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Today, my review is based on one of the most frequently seen cars on SL roads; Toyota Axio Hybrid. Since the car was first introduced in 2012 only as a gasoline variant continuing the 1NZ-FE engine, the Hybrid variant was introduced in 2013. So most people went for the hybrid variant instead of going for the gasoline variant. The the car received a minor facelift in 2015 together with the addition of the Toyota Safety Sense C (link about Safety Sense C- https://www.toyota.com/content/ebrochure/CFA_TSS_C.pdf). From the introduction, the car still remains as one of the most imported cars to SL. Here in this review I'm going to focus mainly on the driving dynamics and build quality.
First of all, the looks. Yeah I know that it is not a head turner at all, but I really don't like the exterior look of the pre facelift variant (apologizing from all the owners). The facelifted version looks much better IMO but that is totally based on my personal opinion. Here my review is based on a 2014 Hybrid G variant. So I'll start with the topics.
We all know that most people were let down by the interior quality of the 2007-2011 Axio NZE141, due to really cheap and plasticy looking bits and pieces. So the newer version seems nice at the first glance. I really like the soft padding on the door panels and on the passenger side of the dashboard. When you close the door, you'll feel a bit of solidity. Design wise, 161 interior is better than the 141 in almost all the aspects except for the area where the gear shifter is located. On the 141 model the dashboard continues towards the front armrest as a one piece, but on the 161 it looks kind of seperated. This creates an empty space around the gear shitfter, giving the impression of a much more cheaper car.
Watch closer and you'll notice the cost cutting effects which took place around the cabin. First one is the hard plastic dashboard top. On the previous 141 generation, the dashboard top panel was finished with a soft touch material. On the G grades, same material was continued on the upper parts of the door panels (dark grey part). But on the 161 Toyota have gone with the cheaper hard plastics. But they would not bring out the dashboard cracking issues which were existed on the 2007-2008 models.
Main competitor of the Axio Hybrid, Honda Grace have a much more exciting interior with tons of silver insertings and colourful lighting in the dash. Compared to Grace, Axio's interior looks kind of bland for me, but the feels that it is a bit solid than the Grace.
Seating is a bit improved from the 141. You'll get more side support on the front seats and seats are a bit softer (maybe due to the velvet like covers used). Front seating positions are okay and are mainly catered for a comfortable ride than a sporty ride. This car has a good rear seating position for tall passengers. On the Allion/ Premio thigh support is insufficient on the back seats due to lower positioned bench. But on the Axio Hybrid, thigh support is really good for tall passengers. Again you'll notice a cost cutting attempt on the back seats. Fixed headrest. Shame on you Toyota. You'll only get adjustable headrests in the Luxel variant, but there are only a few and those are gasoline versions. Leg space is okay and a bit better than the 141, but lacks when compared to Grace. Still most people would find the interior space is adequate.
Almost equal to 141, but lesser than the Grace. You'll find Stability control and Electronic brake force distribution which was only available in the Luxel of the 141. Also you'll get nanoe (generates ions with water particles to reduce skin drying out when using the AC). From 2015 facelift, safety features became standard throughout all the grades. But thw two front tweeters came with the G limited and above variants of the 141 were absent. Actually there is nothing more to say about the options, so let's move on to discuss how it drives.
Once you sit on an Axio Hybrid you'll have to totally forget that you are in a driver's car. I mean "TOTALLY". Even from the earlier days most Toyotas are not famous for sportier rides, but there was a very little amount of enjoyment left. VERY LITTLE. But here, it is NONE. Even boring cars like Allions, Premios, 141s, Aquas, Prius and suprisingly the gasoline variant of the 161 Hybrid feels much more engaging to drive than the Hybrid Axio (But still miles behind other cars like Mazda Axela). I drove it on a twisty road and I got ZERO feedback from the steering. No weight. Numb. You can't predict how the tires would react to your input given through the steering. I almost met with an accident when I took a bend after speeding a bit on a straight road, because I was unable to predict how the car would react to the steering input given by me. The problem is when you drive the car at higher speeds you cannot predict the amount you'll need to turn the steering wheel to take the bend. Even the boat like Allions and Premios have a little weight to the steering which would help you a bit in this kind of occasions. Aqua shares the same powertrain with the Axio hybrid, but feels more nimble and sharper to drive. But this issue is less pronounced when you drive the car slowly. It is dead easy to drive and maneuver around the town due to this lightness.
But on corners, the car has plenty of grip than the previous generation. I experienced a noticeable reduction in body roll when compared it with the 141 Axio. Also when you do over 100kmph the car feels well planted on the road than the previous gen ( 141 Axio felt like the car is flying, when the speed is over 120kmph). I remember that Toyota had repeatedly mentioned on their japanese site that the high speed stability was enhanced, at the time when the new model was first introduced.
