Published on April 16th, 2019 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Toyota Vios 1.5G, The Kurang Manis Test Drive Review

Toyota in Malaysia has been conservative with their all new Vios since its launch. We say conservative simply because they have not made much noise about its new selling points as the Vios name plate has always stood for dependable, reliable, fuel efficient motoring. Yes, it has been a favorite with middle class Malaysians and its resale values have always held well against its rivals but soon after this new Vios was launched there were some negative remarks online about its drivetrain as some car enthusiast wanted a turbocharged engine and others asked about a hybrid version.

Toyota in Malaysia has to look at what their current customers are happy with and a hybrid is not at the top of the want list and buyers in this price segment do not need a turbocharged engine. So, a dependable, reliable, easy to run drivetrain was the request of the majority and we will agree.   


It’s a sharp and nicely proportioned looker, this new Vios, fronted as it is by a wider high-gloss black grille flanked by elegant wraparound LED headlights with integrated daytime running lights cut into the sculptured bonnet and front wings. The flanks are interspersed by subtly profiled wheel-arches wrapped around attractive alloy wheels. This new silhouette flows into the well-groomed tailgate.


Swing open the driver’s door and you will be welcomed by a smartly finished cabin with black leather upholstery and a well orchestrated dash with shapely and comfortably bolstered front seats.

The driver gets excellent visibility which is made better by decent side window sizes and a clear view down the bonnet, allowing for height challenged drivers to get good all round visibility.

The cabin trim is nice to touch ‘soft-feel’ with dabbles of chrome and piano black used tastefully. The thorough fit and finish is underscored by the well-engineered ‘thunk’ you hear every time a door shuts.

Directly ahead of the driver is the Toyota Optitron instrument panel with crisp white-on-black main dials sited either side of a digital multimode driver’s information display. Included also is a colour Multi Information Display and DVD-AVX infotainment system with USB mirroring to make your entertainment all that better.

As usual for a Toyota, in-cabin storage is well addressed with door pockets capable of holding 1-litre-size bottles, a sunglasses case, dual-use deep tray (with twin cupholders) under a sliding lid, a deep box under the adjustable centre front armrest and a usable and lit glovebox.

There’s more than ample room for 5 in this efficiently packaged sedan. Surprisingly, headroom is easily as good in the back as it is up front.

Adults travelling in the rear cabin will also enjoy decent legroom; even if they are six-footers sitting behind another six-footer. A low floor tunnel makes it easier for a third passenger in the middle while just two get to make good use of the padded drop-down centre armrest. Isofix child seat fixings are a welcomed feature.


Safety is further enhanced with a Blind Spot Monitor, Panoramic View Monitor, Front Digital Video Recorder and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, features were previously only available on the larger Toyota models. All variants have been rated the maximum 5 stars by ASEAN NCAP and come with seven SRS airbags, Vehicle Stability Control and Hill-start Assist Control.


A decisive plus for many customers will be the this Vios’s ride quality. Thanks to its pliant quality allied to well-managed and nicely tied-down body control it does a good job of smoothing out the bumps in Klang Valley. We found the easy going and quiet ride made both long and short journeys in the Vios quite enjoyable and much improved over the outgoing model.

Power is put down through the front wheels and the electric power-driven steering turns-in nicely and makes it easy to place through corners. Its predictable, stable at speed (up to 130km/h as tested by us), feels agreeably chuckable, and the 205/16 tyres further enhance the grip levels. And when you need to stop there’s no drama thanks to discs at each corner. Yes, Toyota provides disc brakes at the rear with this Vios.

Also, Toyota provides paddle shifters which is great to see and have but after a few weeks most owners will stop using them as the gearbox is best left in ‘drive’ and with ECO mode on when in traffic and just switch to ‘SPORT’ mode when you need more excitement or when going to the hilltop premium outlet to buy unnecessary extra shoes and shirts with the money you save in monthly installments against buying a European compact sedan. 

NEW VIOS Conclusion

Toyota have moved their game up in this with this Vios in this segment where the Honda City currently sits right on top with a clear sales margin. Taking all the feedback from customers, it is clear that the Toyota product planners have worked side by side with their accountants to deliver a sterling product that moves the Toyota game up a few notches against its immediate rival.

The only question left is this. Why is Toyota not selling this new Vios in Japan?

Toyota Vios 1.5 G Specifications

Engine: 1 NZ-FE 4-cylinder, in-line, 16-valve, DOHC with VVT-i

Displacement: 1,496cc

Transmission: CVT with 7-Speed Sport Sequential Shiftmatic

Max power: 107hp at 6,000hp

Max torque: 140Nm at 4200rpm

Price: From RM77,200 to RM87,300

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