Review: 2023 Toyota Vios (AC100) - A quantum leap, but not without hiccups
Shaun · Mar 22, 2023 09:30 AM
Prior to the launch of the all-new 2023 Toyota Vios (Specs | News), we were given the opportunity to experience the car in Langkawi. So, what’s it like?
Overview: 2023 (AC100) Toyota Vios
RM 89,600 (1.5E), RM 95,500 (1.5G)
1.5L NA 4-cylinder
106 PS @ 6,000 rpm
138 Nm @ 4,200 rpm
CKD, Bukit Raja
2023 Toyota Vios - Exterior
Let’s start with the exterior. The 2023 Toyota Vios has grown slightly in length (+5 mm), wider (+10 mm), and height (+5 mm) but the more substantial growth is the wheelbase, now measuring 2,620 (+70 mm).
The front-end gives off a ‘mini Camry’ vibe from the sharp LED headlamps and the large front grille with horizontal slats. It does look better in the flesh than in photos. But the highlight here is the fastback design with its sweeping C-pillar.
Executive Chief Engineer, Hideyuki Kamino, was asked during an informal setting on the reasoning behind the design choice, to which he replied, “It’s cool!” Anyone still adamant that Toyota is a boring company?
2023 Toyota Vios - Interior
Moving inside, the interior makes a radical departure from its predecessor. Ergonomics have improved, with a raised centre console that places the gear lever and buttons closer to the driver’s reach, though the flipside is that the high console does make it feel less spacious at the front.
There’s finally telescopic adjustment (in the range-topping 1.5G variant), so taller drivers will have less trouble finding a comfortable driving position.
Perceived level of quality has also taken a step up. There are plush materials on the middle section of the dashboard, door cards, and parts of the centre console. It adds a level of premium-ness that was absent in its predecessor.
The front seats are incredibly comfortable, with just the right amount of bolstering and support.
More praiseworthy items include the 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports wireless connection for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear air-conditioning vents, full digital instrument cluster that’s customisable, and Qi wireless charger. These will satisfy the even the most tech-demanding demographics.
However, there is a but coming. Several actually, and you’ve probably read or heard about most of them. Yes, the rear seats are no longer foldable. Yes, there is no spare tyre. And yes, there is no armrest at the rear.
To add on to those, the floor is no longer flat at the rear unlike its predecessor and the sloping roofline eats into headroom. All these mean that it’s not a particularly comfortable affair to be seated at the rear, comparatively to the front seats.
Another aspect that some might find less appealing is the familiar switchgear that you’ll find in recent Peroduas – the gear lever, steering wheel, buttons, and even the digital instrument cluster.
But if you ask me, I’d happily take this arrangement with the added premium touches around cabin over the predecessor’s rather drab interior.
2023 Toyota Vios - Driving Experience
Let’s move on to the driving experience. The 2023 Toyota Vios sits on the Daihatsu New Global Architecture (DNGA) platform and overall weight is up to 110 kg less than before. Increased chassis rigidity and weight reduction always lead to good things in the driving department.
Immediately, the lack of mass is apparent from the moment you set off. It may have lost a smidge of power, but the diet more than makes up for the deficit in output numbers. It picks up speed with greater ease than before, and even shedding speed feels more effortless.
The sprightliness is also apparent in how it steers. The 2023 Toyota Vios feels more nimble and yet remarkably surefooted in fast direction changes. Grip level has gone up with less tendency to understeer, thanks in part to the 205/50 R17 Continental PremiumContact C rubbers.
There’s not much in the way of steering feedback, as expected from an electric-assisted steering. But its response is linear and the ratio is quicker than before, making it a little more direct. Steering weightage, from memory, feels lighter than its predecessor, which reduces steering effort.
The new transmission, which is essentially the Dual mode CVT or D-CVT, feels at its most refined in this application alongside the Veloz and by extension the Alza.
There are no unintentional lurches when accelerating from a standstill and builds engine revs intuitively as your right foot commands.
The rubber band effect can still be felt on occasions, but such is the nature of CVTs. Also a trait of CVT is the characteristic whine when pushed, though that is par for the course in this segment.
Where is the powertrain is truly at its best is when driven in calm manner. No erratic throttle inputs, just smooth and constant pressure on the accelerator pedal. Everything settles down and the driving experience becomes perhaps the most soothing one in its segment.
2023 Toyota Vios - Ride Comfort
Overall noise levels are kept low, except during hard acceleration when the powertrain makes its presence known. There's acoustic windshield to keep exterior noise out and foam-filled sections of the chassis to minimise both noise and vibration.
The previous-generation Vios was already a quiet car to travel in, the 2023 Toyota Vios just takes it up a notch. How much quieter? Stay tuned for our instrumented tests when we get the car for an extended drive.
Ride quality is equally impressive. It’s supple enough to give the sense of “waftiness” on larger undulations and firm enough to provide control and limit unwanted movements. There’s plenty of suspension travel to absorb just about anything the road throws at it – always composed and never gets unsettled.
The 2023 Toyota Vios has made a quantum leap forward in terms of features, interior presentation and quality, and driving dynamics. But it has also made some concessions, particularly in the rear section of the cabin with less headroom, no armrest, and no folding rear seats.
It’s a bit of a ‘two steps forward, one step back’ situation. Which means as a buyer, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to make those compromises. Bachelors, couples, and younger families are more likely to gravitate toward a yes.
If you do and you’ve accepted its flaws, the positives will make you an extremely satisfied owner.
The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.