Vios – A Very Intelligent, Outstanding Sedan

I am struggling hard to fathom what a ‘bacronym’ is – as opposed to an acronym; without much success.

Japanese automakers in general, and Toyota in particular, are one up on me on that score. They are well-endowed when it comes to building acronyms – backwards, which is how the word bacronym came into the automotive lexicon.

The knowledge is thoroughly useful, making them quite adept at concocting catchy names each time a new car model is launched.

When it came to choosing a suitable name for the model to replace the popular Corolla back in 2002, they called in the services of their cunning linguists who came up with the bacronym Vios which, wait for it; stands for Very Intelligent Outstanding Sedan.

The height of corniness post-Corolla no doubt, but the figures don’t lie – more than half a million Vioses have been sold in the intervening 20 years.

With each phase of change, the price has also increased, but still competitively lower than its B-segment rival, whose name shall not be mentioned here.

So what do you get for RM95,500 on-the-road, excluding insurance? Remember, back all those years ago, the first Vios cost RM73,000! The second – a little over RM85,000, and the third, almost hitting RM90k.

First, you get a Vios that looks and feels like it’s new! Yes, this fourth iteration of the Vios is a far different ‘animal’ now than even the third edition, which was introduced back in 2013. The model ‘cruised’ along with two facelifts in 2018 and 2020.

The springboard of its fourth ‘incarnation’ is its platform, from which the cocoon of the new Vios takes shape.

Its skeleton now has higher structural rigidity and stability but still remains compact and less bulky than before.

Reinforcements improve handling, give driving stability, and provide better protection to the occupants in a collision.

A walkaround will give you this feeling – both from the rear, as well as the front; that this is really a new car.

The outline of the roof that slopes towards the rear gives it the right to be dubbed a ‘Fastback’.

It gives the Vios a sporty stance, although it comes at a price – passenger headroom in the rear seats is somewhat restricted, with this bit of the ceiling space being sacrificed.

If one were to observe the anterior from a distance, one would be forgiven to detect design cues reminiscent of the larger Camry.

Indeed, this ‘Camry-wannabe’ has both a longer wheelbase compared to the previous Vios (by an additional 70mm) and is wider, sideways. It is shod with larger diameter wheels that make it look bolder.

All three models prior to this had body parts that in a human would be considered ‘sissy’ (I must be careful not to tread on anyone’s toes in this age of non-binary gender).

But look at the new Vios and you’ll find the rear, the front, and the sides, feature sporty lines and pumped up panels, not unlike the muscled torso of a well-honed athlete.

Distinctive aerodynamic Air Vents at the front are not meant for pure aesthetics, but improve brake cooling performance and reduce drag for better handling and stability. At the rear you’ll find a pair of diffusers and air canards designed to direct airflow to maintain a low centre of gravity, giving better traction.

Open the bonnet and find its 1.5 litre pumping heart – the 4-cylinder, in-line, 16-valve, DOHC with Dual VVT-i. This produces all the power output and a torque that gives this compact sedan a top speed 180kph. Shifting through the gears is a cinch with a 7-speed CVT transmission with sequential shiftmatic. The salesman patter is that it gives quicker acceleration and smoother pickup.

You get more bang for the buck as this Vios is scaling up the Vehicle Autonomy ladder. It is packed with so many Active Safety Features (ASF) – you be the judge from the bewildering offer of three-lettered acronyms comprising PCS, LDW, LDP, LKP and MPC, to name but a few. You no doubt will be given the full rundown by any eager Toyota salesperson. What the triple-barrelled concoction brings you is this – your car will stay within lane while in motion, it will prevent you from straying to another lane in traffic, it will alert and prevent you from making contact with solid objects and people.

Another thing, thanks to VTS (Video Telematics System), it has cameras that flash video of objects that get in your way while attempting to park, as well as video recordings of forward and rear action, so that any traffic incidents can be tracked after the fact. No need for confrontation; ‘he says; she says’ when it comes to recalling any incidents in your police report.

More than half a million Vioses are now on our roads since its debut. With this, the current model offering will only cement its popularity further.

Perhaps it is just left for one to conclude, the V-I-O-S is – Very Impressive, One Says?

Main image by Faris Budin.

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