It's hard not to say "I told you so", but we absolutely called it. Nearly a year ago, way before the threat of a global pandemic seemed real, we said that 2020 would be the year of the B-segment sedan. And while the recent introductions of the Honda City and Nissan Almera have already proven us right, we've been blessed with even more vindication, this time courtesy of UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT).
As if buying a compact sedan in Malaysia wasn't tricky enough already, the facelifted Toyota Vios has landed to make things just a bit more complicated. It's a surprisingly early update for a model that's barely 18 months old. But Toyota, a brand once associated with the longest shelf lives in the auto industry, isn't one to stay silent while its rivals woo customers away with edgier designs and fancier tech. The fast-tracked facelift of the Toyota Yaris is testament to that competitive spirit. And the updates we've seen in the hatchback didn't waste any time in making their way to UMWT's best-selling product.
Like the Yaris, the Vios now gets a tasteful makeover up front, with a pair of LED headlights being the standout addition that's standard across a range that continues to be made up of three variants; namely J, E and G. The Vios is now bolstered with Toyota Safety Sense features, namely pre-collision system (PCS) and lane departure warning, though these safety extras will likely be reserved for the range-topping model. A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, plus a wireless charger are among the other notable features in the enhanced package. Also new is the eye-catching 'orange metallic' shade pictured.
Since it's essentially the same car as the one we're used to underneath the new make-up, expect the facelfited Vios to soldier on with the familiar 1.5-litre naturally aspirated powertrain with 106hp, 140Nm and a CVT tasked with power delivery to the front wheels. It's not the most exciting thing around if stacked up against the Proton X50's 177bhp turbocharged output or the Honda City RS's torque-rich hybrid powertrain, but it certainly gets the job done for subscribers of fuss-free motoring.
As for prices, UMWT has merely announced 'estimated' figures factoring in the ongoing sales tax exemption that's bound to end come 31 December 2020. Until then, you can expect to purchase a Vios from as little as RM75,701 for the base J model. There's a big jump after, as the Vios E and Vios G are tentatively priced at RM85,674 and RM89,232 respectively. These are on-the-road estimates without insurance, inclusive of Toyota's five-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
Now, what kind of year will 2021 be?