Friday, June 06, 2003

Behold...the unveiling of the Toyota Vios

Some of you may or may not have known that there is going to be a new car in the Malaysian market, and a much anticipated one at that, and of course, that would be the Vios.

Pronounced as 'vee-yours', derived from a Latin word that means 'moving forward', the Vios has caused and is the cause of a much heated debate that seems endlessly mind-numbing, which is, Toyota Vios vs. Honda City; 2 of which are one of the first Japanese entry level cars to hit the Malaysian market almost certainly crippling prospective Proton owners. In fact, who would want to drive a Proton when they could opt for either one of these Japanese models priced slightly higher?

But this article does not document the differences between both these models, but it just elaborates on the Vios, which, as some of you may know, is my next vehicle of choice. The Vios is a delightfully small car that weighs just under 1 ton, at approx. 980kgs in fact. The weight of the car is a major factor in determining its power to weight ratio. Running a true VVT-i engine (1NZ-FE) used on the Vitz(Japan), Yaris(Europe) and Echo(US) that develops about 109bhp, its a pretty nifty piece of equipment doing the 0-100 in under 10 seconds.

There are 2 models available which is the 1.5G and 1.5E, the G being the higher end model at about RM82.5k(with insurance), that includes features such as ABS, read disc brakes, 2 air bags, 15" rims, fog light, chrome door handles, 6 speaker audio with 6 disc changer, chrome accented interior and a duller interior color scheme that is missing from the E version. If I'm not mistaken the 1.5 VVT-i engine is all -aluminium, which adds to the lightness factor.

I've been in the car once when they were having a sneak preview. The car looks bigger in the pictures, but in real life its really tiny. It helps with parking in the city, I suppose, but I went in the G version and its grey on grey interior is rather drab. And somehow the gloominess of the car makes one feel slightly claustrophobic, but then again that could have been a direct effect of the swarms of people hovering around and over the car trying to sneak a better peek. If it was me, I would most definitely try to add some color to the interior with the help of some 2 toned leather.

The instrument cluster is center-mounted, so some may like it, some may not. But its standard across all models. The gripe I had with the panel was that it isn't digital, like the Vios' found in Thailand or China and even Singapore, ours is analog. Apparently the reason for this is that they didn't think most of the buyers would like the digital displays. I thought that they were dead wrong. Some even had the theory that it was just a conspiracy to lower costs. But anyhow since it is running on a proven engine, I thought of putting an Apexi Rev Speed Meter to be mounted behind the steering wheel. However doing so in such an early cycle of the car's life might void the warranty. Question is - do I really want the 3 year warranty?

I suppose in investment terms, that would be yes. Its better for them to fix their own mistakes than to blame you for theirs. So my thoughts of 17" rims with the RSM and a much better security system will be held back for some time. And then you system?

The earlier brochure that I got noted that the Vios has a security system that is of a Thatcham Category 1, the highest rating in the UK. But we are in Malaysia, and I don't think that really helps those who really want your car without paying for it. Alas, if you attempt to retro-fit a separate alarm system outside, they will see that as a warranty-voiding act and you will lose out in the end. In the event that you don't, then you run the risk of losing your car since all cars are fitted in the same place. Its clearly a lose-lose situation. But then that's about all you can do, buy a steering lock, and hope nothing happens to it.

All in all, I do feel that it is a good car, although I would be making assumptions based on other driver's road tests and reviews. But rest assured that I will post my own review with loads of pictures once I have all my applications settled out. In the meantime I will have to wait for them to approve my loan before I can register the car which I have been told, is already here.