Vitz is a subcompact hatchback manufactured and sold by the Japanese automaker Toyota. Vitz comes in both 3- and 5-door variants. Toyota started making the car in 1998 and till now, it is one the most successful small cars by the Japanese automaker. Up until now, there have been three generations of the car. It is sold under Yaris nameplate in many parts of the world.
Currently, Toyota Vitz is in its third iteration. The first generation (XP10) lasted from 1998 to 2005. The second generation (XP90) was launched in 2005 and later discontinued in 2010. And the latest generation (XP130) was launched in 2010 and is in production for now. The car we had for the test review is the 2nd generation Vitz. We chose this particular Vitz because it is the most common in the market and also because it is relatively more in range for the masses compared to the 3rd generation which can be quite expensive.
Depending on the market and year of production, Toyota Vitz has been sold in a bunch of variants with all sorts of engine, gearbox, and platform options. In its time since its first generation, Vitz has been offered in a variety of engines, both petrol, and diesel. Popular engines are:
There are a 1.4L diesel engine and a 1.8L engine petrol as well. Then there are both front wheel drive and all-wheel drive Vitz cars. And Vitz has been offered with 5-speed manual and 6-speed manual, 4-speed automatic, and CVT gearboxes. Needless to say, if you can come up with a type of Vitz you are after with things that would like to see in your car, there is a chance Toyota has made one.
The first generation Vitz was very basic. It felt cheap and looked like it was made just to do the job of transporting people, and nothing else. It had great packaging, though. It was small yet fairly spacious, and it did the job what it was made for. But when Toyota launched the second gen Vitz (2005-2010), the automaker tried to bring some sophistication and elegance to the already a winning formula. Compared to 1st gen Vitz, the 2nd gen didn’t feel like it was made up of cheap plastic parts thrown out in the bin. It felt new and refined. Let’s continue with the review.
Looking at the exterior of the 2nd gen Vitz, the car looks like a massive bubble. It almost looks comedic with its round and bubble-like shape; something from a cartoon show. Toyota’s main goal was to bring down the drag coefficient of the car, hence the round and slick shape. The whole car looks like a giant egg. The first gen Vitz had quite normal looking typical hatchback like shape. The second gen was a major jump in design language from the previous car. Interestingly, Toyota has reverted to what can be considered as a normal design for the latest 3rd gen Vitz.
2nd gen Vitz is 3750mm long, 1695mm wide, and 1520mm in height. Its wheelbase measures at 2460mm. To give you a comparison to its closest rival in our market, the Suzuki Swift is 3755mm long. Suzuki Swift is 1690mm wide; 5mm shorter than the Vitz. And its 1525mm tall compared to Vitz, which stands at 1520mm. Compared to Vitz’s 2460mm wheelbase, Suzuki Swift measures at 2390mm. The wheelbase of Vitz is 2.7 inches longer than the Swift’s. Front-wheel drive Toyota Vitz with 1300cc 2SZ-FE engine and CVT gearbox weighs 1010 kilograms.
Looking at the front of the car, you get a raised front end. The front bumper is massive, covering most of the front. It feels like Toyota has tried to save as much sheet metal as possible making this car. The bumper looks like it has been pulled over the front of the car, and that has led to a narrow bonnet, and side fenders that are almost half in size. Under the monogram, you get a wide vent in the bumper filled with black plastic mesh, and under that you have a slightly narrower yet longer vent at the bottom of the front bumper. On the side of that gap, you have space for fog lights. The front lights are also massive. Half of them are in the bumper; the upper half cover almost half of the bonnet of the car. They almost touch the A-pillars of the car. It’s called the cab-forward architecture. It’s as the cabin is almost riding the engine at the front.
Sides are fairly simple. You will, however, notice the door bulging outwards under the windows. This slight bulge has helped Toyota to make room on the inside of the car. Another thing you will notice is that out rim of the front doors cut into the A-pillars of the car. That has helped Toyota increase the size of the door windows by at least an inch.
When you look at the interior of the 2nd gen Toyota just wanted to make it as spacious as possible, with as much handy spaces as possible. There is pretty decent room inside, and you won’t feel constricted inside.
