Anton Andres / Kelvin Christian Go | September 29, 2017 15:24
If it ain't broke, tweak it
If you're looking for a brand-new car that's easy on the bank account, you will most likely land in an A-Segment hatchback. Well below one million pesos, it's basic transport on four wheels at the very least. These days however, consumers demand more from their hard earned savings and the A-segment hatchback should be more than just a runabout. This bring me neatly to the Toyota Wigo.
Revamped this year, the least expensive brand-new Toyota gets a new look, as well as more equipment. And slightly more horsepower under the hood. That said, it also gets a price increase so do these changes justify the extra charge?
Toyota revised the Wigo to add a bit more flair for its exterior. Noteworthy is the entirely new front fascia which now somewhat gives more zing to the small hatchback. Headlights are now bigger and show off a bug-eyed look, in line with this segment's more playful designs. At the same time, the old, plasticky grill makes way for a slimmer, single bar trim piece. With its slimmer grill, that allowed Toyota to give the it a much larger air intake, and I do mean much larger. It almost takes up the entire front bumper. Complementing it are new foglight shrouds that look like a pair of eyelashes (on fleek as kids these days would say).
At the rear is a sportier-looking rear bumper with its faux honeycomb mesh and repositioned reflectors. Tail lights are less bland to look at with repositioned elements and extend a little bit into the tailgate. Its spoiler was also renewed with its wavier design, replacing the flat wing of the old car. That said, its general profile is upright and on the boxy side, giving off a Kei car impression.
Inside, the 2017 Wigo gets a splash of color which relieves it from the sea of gray from the old car. Smatterings of orange are seen on the seats as well as cloth-trimmed pieces on the door. It bides well with the car's Orange Metallic exterior and no longer as bland as it was three years ago. The rest of the materials are a bit uncharacteristic from a Toyota (or in this case, a Daihatsu). Excess from the plastic molds are visible but there is still an air of solidity inside the rest of the car.
That aside, it's nice that Toyota revamped and updated the infotainment system, which now features a navigation mode. Also new are the steering wheel mounted audio controls, a neat feature uncommon in its segment. Another addition this year are more speakers, adding a pair at the back. There are a fair amount of storage spaces inside the car too but a center armrest would be nice, as well as an adjustable steering column.
Space on the other hand is decent considering its exterior dimensions. With short adults on board, five passengers can fit comfortable but with larger persons, it's a four-seater at best although head and legroom are adequate. Truck space on the other hand is good for an overnight bag but the rear seats at least fold down should the need to carry more items arise.
While it still uses the familiar 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine from the outgoing model, there's slightly more power under the hood. It now makes 66 PS and 89 Nm of torque, up by one for horsepower and, more significantly, four more Nm. Transmission is still the same four-speed automatic but a five-speed manual is also available.
Out on the road, what was surprising was the ride of the Wigo. With its short wheelbase and small wheels, it's normal to expect a choppy ride. Instead, the Wigo was on the rather floaty side at cruising speeds, heaving a little bit past expansion joints. It's still reasonably comfortable while seated at the back too. All in all, the Wigo is a soft-riding small hatch which is good if you frequent less than ideal roads.
The Wigo wasn't designed to be a hot hatchback but the slight bump in power helps in everyday driving. It gets off the line with a bit more pep, likely due to the increase in torque. It's also less strained when it tries to get to cruising speeds. The transmission on the other hand gets confused from time to time, undecided whether to shift from second to third or otherwise. Perhaps a continuously variable transmission would be better suited for the Wigo.
But despite the handicap of a four-speed automatic, it still returned impressive fuel economy figures. The on-board trip computer displayed 10.7 kilometers per liter after over 300 kilometers of pure city traffic (mix of light and heavy) although the small fuel tank means its range is still limited.
Its size makes it very nippy around traffic while the light steering makes parking no sweat. Handling on the other hand is what you expect from a soft-riding car; a noticeable amount of body lean. That said, it doesn't feel unstable, even if you have to do an emergency maneuver. Also, with not a lot of weight to carry, the Wigo stops pretty well too but pedal feel could be less spongy. On the flip side, you sit up high in a Wigo and, thanks to the relatively thin pillars, visibility is top notch. With large windows all around, there is this feeling that the Wigo is more spacious than it actually is.
However, the lack of steering wheel adjustability is a can be an issue for some. In my case, the steering wheel is set too high but it might be too low for the taller folk. Fortunately, the steering wheel is small enough just so the driver's thighs won't rub against it. As for the seats, they're adequately comfortable at best but the thin padding may prove tiresome for others. There is also a fair amount of vibration that is felt in the cabin but eventually smoothens out once in motion. The car could also use a bit more sound deadening but then again, making an A-segment hatch feel that bit more refined is a tall order.
As mentioned, there is a price increase from its original Php 534,000 tag back in 2014. For 2017, the Wigo, in top-spec 1.0 G A/T trim, now retails for Php 599,000. That's another Php 65,000 but for that, you get new panels, a refreshed interior with an upgraded sound system and slightly more power. Is it worth the extra price of admission? In some ways, yes. It doesn't have any vices, nor does it bring up nasty surprises thanks to its fuel economy and decent equipment levels. In a nutshell, the Wigo should fit the bill as a good first car.
As brand new cars below Php 600,000 dwindle, the Wigo should make a decent, if not outstanding, choice.