Toyota Veloz 1.5 Review
This should be an easy review of a model but it is complicated in this market by a very direct competitor, not in price point but in heritage and association. Like all automotive groupings, brands of the Toyota group have the benefit of shared technology, engineering, and parts. It only makes financial sense to share these resources especially in the face of rising raw material and shipping costs.
The Toyota Veloz is a product of this form of sharing, taking shape across different brands and nameplates with differing specifications. They are all built on the same platform, with a 2,750 mm wheelbase and in neighbouring markets, they also use different powertrain options to differentiate the brands and pricing. However, it is less straightforward in Malaysia and due to that, there are those who rain on the Veloz’s parade.
The Veloz uses the shared mass produced and proven 1.5L 2NR-VE 4-cylinder, all-aluminium engine with Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing – intelligent) which is found in a variety of vehicles, including its Perodua relative, the Alza. For the Veloz, this engine also produces 106 PS @ 6,000 rpm and 138 Nm of torque @ 4,200 rpm that goes to the front wheels (the preceding Avanza / Rush has a rear-wheel-drive layout). Also, new to this segment for Toyota is the 7-speed CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) which is lighter because it is more compact, and is tuned with a bias for fuel efficiency. It also claims to offer lower loss of power in transmission to further improve fuel economy.
And if the driving feels too sedate, there is the steering-mounted Drive mode button which is akin to switching off overdrive. And if that is also not sufficient, the gear lever comes with a manual shifting option for more precise control. Like most new cars in the market, the Veloz offers Power, Eco and Normal settings for different driving preferences.
The driving is where the Veloz feels different and this unfortunately is not noticed when comparing specs on paper. With a greater ground clearance of 190 mm (vs 160 mm of the Alza), and riding on larger 17″ wheels, it looks and feels more like a crossover as opposed to a wagon. The larger tyres, along with the longer suspension travel and rebound, soak up more of the road’s imperfections and provide occupants with greater comfort. Similarly, the handling is also influenced by this physical difference, giving the Veloz an edge in terms of stability. A surprising discovery after driving both is how much smoother the acceleration feels with the Veloz, despite the larger 205/50 R17 tyres (compared to the 195/60 R16 of the comparable Alza AV).
But the driving isn’t the only difference between the 2. Appearance-wise, though they look similar, just about every body panel is different, from the bonnet to bumpers to fenders, so swapping out body panels to make one look like the other isn’t straightforward nor economical. Even the LED headlights are shaped differently. The rear is where there is the least amount of difference with the Veloz having a central LED light strip on the liftgate to unify the LED tail light clusters. This is probably the cheapest and easiest mod to make the Alza look similar. Further, the Veloz comes standard with roof rails, allowing for a rack fixture without affecting the paintwork. These rails can carry an additional load of 75 kg, enabling you to expand the Veloz’s cargo capacity. This would also be useful on roadtrips that require all 7 seats to be occupied. Additionally, the front passenger door of the Veloz comes with a touch sensor for locking and unlocking, so both front doors can be used for keyless entry.
In the cabin, the differences are also apparent when you look long enough. The lines of the dashboard, the extended armrests with grab handles on the doors, the brushed metal trim, the ambient lighting, the wireless charger, and soft-touch material on the dashboard and door cards give the Veloz a more premium-feeling interior. There are however, still hard plastics present as there is no denying the price segment it sits in. Not as obvious, but also still present, are the outside temperature reading on the digital multi-info display (there are some who like to know how hot it is outside), climate control, and the wireless connectivity of the 9″ infotainment system for Apple CarPlay / Android Auto.
Like the Qi wireless phone charger, this feature is also naturally great for those who don’t like the sight of dangling cables. But unfortunately for these people, there are many opportunities to dangle USB cables as all 3 rows feature power outlets for charging smart devices (the 3rd row only has a 12V socket for that). Another almost-hidden feature which is also great for picky drivers is the tilt and telescoping steering column for a finer adjustment of driving position.
And while the cabin bears the same dimensions and the seats offer the same flexible arrangements, such as the ‘long sofa’ (seat belts are still required to be used when the vehicle is moving), the Veloz’s combination leather seats have handy smaller pockets included as standard on the front seat backrests. One downside is the absence of a headrest for the middle passenger in the 2nd row.
Available only in 1 variant, the Veloz gets all that Toyota has to offer including the Toyota Safety Sense suite which includes Pre-Collision System (PCS); Lane Departure Warning (LDW); Lane Departure Prevention (LDP); and Lane Keeping Control (LKC). There is also Adaptive Cruise Control, Blindspot Monitor, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Front Departure Alert, and a 3D panoramic view monitor. A front Digital Video Recorder comes standard and there is an option to add a rear recorder.
The Veloz is also fitted with a Vehicle Telematics System (VTS) which allows you to keep track of your vehicle’s location via an app. The real-time feature allows you to check on the status of the vehicle including the speed it is travelling at (if you are not in the vehicle). In case of vehicle theft, the VTS can enable the Command Centre to locate it via GPS and inform the relevant authorities who can help retrieve the vehicle.
So, is the Toyota Veloz worth paying RM95,000 for? That really depends on how much value you place on features like tilt & telescopic steering, wireless Apple CarPlay / Android Auto connectivity, wireless phone charger, and ambient lighting. Understandably, there are those who don’t care for such features. Also, if you have no love for features such as the higher ground clearance and ride height, the roof rails, the climate control, and built-in seat pockets, or even the 2-tone exterior colour scheme, then by all means save your money. But if you do need and / or want these features, then the Toyota Veloz presents you with a well-appointed package at under RM100k.
And you also get a 5-year unlimited mileage warranty with the Veloz.