Following the preview of the All-New Toyota Vios at the KL International Motor Show 2018 in November last year, UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd (UMWT), the official distributor of Toyota vehicles in Malaysia, today announces its official introduction and delivery to its customers. There are three variants – Vios 1.5J at RM77,200; Vios 1.5E at RM81,200 and Vios 1.5G at RM87,300 (Peninsular Malaysia prices without insurance).

All the variants have a 7-speed CVT so the question would be: what about the manual transmission option that has always been available? Well, since automatic transmissions started to become popular among Malaysians from the late 1980s, there has been a steady decline in demand for manual transmissions and it has fallen significantly in the past few years. As such, UMWT feels that as demand had become so low, it does not make business sense to continue offering the option.

All variants have only a CVT and a manual transmission option is no longer available.

In fact, this trend of diminishing demand for manual transmission variants was also confirmed by the Deputy Chief Engineer of the new Vios, Akira Kasamatsu. He said that Toyota’s studies of the ASEAN markets show that there is greatly reduced interest in manual transmissions although Toyota won’t be totally stopping it just yet.

Introducing the new Vios today, Ravindran K., President of UMW Toyota Motor, said: “Since the first model was launched in 2003, we have sold almost half a million Vios, making it the most popular in its segment. Over the years, we have set the standard for this vehicle segment and I am pleased to announce that this new model – the third generation Vios – will continue to set the standards for many years to come.”

While this is not regarded as a generation change, the new model is nevertheless quite significantly changed according to Mr. Kasamatsu. Normally, changes at this point in a model’s cycle would be mainly cosmetic with some extra features added to upgrade the specifications but with this new Vios, there are also engineering changes to make the bodyshell more rigid and the suspension also uses new shock absorbers with recalibrated settings for better dynamics as well as ride comfort.

So the new Vios is not just the current model with ‘new clothes’ but something that is substantially changed. In fact, under the ‘skin’, there is more insulation to reduce noise intrusion and attention has been given to lower vibrations too. The result is a quieter car with a smoother ride, which should make long and short journeys more enjoyable.

The Vios continues to be powered by a 1.5-litre Dual VVT-i engine producing 107 ps/140 Nm.

Safety is also as high as it can get for this class of cars as the new model has been rated the maximum of 5 stars by ASEAN NCAP. This applies to all variants – even the lowest priced one – as they all have no less than 7 SRS airbags, Vehicle Stability Control and Hillstart Assist Control. This is a departure from the past where the lowest priced variants would not have the same safety systems as the ones costing more. Presumably, Toyota does not discriminate when it comes to safety.

When another vehicle is nearby in the blind spot, the Blind Spot Monitor will alert the driver by flashing icons.
Digital Video Recorder and electrochromic mirror which dims automatically when there is a bright light shining from behind.

However, for those pay the extra RM10,000 for the Vios 1.5G (compared to the price of the Vios 1.5J), there is a Blind Spot Monitor, Panoramic View Monitor, Front Digital Video Recorder and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, features were previously only available on the larger Toyota models. The Vios 1.5G also gets disc brakes at the rear for better stopping power.

Notable changes inside the car are the redesigned dashboard and instrument panel, new seat upholstery and cushioning, redesigned centre console box, addition of 2 USB charging ports and a cabin lamp for rear occupants, improved/added storage spaces and a fully automatic air-conditioning system for all variants.

The Vios 1.5 G, as the flagship variant, also gets paddle shifters and 16-inch alloy rims as standard, along with an Optitron meter with colour Multi Information Display and DVD-AVX infotainment system with USB mirroring. It’s interesting that Toyota originally developed Optitron meters for use in Lexus models and now they are offered even in a Vios. Other standard features include leather upholstery, electrochromic rear-view mirror and a Drive Mode switch.

Incidentally, the new Vios is the first model to roll out from UMWT’s new manufacturing facility at Kawasan Perindustrian Bukit Raja, Klang, Selangor. Announced a couple of years ago, the factory was completed towards the end of last year and production of the new Vios commenced. It’s the company’s second plant which is dedicated to passenger vehicles, whereas the original one in Shah Alam had mixed production of commercial vehicles and passenger cars.

“UMW Toyota Motor foresees the auto industry in the country having bigger potential in the future. As such, the company has invested approximately RM2 billion in this new high-tech and highly efficient manufacturing plant. It is the company’s vision for the plant to be able to produce more advanced energy-efficient vehicles with high technology and high value in coming years to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers in the future,” said Akio Takeyama, Deputy Chairman of UMW Toyota Motor.

Mr. Takeyama said that it is one of the most modern, most advanced and most efficient Toyota plants in the world, built in line with the Malaysian government’s direction of new vehicle production in the country. “This is the future of Toyota production in Malaysia. The plant is highly automated to ensure high quality vehicles are produced with better efficiency. Many local engineers and technicians were sent to Japan to undergo production training to upgrade their skills to perform at their best at the new plant,” he said.

Visit toyota.com.my for the location of showrooms to view, test and purchase the model.

[Chips Yap]

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