The new Toyota Wigo Right on the money
THE CAR GUY - Ulysses Ang (The Philippine Star) - May 23, 2017 - 4:00pm

With a doubt, the launch of the Wigo in 2014 was a double-edged sword for Toyota in the Philippines. On one hand, if they get it right, it sees them expand to a new market dominated by Korean, Indian, and even Chinese car brands. On the other hand, get it wrong and you can bet these first-time car buyers will swear off owning a Toyota for the rest of their lives.

Thankfully for Toyota (and tough luck for everyone else), it was a huge success. It moved more than 40,000 units and paved the way to first-time Toyota ownership for a lot of happy campers. And even before its rivals could respond, here comes a new one.

Technically, the 2017 Wigo is refreshed model. Yet, despite some carryover components, it’s been effectively re-skinned with a new hood, bumpers, mirrors, lights, and alloy wheels. The Wigo’s angularity has been played effectively here, dialing up its Angry Birds look in the process. It stands out more now, especially in this loud Orange Mica Metallic hue while still adding some familial Toyota design cues here and there.

The Wigo’s story of mixing the new with the tested continues inside. The dashboard is the same, but almost everything else is tweaked or refined. The color scheme alone has been uplifted with new orange pin striping on the seats and door panels as well as darker silver paneling on the center console. Then, the instrument cluster gets clearer numerals and a gear indicator for the A/T variant. After that, the stalks and switches have been swapped for ones that offer better tactile feel while the A/C controls have been changed to a dual rotary knob set-up from the previous three-knob one. Finally, the infotainment system is also new, offering snappier responses and a sharper display along with steering wheel-mounted controls.

The aesthetic changes done to the Wigo is a great way to signal its biggest change: the engine. Adopting VVT-i technology, this 1.0-liter 3-cylinder lump gets a small boost in both power (+1 hp) and torque (+4 Nm). But the story doesn’t just start and end with the outputs. Compared to the previous powerplant, the 2017 model feels noticeably smoother. There are still some bouts of unevenness due to the odd cylinder count, but for the most part, it’s more ironed out than the original. It’s also quieter as well, but that’s likely due to the added sound deadening. And speaking about weight, the Wigo gains 60 kilograms. Nonetheless, overall performance doesn’t seem hampered even with three people aboard.

The Wigo is still best experienced in tight city confines where its small stature becomes an invaluable asset. The fixed steering column and limited adjustment to the driver’s seat requires some fidgeting to get comfy, but once adjusted for, it’s rewarding because of its extreme pointability and maneuverability. The steering requires more turns lock-to-lock than one would expect, but it never once hampered its ability to take on a three-point turn in just two.

With this drive done around the traffic-free roads around Siargao, one would expect the Wigo to suffer greatly from a common city car weakness: high-speed touring. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Commanding it to accelerate quickly or gain speed at a whim still poses a challenge, but maintaining that speed is no problem. Plus, the revised suspension geometry helps in making it feel more planted and stable while still managing to keep the well-balanced ride. It feels largely pliant through most road surfaces barring large ruts. Steering it through left-right-left corners quickly lets out some understeer and body roll, but nothing that lessens the confidence in this little car.

Prices have gone up on the 2017 Wigo with it starting at P526,000 and topping out with this 1.0 G A/T at P599,000. At that price range, it looks considerably close to the base Vios, but it’s worth noting that this small Toyota comes packs all sorts of convenience features. Apart from the new VVT-i equipped engine and aesthetic changes, the Wigo also arrives with 3-point ELR seatbelts for front and rear occupants, dual SRS airbags, and anti-lock brakes all as standard equipment.

In the end, that’s exactly how Toyota will end up trumping the competition once again with the 2017 Wigo. The 2014 model laid down the notion that you can actually have a new car that’s easy to drive and own backed up by Toyota’s bullet-proof reputation. The new Wigo is set to continue that trend. Historically, Toyota was content with introducing just bits and pieces of new tech with each model upgrade. Understanding that would-be vehicle buyers are increasingly spoilt for choices, the Wigo breaks that mold and offers an entire slew of changes this year. It’s these changes, upgrades, and additions that’s bound to keep it a car’s length away from the competition.

 

 

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