Review: Toyota Vios 1.5 G MT

By Niky Tamayo

Toyota Vios Philippines review

It's unusual that Toyota decided to introduce its new styling direction on its smallest sedan first, before going up to the Corolla and then the Camry. Usually, styling changes start from the top going down. But this is a very important car for Toyota. It's their volume seller in this market, and let's face it, nobody's going to stop buying Camry executive sedans just because the Viosis flashier. But the question is: Is this new car just a styling exercise, or is there still a heart of beige hiding underneath all that glossy orange paint?

Toyota Vios Philippines review


The formerly stubby Vios has been stretched into a long and sleek sedan. Bold, aggressive lines show a confidence heretofore lacking in Toyota's designs. Strong dual shoulder lines give the body a neat, beveled look. I'm not a fan of the "goatee" up front, but it's not overbearing in person. I love the front-and-rear "blade" motif, which has chrome accent lines blending into the light clusters. Subtle bubbles on the roof designed to clear extra headroom are an unusual touch. Only the small, directional "aero" alloy wheels seem out of place. Sportier thin-spoked 16-inchers would suit the car better.

Toyota Vios Philippines review


The cabin is an all-plastic black and beige affair with silver and chrome accents. It's lovely to look at, but the fake "stitched leather" look doesn't work well on the light-colored door panels. The cool vent cupholders remain, only now they slide out instead of flipping open. The central gauges have, thankfully, been replaced by a three-binnacle gauge sitting behind a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel. The center console now sports a cool "floating" radio head unit instead. Redesigned seats pay huge dividends in terms of comfort and rear legroom, but there's a strange lack of interior cubby holes and storage.

Toyota Vios Philippines review

Toyota Vios Philippines review


The Vios's punchy 1.5-liter motor acquits itself well in daily driving. The shifter is a bit notchy, and the clutch-biting point is vague, but you don't really need to shift all that much with the 1.5's flexible power band.

That venerable 1NZ-FE may be old, but it returns 18-20km/L on the highway at 80kph and 14km/L in mixed driving, without any special techniques. On the other hand, city traffic nets a disappointing 6-8km/L. Still, our test unit has a "green" engine with just 400km on the odometer. Economy should improve after the first 5,000km.

Toyota Vios Philippines review


You'd hope the Orange Metallic paint from the 86 would bring some handling mojo with it, but no such luck. A firmer suspension makes the Vios more competent than before, but the 185/60 R15 Yokohama tires are unimpressive, and the electric steering is darty and numb. Soft bushings also cause a bit of bobbling under braking.

On the other hand, customers will appreciate that the new Vios doesn't bottom out as easily as the old car. They'll also like the improved sound insulation. The Vios is eerily quiet when you're not flogging it hard. Let's face it: Most customers won't.


Customers won't be disappointed with the safety features, either. The Vios G variant gets ABS and EBD, dual airbags, five shoulder belts and even Isofix anchors. The manual A/C lacks a windshield vent option, but works well otherwise. The built-in stereo comes with steering-wheel controls and better sound than the old car, with a decent six-speaker setup. Strangely, the 1.3E gets most of these goodies, minus the side-mirror indicators, projector lamps, A-pillar speakers, and leather steering wheel and shift boot. And the all-black interior seems more tasteful and restrained than the 1.5's black-silver-beige livery.

Toyota Vios Philippines review


We expect the Vios to sell like hotcakes. Yes, it still has a heart of beige, but the good looks, increased rear seat space and huge trunk are all enticing selling points. As ever, it isn't the enthusiast's choice. There are more exciting and better-loaded cars at this P800,000 price point.

Instead, the variant of choice for us family types is the P727,000 1.3E. It has the same safety kit, including the all-important child seat Isofix system. And from the outside, it looks completely identical to the 1.5G, which means nobody will mistake you for a taxi.

Not yet, anyway.


