We're willing to bet good money that Toyota Motor Philippines will sell a lot of manual variants of its all-new Vios in the months to come. That shouldn't come as a surprise, really. Many of those units will likely be used for company fleets, taxis, or ride-sharing vehicles, and there is still a big demand for stick shifts within those markets.
Shortly after its official launch, Toyota gave us a chance to take the new subcompact sedan up north to La Union. More specifically, we were handed keys to the manual 1.5 G variant. After a few hours behind the wheel, here are our initial impressions of what will likely be a very popular car.
1) The clutch and gearstick are traffic-friendly.
It's a stick, yes, which requires more work to operate in traffic. But the good news is that Toyota has made the new manual Vios as easy as possible to operate. The clutch is supple with a short travel, while the shifter slots in and out of gears with precision. And like the clutch, the shifter has a short throw that ensures less work for your right arm. Even after a long drive in the city and along the highway, we didn't feel the least bit tired, which is a good sign for the professionals who plan to drive these for hours on end.
2) The air-con is a massive improvement.
One of our biggest gripes with the previous Vios was that its A/C lacked the necessary firepower to reach the rear passengers. Upon hopping into the new one, though, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually cold in the driver's seat. In the back, we didn't get the usual warm feeling we get when we get into a Grab. Kudos for listening, Toyota.
3) Stability and ride comfort are also better.
The new Vios features a firmer suspension and better-bolstered seats, which we discussed in our Launch Pad story. This time, though, we got a better feel for the improvements on a longer drive. And just like our first experience, the comfort is indeed much better than it used to be. The ride feels much more stable compared to before, with only big bumps causing us any alarm, while the body roll is manageable when you turn at reasonable speeds.
4) Fuel economy remains steady.
Many have criticized Toyota's decision to keep the engines unchanged in this new model. It's a valid criticism, granted, but we're not complaining over the decision. Our drive from Balintawak to La Union, with its mix of provincial traffic and highway stretches, netted us roughly 15km/L overall. And that was with three passengers and a full trunk in tow. For the record, this variant is equipped with the 1.5-liter engine that puts out 106hp and 140Nm.
5) For better or worse, it's still a Vios.
Our biggest takeaway from our time with the manual Vios is that it's still the same affordable subcompact at its core, albeit with a few improvements. The things that have made the nameplate a bestseller, like its reliability, affordability, and widespread availability of parts, will likely remain for the foreseeable future. That said, the downsides like the cramped rear footwell, noticeable cabin noise, and appliance-like feel are also still present.
What do you guys think? Is this P901,000 manual subcompact on your 2018 wishlist?