The dashboard is fairly simple and purpose-built. Except the middle part, the rest of the dashboard is of dark gray, almost black, colour. The middle part is a silver piece of plastic that kind of looks cheap. Like many modern cars, the dashboard is quite stretched. These massive dashboards help the companies make crumple zones, and as a side bonus, same of expensive sheet metal. Everything is plastic. At passenger’s side, you get double-decked glove compartment. One lid opens upwards; the other opens downwards. In the middle of the dashboard, you have your inbuilt CD system. Depending on the variant of the car, it’s either a removable double-din head unit or a typical inbuilt CD player with radio. Under the head unit, you get a long drooping portion where A/C unit controls are mounted in a line. For simpler variants, controls are all manual. You get normal rotary dials to adjust the temperature or direction of the air. High scale variants get climate control and electronic buttons and controls. Right above where the head unit and vents for the A/C are, you get cluster panel. Although the cluster panel is mounted in the middle, it is pointed towards the driver. On the driver’s side, you once again get a small glove compartment in the dashboard right above the steering column. Overall the quality of the material used is slightly above average. The plastic doesn’t feel cheap and scratchy. Personally, I think the dashboard quality of second generation Vitz is slightly better than the dashboard of Toyota Aqua.
Under the dashboard, you get the CVT gearshift. And behind the gearshift, you have the handbrake of the car.
The instrument panel is fairly simple. You get a typical speedometer right in the middle. There is no RPM meter in lower variants but in higher variants, you got one on the left side of the speedometer. Other than that there is a digital fuel gauge on the right of the speedometer and basic trip information meter under that. It shows things like kilometers driven on a trip and total kilometers. The cluster panel has nice backlit illumination. The light doesn’t stress the eye when driving in the night-time overall the cluster panel looks pretty good.
Depending on which variant of Toyota Vitz you have, there are a bunch of options you can get as far as the information and entertainment system is concerned. Since my test car was a base model, it has a typical inbuilt head unit (CD player and radio) with two speakers mounted in the front. Whereas the highest spec hatchbacks come with Double-Din head unit and four speakers mounted in both the front and the back.
Overall built quality of the interior of the Vitz is definitely impressive. As I mentioned above, I found the interior of Vitz better than its sibling Aqua. The interior is mostly made up of fabric and is light in colour. The upholstery is all in an off-white colour with spots. The door panels are also half fabric and half hard plastic. The upper part is covered in fabric, whereas bottom half is all plastic. As far the comfort level of the seats is concerned, it is okay-ish. There isn’t much cushion, and they can become a bit uncomfortable if you are on a long journey. The backs of the front seats are not as wide as I had hoped for. It can lead your shoulders hanging out on the sides if you have a wide structure.
It’s a small car with a short wheelbase and although Toyota has tried its best to reduce the outside road noise, there’s still some that can be heard in the cabin of the car. The road noise is especially notable when you are cruising at eighty or a hundred kilometers per hours on a slightly rougher road. There is some wind noise at motorway speeds as well. But I must say that it is something very insignificant, and you will not mind it in your normal daily driving. You can easily hear the engine if you throttle it hard. I have driven the 1000cc Vitz with CVT gearbox and in my personal experience, the small engine Vitz makes more noise than the 1300cc Vitz. It’s mostly due to the type of power both cars are making. You don’t need to rev and race the 1300cc Vitz as much as you would do with the smaller Vitz. Also, CVT gearbox is slightly noisier compared to conventional automatic gearboxes.
As I mentioned above, Vitz comes in a boatload of engine and transmission options; from diesel to petrol, from 1000cc to the 1800cc engine, and from manual to conventional auto to CVT. The car I was driving had a 1300cc four-cylinder 2SZ-FE petrol engine, and I must admit the engine is quite robust for a 1300cc motor. The hatchback feels much quicker than you would expect it to be. I have often heard people complaining that the 1000cc Toyota Vitz is slow and lacks overall performance. But I can assure you that this 1300cc 4-pot will not disappoint you as far as the performance is concerned. The 1300 cc engine is mated to a Toyota CVT gearbox and although there is a typical rubber band effect where you press the throttle, but for a couple of moments the car doesn’t respond but then it just shoots off. It’s a typical CVT behavior. The 1300cc 2SZ-FE engine makes a little over 85 HP and 116Nm of torque. And considering the car only weighs around 1000 kg (1010kg to be exact), those 85 horses are more than enough for this hatchback. If you want some more oomph from the engine, put the gear in S mode and the engine will start to rev higher. S usually means ‘super’ or ‘sports’ mode. On the other hand, the Suzuki Swift has a little more power than the Vitz, but a little less torque (90 HP and 114 Nm of torque).