Engine: 1.5-liter variable-valve timing gasoline

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Power: 107hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 142Nm @ 4,200rpm

Drive layout: FWD

Seating: 5

Price: P812,000

Score: 16/20

Photos by Niky Tamayo


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  • GTi Sep 10 2013 @ 06:44pm
    It reaches as low as 6km/L in city driving? With a manual? Looks like rear seat space has improved. How's the trunk?
    • Niky Tamayo
      Niky Tamayo Sep 10 2013 @ 09:14pm
      Remember... green engine. I got it at around 800kms on the odometer. The weird thing is... driving around in town when there's no traffic (just stoplights), I get 13 km/l... and the car can go over 20 km/l on the highway if it's flat.

      It might be that the engine is still "tight", and there's some drag and heat soak from the AC when you're stuck at a stop. Most other reviewers note that traffic economy is bad. Whether that says something about the car or our crappy Manila traffic... I don't know. Perhaps we'll revisit the cars after they've done a few thousand more kilometers.

      The rear seat is bigger, even with the identical wheelbase. They increased the scalloping of the front seat backs and removed the rear seat pass-through to move the rear seat back... gained them an extra fist's worth of space (yeah, very scientific), measured by the "sitting behind yourself" method. :p

      The trunk is now Honda City jumongous. At last. The tiny trunk was probably one of the biggest problems with the old car for family use.
  • AJ Sep 10 2013 @ 07:34pm
    What's with the clutch on the recent car models btw? I tried the Strada manual, the clutch biting also seemed to be vague. Can the clutch disengagement point adjusted DIY?

  • GotToRead Sep 10 2013 @ 08:01pm
    The same car from ten years ago with a different makeup.
    • Fundiver198 Sep 11 2013 @ 08:26pm
      Just because a car use the same engine and transmission as the previous model does not mean, its the ”same car” or a ”makeup”. The 3 generations of Vios are completely different cars with different body panels, underbody etc. And the latest generation offer quite a bit more interior space and also refinement than the first one. And safety since the Vios E did not use to come with dual airbags before. So it is for sure a much better car than the Vios, you could buy 10 years ago.

      I do wish, that Toyota would give it a more modern and fuel efficient engine and automatic transmission. But on the upside, these old 1,3 and 1,5 liter units will be as reliable as a wood burning stove, and parts will be cheap and widely available from the aftermarket. And that matters a lot in a market like the Philippines.
      • Kyoichi Sudo Sep 11 2013 @ 09:38pm
        Same engine w/ the same tranny, in other words, it just a makeover. It may be faster than the previous ones, but that's just because of aerodynamics. Toyota even didn't bother to replace the transmission by a 5-speeder or a CVT. That alone makes the Honda City way better than this...
        • Fundiver198 Sep 11 2013 @ 10:29pm
          What defines, when a car is a completely new model, is not engine and transmission, since these are often shared between several models anyway. If we were to follow your line of thinking, then the Fortuner and the Hilux is the same car, because they have the same engines and transmissions. And on the other hand the Fortuner 2,5G is now a completely new car, because it has a new engine.

          Obviously such a definition makes no sence. A car model is new, when the body and underbody is changed from the previous model other than just cosmetic parts like a new grill. And introduction of new engines and transmissions is often carried out independent on the mail model cycle. Like the new engine in the Fortuner 2,5G. Or the new 1,5 liter engine in the facelifted Ford Fiesta. Or the new 1,6 liter engine and 6-speed MT, which the Corolla received at its last facelift.

          If you prefer the Honda City, thats up to you, and I have no intention to argue with it. But its not fair to claim, the new Vios is not a new and better car than the previous one, just because engines and transmissions are carried over from the last model. It sure is.

          I completely agree with Niky, that the 1,3E is the obvious choise for families. And with a manual transmission, which I would always prefer in a small car, the Vios is not really behind most of its competitors, when it comes to engines and transmissions.

          Yes the 1,3 liter is a bit down on hp compared to most competitors including the Honda. But for non-turbocharged engines hp comes so high up the rev-band, it is largely irrelevant during normal driving. What is important is low-mid range torque and the weight of the car.

