Most reliable CVT ever? All-new AC100 2023 Toyota Vios held up to 25 hours of endurance racing
Sanjay · Mar 18, 2023 10:00 AM
Putting an automatic car on the racetrack sounds controversial enough, but say it has a CVT and things get rather heated. Cooling down is recommended.
But this CVT didn't need any of that. Enter team Toyota Gazoo Racing Motorsport Thailand's 2023 AC100 Toyota Vios (sold as the Yaris Ativ there), which completed the 2022 Idemitsu 25-Hour Super Endurance Race last December with nary a tow truck in sight.
Racing in Division 5 – a class populated with rivals like the Honda Jazz, Honda City, Honda Brio, Suzuki Swift, and older Vios – it did pretty well to finish 7th in its category. Overall, car #515 placed number 30 on the grid.
Frame it in the context of endurance, and that's where this little Vios that could really impresses. It circled Chang International Circuit for 595 laps, roughly equivalent to 2,975 km (one lap is 5 km), with an elapsed time of 25 hours, 2 minutes and 11 seconds.
With an average speed of 108 km/h, the sedan was notably slightly faster than several burlier competitors: such as Honda CR-Zs and Civics, as well its own more powerful stablemate, the Corolla Altis.
Remember, this is a car that's damn near plucked off the showroom, given a fancy paintjob and sent to the track. It's even got a full interior! Devoid of some trim and passenger seats yes, but the air-cond panel is still on, the dashboard is intact, and the headunit is in place too.
We weren't made privy to its specifications, though typically the Vios/Yaris Ativ used in their one-make races are quite close to stock, save for minimal suspension, tyre, brake, and exhaust upgrades.
Assuming no wrenching has been done under the hood, this Vios outputs 94 PS and 110 Nm from its 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated engine, but given its performance we won't put it past that it has been fettled with a bit. However note that that's a Thailand-specific mill; built to satisfy their stringent EcoCar regulations.
Ours will net a more powerful 106 PS/138 Nm 1.5-litre, as has always been the story. It will launch here on 20-March 2023.
One more thing, car #519 was quite literally the rose among the thorns: all 6 drivers piloting the Vios that weekend were women; themselves participants of TGR Thailand's Yaris Lady One Make Race series.
Though it may seem slightly pointless to field an almost-pedestrian Vios to swap paint with purpose-built racers, sometimes the goal isn't just winning.
Toyota believes racing brings certain challenges and data that help the development of their everyday cars, hence this build-and-break mentality that they extend to their hydrogen GR Corolla and synthetic fuel GR86.
So now you know a bit of the development that goes behind arguably the most widely-used CVT in our part of the world. Genting? Won't even begin to break its sweat.
With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.