Premium Class Toyota Veloz Meets High Expectations

By Lee Pang Seng

TOYOTA vehicle owners have rather high expectations of their vehicles and the new Veloz, which replaces the Avanza, meets these lofty anticipations nicely. It comes with all the bells and whistles to qualify as a premium people mover styled along the SUV (sport utility vehicle) body profile. Thus, it is promoted as a Crossover.

It has to justify its upper standing when the closest rival carries the ‘national’ car badge and has three model variants with lower prices to match. Nevertheless, Toyota supporters have come out in full strength to back the Veloz and more than 6000 orders were placed. This is a positive show of support given that the Veloz is priced at RM95,000 on the road without insurance.

After a weekend with the Veloz, we could relate to the enthusiasm expressed. It didn’t disappoint with its rich array of equipment and features, both inside and outside, that could easily place it among higher priced vehicles with premium specifications and features. In short, we enjoyed living it up with the Veloz on the road during our short acquaintance.

For a start, it has soft interior ambient LED (light emitting diode) on the front doors to complement the two-tone dashboard and premium semi-leather seats. There is also a wireless charger for your handphone on the central console.

Its LED daytime running lights give the Veloz a piercing frontal presence while the full body width LED strip at the rear makes an impactful statement as well. At 4475mm long and 1750mm wide, the Veloz takes up a fair bit of road space and strong lighting visuals help to make its traffic presence quickly noted.

It runs on a 2750mm wheelbase and that means more passenger space, something that one would expect of such a sizeable vehicle. There are three rows of seats for seven people on board and the flexible foldaway design of the second and third row seats enhances carry-on space as and when it is required for bulky or lengthy cargo.

With all the seatrests up, the luggage area is good for slim stuff with a double deck accommodation but fold down the evenly partitioned third row seat rests – one or both as per need – and load space is almost tripled. And if you want more, the second row seatrests, split 40:60, could be fold away to meet additional space demands.

There might be no electric adjustments to get the best driving position but we could live with that. We like the seat height adjustment as we could raise it to give us a high viewing elevation. The door mirrors are foldable and this too is done manually, a boon when parking as the wide body Veloz made for a bit of squeeze in between cars. So, folding the mirrors would not expose them to being knocked into by other vehicle owners.

We always like the auto headlamp function as it didn’t require us to turn on the lights when entering a dark carpark or driving during dusk hours. As in most cases, this is an optional feature, meaning you could turn off the auto light switch-on function via the steering column control if you don’t feel comfortable using it.

Engineering advances has led to efficient small displacement engines powering large dimension vehicles and the Veloz is a good example. It would easily stand head and shoulder with a sizeable mid-range SUV but it is still powered by the reliable 1.5-litre engine, the 2NR-VE double camshaft Dual VVT-i unit.

This is undersquare in configuration with 72.5mm bore and 90.6mm stroke to displace 1496cc. Further refinement and update of this engine has improved output, which is now rated at 78kW (106PS) at 6000rpm and 138Nm torque. The big change this time is the transmission system that channels engine output to the front wheels.

The four-speed automatic transmission has given way to the simpler but efficient seven-speed CVT (continuously variable transmission). A slight drawback is the higher engine roar on kickdowns but the CVT has been improved to reduce the decibels, unlike earlier versions. Once the vehicle gets up to speed, the CVT roar tapers off quickly and you won’t know the difference with an automatic transmission during normal speed driving. Highway driving is a relatively quiet affair with minimal road roar.

A fuel saving feature is the engine’s ECO Idle function; the engine cuts off when you come to a stop and it would restart when driving off. The system would also restart the engine if the stop is longer than usual. However, we found that on hot days, it was better to have the air-conditioner system turned up to two or higher for blower speed so that you would still enjoy a fairly strong gust of cool air (the system tends to reduce blower speed when the engine is cut off).

There was no sluggish note on taking off from the traffic lights. You could even enjoy a quick getaway, if you don’t mind the initial CVT roar. While cruising on the highway, the electronically controlled seven speed or ‘gears’ allows the engine to run at low revs to mosey along; engine speed was from 1200 to 2000rpm, depending on how you use the accelerator. This helps in stretching your petrol ringgit.

The Veloz comes with a HD (high definition) camera in front while a rear unit is offered as an option. That should come in handy should some opportunists throw themselves at your vehicle in a fake ‘accident’ in the hope of claiming monetary compensation.

The nine-inch TFT display on the centre dash is a touchscreen unit and should suffice for most mobile needs. The driver’s instrument panel also offers a good share of information. The 3D (three dimensional) Panoramic View system is activated when the indicator is used and the images on the TFT display are clear. Ideal for keeping an eye on vehicles and road kerbs around you.

To measure up to its premium status, the Veloz comes with 17-inch alloy wheels shod with Toyo Tires 205/50 rubbers. The tyres complement the MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear (stabilisers or anti-roll bars front and rear) in ride comfort and decent handling dynamics.

With single or two people on board, the Veloz took to winding roads quite quickly and confidently and with body lean nicely checked. Of course, if you have a full load, the handling dynamics would be different because of the uneven weight distribution and it would be wiser to drive through winding stretches at lower speeds. Ride comfort is generally good and we believe this would still apply with a full passenger load.

The Veloz comes with a reasonably full complement of active and passive safety features, some of them grouped under the Pre-Collision Suite. That includes lane departure warning, front departure alert, pedal mis-operation control, adaptive driving beam and adaptive cruise control. There is also the blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and vehicle stability control with traction control. And it comes with six airbags.

For peace of mind in ownership, the Veloz comes with five years’ warranty with unlimited mileage. Most, if not all, would be happy with what the Veloz has to offer as a Crossover for personal driving or family motoring. It has all the premium features and equipment to make motoring comfortable and enjoyable. And it’s technically well grounded as well in engine power and road dynamics. A sound choice indeed.

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