          Toyota petrol engines are still some of the best for puddling around town with less than 1.500 revs on the engine, when acceleration is finished. This safes fuel and makes the daily commute through city traffic more relaxed, because you can sometimes stay in 1 gear higher, than you could with a less flexible engine. And for a lot of car buyers, thats a lot more important than a theoretical headline hp figure of 85 against 100 or whatever number, other manufacturers can come up with for their 1,3 or 1,4 liter engines.

          For the record the 1,3, which Toyota use in Europe, is a later generation and produce 100 hp. But again in daily drive, I dought you can feel much difference from the 85 hp engine offered in ASEAN markets. And the latter is probably more tolerable to bad fuel, low octane etc. Which matter in ASEAN markets.
          • Fundiver198 Sep 11 2013 @ 10:42pm
            To qualify my point:

            Vios 1,3 E - 85 hp - 122 nm torque - 1075 kg
            City 1,3 S - 100 ph - 127 nm torque - 1095 kg

            Unless you are above appr. 5.000 rpm, the Vios will for all intends and purpose accelerate as quickly as the City despite being 15% down on max power.

            • GotToRead Sep 11 2013 @ 10:52pm
              Well, given. Not exactly the same. But come on? Same engine and transmission? Yes, it grew bigger, it became more refined, and honestly I think it's a good looking and reliable car but can't Toyota do something more "appropriate" in calling this car "all-new". It's not a bad car but 10 years after, Toyota can really give this car a much more compelling improvement.
              • Fundiver198 Sep 12 2013 @ 12:22am
                I agree, that as one of the worlds largest carmakers, Toyota could have higher ambitions for its best selling models than this very gradual evolution, we see in the Vios and Corolla etc. Apart from hybrid technology, which is still a really small niche in the market, other car makers are way ahead of Toyota in offering new technology to their customers.

                So Toyota is for sure not the most exciting or innovative car brand in the world. But in a market as the Philippines, simple and reliable technology is a very strong selling point, because it makes a lot of sence. So in all likelyhood Toyota will continue to be the best selling brand here for a long time to come.

                In short whats the point in having something very advanced and clever, if it breaks down all the time, and the local mechanic dont know how to fix it, or it cost a fortune to have fixed? Thats why a lot of people here settle for a Toyota. Because it just sort of work and do its job of bringing you and the family from point a to point b :-)
              • Niky Tamayo
                Niky Tamayo Sep 12 2013 @ 09:54am
                Well, if you check out the news page, there's a good reason to keep the 1.3:


                That translates to a possible 23-25 km/l on the highway outside of eco-run conditions. In the US, the media complain about the carried over motors, but most customers still value the fuel efficiency of Toyota's current gasoline engine range.
              • GotToRead Sep 12 2013 @ 11:48am
                Retaining old engine and car tech spawns both good and bad image for Toyota, and I honestly think that Toyota is playing it safe too much. Good, because it is reliable, parts are readily available, mechanics can fix it easier, fuel economy is the same or even a bit better but that also makes Toyota's image stale.
              • Fundiver198 Sep 14 2013 @ 06:48pm

                It would be more interesting, if that ecorun featured different cars, so we could at least make a relative comparison, even the figures themselfes will never be acheived in normal driving.

                I am quite sure the new 3-cylinder 1,2 liter engine from Mitsubishi have significantly higher fuel efficiency than Toyotas old 1,3 liter 4-pot. And their power output is not that different. Not to mention the much more powerfull 1,0 liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine from Ford.....

                So the 1,3 liter engine is not exactly revolutionary in anyway. But I agree, that for a lot of car buyers it will do just fine. At least at 55 peso gasoline. At 70 or 80 I think it might be a different story, and that time might come sooner, than any of us would hope.
    • Niky Tamayo
      Niky Tamayo Sep 11 2013 @ 08:32pm
      Not exactly the same. Much improved in some ways, and definitely more comfortable than the Vios of ten years ago. Heck... the first Vios feels like a matchbox compared to this car. This Vios is actually wider, taller and longer in the wheelbase than all 20th Century Corollas. Even the Big Body. All the old Corollas had over the Vios was the extra length in the federalized bumpers and the engine bay.

