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Toyota Soluna Vios 80,000km 2007 Test

Wed, 13 Jun 2007

We’ve had our Toyota Soluna Vios for 39 months, and 80,000 kilometres, so I thought it was about time to sum up how it’s been.

When my Thai fiancé (now wife) wanted a car, I was faced with searching in unfamiliar territory. But on the basis of specification and money it boiled down to a Honda Jazz-based City or a Soluna Vios, familiar in Thailand but neither of which are sold in the UK.

The Jazz was only just arriving on the Thai market at the time and meeting with the reasons why Honda stuck a boot on the back of it to create the City. At the time, Thais thought they didn’t like hatchbacks and neither did my wife. Like the rest of Thailand, she does now, but never mind. And I had aesthetics problems with the looks of the City. So it had to be the Vios.

And it had to be the ‘S’ automatic with all the goodies. Then she specced it up with leather, window deflectors and a rear spoiler.

It’s turned out to be a very good choice. Apart from an interior light delay that drained the battery on day 2, it’s been a real little diamond. And that’s saying something for a car that spends most of its life in Bangkok’s ‘rhot tit’ traffic jams.

The seating position is ideal. She’s 4’ 11” (150cm) and I’m 5’ 9”. Yet I can take over from her, drive 400 miles without even having to change the position, and step out fresh as a daisy.

Our Vios gets an oil change every 5,000 kilometres, of course. So has had none of the oil consumption problems of Toyota VVT-I engines in the UK. It cruises at a fairly relaxed 27 – 28 mph per 1,000 rpm and rarely goes over 4,000 even accelerating hard. So that helps to explain its remarkable fuel economy of 41 – 45 mpg.

Regular checks have always shown 40 plus, and once 48. At the last brim to brim it did 536.9 kilometres on 34.43 litres, so that’s 15.6 kilometres a litre, or 6.37 litres per 100km, or 44.39 mpg, depending on how you want to look at it. No worries there.

It’s on its second set of Michelin Vivacys and there’s still about 4.5mm of tread left on them so they’ve been good too.

It has needed a battery. And it’s had a few minor bumps and scrapes repaired. None her fault, incidentally. She’s a good driver and hasn’t even kerbed a rim.

And it still goes well. There’s no shunt or hesitation in the autobox. The brakes are strong. No rattles. It’s obviously a bit looser than a new car feels, but can still be made to handle well. As it had to when we were virtually attacked by some f***wit in a Fortuner at Si Khiu interchange who seemed determined to prove that size matters by barging everyone else out of his way.

Our only option was to put space between us, by getting out in front rather than involved in his inevitable accident. And the way our little car left him behind down the mountain past the lake might have made even Lewis Hamilton proud.

The Soluna Vios got a facelift in March, but it’s still pretty much the same car. And Thai buyers benefit from the same 110PS 1.5 engine with 4-speed torque converter auto in the Yaris, which Toyota now builds in Thailand to compete with the Jazz.

On the basis of our experience, Thai buyers get a better deal than Europeans, stuck no 1.5 engine, nor 4-speed auto in Euro Yaris.

It’s true that the 110PS Thai Jazz isn’t as fuel efficient as the 84PS European one. But our 110PS Vios worked out almost as fuel efficient as the much more expensive Toyota Prius II I was running concurrently in the UK.

Same engine, of course, but running an Atkinson cycle, hydradrive regeneration and a CVT auto.

But no chance of Toyota exporting the Vios to the UK because it not only wouldn’t sell (because Brits don’t like small saloons), the logistics would wipe out the profit.

Nevertheless, it is testament to the fact that Thai factories turn out vehicles every bit as good as those in Japan.

(Facelifted Vios on Thai market from March 2007.)

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