Toyota TRD Vios

Story by Harvinder Sidhu

Toyota recently let us sample some cars from its Toyota TRD Vios Project where the company fitted their Toyota VIos sedan with a few TRD Sportivo accessories to spice it up a little. TRD Sportivo is essentially a fully factory warranty compliant set of accessories and are not the same as TRD accessories.

There are a few cars which we tested but they mainly fall into two levels of spec – the TRD Sportivo car which is what we’ll see introduced on the road soon and a more track-oriented setup that is much nearer to the Vios One Make Race car. The TRD Sportivo Vios comes with Tein shock absorbers and springs made to TRD specs. The TRD Sportivo springs lower the car 10mm at the front and 15mm at the rear. There is also a TRD exhaust and a TRD radiator cap which is supposed to have a higher rating of 1.3 bar.

Slalom Test – Brown-green Vios with auto transmission

Toyota TRD Vios

After the briefing, I got behind the wheel of a standard automatic Toyota Vios, which was slightly upgraded with a TRD Sportivo kit and treated to a ‘chameleon’ body colour to kick start the first test event of the day; the slalom test. In this segment, I had to maneuver the Vios through cones which were aligned to make up an extremely short track. Basically this was to put the Vios’ handling in extremely tight cornering conditions to the test.

Reaching speeds of up to 80 km/h, I managed to steer the car through a sharp right-left chicane, then a tight left hairpin which led to a “round-a-bout” and lastly, to steer the Vios through a set of cones adjacently aligned to each. As I got into the car and adjusted my seating position which proved to be a little awkward since the steering wheel cannot be tilted upwards enough to my desired height, I thought to my self “hmmm, maybe doing this with a Vios is a bad idea”, but as soon as I started first lap, out of three, I quickly realized at the Vios has some decent stuff going for it in terms of its handling, as long as the 1.5 litre VVT-i engine does not overpower it, which it definitely did not. I was going flat out through the chicane and just had to lift off at the hairpin.

At the “round-a-about” I just had to modulate the throttle and through the adjacent cones, I just had to position my car correctly and apply just enough steering input. The handling wasn’t bad at all! I felt little body roll and controllable under steer however thanks to an upgraded suspension. The only slight difficulty I had was through the adjacent cones however the cones were really close to each other, so I gave the Vios the benefit of doubt.

Track Drive – Brown green Vios with auto transmission

Toyota TRD Vios

The second session was the track drive! Of course this was the event which I was looking forward to the whole day! In the track drive session, which utilized the north track of the Sepang F1 Circuit (main straight, through Turn 1 to Turn 6), I managed to test a Vios with automatic transmission and another with the manual option. First up automatic. Sepang features a very wide track design, so, I was able to push the Vios closer to its limits.

After three laps my conclusion was; good handling! I was actually having fun with the Vios on track. I felt very much in control of the vehicle and it behaved rather well. Although there was not much ‘go’ on the main straight, cornering was rather fun. I was looking forward to test the model fitted with the 5 speed manual.

Track Drive – White Vios with manual transmission

Toyota TRD Vios

After a gradual excitement build-up, I was a little disappointed with my manual Vios’ driving experience. Of course working with a manual transmission on track offers a more exciting drive, but the thing which I got disappointed with, was the gear lever!

The gear lever did not give a slick and precise feel to it, just a lot of free play. The feel was ‘rubbery’ and it did not give a sporty feel. However if we expect Toyota to fulfill every inch of our needs (mine actually), expect a bump on the price tag.

Taxi Ride with Toyota Vios One Make Series race car

Toyota TRD Vios

As the event was coming to a close, we were treated to a taxi ride by a professional race car driver who races in the Toyota Vios One Make Series in Thailand, with of course, his race-prepped Vios. This racing Vios is pretty much a standard model, but features TRD upgrades such as a revised suspension, sports exhaust, a radiator cap with 1.3 bar of pressure resistance, sports air filter and reworked clutch plates. It also has a ‘bare’ interior with FIA spec bucket seats and a full roll cage.

If you ever intend to see a Vios being driven to its limits, you definitely have to get a driver from the Toyota Vios One Make Series to show it to you! The driver was using minimal braking around the corners and really pushed the Vios to the extreme edge. I was really impressed by the car’s handling dynamics and of course of driver’s skill as well.

To be honest I am not a fan of the exterior design of the Vios, but looks can be deceiving and trust me, I was deceived. Although I don’t think the car’s handling will be as good when it is fitted with a much more powerful engine, it definitely has its charms.

Look after the jump for a full gallery of the TRD Vios.

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