      The Vios is now officially the new Corolla. :p Only prettier. The new Corolla, on the other hand, is bigger than the Corona. :p
  • Josh Miranda Sep 10 2013 @ 08:12pm
    Still the perfect choice for first time car buyers and for family use, and the "safe" choice as well. :)
  • vgpena Sep 10 2013 @ 08:30pm
    I would very much prefer a comparison test between this and it's direct competitors because it gives a better idea for buyers which subcompact they should buy for their specific needs.

    I know that no matter what the outcome TGP will get flake from fans but any chance TGP will put a 3-way (or maybe even a 5-way!) comparison test for this segment? Please say yes :D
    • Niky Tamayo
      Niky Tamayo Sep 10 2013 @ 09:15pm
      Five-ways are hard to do, but that's a splendid idea. I don't think the schedules will ever permit it, but who knows...
      • vgpena Sep 10 2013 @ 09:53pm
        You could actually turn that into your cover feature if it's a 5-way. You did something similar to that before in August 2011 issue where you featured the Mercedes C200, Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Cruze Diesel and the Suzuki Swift. That was for an Eco run. This 5-way (or 4-way or 3-way) would actually be a more practical choice since these cars will belong to the same segment (affordable subcompact sedans) instead of fuel economy (who considers a C200, Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Cruze Diesel and the Suzuki Swift at the same time when they're choosing a new car anyway?).

        You don't even need to feature a winner, you could instead have a list of Pros and Cons (they don't need to be equal numbers like Botchi's RCWC section that features 3 pros and 3 cons for each) for each model and have multiple editors have their personal picks of the bunch that way you don't end up looking biased.
        • Josh Miranda Sep 10 2013 @ 10:14pm
          thats a very interesting cover and topic! cant wait to have an issue of TPG that will tackle very detailed comparisons of leading cars here in the country! it will be very interesting, educative, and of course, first timers will know everything about the car before they plan to buy.
      • Josh Miranda Sep 10 2013 @ 11:01pm
        5 ways will include NISSAN ALMERA 1.5 MT, HONDA CITY 1.5 A/T, ELANTRA 1.6 MT, TOYOTA VIOS 1.5 MT and MAZDA 2. What a discussion.
        • vgpena Sep 12 2013 @ 12:14am
          I would drop the Elantra for the Accent (the Elantra is one class above afterall) and the Mazda 2 for the Ford Fiesta since they share platforms anyway with the Ford being the more popular in the market today. The Almera could also be switched out for the Kia Rio but even I am unsure about that.

          I would also pick all the top gas trims in sedan form to keep things as equal as possible.
          • 17Sphynx17 Sep 12 2013 @ 09:16am
            Agree on this. And maybe if they do cinoarem the Fiesta would already have the Ecoboost in it. =)

            By the way, I haven't really heard anything but do you guys think they will eventually have a Dual VVt-i engine on the Vios? Just curious because they eventually managed to do that for the Altis 4 pot right which was a 1.6? I am curious here only.

  • Josh Miranda Sep 10 2013 @ 08:34pm
    Based on this statement "There are more exciting and better-loaded cars at this P800,000 price point.", what other car would you suggest for first time buyers that has a 800K?
    • Niky Tamayo
      Niky Tamayo Sep 10 2013 @ 09:18pm
      At the mid-800 range, you've got the fully-loaded (with leather and an automatic) Honda City, the new Ford Fiesta (Sport, with leather), the base Elantra, the diesel Accent, the ever-loveable Mazda2 and the space-oddity Jazz. All pretty swell to drive, in their own way.
      • Josh Miranda Sep 10 2013 @ 09:25pm
        No offense but, I would not spend my money on American and Korean car. I agree with Mazda 2, City and Jazz. Any other Japanese car that is competitive in this segment? :)
        • Niky Tamayo
          Niky Tamayo Sep 10 2013 @ 11:07pm
          Have not driven the Almera yet, so I can't say what it's like. The Vios has a nicer exterior and interior, but the Almera is big.