Then the acceleration. On speeds below 50-60kmph it has adequate torque. The motor gives sudden bursts of torque on demand, so it's easy in traffic and low speeds. When you put your foot down, for a brief period you'll really feel the assistance of the motor, but then it slowly fades away around 50-60kmph. For me it does not feel as fast as the 141 Axio ( Let's not compare it with the the Honda's equipped with i-DCD Hybrid System). The car weighs about 1150kg with 110 combined horsepower, but the 1310kg weighing Civic FD3 feels much more livelier and responsive even though it has the same amount of combined horsepower. Again, for day to day driving the powertrain is more than adequate.
I know most of you feel disappointed about the driving dynamics about this car at this moment. But you should not forget that it's a Toyota's entry level hybrid. It serves all the purposes which it was intended to fulfill. A major plus point that you can experience in this car is the fuel economy. In freely moving traffic it gives around 15-17kmpl. Long distances would help to squeeze out around 25kmpl. I don't have much knowledge or details about the fuel economy levels, but I would be glad if owners can post the figures as comments.
Then the smoothness. When compared to Honda's hybrid systems ; specially the i-DCD Hybrid systems in Fit, Vezel and Grace, the Axio Hybrid is silky smooth. The integration of the engine and the motor is seamless. You won't notice a single sign while the car changing from the motor to the engine, except for the slight engine whirling sound. As I mentioned earlier in this forum, there is a bit of as issue with the Honda i-DCD Hybrid system at the beginning of a steep hill. It feels like the gearbox is confused to choose the correct gear. You won't experience that in the Toyota. It just goes. The powertrain of the Toyota Hybrid system feels polished than the Honda's.
Another benefit is the comfort level and refinement. The car is comfortable over bumps than the Honda's due to the softer suspension setup, but not as good as an Allion or a Premio. It's on par with the previous gen IMO. Road noise levels are also low and the hybrid system helps to eliminate the engine noise during lower speeds. I notice a huge difference in comfort and refinement levels in the Honda Grace when compared to the Axio Hybrid. Grace is bumpy and the suspension feels busy over bumps. Harder seats worsen it further. So for doing long distances Axio Hybrid is the best option due to the fuel economy and refinement levels. What we should not forget is that the purposes it was built for and those are economy and easy drive.
Issues and Reliability
Since I drove the car for a brief period, I cannot comment much about the reliability. The owner of the car (a close friend), I've driven bought it in 2014 as a Zero mileage unit and still owns it without an issue. Now the car has done around 60,000kms. I've heard about premature battery failure, but haven't met an owner who had to experience it. But there is a possibility for that due to the fact that it shares the same powertrain with the Aqua, which is famous for the same issue. Other than that, haven't heard about any complaints.
At the end, all I have to say is that the Axio Hybrid would satisfy you if you expect what it can deliver at its best. Don't look for it expecting handling levels that would put a smile on your face. The issue of the steering wheel can only risky when you push the car to its limits, but if not, that is perfectly tolerable for a typical SL driver. I'd name it as a car which is perfectly suited for the typical SL driver.
At the end I have to say that this review is based on none other than my personal experiences. Feel free to highlight the flaws and mistakes, as it would be helpful for my next review.
Thank You for reading.
For details about grades and variations, you can visit the links below
All mechanical work on the project Moggie will discuss here. This was the differential original status.
Cleaned & painted differential
Back brake liners were wet with leaked differential oil because of weak oil seals. Found matching oil seal from local market and hope it will fix the leaking.
Cleaned & painted brake shoes with newly applied liners.
Cleaned and painted leaf springs
It's been a while since the last entry where I rambled on about the minor details but now for the all important part how does this actually drive. I've done over 5000 Km's now and I guess spend enough time with the car to give my honest feedback on how it handles etc.
I'm not going to dwell on the statistics and figures since that is readily available on the internet - but for formalities sake the Civic comes with the P10A2 engine - Honda's 3 cylinder turbo charged engine which has somewhere between 125-130 BHP.
So the overall driving experience ? Well it's adequate and after the break-in period it seems the car is actually quite eager than it was initially. There is a bit of turbo lag and coupled with the torque at low revs you feel a bit like driving a diesel ....no complaints though.
