In October last year, Toyota Motor Philippines introduced the new Veloz variant of its popular Avanza MPV. It had the same 1.5-liter engine and transmission as the top-of-the-line G AT variant, except that the newcomer had some sporty aesthetic tweaks as part of the package. At the time of launch, it cost P1,025,000.
Judging by the comments on social media, most of you weren't too enthused about a considerable price bump (P67,000 more than the G AT at the time) for a new look. Many asked why they wouldn't introduce a new engine or diesel variant instead. With the advent of the new excise tax, the Veloz is now even pricer at P1,065,000.
So, is the new styling worth it? Here are some observations we gathered after a week of driving it to help you draw your own conclusion.
1) It's a conversation starter. I've been fortunate enough to have sports cars and luxury sedans parked at my garage at home as part of my job. Those models turned heads around my subdivision, sure, but it never went beyond a glance. With the Veloz, however, I had a few neighbors come up and say, "Ito na ba yung bagong Avanza? Pogi!" throughout my loan period. Is it because the Avanza is a popular mass market model so people felt more comfortable asking about it? Or were they just that impressed with the Veloz's look? It's tough to say, but the outcome speaks volumes.
2) The new look is refreshing. The biggest aesthetic knock on the Avanza (at least for me) is that it always seemed like a less interesting version of the Innova. It looked enough like the larger MPV, but with less thought put in to the design and details. The current generation is a big improvement over the last one, but the comparisons still lingered for me. The Veloz, with its black grille and sporty flares and bumpers, actually refreshes the Avanza's appeal when you look at it in a parking lot. Yes, Toyota has since launched the Innova Touring Sport, but the Veloz still stands on its own as a unique-looking variant that's pleasing to the eyes.
3) The Mica Red Metallic shade grows on you. Of all the colors out there, I've always found that black and red shades lose their appeal the quickest. Black because even a slight breeze will get it dusty and dirty, and red because the novelty of the way the color pops wears off the more you look at it. Thankfully, the new Mica Red Metallic paint actually grew on me the longer I drove the MPV. Maybe because it's a subdued red so it doesn't pop as much as other crimson shades, but I appreciated the way the color looked even in low light.
4) The all-black interior is soothing to the eyes. The regular Avanza's interior is alright. In fact, the controls are laid out sensibly and the dashboard has a nice flow to it. But the contrast between the black and beige trim can feel a bit jarring at times, especially when the sunlight shines unevenly within the cabin. The Veloz's all-black interior is much more soothing to look at on a long drive. No sudden changes in color that throw you off. Dark colors are more relaxing to look at, after all.
5) It's still the same Avanza. Looks aside, it's still the same mass-market MPV as before. If you already like the Avanza for its interior space and ride comfort, you get the same here. If you feel that it's underpowered and lacking in features, then don't expect anything different in the Veloz.
Now, do you think these factors mean that the Veloz is worth the extra thousands of pesos? Share your thoughts below.