          The Fiesta is about as American as I am. In other words, that's what it says on the certificate, but it's a product of European engineering and Japanese and European drivetrain development (shares basic engine architecture with Mazda)... and it's made in Thailand.

          Koreans... well... there's a reason the Santa Fe has one of the highest resale values in the US...
        • elxdv Sep 10 2013 @ 11:44pm
          My mindset was also like josh miranda before having bought a Korean car, I thought all japanese cars are competitive but then i have realized that most Korean cars nowadays have greatly improved even beter than to some of their japanese counterparts. I think it's really good for the costumers because now we have even more choices of great and reliable cars. By the way the first car I bought was a Toyota vios and never had a complain although resale value is low until I upgraded to a Hyundai which I really enjoyed driving and also never had a complain. I agree with sir Niky Sta. Fe has one of the highest resale values in the US. Honda Jazz is also a great little 'big' car.
        • Fundiver198 Sep 11 2013 @ 07:48pm
          Ford have for decades developed and built cars in Europe as well as in the US. Ford Europe used to have their own completely different model lineup with cars like the Capri, Sierra, Mondeo, Escort, Focus, Fiesta etc., which were sold only in Europe.

          In recent years Ford has adopted a “one world one car” concept with the current Fiesta being the first such “global” model, which is sold in basically the same form all over the world. And it was developed by Ford Europe, because, well, the Fiesta has been sold in Europe in various shapes and forms for about 3 decades. Whereas the current Fiesta is the first one ever to be also produced and offered in the US. So if anything the Fiesta is for sure a european car not an american one.

          Likewise the current Kia Rio hatchback was developed in Europe by european engineers and designers, some of whom used to work for Volkswagen. So is it a korean or a european car? Not easy to say. And does it really matter?

          All the large carmakers are increasingly becoming global companys with production facilities and in some cases also development taking place in many different regions of the world. So today you have to judge the individual product being offered and look at things like after market service as well. You cant base an informed buying decision simply on, where the car marked was originally founded or has its head office.

          Almost no “Japanese” cars sold in the Philippines are actually produced in Japan. Most are produced within the ASEAN area, typically in Thailand or Indonesia. Or in the Philippines itself. Ford used to have a big production facility in Philippines also, but it was shut down a few years ago.
  • Haggar Sep 14 2013 @ 03:06am
    This is an incredibly lazy move by Toyota. An industry giant of their size has oodles of trickle down technology. Just like how the flashy stuff in a BMW 7 series ends up in the 3 series 5-10 years down the road. At the very least they could have thrown in a CVT instead of the old 4-speed. Toyota already developed one for the Camry and it's going into the next gen US spec Corolla. How hard could it be to tweak it a bit further to fit into the Vios?
    • Niky Tamayo
      Niky Tamayo Sep 14 2013 @ 09:30am
      The CVT was already in the 2.0 Corolla, locally. I think there might be problems with the size and weight of the transmission, since it's built to handle a lot of torque.

      Five or six speeds would be nice, but Toyota has to watch costs on their small cars to sell here. Note that Hyundai and Kia have six speed autos in the US, but sell only four speed autos here.
      • Niky Tamayo
        Niky Tamayo Sep 14 2013 @ 09:31am
        Referring to the Rio and Accent, of course.
      • Haggar Sep 15 2013 @ 01:13am
        Sorry Niky, but that's like saying we should also be grateful the Vios comes with standard stereo and air-conditioning. That Honda City you tested 2 months back had a 5 speed AT. Ford's Fiesta and Chevy Sonic has 6 speed ATs. Mitsubishi even puts a CVT in their dirt cheap Mirage. So I have a hard time believing Toyota has to make do with their old 4 speed to make ends meet. Or if that is the case, Toyota needs to stop allocating all their budget to external design
        • Niky Tamayo
          Niky Tamayo Sep 15 2013 @ 12:40pm
          The thing is, even with a 4AT, the Vios matches or beats those cars in terms of economy (though not performance). The one car that could demolish it previously was the Honda GD with the CVT... but the GE's five speed is not quite as good. The Sonic 6AT and Fiesta 6DCT are good, but those are heavy cars, and it shows in the numbers.

