2017 Toyota Vios 1.5 S review

After receiving a mechanical update last year, the country’s popular sub-compact sedan gets a facelift.

What’s new?

This is the mandatory mid-life facelift for the Toyota Vios, a highly popular B-segment saloon in Thailand.

As the four-door Vios has already received a new 108hp 1.5-litre petrol engine and CVT automatic transmission last year, Toyota has limited the changes to just the visual side for 2017.

Up front is where the main action is taking place. The grille design now comes closer in appearance to the bigger Corolla, while the garish bumper design apes that found in the all-new Camry that’s just been launched in the US earlier this year.

Tested here is the range-topping S model which is being pitched as the sportiest Vios to look at. The cabin, in particular, is dominated by a mix of red and black colours on the fascia, door panels and seats, the last ones being billed by Toyota as “sporty” when compared to the lesser, cheaper versions wearing the G, E and J badges and doing without the S’s keyless entry and go function.

The price of the Vios S has been set at 789,000 baht – some 40k more than before. The others cost 729,000 baht for G, 679,000 baht for E and 609,000 baht for J.

What’s cool?

During the entire duration of our test drive, the Vios managed to make many heads turn. That’s probably due to two factors: the prominent face and the red body colour.

          Low-speed ride quality is quite decent.

Speaking of colours, the interior complements the Vios’ sporty mission. As well, those sporty-looking seats are quite good to sit in.

Like its Honda City archrival, the Vios is a B-segment car that isn’t made (yet) to Ecocar rules. As a result, it comes with a reasonably punchy engine and responsive CVT auto to make performance ample in either city or highway driving.

The chassis in the Vios remains basically what most users are looking for: absorbent low-speed ride and easy handling.

What’s not?

When the Vios was launched in its current generation over three years ago, we found the interior trimmings to be an all-out affair with hard plastics - and not the soft-touch type your eyes may have led you to believe. Sadly, that hasn’t changed. And while there’s a new sporty-looking instrument panel, it’s quite difficult to read as there’s no brightness control for it.

Although driving oomph would probably be enough in most hands, you can always feel its power inferiority it succumbs to the City’s 117hp 1.5-litre motor.

Then there’s the price of the Vios S which, to put it bluntly, is eye-watering at nearly 800,000 baht. And it isn’t generously equipped, either.

For exactly what the Vios S asks for in price, you can get a range-topping Mazda 2 with two things the Toyota doesn’t feature: a raft of driver-assist technologies plus a punchier and far more economical 105hp 1.5-litre diesel-turbo engine.

And for 38,000 baht less, the City can be had it top-of-the-line form with additional side and curtain airbags; the Vios only has two frontal ones in whichever grade you opt for.

Buy or bye?

If you glance around the entire Thai B-segment - be it a car with or without Ecocar privileges – the Vios isn’t really an interesting choice anymore, bar its strong brand credentials.

The S model, especially, simply looks like a rip-off if you glance what’s available left or right. Its comparable rivals are much worth contemplating for.

Maybe it’s better to dip lower down the Vios range and settle for the lesser models, although be reminded that the basic J is really a stripped-out version deprived of several creature comfort items here and there.

  Fascia is covered with hard plastics - and not the soft-touch type your eyes may have led you to believe.

  Sporty seats are available in S model, as tested here.

  Front bumper design sees the biggest visual change.

  S version goes for an eye-watering 789,000 baht.

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