In recent years, the Vios nameplate has become somewhat synonymous to either a cab or a Grab. Now, I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing. In fact, you have to give the Vios credit for being the choice of most TNVS drivers and taxi service fleets out there. It is simple, fairly priced, and well established.
However, that shouldn’t be the only image we associate the Vios with, especially in this 'all-new' (re-bodied) model. It's actually a decent car for getting from point A to B anywhere in the city.
Last time out, we tested the 1.3 E Prime with the CVT. This time around, it's the the top-spec 1.5 G. Well, almost the top spec as this particular one has a manual transmission. Still, we like rowing our own from time to time so this is a nice break from all the automatics we've been driving.
But before we get to the design, I would like to point out that this particular Vios is wearing the upcoming TRD kit that Toyota Motor Philippines is offering as an extra. It includes an array of TRD parts including a new front and rear lip kit, side skirt, wing, and wheels. Do note that while the TRD kit does look really good, the regular Vios 1.5 G will not have these options as standard. You can purchase all of the TRD bits now except for the wheels; they're actually pre-launch wheels as they are set to come out in August.
The Vios certainly has grown up a lot over the years, both in terms of style and size. However, this isn't an entirely all-new model, as the underpinnings are still based on the model sold a few years ago. Still, I think it looks pretty good for what it is: a subcompact car.
The new design follows that of the Yaris Ativ that was launched in Thailand, which features sweeping headlights along with a massive front grill. The redesigned front fascia gives it a more aggressive look as opposed to its predecessor. As this is the G variant, the Vios comes standard with projector headlights albeit with halogens and even an LED daytime running light, which gives it a more upscale look, somewhat like a baby Altis.
With the new body, the character line on the side flows more smoothly as well. Keen-eyed observers would also notice the reshaped door handles which are now finished in chrome and has a keyless entry feature. The multi-spoke TRD wheels work well with the aggressive front fascia giving it a sportier appeal. At the rear, gone are the squarish taillights and in its place are these slimmer units. Meanwhile, the new trunk gives the Vios an integrated ducktail design which is further enhanced by the black TRD ducktail.
All in all, the Vios has certainly become more stylish, especially in this 1.5 G trim together with the TRD kit. In fact, some of my friends even commented on how good it looks. I mean, when was the last time you said a stock Vios looked good?
Open the doors, and you’re greeted with a refreshed but familiar cabin. Gone is the old steering wheel design and in place is a slimmer three-spoke wheel, which I think looks heaps better. The gauge cluster has also been updated featuring larger and easier to read dials. Interestingly, Toyota has decided to ditch the air-con vent cup holders. Instead, the cup holders have been relocated in front of the shifter.
One of the newest features of the 1.5 G Vios would have to be the automatic headlights. Yes, you read that right, the Vios now has auto headlights. No longer do you have to toggle between off, park lights and headlights anymore. Having auto-headlights on the Vios really surprised me as this feature if often found on more expensive models.
Other welcoming upgrades include the power folding side mirrors and the digital climate control system. Meanwhile, chrome mixed with piano black trim all around gives the Vios’s cabin a more upscale feel. In-car entertainment is handled by a 2-din touchscreen head unit which comes with Bluetooth, USB and AUX functions as well as AM/FM radio. The speakers could benefit from an upgrade as they were a bit on the soft side, even on high volume.
Under the hood, the previous 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine has been carried over from the previous-generation model. No changes were made to the engine as the 2NR-FE with Dual VVT-i continues to produce 108 PS and 140 Nm of torque.
Power from the 1.5-liter engine was good when coming off the line. Despite the new and heavier body, the car didn’t feel sluggish when driving around the city. Shifting was easy and inclined roads were no problem thanks to the light clutch. That said, I did find the clutch’s biting point a bit too high for my liking. This is something new drivers might have a hard time adjusting to.
Around town, engine performance was more than enough to overtake slower moving cars. You don’t need to rev high to get some power out of it. Simply drop a gear, and it will go. In fact, you can easily get up to 60km/h without noticing it. Despite having a large displacement engine over the 1.3-liter mill, I managed to do around 8.4km/L driving around the city. While that sounds low, I was stuck in gridlock traffic for most of the time. Still, it's not bad considering I was sitting in traffic for hours on end.
Handling on the 2019 Vios was very predictable and safe, if not exciting. It’s no Vios race car for sure, but driving it felt reasonably engaging. This is one of the nicer Vioses I've driving, likely thanks to the 17-inch TRD wheels were on 205/40 profile Bridgestone Potenza RE002s. However because of the larger wheels and lower profile tires, the ride was a bit bumpier than usual. I also had to look out for potholes and large humps as it was wearing the TRD kit.
The biggest and possibly most important upgrade the 2019 Vios received would be in terms of safety. All variants of the Vios (including the 1.5 G) now come standard with seven airbags. Anti-lock Brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA) are all standard, along with vehicle stability control (VSC). Hill-start assist was certainly helpful when driving on inclined roads, especially with the manual transmission.
While the Vios 1.5 G does get a host of upgrades and features over the previous G variant, there is one drawback – the price. At Php 984,000, the 1.5 G M/T is quite expensive. In fact, it is nearly the same price as the Altis 1.6 G which is currently at Php 997,000. It’s also around Php 30,000-50,000 more expensive than its rivals of the equivalent variant.
Do keep in mind that the PhP 984,000 not including the TRD kit which will set you back around Php 66,000 just for the skirts and spoiler alone, bumping up the price to PhP 1,050,000. Toyota doesn't have a price for the package that includes the TRD wheels and Bridgestone Potenza RE002 tires.
The only question now is whether all those features are worth the added cost for you. If not, well there are still eight other variants for you to choose from, all with the excellent safety features, and all are still built with pride in the Philippines by Toyota.