Published on May 29th, 2021 | by Subhash Nair0
Toyota Vios GR-S Review: A Sporty Touch
The Vios GR-S variant adds a touch of excitement to the market.
Toyota is the only car brand in Malaysia to push motorsports at a grassroots level. That has been the case for a few years now. Their Vios Cup has been a great success, delivering season after season of excitement. Their own Vice President takes it upon himself to compete! So it’s only natural that this motorsport spirit is trickled down into the actual product itself. Well, that’s not exactly what you get with the Vios GR-S (Gazoo Racing Sport), but it’s close enough.
You see, the Vios GR-S isn’t the same car that competes on track. The track-ready Vios is a lot more stripped down, performance focused and track optimised. It’s also covered in sponsor decals and comes with a manual gearbox. With the Vios GR-S, what customers are getting is full spec Vios with some unique performance tweaks. And it is indeed a little more exciting to drive than the standard car.
In Sports Mode, the CVT here has a 10-speed ratio – something you don’t get on other variants of the Vios. The Vios GR-S also gets unique suspension tuning for better handling. UMW Toyota claims that this new gearbox programming allows the engine to stay in its optimum power band and the new suspension improves high-speed handling and confidence without sacrificing comfort. We tested the car and found both claims to be reasonable. The Vios GR-S does indeed have very aggressive acceleration for a car of its class, especially in Sport mode with the tiptronic gear selection activated. It’s also not noticeably harsher over rough surfaces while being a natural in the corners.
The biggest strength of the Vios GR-S is that at its core, it’s a well-engineered product. For that we have to talk about the Vios itself without the GR-S trimmings. Its steering is well weighted, and Toyota’s CVT is possibly the best tuned on the market. You never have to coax the engine to rev up too much in day-to-day driving. That’s an excellent characteristic. Just a tiny bit of pressure on the accelerator pedal is enough to get the vehicle in motion. No endless droning from the engine bay.
On top of that, the NVH characteristics are excellent. The use of acoustic glass and sufficient sound deadening material was more than sufficient. Sitting in the Vios with one’s eyes closed, one might have expected these low levels of noise from a much larger, more expensive vehicle. It might not be the newest chassis on the block, but it can certainly hold its own in this regard.
Finally, there’s the handling and comfort. Toyota has done quite well in these two areas. The Vios is able to absorb most of the road surface imperfections that come its way. Personally, I wouldn’t drive any vehicle in this segment particularly hard. But it’s good to know that Toyota has thrown some engineering work into making the car take corners a little better.
In terms of design, the facelifted Vios has a much more modern and aggressive look to it. This GR-S bodykit takes that aggression a step higher. In front, you’ve got a honeycomb pattern grille which is reminiscent of the one on the GR Yaris.
The car also comes with an aerokit as well. This includes a lot of blacked out parts, including the side mirrors, door handles, diffuser, bumpers, side skirts and spoiler. There are also a number of badges on the car to indicate its special status.
Finally, there are the wheels. At 17 inches, they’re the largest to ever be factory fitted to a Vios. And they look really good in black too. UMW Toyota only offers the Vios GR-S in Platinum White Pearl or Red Mica Metallic, both colours associated with Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Inside, there are a few unique appointments as well. For the driver, the instrument cluster gets red Optitron meter panel with red needles. The start-up animation for the multi-info digital screen is also unique.
The sport treatment goes deeper than expected in the cabin as well. The most prominent items are the sports seats, which are in a leather and suede combo, with red stitching. Leather and red threads also appear on the steering wheel (with shift paddles) and gear knob. GR logos can be found on the front seat headrests, push start button and floor mats.
Another sporty touch is the red Optitron meter panel with red needles. This scheme replaces the blue-white theme in other Vios variants. As a bonus, the 4.2-inch multi-info display has GR animation. As for the rest of the equipment list, the GR Sport builds on the 1.5G, the highest non-GR grade priced at RM87,584 on-the-road before insurance, with the 2020 sales tax exemption.
All-in-all, the Vios GR-S builds on the solid equipment list of the Vios 1.5 G. The performance bump may not be substantial enough on its own to justify purchasing this particular variant, but the additional design elements, larger rims, nicer upholstery add a lot of value.
Toyota Vios GR-S Specifications
Engine: Inline-4, 16-Valve, DOHC, Petrol
Gearbox: CVT with 10 virtual ratios
Max power: 105hp @ 6,000rpm
Max torque: 140Nm @ 4,200rpm
Top Speed: 170km/h