Vince Pornelos / Vince Pornelos | December 21, 2009 00:00
TransformedThe Vios was one of those cars that covered a lot of bases. Practical? Check. Affordable? Check. Seats five? Check. Spacious? Check. Great as the Vios may be, those are just the characteristics of a car that you need, not necessarily the ones you desire.
If you're like some of us, you'd probably add things like looks cool, goes fast and corners well. And now, Toyota will officially offer a kit that will address those wants... that's where the Vios TRD Sportivo comes in.
Toyota engineers have taken a standard Toyota Vios 1.5S automatic, in itself already a good car, and outfitted it with a lot of exterior modifications. There's a new aerodynamic package installed, beginning with a front chin that wraps around the foglamp bezels, continuing towards the side with a pair of skirts, and finally a blacked out rear apron and finished with a new muffler tip. There's a new ducktail spoiler and TRD Sportivo badge on the boot lid, and out go the standard wheels and tires as Toyota installed a set of lighter 10 spoke gunmetal TRD wheels (by Enkei) and matching tires.
The difference is striking, and even while just sitting still in a lot, it definitely looks much more pronounced and aggressive. Under the hood, however, Toyota has left the powerplant unaltered in all respects, hence the Vios TRD Sportivo still comes with the standard engines and power and torque ratings, in this case, 107 PS and 142 Nm, respectively.
All substance and no go you say? Take a peek under the wheel wells and you'll be greeted by a surprise: a TRD suspension package. With a slightly lowered ride height (by 10mm), stiffer spring rates and firmer bound/rebound characteristics, the Vios takes corners with a renewed vigor. Rocketing down a winding mountain road in a standard Vios would be nauseating, if not unnerving, due to the soft suspension set up, rolling and pitching the body at speed. With the TRD kit's handling package (locally tested at the Batangas Racing Circuit), the Vios stays planted all throughout with minimal roll, taking S-curves the way they should be taken. Fast. More importantly, there is little effect on ride comfort and on the highway, lane changes are accomplished with minimal steering input.
The visual and handling improvements are refreshing changes, transforming the Vios into a car that gets the heart pumping faster, but at a price... somewhere in the region of PhP 200k (estimated). And that's on top of the car's sticker price. I admit it's a great bit of kit, but for 200k, perhaps some interior touches (like the Malaysian Vios TRD Sportivo which has the black/red seats and a bigger spoiler, among others) should also come standard.