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Published on November 7th, 2010 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Toyota Altis 1.8-liter 7-speed Dual VVT-I driven

The advertisement says a new car, but lets not be taken in by well designed advertising. This is in fact a face-lifted Corolla Altis. Toyota launched the current Altis some 5 years ago with some initial success and after its immediate competitors rolled out more advanced products (5-speed gearboxes, twin cam engines and higher spec interiors) sales of the Altis moved at a slower pace. To counter this, UMW Toyota product planners manage to convince the bean counters at their Shah Alam office that a better product was needed in their showroom to increase sales numbers. So, now comes a revised Altis for Malaysian and also regional carbuyers.

What really makes a difference is its engine, gearbox and suspension. Yes there have been some changes to its visual appeal. Namely the nose and tail styling.

From the pictures you can see for yourself that this new Altis carries a large number of parts from the previous model. Even the door handles and side view mirrors are carried over. Physically similar, this Altis carries a more striking profile where the overhangs in front and at the back with the front and rear bumpers have been restyled for added heft. The side profile shows a 100% former Altis with no changes except for the alloy wheels.

This new Altis comes in 3 versions and we test drive the middle child which comes with a new 1.8-liter Dual VVT-i 4-cylinder engine. From ignition it was quiet and smooth, rarely letting itself be heard at anything less than half throttle.

The new 7-speed automatic CVT fitted to our test car was smooth and refined with barely perceptible shifts at light or moderate throttle. Acceleration was spirited from standstill making it easy to merge with moving traffic at roundabouts. In fast sweeping corners its body control is very good providing a flat sturdy feel around corners with negligible body roll and this is thanks to the taut front and rear anti-roll bars and the new suspension set-up.

Dive and squat under heavy braking and acceleration are both very well contained, too. The trade-off is a ride that’s solidly on the firm side, at least at low speeds.

On the open highway, illegal speeds are easily reached with little wind and road noise filtering into the cabin at speeds past 140km/h. At legal speeds the situation is better as only the course tarmac returns road noise. Switch on the I-pod ready stereo and all this will be immaterial as the cabin insulation works with the stereo to keep the cabin space enjoyable. This new Altis is fitted with Optitron meters which are borrowed from the Camry.

All the rest of the interior remains the same. After 3 days with the car we can say that its fuel consumption was excellent at some 28-30 mpg in the city and 34-37 mpg on the highway in decent driving style. Not at all bad for a car with this level of comfort and performance.

After a weekend with this new Altis, it was clear to us that Toyota had finally realized that the AFTA car buying market is no longer filled with mindless drones willing to walk into a Toyota showroom and buy whatever sheet metal that carries the Toyota branding. They now want a value for money car that provides apple to apple or better features over the segment rivals.

Toyota Altis 1.8E Specifications
Engine: 4-cylinder 16-V DOHC VVT-i Displacement: 1798cc Max power: [email protected]
Max torque: [email protected]
Safety Features: 2 front airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, VSC and TRC
Selling Price: RM122,990.00


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