          If you can still hang, there's not much reason to change... yet. Of course, if Toyota wants to maintain its reputation for economy into the next decade, it'll need to step up the game a bit. I think the big threats in terms of the FE game are the Accent diesel, the Mirage CVT and the Almera CVT. But those are still outliers in terms of sales compared to the Vios.
  • chongky Sep 16 2013 @ 09:39pm
    how did you compute for the gas consumption? do you guys like just read it form the on board computer or do you guys do it manually?
    • Niky Tamayo
      Niky Tamayo Sep 18 2013 @ 11:18pm
      A little bit of both. Personally, I calibrate it on one or two trips, then observe the meter the rest of the time, adjusting for how far off it was on those trips.

      (Long winded explanation follows!)

      Typically, on-board meters are off by around 3%.

      It's more accurate to use the odometer and full-tank to full-tank method. But the odometer on some cars is up to 3% off (best I've seen is 0.5-1%), and refills are sometimes off by about a liter or so. Even if you use the same pump. This can be due to fuel sloshing in the filler neck, early pump cut-off due to a kinky hose or even hot fuel being pumped back into the tank from the fuel rail when you turn off the engine. That /- 1 liter error is FRUSTRATING when you're testing economical cars and only have fifty kilometers and an hour to do your test run. And even if you can use up a full tank, that's still a 2% error on the refill plus the 1-3% error at the odometer. Crazy, huh? :D

      Worse if you're trying to accurately measure eco-run results. We've found that if you try to completely top-off-the tank, you can load several liters above full. And then, wait half-an-hour for the gas to settle, you can put several more. There are kinks, reserves and bubbles in some gasoline systems that are impossible to fill.

      The only way to get reasonably accurate economy (within 1%) is to average out a dozenn full tanks depleted COMPLETELY, and to fill up the tank at the exact same time of day, exact same pump and with the exact same car condition. And then you have to ensure you get the exact same traffic, too. :p Given we only have four to five days to test, that's impossible to do. I mean, I've tried it that way before, but it's very expensive and time consuming, and in the end, I spent more than what I make writing these things. Besides,

      in my experience, the variance due to quirks of traffic and testing (for example, if the car was driven over Christmas break, during heavy traffic, or in cold months when economy is worse) is bigger than the error level in testing.

      If you'd like to know how the car would do on your particular trip, thankfully, there are a lot of owners' clubs online where you can look and see what people are getting driving around the area you live in. And since they have thousands upon thousands of kilometers to test, you get a much bigger pool of data.
      • Josh Miranda Sep 19 2013 @ 10:52pm
        Crazy! :D
  • lomo13 Sep 16 2013 @ 10:15pm
    the Vios fares badly in metro traffic - 8-10 km/l on bad days, but zooms past 18 km/l in long drives (read: Pampanga / Baguio / Nueva Ecija)
    I had the chance to use 2 vios(es), both company cars, and are well maintained every 5,000 km.
    Was trying to hypermile (with A/C on, minimal luggage) but the best i could manage was 20 km/l on select occasions.
    • Niky Tamayo
      Niky Tamayo Sep 18 2013 @ 11:19pm
      What kind? 1.3s? If you got 20 km/l including provincial roads and the climb to Baguio, that's pretty darn good.
      • lomo13 Sep 19 2013 @ 09:56am
        both 1300s, an E and a J. the 18 km/l results were easily achieved, the 20 km/l were chamba i think, and the runs were really boring, and tiring for the brain- maintaining 70-90 km on stretches, coasting (in gear). and the conditions had to be right: car was fresh from PMS, tires inflated to 35 psi (cold), drafting on NLEX and SCTEX (i strongly advise against this), minimal luggage, one passenger.
        the 20 km/l Baguio run was achieved 2 times only, i think. the rest was steady at 18 km/l. and i did this with regularity - every 2 weeks for 2 years.
  • codemonkey23 11 months ago
    hindi na 6X9 speakers sa likod :(
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