The car consistently gave a little over 16 kilometers per liter on Motorway speeds as far the fuel average is concerned. I believe it is a decent enough fuel average for a 1300 cc car. It doesn’t matter if you have your A/C on or off the fuel average doesn’t really change. Whereas in the city I was getting between 13 to 14 kilometers per liter in all sorts of city driving conditions with the A/C running all the time. Vitz comes with a fuel tank of 42 liters. It’s not big but considering the fuel average of the car, you won’t have to stop at the fuel pump every other day for a fill-up.
The higher spec Toyota Vitz comes with 4-wheel disk brakes and ABS with EBD, but the base model comes with drums in the rear. This is one department where this small Japanese hatchback pretty impressive. Even though the car has a small wheelbase (2460mm) and that means it can be a bit bouncy, but somehow Toyota has managed to make the car stop in its tracks with its well-designed suspension and brake system. The brake pedal feels solid and comfortable. One thing that I immediately noticed about the feel of the pedal is how it gives confidence to the driver. As soon as I press the brake pedal to slow down the car I immediately felt that I was in control of the car and that is quite a nice feeling especially when you are driving at high speeds. You know that your car will obey you and stop when you want it to. The day I was driving the car I had to apply the brakes quite ferociously at least a couple of times but not for once the ABS engaged. The brakes are impressive regardless of the fact that you get drums in the rear. Most of the time you don’t even need the ABS to help you save the crash. I was genuinely impressed by its brakes. I have driven the first generation Vitz as well, and I had the similar experience with the brakes on that car. So no doubt quite good.
Now let’s talk about the performance of the A/C of Toyota Vitz. It is yet another department where I think Toyota takes the lead over its competitors. I have driven two other Toyota cars in the series for these test reviews. The first one was Toyota Aqua and the second one was Toyota Passo. Both had excellent A/C performance in hot days. And Vitz is no exception. I guess you can say that it is the Hallmark of Toyota. I also test drove both Honda Vezel and Honda Fit Hybrid for the reviews. And even though I liked Honda Fit Hybrid overall compared to Toyota Aqua, its A/C was not as impressive. Honda Vezel was also the same. Everyone knows how hot it is nowadays in Pakistan. So the fact that a small car like this can make its cabin coolers within minutes of turning on the A/C, I think it is pretty amazing. Also, overall you don’t feel like the engine is under stress when you have turned on the A/C. I tried racing the car both with and without the A/C, and the difference was only marginal. It almost feels effortless, and I think it is quite remarkable.
Comfort & Handling
As I wrote earlier, the dashboard of Vitz is purpose built. And by that I meant you get loads of storage spaces and pocket in the dashboard. And not only in the dashboard but also in the door panels as well. Passenger side has not one but two glove compartments. On the left side of the dashboard at the passenger side, under the A/C vent, you get another small storage compartment/cup holder. On both left and right side of the dashboard where the A/C controls are mounted, you will find elongated storage pockets where you can easily store your phones. Needless to say, pick a spot in the Vitz and you will find a storage area. The dashboard alone has the storage space of 18.2 litres. That is an impressive task if you ask me. In the boot, you get 272 litres of storage space. But you can increase it to 363 litres thanks to Toyota’s modular rear seats. You can push the back seats forward or backwards with the help of a lever mounted on the top of the back seat. Pull it up and you can move the rear seats as you do with the front seats. This little innovation has given increased legroom of 880mm in the back. Also, if you push the backs of the rear seats forward, you have a flat loading bay type space in the back of the car. Toyota calls it its Easy Flat rear seat folding system. Fancy word for a simple thing.
Toyota reduced the cushioning of the seats for the second generation in order to increase the overall interior space. If your BMI is under control, you won’t have any issue sitting in the seats. But if you weigh a bit more, the seats can become a bit uncomfortable on a long journey. For someone with 6-feet height, there is a plenty headroom and legroom in the rear even after adjusting the front seats for a tall driver/passenger. You can easily fit three adults of average weight and size in the rear.
As I mentioned above, Vitz has a relatively short wheelbase. That means the ride can become bouncy. And that is exactly the case with the Vitz. On a slightly uneven road, you will feel the car hopping a bit. But it is nothing serious. It’s something that is part of the package, and you pretty much can’t do anything about it. But otherwise, I would rate the ride quality of 2nd gen Toyota Vitz above average. It’s fairly comfortable both in the front and the rear. The Vitz comes with MacPherson struts in the front and torsion beam type with coil springs in the rear. It’s a typical Toyota recipe for most of its cars. But even with a torsion beam in the back, the rear of the car doesn’t feel bouncy when empty.
