Readers may remember that last December, UMW Toyota Motor announced that it was developing a TRD variant in collaboration with TRD Asia, the Bangkok-based subsidiary of Toyota Racing Development which is the motorsports subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation. Now, at long last, the TRD version of the Toyota Vios (Malaysia?s most popular non-national model) is available for the public to buy.
The variant is exclusive to the Malaysian market in that the bodykit was specifically designed and more significantly, other than the badges, all the other parts are locally-made to keep prices down. The tax on plastics is high and many accessories are of this material so to have an acceptable price, UMWT had to get the parts made locally. Of course, the high standards that Toyota is known and trusted for are strictly maintained since the TRD variant is officially in the Vios line-up, replacing the Vios 1.5S as the top variant.
The development of the TRD Vios was motivated by clear evidence that Vios customers want to make their car look more sporty. Many have fitted bodykits themselves, showing the extent of their enthusiasm, and this suggested that there was sales potential in offering a more sporty variant which would have accessories of the same high quality as the rest of the car.
TRD Asia recommended its TRD Sportivo range which is well known in Japan and focuses on aesthetic and aerodynamic parts such as spoilers, side skirts, etc. A selection of accessories was installed on two prototypes for local testing and feedback. As part of the development program, motoring journalists were invited to not only view the prototypes but also drive them at the Sepang Circuit and on public roads. It?s the first time that Toyota has involved the media in such an activity and sources at UMWT say it was very helpful. Additionally, Vios owners were asked for their comments and these too provided guidance to finalise the items.
However, what was not possible was to offer performance parts that would boost engine performance. There are valid reasons for this, mainly to do with warranty issues and legal requirements. Modifying an engine to have a higher power output means that there will be additional stresses and as a responsible manufacturer, Toyota has to ensure that the engine will remain durable. They cannot guarantee this if it is modified in such a manner and this can also have implications on the warranty. On the legal side, some modifications may cause the noise levels to be higher than what is permitted. In fact, one of the prototypes had an exhaust system that improved performance due to lower restriction but it was very loud and was not legal for road use.
Nevertheless, there are two items in the Vios TRD Sportivo which will give it a handling edge over a standard Vios. One is the exclusive alloy wheels, specially made by Enkei, which are 10% lighter than the standard 15-inch alloy wheels. The lower unsprung weight will contribute to handling sharpness.
The other is the optional sports suspension kit which lowers the ride height by 10 mm for greater stability while the gas-filled shock absorbers have been tuned for sporty handling without major sacrifice in ride comfort. A lot of testing was done by TRD Asia in Southeast Asia to get the most suitable settings.
As for the bodykit, the styling is different from what was installed on the prototypes and it is exclusive to Malaysia. The front spoiler, side skirts and rear bumper extension visually lower the car to emphasise its sportiness and the bootlid spoiler sits low so as not to obstruct rearward vision. To distinguish the genuine TRD parts from others in the market, there are badges on the bodykit parts. Other than the bootlid spoiler which is made of hard ABS plastic, the other items are of polyurethane which is softer and therefore less likely to crack when hit by stones.
To match the sporty exterior, the interior has also received some exclusive items such as carbon-fibre patterned inserts on either side and below the centre console (and also on the door armrest panels), and the upholstery is black and red with the TRD Sportivo logo stitched onto the front seats. Likewise for the fabric floormats while the gearknob is also leather-wrapped and there are stainless steel TRD scuff plates on the door sills. Unfortunately, the steering wheel is a standard one because it has an airbag in it and sports steering wheels do not have such a safety device. So for Toyota, it was not acceptable to compromise safety and therefore the standard steering wheel had to be retained.
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The mechanical specifications are the same as that of the Vios 1.5S which means a well-proven 1.5-litre VVT-i engine which produces 80 kW/109 ps of power with 141 Nm of torque. It is only available with a 4-speed Super ECT automatic transmission (gated shifter), something which not all customers of this variant may want. It?s a pity that UMWT felt that there is insufficient demand for a manual ? after all, they do offer a manual transmission with the Vios 1.5J and that has proven a delight to drive so it would be ideal for the TRD Vios.
All the accessories are installed in the assembly plant so fit and finish are as good as the rest of the car. To ensure that the quality is of Toyota?s high standard, every aspect of the accessories ? including the adhesives used ? was thoroughly tested in local conditions and only after meeting Toyota?s approval was it possible to offer the same warranty of 3 years/100,000 kms (whichever comes first). This is something accessory shops which offer similar parts would not be able to give customers.
Six colour choices are available ? Silver Metallic, Coal Black, White, Grey Mica, Bronze Metallic and Medium Silver Metallic, the last one a new colour which is also the ‘signature? colour for the Vios TRD Sportivo.
The TRD Vios Sportivo is priced at RM90,900 in Peninsular Malaysia, RM21,000 more than the cheapest Vios. The sports suspension kit, which can be ordered at the time of purchase, is RM3,150 and comes with all the parts necessary. The good thing about buying this variant is that all the accessories and even the suspension kit can be included in the H-P loan so you can pay for it over many years. No accessory shop would allow you to pay for a bodykit over 6 or 7 years!
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For further information about the Vios TRD Sportivo or other Toyota models, visit www.toyota.com.my or call the Toyota Freephone at 1800-8-869682.
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