A question I usually get from some people is whether this model comes with the much maligned DCT - well surprise surprise it does not. Honda have mated the P10A2 with a CVT. Of course there is always the manual and that is actually supposed to be great as per reviews from the UK - but considering I use this car to drive daily to and from work in the colombo traffic I had to be a masochist to opt for a manual (which I'm not - and god bless future me when I try to sell a manual in Sri Lanka ) . Those who have driven the GP5's and Graces know that the Dual clutch set up is actually a blast to drive - which is not the case with the CVT. My previous car also had a CVT gear box and frankly I'm not a fan of them at all. But then given how DCT's fared locally I guess having a rubbery CVT over a DCT setup is not a huge deal.
All grades of the FK6 comes with paddle-shifters - now I know it's a bit funny to see paddle shifters and CVT in the same sentence but what the setup actually does is have more of a simulated shifting mechanism going when you use them. When you're in normal 'Drive' mode you can use the shifters to change gears but the car is too eager to override you and kind of spoils the fun. However if you change your gear to 'S' then the HUD will display an 'M' indicating that the car is ready to receive manual input and a blinking indicator also indicates when the time is right to shift up. Of course if you don't shift at the right moment the car will give you some time and after a while will override you. S mode, and the 7-Speed CVT with the shifters is a little fun time to time but I think it's there more as a gimmick to be perfectly honest. I will upload a video on this later on and update the entry.
There is an ECO mode which can be enabled/disabled by a switch on the gear shifter console. Turning off the Eco mode will give you a more fun driving experience as the car is much more peppier. For more fun on an open road shift to S and use the shifters.
I use the E03 expressway daily and that's where this car really feels home at. I mentioned the low end torque - around 2250 RPM there is a sweet spot and you can feel that pull. Due to it's dynamics the car feels very well planted and very stable at high speeds. You just feel the car hugging the road and hurtling forward - which is a really nice feeling. The handling is quite good -the steering is a little lifeless but adequately sharp and the ride is very controlled. I drive an SR which does not have the adaptive damper system found on the EX.
The ride is generally smooth even with some potholes - though I cannot give any feedback about the rear since I've never actually traveled in the back seat.
Road noise is something I've always associated with Honda's and once again this is no exception though the road noise insulation is comparatively better than that of smaller cars like the Fit. But it does a good job of cutting out the racket from that noisy 3 pot engine - which believe me is quite loud and rough when you actually open the hood and take a look. But inside the car it's generally quiet.
To sum it up ... Cars with downsized engines for the sake of reducing emissions and improving gas-mileage are not meant to be fast performance cars in the first place. But Honda have tried to give the driver a bit of feel-good factor with the fake air vents and the paddle shifters and the overall 'sporty' feel. I wish it didn't have the CVT gear box and the steering was a little less lighter. But the noisy little 3 pot engine pulls really well given it's size and the weight of the car. The 1L Turbo Civic is no Type R but for a bird with clipped wings it flies pretty well.
And now for the FAQ Section
 "Nice car bro how does it do on fuel ? " :
I drive in generally bad traffic I wouldn't claim it to be the worst since I don't travel to areas like Rajagiriya/Dehiwala etc. And the car returns around 7-8 KMPL. On general I get about 10 KMPL in a 50-50 City/Suburban drive. On the Expressway I get around 6L/100Km which means about 16.6 KMPL. On the average long distance drive on non expressways depending on the time of the day the car will do between 12-16 KMPL.
 "The car is a bit low isn't it? " :
One fear I had earlier about the car before purchase is it's low ground clearance - somehow I have found it to be ok so far. I recently traveled on one of the most horrible roads I have seen in the western province - it was a tiny impossibly narrow dirt road with immense pot holes and pieces of rock jutting out leading to an almost forgotten home for the senior citizens where we had to give dinner. It was a hellish drive in pitch darkness but somehow i got through without a single scrape. For a better understanding I will try to upload some daytime pics of the said road.
 "Aren't the back seats a bit cramped?"
Leg-space wise no. There's quite a lot of leg space . The thing is due to the curved shape of the roof some may feel that head-space is a bit lacking. The only person to complain so far was my 6'3" /125Kg cousin. So unless you're some behemoth you are OK. Having said that I must say the Civic is a little too driver oriented with a lot of care given to the driver and lesser focus to the passengers: for instance the seat height adjustment is not available for the front passenger. It's a little darker in the back too.
It's been little more than 4 years with my Hiace and it has done around 76,000kms so I thought its time I give you guys an update on it.
Let me start the blog with the basics,
Mine is a Toyota Hiace KDH206, this variant of Hiace is fitted with a 1KD-FTV turbo engine with an all wheel drive system. The AWD system in the KDH series is pretty much full time, it runs on all four wheels normally and if any of the wheels experience a slippage, the vehicle stops sending power to that specific wheel.