This cab-forward body design also helps in the distribution of weight to some extent. And that has helped Toyota to give 2nd gen Vitz pretty decent handling characteristics. I mean they are quite good for a mini family hatchback. Waving the car a little at 80 km/h didn’t feel scary. The car was pretty much in my control. Even on a rough road when the car was bouncing here and there, it didn’t lose the contact with the road. At motorway speeds, the car felt planted and secured. Toyota has done a pretty good job with EPS (electronic power steering) of this car. It’s well-tuned and provides the driver a sense of control and command. I have seen in cars like Suzuki WagonR where the EPS changes its behavior erratically. And that can be seriously annoying especially in city driving. That is not the case with Vitz and its power steering. For a small car, I was genuinely impressed by the overall road grip and road behavior of the car. Its stock 165/70R14 tyres are absolutely fine for the car, and I would not advise you to change them considering the overall road conditions of Pakistani roads.
You can turn the car at just 4.4m. That is quite impressive for this size of the car. For a comparison, both Toyota Passo and Suzuki Swift turn at 4.7m. Having shorter turning radius means you have to move your car front and back, again and again, to take a U-turn on a tight street. That is definitely a plus point for any small city car. As far the ground clearance is concerned, it measures at 145mm or 5.7 inches. It is okay if you don’t overload the car. But there are chances that you will rub the belly of the car every now and then.
Having raised and stout front end of the car means that the A-pillars of the car are right on the top of the front strut mounts. Well not exactly on top but close. As mentioned above, this sort of design is referred to as cab-forward architecture. Car companies do that to provide the occupants of the car with a decent crumple zone in case of an accident. That is the same reason why you see those modern wide dashboards in most of the small hatchbacks and compact sedans. Toyota Vitz also has crumple zone in the front. It protects the passengers from the energy of the impact in case of an accident. Toyota claims it has improved the collision performance of 2nd gen Toyota Vitz by up to 30% from the 1st gen Vitz.
The higher variant comes with as many as eight airbags, nine if you include driver’s knee airbag, whereas the basic model like the one I had for the test drive only comes with two airbags; one for the driver and one for the passenger. You get seatbelt all around, two in front for the passenger and the driver and three in the back.
As mentioned above, Vitz comes with 4-wheel disk brakes that are controlled by an ABS unit. Vitz is also equipped with Toyota’s brake distribution and brake assist. So you can be assured stopping wouldn’t be an issue. I have already mentioned above that Vitz is one of those few small cars that has really well tuned braking system on its own. So adding all these safety features only makes it more safer.
It is hands down one of the best small cars in Pakistani used car market nowadays. If you are after a small manageable car with good build quality and nice overall drive, I think you should certainly give Toyota Vitz a chance. But keep in mind I have heard several stories that the 1000 CC Vitz is underpowered, and it’s not as nice to drive. Having enough power to thrust you forward is definitely a nice feeling. So make sure that you get yourself at least a 1300 CC Vitz. And if you’re feeling sporty there’s no harm finding a decent 1500 CC RS model.
Toyota Vitz can serve as a perfect primary vehicle for a small family of 4. You will not be disappointed. It has decent room in the boot and fairly well spaced rear seats. So even putting two adults in the back is not an issue at all. And considering it’s an automatic car, both men and women of the family won’t have any trouble driving the car. And besides, automatic cars are much easier to drive in congested typical start-stop driving conditions of our cities nowadays.
Suzuki Swift is the only car that falls in the immediate competitive bracket against Toyota Vitz. Both are 1300 cc and are small and are hatchbacks. It is a matter of personal choice that you want a local or an imported vehicle. Otherwise, I think both are decent contenders and have their own pros and cons. I have heard from a lot of automatic Suzuki Swift owners that the automatic gearbox of Swift is not as well developed and designed as you would like it to be. It can be annoying in city driving. On the other hand, Swift is a Pakistani and locally assembly car so you can be assured that you would get decent after sales service. Vitz being imported can cause you a headache in sourcing out parts especially if you are living in a rural area or a small city.
In the end, I would like to conclude by saying that Vitz is one of those cars that justify all the hype and general market demand. Toyota has made a vehicle that works perfectly for what it was made for. It might not be perfect, but it sure is pretty close.