Was it the quirky looks? These are reasons why the Toyota Sienta wasn't popular in Malaysia
Eric · Jul 21, 2021 10:48 AM
Let’s face it, when it comes to MPV selection in Malaysia, the Toyota Sienta isn’t likely to be the default choice for many. Malaysians would rather stick to more popular models such as the Toyota Wish or Honda Stream.
And that is also the reason why the Toyota Sienta was relatively short-lived in Malaysia, having lasted on sale from 2016 to 2019, which was also the year Toyota launched the facelifted Sienta – a model that Malaysians did not get.
On paper at least, the Sienta has all the right ingredients to be successful in Malaysia, including a proven 1.5-litre engine, LED headlights, power sliding doors, and stability control. Yet, even with that feature set, sales of the Sienta in Malaysia were average at best.
Why was the Sienta not well received? There are a few reasons, but the main reason is likely its quirky looks.
Like the Honda Freed before it, the Toyota Sienta was developed with Japan in mind. While the Sienta’s looks are acceptable by Japanese standards, over in Malaysia, it’s quite the opposite.
The Sienta’s quirky looks, including its teardrop trim piece under the head and tail lights and sport shoe-like side profile definitely stood out like a sore thumb against traditional car-based MPVs that still dominate the minds of local buyers like the Wish or Stream. Furthermore, the unconventional dashboard design also did not wow potential buyers.
Apart from its quirky looks, another reason for the Sienta’s flop is because many Malaysians aren’t aware of the benefits of having sliding doors.
Imagine carrying your child in one hand, and the little one’s bag of stuff in the other hand. With an SUV or any hinged door vehicles, you need to grab the door handle and use your back to push the door open and squeeze yourself into the tight opening.
However, with an MPV with sliding doors, in this case the Sienta, you just need to pull the handle and the door slides open, revealing a large enough opening for you to put your kid into a child seat while you stand comfortably.
A taller SUV does not make matters any easier, frankly. For families with elder relatives and young children, climbing in and out of an SUV can get tiring after a while.
Other that than, the lack of the Sienta’s popularity can also be due to the fact that it only bundles three airbags (including a driver knee airbag) – there are no side and curtain airbags here. Quite an oversight, considering that the Sienta is aimed at families.
Due to the presence of two sliding doors, the Sienta tips the scale at 1,350 kg – considerably heavier than rivals like the Honda BR-V (1,260 kg to 1,269 kg). Couple that kerb weight and its 107 PS engine, power-to-weight ratio of the Sienta isn’t spectacular by any means. Sufficient would be the best way to describe the Sienta’s power delivery.
Those who gave the Sienta a chance would have find a very practical cabin with numerous storage locations, as well as surprisingly good ride comfort. Furthermore, the Sienta's party trick is its trick third-row seats, which is a "dive-in" type, stored underneath the second-row seats – vastly better than the BR-V or even the Rush.
Curiously however, while not many people bought a brand-new Sienta, it’s quite the opposite for used units. A quick check on Carsome’s listings indicate that prices of a used Sienta are hovering between RM 60,000 to RM 70,000 – indicating that used Sientas can hold their value well, even for a 5-year-old car.
As such, even though a brand-new Sienta is out of the question, a used unit might still be worth considering, especially for those upgrading from older MPVs like the Perodua Alza.