There is a noticeable difference between the AWD variant(KDH206) and RWD variant(KDH201). The KDH206 is around 100kg heavier and you could feel that through the steering when you drive one. In addition, the KDH206 feels far more planted at higher speeds and around corners than the RWD variant. However the downside is that the full time AWD system drinks bit more fuel than RWD version.
Cost of Maintenance
In short the Hiace is not cheap run, I get fuel economy of around 6km/l in kandy and around 9-10km/l outstation, the RWD KDH201 would return around another extra 2km more per litre. Hiace is originally fitted with 195/80R15 8ply tyres and they cost around 22-23.5K per tyre from brands like Continental or Pirelli, while Maxxis tyre could be found for around 16k.
The Hiace requires 0W-30 oil and a regular service which needs to be carried out every 5000km costs around 10K using Toyota oil, I was using Toyota oil filter as well, but now I have switched to VIC.
ATF oil must be changed around every 40k kms, I change air filter and cabin filter every year.
It requires super diesel and this is an absolute must, if you regularly pump auto diesel you will pay more in repairs than what you saved by pumping auto diesel. The most likely issues you would get from pumping auto diesel are DPF, which costs around 70-80k to replace and injectors, which would set you back around 500k for all four.
So far I had to change only a bush which costed around 50rs, apart from that I have not had any repairs.
The Hiace pulls pretty well for a vehicle which weighs 2 tonnes, the 1KD-FTV with a variable nozzle turbo produces 100kw at 3400RPM and 300nm of torque at 1200-3200rpm and it is connected to a 4 speed conventional automatic gearbox. Overtaking other vehicles with Hiace is pretty easy, you just have to put your foot down, the turbo will come to life and you would be gone. It is always on the right gear, there's no unnecessary downshifts or up shifts, the gearing ratios are perfectly synced with the power band of the engine although it is only a 4 speed gearbox in a world of 6 and 7 speed gearboxes.
The Hiace properly comes to life on hill climbs with the help of low end power and variable nozzle turbo.
Handling is fairly good for a van, it handles better than large SUVs. The KDH series has much less body roll compared to the previous LH series, but it isn't great as handling of a car. I notice the difference in handling when I drive the Hiace after driving our Bluebird which has front and rear independent suspension.
It doesn't handle large potholes and bumps as good as a car, but it does manage to soften small potholes pretty well. The diesel engine noise is evident compared to a hybrid or petrol vehicle but the noise reduces when the vehicle gets to the third gear or at around 70+ km/h speed. The A/C is epic on the Hiace, it is one of the best cooling A/C I have come across, I rarely have to set the A/C temperature below 26 degree Celsius on auto mode and that is without the dual A/C.
There is plenty of space inside, 7 or 8 people could travel on long journeys with their legs stretched out and not crammed. The second row seat is the best place to be in, you get the dual A/C right in front of you, it is acoustic sweet spot and minimal sunlight enters the cabin.
It is quite a practical vehicle if you are using it occasionally or for long journeys as it can seat 8 comfortably yet carry plenty of luggage(you could fit around 4-5 large travelling bag placed horizontally), it has got atleast double the amount of luggage space compared to a Noah/Esquire. However it is bit of waste of money if you are using it on daily basis as fuel bills are gone be crazy and parking these are not that easy within city limits. In addition, maneuvering these around narrow roads requires some skills especially roads with tight bends.
Second hand value and parts
Selling a KDH isn't difficult at all, if you maintain them right there will always be people willing it to buy it from you. There are plenty of body parts available but 1KD engine parts are bit difficult to find and even if you do find, it will be expensive
Some used parts prices are:
- Pair of tail lights: 15k for older design and 30k for new design
- Pair of headlight: more than 100k without the HID unit
- Rear door: around 40k
- Fog lights: around 20k
What I have done with my Hiace
The Modellista body kit came with the van from Japan itself and I added the Modellista grill later on
Original Toyota spoiler which came painted pearl white
I tinted the fog lamps yellow with Nightbreaker bulbs in them
I have also replaced the rear seats which are rotatable and come with a table as well
I have done some electronic mods as well,
Installed a transcend DrivePro 200
Carrozzeria tweeters with crossover
and JBL component speakers with crossover(thanks to @TheFlyingFox)
I was planning on installing FIAMM horns, but the JDM side of my brain took over and I went with Mitsuba Alpha
Note: click on the links to access the videos
My dad had the body kit removed for a short period of time and during that time I drove it through some muddy terrain. It did well.
Finally. At long last, the ITR sedan conversion is done!! Here she is in all her glory. More glam pics in the upcoming months!
