Under the tagline 'This is not the Vios you know. This is the all-new Toyota Vios', the fourth generation model is a very much transformed vehicle.
The four-door family sedan comes with a stylish fastback-like design language, higher levels of upmarket feel along with more safety and innovative driving features.
It will be available in the advanced G and value deal E grades with estimated on-the-road without insurance in Peninsular Malaysia prices of RM96,000 and RM90,000 respectively.
Last week, the local media had given an opportunity to test the new Vios in Langkawi, Kedah.
Compared with the out-going third generation model which has been available locally since 2013, the new Vios, which is built on the Daihatsu New Global Architecture (DNGA) platform, is bigger and roomier.
In comparison with the previous generation, the new Vios has a length of 4,425mm which is 5mm longer, a width of 1,740mm (+10mm) and a height of 1,480mm (+5mm).
The wheelbase gets a jump of 70mm over that in the old Vios to 2,620mm while the wheel size is also increased to the 17-inch type from 16- and 15-inch offered previously.
The front, which comes with sharp looking integrated automatic LED head and daytime running lights along with a bolder grille, projects more presence now.
Quarter windows have also been added to the C-pillars to make them slim and exude an elegant look.
At the rear, the lights are also LED with the G grade getting sequential turning lights.
However, luggage space is down to 475 litres from 509 litres.
In addition, the new Vios also gets black attachments at the sides of the front and rear bumpers to aid aerodynamics.
The front attachments also divert some on-rushing air to cool the front brakes.
Powering the new Vios is the improved 1.5-litre 2NR-VE DOHC Dual VVTi engine that has been tuned for fuel efficiency and better throttle response with a tad lower output at 106PS (-1PS) with maximum torque of 138Nm (-2Nm) while a new seven-speed continuously variable transmission (CVT ) with Sequential Shiftmatic is used.
The interior is more premium than before with soft-touch material along with a nine-inch display audio with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, three USB charging ports, two dashboard retractable cupholders, a wireless smartphone charger in the centre console box, and illuminated scuff plates and front footwells.
Standard items include six airbags, electric power steering, smart entry and push start system, rear air conditioner vents, 3D Panoramic View Monitor (PDM), Pedal Misoperation Control, Blindspot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Emergency Stop Signal, Anti-lock Braking System, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Hill-Start Assist, Parking Clearance Sonar, front Digital Video Recorder with smartphone connectivity, and acoustic windshield glass to cut down outside noises.
Also thrown in are premium security and solar film, 24SEVEN Road Assist and three years of free subscription for the Toyota Vehicle Telematics System which monitors the car’s location.
The new Vios also gets the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) which offers Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention and Front Departure Alert across both variants.
The G grade gets additional TSS features such as Lane Keeping Control, Auto High Beam and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Other additional items for the G grade include all-around disc brakes, rain-sensing wipers, piano black front grille, paddle shifters, seven-inch TFT multi-information display, 64-colour ambient lighting, electric parking brake with auto hold function, and seats, steering wheel and gear shifter knob in leather.
However, there is no spare tyre but a tyre repair kit is available.
All test units were the top G grade variant as UMW Toyota Motor wanted to show the full features of the latest Vios and proclaim its arrival as a serious player in its hotly-contested segment.
Although there were some initial concerns that the bigger Vios might not be as fun to drive due to a slightly less powerful engine tuned for fuel efficiency, all fears were allayed once we got behind the steering wheel and hit the start button.
While dimensionally bigger, the latest Vios G grade weighed 1,035kg and is 110kg lighter than the same previous generation variant, and this played well to improve the new model's driving performance.
Floor the accelerator and power cuts in smoothly through the CVT to provide a satisfying level of oomph.
Riding on front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam set up for comfort and nimble driving, the suspension felt refined and was able to soak up the bumps and potholes of Langkawi rural roads.
Even when driving fast on winding roads, the Vios which was fitted with 205/50R17 tyres felt planted with minimal body roll and never stayed from the intended driving line to inspire driving confidence.
The all-around disc brakes with a lighter kerb weight combination easily allowed the Vios to have better stopping distance when we compared it against a heavier 1.5-litre competitor that had 185/60R15 tyres and a front disc and rear drum set-up.
The good sound insulation, among them the acoustic windscreen glass, also helped in delivering a quieter drive at high speeds.
Adding to passenger comfort are well-padded seats along with enough head, shoulder and leg room for all.
All-new Vios project executive chief engineer Hideyuki Kamino said the latest model was designed with comfort, upmarket feel and fuel economy in mind.
The new model now delivers a consumption of 5.2 litres of fuel per 100km compared with 5.9 l/100km achieved by the previous generation.
Moves to improve fuel efficiency include reducing the vehicle weight with greater usage of the stronger but lighter ultra-high strength tensile steel, removing the rear seat folding mechanism which saved 10kg of weight as well as introducing a hump at the rear passenger floor to maintain floor strength and saving 4kg of weight as a result.
Available in five colours including the new Spicy Scarlet, the Vios also gets a 5-year warranty and unlimited mileage.