Great Things Come In Small Packages
words by Angel S. Rivero
photos by Nicolas A. Calanoc
The local mini hatchback segment is beginning to get seriously crowded. Competition is thus, tighter than ever, and Toyota Motor Philippines’ latest entry in the small car department is none other than the playful Wigo. The car may be small, but the promise is big. Simply for carrying the Toyota badge, customers are bound to check it out thanks to the brand’s strong reputation and also largely to the assumed convenience of sourcing aftermarket parts and even the ease of vehicle maintenance. But does it even drive well in the first place?
The answer is a resounding yes! Do not let the petite size deceive you. It may carry a modest, 1.0L, 3-cylinder 12-valve engine, but it packs a punch during the initial sprint coming from a standstill. Throttle response is instantaneous, and the weight to power ratio is really good (vehicle is very light), that this car is nimble enough to almost fly right after every traffic light or full stop it makes. Perfect for the stop-go character of traditional city driving, this car is also frugal on the fuel thanks to the 1.0L small engine displacement. But it is just too bad that the engine is not equipped with variable valve timing. It does, however, have dual overhead cams.
The Toyota Wigo looks okay, but the real magic is how the enormous cost cuts were made. Starting at a selling price of Php 448,000, this model is sure to sell like pancakes in an economy where people go for ‘tingi’ (small allowances) and tiny engine alternatives because of the unpredictable traffic.
Busting the potential fear of many, the Wigo definitely does not exude that tall and thin look, thanks to a well-thought-of design language that balances the elements in the right places. Aside from in the grille, chrome accents can be found on the front bumper and side molding; and the large multi-ref lector halogen lamps, fog lamps and tailgate-mounted spoiler with a mounted brake lamp (in the G variant) give it a relatively more upscale flavor. Building on its strong thrust for fuel efficiency, the Wigo also features air spats beneath the car bumper, contributing to overall aerodynamics.
There is an art to creating ‘intelligently downsized cars’, and the Wigo engineers seem to be a master of this craft. They managed to keep costs at bay and still afford little luxuries – like to have the Wigo’s side mirrors come in chrome or in body color, instead of the conventional polyurethane black (no paint). The car’s grille is also color-keyed.
But what does remind you that you’re driving an econobox is its noise insulation. Hearing that little workhorse roar from inside the cabin is something you will notice almost immediately. However it is not to the point that it is tiring; and is even perhaps a common expectation anyway, to have harsher NVH when one delves into this segment of mini hatch cars, and hence this could be accepted as simply a reality, when budget gets biggest weight, when purchasing a car.
Inside the cabin you will be greeted with an ergonomically-designed interior, highlighted by an instrument panel which looks like that of the Avanza. Furthermore you will be delighted to find the same Navi head unit as the one in the updated Innova (touch panel display audio system with Bluetooth function) – a common bonus for entry-level cars within the Toyota line: they often share head units with their higher-model peers.
It is refreshing to find thoughtful side bolsters incorporated into the architecture of the 2 front seats – thereby adding to the sporty appeal – although they do not have independent headrests and consequently come as continuous seat pieces (another giveaway of its budget segment). But again, this decision was very cleverly executed, as the end result actually came out rather cute and all the more ‘racy’ to have one-piece front seats. In the rear, you will find a humble, one-piece bench, with no lateral support. Again, it is understandable, as going into this segment must have its compromises somewhere. It does offer, however, 3-point seatbelts for 4 people in the cabin, and one 2-point seatbelt for the middle person in the back.
Present is an LCD window for fuel consumption, an Ecometer and a real tachometer; but to my dismay, no display of instantaneous gear shifting (or predictive shifting) anywhere within the instrument panel. Strangely, the indicator strip of shifts (drive, reverse, park, etc.) was printed on the opposite side of the automatic shifter (opposed to which side you usually find the markings at, as if this were almost a right-hand drive).
The cabin is surprisingly spacious. Despite perceiving it tiny from the outside, there is ample headroom and rear legroom on the inside. It sports a 2,450mm wheelbase – in comparison, this is very similar with that of the Mirage. Centralized door locks and front and rear power windows are definitely a welcome minimum requirement, and power side mirrors are available on the higher-tier G model. The car comes with a 5-mode aircon with heater, and to my delight, a standard rear wiper and defogger. Unfortunately, there is no light installed to illuminate the trunk. And among my tiny peeves was to find a keyhole only on the driver’s side – it is a shame that when parked and without an alarm, the passenger door couldn’t first be opened for the ladies.
The little Wigo, despite its size, does not compromise ease of boarding. In fact, it claims the title of easiest ingress and egress in its category for both the front and back. Ride quality is definitely not bad, as it uses front MacPherson struts and a semi-independent rear torsion axle beam with coil springs in the front and rear. Added driving conveniences are EPS (electronic power steering) and front disc brakes (ventilated, on the higher-tier G) while the rear brakes remain to be drums. SRS airbags are standard for both driver and front passenger, and the top-of-the-line Wigo comes equipped with ABS.
Built in Indonesia and with an engine designed by small car specialist Daihatsu, the Toyota Wigo (known internationally as the Agya) is clearly one of the (if not ‘the’) current strongest contenders in the highly competitive mini-hatchback market of the Philippines. It offers jaw-dropping value for money, alongside a zippy, truly fun-to-drive and city-perfect, gas-sipping engine, that is absolutely too difficult for any sane consumer looking for a mini compact, to overlook. Coupled with Toyota’s impeccable reputation, there is no small road for the Wigo, except for the highway to huge success.
2014 Toyota Wigo 1.0G AT Specifications
ENGINE: Inline-3, 998 cc, dohc 12v, 4-Speed AT
MAX POWER: 65 bhp @ 6000 rpm
MAX TORQUE: 67 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
0-100 KM/H (0-62 MPH): 15.5 sec.
TOP SPEED (MPH): 140 km/h (87 mph)
FUEL MILEAGE: 20 km/L Overall
PRICE AS TESTED: PhP 534,000.00
(+) Extremely nimble, upscale head unit, good cabin space & ingress/egress for its segment. Fun to drive, amazing value for money.
(–) No cabin light in the back, rear seat is a one-piece bench with no lateral support, engine noise prominent inside cabin.
EDITOR’S RATING: 9.9/10