car and it didn’t disappoint, much. The car took the bends at higher speeds than I would dare in the previous model. It felt supple and nimble, aided by a suspension set-up (McPherson struts in front and torsion beams at the back) that doesn’t feel ‘floaty’ nor ‘crashy’. In fact, the body roll around corners was very predictable and the rear felt well behaved. All this is probably also helped by the set of 205/50 R17 Continental PremiumContact C tyres. The brakes too gave confidence with its predictable bite (the 1.5G comes with solid rear disc due to the electric parking brake feature). But it is also probably safe to assume that a good number of Vios owners would be driving more sedately than what we had subjected the car to. But in case one feels inclined to drive more enthusiastically, there is a suite of Toyota Safety Sense present to reduce the severity of a bad incident, though we would strongly advise one to drive in a manner which does not require the need for the Pre-Collision System nor airbags to activate. But the system is there for when your well-being is compromised.
Speaking of compromise, I did mention that the Vios was designed to a price range. In the quest to shave weight off the car to improve fuel economy and drivability, and without sacrificing passenger comfort, certain concessions were made. For instance, the rear seat does not have a 60:40 fold nor does it have a centre armrest. There is also a thicker structure just behind the rear seats which we were informed, was for body rigidity and safety. Further, the centre tunnel isn’t as low as expected as this was also a compromise to keep the car’s weight down while keeping the car’s rigidity. This may be a minor niggle to the rear centre passenger but at least he/she would not have a centre armrest digging into his/her back. And all rear occupants would appreciate the dedicated air vents though shoulder room is naturally a squeeze for full-sized adults since it’s a B-segment.
One odd and minor feature I would change in the car would be to switch the vanity mirror in the driver’s sunshade to the front passenger’s. Also, a couple more USB ports in the car would be appreciated, though that Type C port at the rear next to the USB 3.0 port is a nice touch (as is the wireless charger in the front centre armrest, if you have a phone that can be wirelessly charged).
But the notable features that I do like in the Vios 1.5G are the black and brown interior with soft touch materials, LED cabin lights, 9″ infotainment display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, surround view cameras, ambient lighting, tilt and telescopic steering column, climate control, conveniently placed cup holders, and on the outside – functional air curtains in front.
The Toyota Vios 1.5G is expected to have a selling price of RM96,000 while the lesser spec Vios 1.5E is expected to be around RM90,000 (on the road without insurance in Peninsular Malaysia). This is somewhat higher than the outgoing model but we are living in different times. In relative terms, our 1.5G is actually cheaper than some of our neighbours.
Overall, the Vios was a pleasant experience and should serve its owners well for years to come. It really is up to the potential buyer how much they value the concessions Toyota made and decide if these are that important. This really isn’t the Vios we know. And it really is an all-new Vios.
The 2023 Toyota Vios will be officially launched tomorrow (20 March) evening.