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You must have 2013 Toyota Vios coming out of your ears by now – but here comes more! The car of the hour, also our country’s best-selling passenger car from a non-national brand and one of the most significant vehicles to be launched this year, has put six out of every ten Malaysian B-segment buyers on wheels since its birth in 2003.

Never mind that it isn’t the fastest, nor the most technologically sophisticated, nor the most generously-equipped choice you can make for this kind of money – the fact remains that Toyota clearly has a pretty good idea of what the majority of its target market want, or don’t want. You only have to look around you on the roads to see how many of them there are.

Therefore, in an attempt to study the buying trends of the B segment – which, with around 19,000 cars sold per month, accounts for nearly two-fifths of the Malaysian passenger car market – the Vios is as good a lab specimen as any. We park the just-launched 2013 Toyota Vios and its immediate ‘2012 update‘ predecessor alongside each other, go crazy with the camera and give you a summary of the changes.

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For a start, the all-new sheet metal is pretty obvious. A more angular shape overall makes the third-gen car look bolder, leaner and more athletic than the bulbous second-gen model. The windscreen and rear window are now less steeply-raked, making the side profile look longer.

Available for the first time are projector headlamps (G and TRD Sportivo only), LED DRLs (standard on TRD Sportivo, optional as part of an aerokit on all other variants) and rear fog lamps. All headlamps, including the J and E’s reflectors, now get a manual levelling adjuster.

The 2013 Toyota Vios is 110 mm longer and 15 mm taller overall than the outgoing car, but weighs between 10 and 30 kg less thanks to increased use of high-tensile steel in its structure (56%, compared to 30% previously) and a thinner roof that Toyota says does not compromise on strength.

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New additions that help aerodynamics are a ‘catamaran’-shaped roof, redesigned door mirrors, aero stabilising fins on the tail lamps and the base of the door mirrors, plus smoothened and sealed areas and gaps, including on the underbody. The drag coefficient has been reduced from the old car’s 0.29 to 0.28 as a result.

Making an entry on the new car is a three-layer acoustic windscreen (G and TRD Sportivo only). It also gets a redesigned engine mount, more optimally-positioned insulating materials, an insulation pad on the underside of the bonnet, revised door seals and increased use of asphalt sheets around the floor to improve cabin refinement.

Boosting rigidity is a higher number of spot welds (increased by more than 100) around the door openings and the bulkhead cowl, and the new car’s Impact Absorbing Body Structure features reinforced sides and door beams all round to comply with UN ECE R94 and R95 safety regulations, which took effect in Malaysia from July 2012.

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The stopping distance from 100 km/h has also been shortened from the previous 44.3 metres to 42.4 metres – no doubt mostly due to the weight loss, since the brakes haven’t changed. The suspension, although the same MacPherson-front, torsion beam-rear layout, adds a rear stabiliser to complement the existing front unit.

Yes, the 109 PS/141 Nm 1.5 litre 1NZ-FE four-cylinder engine with VVT-i, the five-speed manual and the four-speed auto aren’t new, but Toyota claims a 5% improvement in fuel consumption over the previous Vios – the new car is, after all, lighter.

Also contributing to the claimed improvement in fuel economy are engine bay components that have been redesigned to be lighter or more compact, including the engine’s air cleaner housing and related parts.

A new, more upscale-looking interior (helped by the Piano Black dimple grain dash trim and the pseudo-stitching?) sees the relocation of the instrument panel from the middle of the dash to behind the steering wheel – itself featuring a new design with new audio buttons.

The old car’s cubbyholes on either side of the centre stack make way for a single console tray with a rubberised surface that’s located more conventionally ahead of the gear lever, and the doors now have three opening stops so as to avoid hitting another car or wall by the side.

A multi-info display is now standard across the range, with the instrument dials on the current TRD Sportivo getting a sporty outlook to differentiate from the rest. Also on the new car but not offered on the old are an Eco light (except J manual) and keyless entry and start (G and TRD Sportivo only).

The front seats have increased seat-to-body contact and thinner backs, yielding 75 mm more legroom and 44 mm more knee room for rear occupants. The horizontal adjustment range of the front seats has been widened from 16 steps at 15 mm intervals to 26 steps at 10 mm intervals, while the driver’s seat has a 15 mm-higher lifter range.

The boot can accommodate up to 506 litres of luggage (J variants, which do not get folding back seats, hold a little over 500 litres). This represents an increase of 31 and 28 litres respectively over the old Vios. The boot opening is also slightly larger, and the sill 21 mm lower, making loading even easier. Remote boot release is now standard across the range.

Folding the 60:40 split rear seats is now done more easily through a push of a button – you had to pull up a knob in the old car to release the seat back catches. A three-point seat belt is now available for the rear occupant in the middle (previously lap belt) and there are now Isofix points for child seats.

Look up and you’ll notice the absence of a central ceiling lamp in the new Vios, when the old car had it. The utility hook has also moved from the back of the front passenger seat to the headrest (you now get two retractable hooks). The cupholder on the centre console is now open, as opposed to the previous car’s foldable lid.

Of course, there are new wheel designs, with alloys now standard across the range. There’s an eight-spoke for J and E cars, a multi-spoke for G and a ‘dynamic’ five-spoke for the TRD Sportivo, with TRD logo in the middle. Previously, we had a 12-spoke for J, E and G (dark silver for G Limited) and a bronze seven-spoker for the TRD Sportivo. All mentioned are 185/60 R15s.

As for body colours, in comes Quartz Brown Metallic and out goes Deep Amethyst Mica Metallic. Medium Silver Metallic, Silver Metallic, Attitude Black and White continue as is.

The 2012 update also offered a choice of two optional DVD-AVX and DVD-AVN touch-screen systems with reverse camera, but the new car adds SD compatibility to both. The higher-end DVD-AVN system now has a 7.0-inch screen compared to the previous 6.1, and introduces Voice Recognition and Smartphone Link.

The TRD Sportivo continues to be the top-of-the-range Vios. It obviously can’t offer a honeycomb mesh grille like the old one did, since there’s no real grille to speak of this time. But the TRD Sportivo suspension upgrade (coil springs and dampers with revised rates; tuned by TRD Asia for local conditions; lowering ride height by 10 mm), previously specifiable as an option on all variants, is nowhere to be found – perhaps it’ll crop up in the future.

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So you now know what the 2013 Toyota Vios has over the outgoing car. What does it still not have? VSC, more airbags, auto climate control and a front demister are some of the things a few of its segment rivals have that it has yet to offer.

Finally, the price difference. No change for the J variants, which cost RM73,200 (manual) and RM77,300 (auto), while E, G and TRD Sportivo are now RM600, RM1,187 and RM1,187 more expensive at RM82,900RM88,500 and RM93,200 respectively, on-the-road with insurance for Peninsular Malaysia. Read our preview drive report here, and our launch report here.

2013 Toyota Vios

2012 Toyota Vios