Expert Review - Toyota Vios NSP151 Facelift (2019-Present)
29 January 2019
With an increased emphasis on comfort, the new Toyota Vios is a more mature and accomplished effort than its predecessor. It may not possess the most dynamic handling characteristics, but its supple ride and impressive refinement makes it a more liveable everyday companion compared to its rivals, and a long overdue increase in safety kit puts it at the sharp end of the segment. However, the lack of oomph is at odds with the Vios' sporty image, and the almost offensive styling may alienate more than a few loyal buyers.
Retaining the same 1.5 litre Dual VVT-i engine as before, the Vios isn't exactly a sprightly performer, the modest horsepower deficit over its main rival, the Honda City, making itself clear on the road. At least it's quieter than the Honda at full pelt, and the retuned CVT responds smoothly and quickly to throttle inputs without fuss. The seven-speed mode is fun to play with through the 1.5G's paddle shifters, but few people will ultimately use it.
Ride & Handling
Clearly set up for a comfortable ride, the Vios won't exactly set your pants on fire on a good road, and that's evident the moment you turn the steering wheel - slow and lacking in feel, it robs the car of any sense of agility. However, body movements are well damped, and the soft setup results in a composed ride that irons out the bumps, even though it can't quite shake off the slightly cheap, hollow feel typical of Japanese cars in the price range. Highway stability is affected by the Vios' susceptibility to crosswinds.
You can get pretty comfortable behind the wheel of the new Vios, despite the tall driving position and lack of reach adjustment for the steering wheel. The seats are fairly supportive - making it good for long journeys - and all the controls are within easy reach. Once on the move, you'll notice the marked reduction in road and wind noise, helped by the inclusion of an acoustic glass windscreen on most models. Toyota says it has benchmarked the car against C-segment models in terms of refinement, and it clearly shows.
The Vios has long lagged behind the City in this regard, but the latest model is bang up to date, with the airbag count bumped up from just two in the previous model to seven. Most impressively, this is standard across the range, as is stability control. There's also a blind spot monitor on all but the 1.5J, but unfortunately autonomous emergency braking is not on the list.
Riding on the same platform as its predecessor, the Vios is still a step behind the City in terms of cabin space, with less headroom and legroom both front and rear. It's by no means cramped, however, and the 506-litre boot is still plenty for groceries and long hometown trips. Do note that on the base 1.5J variant, the rear seats are fixed and do not fold flat, so you won't be able to carry long packages from Ikea.
Priced from RM77,200, the Vios comes with a reasonable amount of kit as standard, including LED daytime running lights, keyless entry, push-button start, automatic air-con and Bluetooth connectivity. Trade up to the mid-range 1.5E and you get a touchscreen head unit and even a 360-degree camera system, while the top 1.5G throws in projector headlights, larger wheels, leather seats and paddle shifters - all for under RM90,000.