Few niggles I’m trying to fix. The front end didn’t come with fender liners/mudguards. Sourced those from uk.
Also I was using a lengthened shifter linkage from an ek3 with a d series box. Apparently that’s why shifting into reverse and 2nd are difficult. Waiting on a proper ITR shifter linkage from the UK as well. Along with the stock dual bend shifter.
For the year 2017 Toyota introduced the C-HR which is a compact SUV. Recently It came to the Sri Lankan automobile market also. The car came in 2 major variants with 4 trim levels. An only petrol version with a smaller engine but with a turbo charger and a one with the famous Toyota's Synergy Drive hybrid powertrain system. Both of these have 2 different trim levels as G and S (where G is always coming with the highest spec list). With the dimensions, the C-HR is a practical city rider. Despite the exterior dimensions, the interior is not a big compromise.
We at Tarragon TV did a review on this car as the 5th episode of the series. Watch it and let us know your comments. Remember to subscribe for more videos in future.
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Guys please note that we switched the AL forum URL from http://forum.autolanka.com to http://autolanka.com/forums today. It was done mainly for SEO and also to provide a better service for you all in the future. All of the old AL forum URL's should automatically redirected to the new forum URL. Therefore there will not be any impact to any external links. We did lot of testing after the change and everything (cross-fingers) seems to be working fine. Please let us know if anything is not working or if you need assistance with anything.
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The first question when a tourist visit to Sri Lanka is, "why you guys are honking this much?". A question that I even don't know the answer.
We Sri Lankans uses our car horn for every reason. If we see a friend; we honk, if we see an enemy; we honk, if we see a girl; we honk, if we want to overtake; we honk, we are rather than driving the car; we honk the horn. In my personal experience, near Orugodawatte Junction in the morning time we can hear more than 25 honks per minute.
Following are some honking etiquettes that I presume too good to share.
When is it appropriate to use your horn? Generally, you should only honk the horn when reasonably necessary to insure safe driving. For example, if your brakes have gone out, honk to alert other drivers.
Use your horn to promote safe driving
However, there are times when it is common and acceptable to use your horn when there’s no immediate threat of a crash. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between giving a quick “beep” and laying on your horn with an obnoxious “BEEEEEEEEEEP”. For example, if the driver in front of you at a red light is not paying attention when the light changes to green, wait at least 4 seconds and then give a light, quick tap on the horn.
If another driver is driving too close to the lane line or almost hits you, it is appropriate to give a quick “beep” to let them know that they made a driving error and need to be more cautious. A quick honk of the horn can mean “Watch what you’re doing!”
Don’t use your horn to vent frustration
Your horn is not a way for you to tell another driver you don’t like their driving. If someone’s driving creates an ongoing danger, call the police. Never lay on your horn out of frustration with another driver.
Many instances of road rage begin with aggressive horn honking. You never know another driver’s state of mind, the kind of day they’re having, or how they’ll react to your blaring horn. Your safety is the top priority, so be calm when driving. If you must honk your horn at someone, do it lightly. Also, do not yell, mouth words, or use hand gestures to show your anger.
Don’t use your horn to ask “What’s Happening?”
Do not honk at your friends because this could alarm other drivers. You may startle another driver into slamming on their brakes, aborting their turn, or performing some other dangerous maneuver. Your horn is not a way to say “Hey” as you drive past your friends.
No, your horn cannot magically clear a traffic jam
If you’re stuck in a traffic jam, don’t honk. It isn’t going to make the situation any better; in fact, it will make it worse for everyone around you. Unless you are in a parade or stuck in a parking garage after your favorite baseball team just won the World Series, you should never lay on your horn in traffic.
Honking is sometimes against the law
In some cities, honking your horn between certain hours is against the law. I don’t think anyone will miss the neighborhood carpool mom honking at 6:00 a.m. to get the kids outside. You don’t have to worry about breaking the law if you use your horn only when absolutely necessary. Not wanting to get out of the car and ring the doorbell is not grounds for using your horn.
Honk if you’re …
Honking does not always pertain to alerting other drivers. Honking has become a way of showing support. For example, some people honk when they drive past students having car wash fund raisers. In Detroit, a U.S. District Judge ruled that not allowing “honking for peace” in anti-war demonstrations would be against the First Amendment.
The bottom line is to refrain from immediately reacting to a driver’s “wrong” move by laying on your horn or even giving a quick beep. People make mistakes and sometimes you need to just let it go rather than using your horn to vent. The simple rule: only use your horn when necessary.
When practicing with your teen, watch how he or she reacts when other drivers make mistakes. Discuss why honking would or would not have been appropriate for each situation.
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