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
2012/05 - http://cdn.toyota-catalog.jp/catalog/pdf/corolla-3/corolla-3_201205.pdf
2013/04 - http://cdn.toyota-catalog.jp/catalog/pdf/corolla-3/corolla-3_201304.pdf
2013/08 - http://cdn.toyota-catalog.jp/catalog/pdf/corolla-3/corolla-3_201308.pdf
2015/03 - http://cdn.toyota-catalog.jp/catalog/pdf/corolla-3/corolla-3_201503.pdf
So just planned to do quick review after driving a specific car as it would help most of the people who seek out details about a particular model. Those entries contain details about how the car is like to drive, comfort level, build quality and interesting facts(if there are any). So I will be unable to post details about long term ownership and maintenance.
This review is based on Honda Fit GP5, which is one of the most common cars in SL roads and one of my favourite cars to drive.
I have driven this car in hilly areas, bends, stretches and bad roads. So I will be able to give a brief idea about how it is likely to drive. The first thing you notice when you get into a Honda (specially if you are a Toyota owner) how the seating position, dash layout wraps around you. It just makes you feel like you are sitting in a driver’s car. The seating position feels much sporty and lowered.
The Honda’s Earth Dreams Hybrid system (even though it has those early clutch replacements and a bit unrefined nature) is a joy to drive. The acceleration is really good even when the car is filled with 5 adults. I drove the car from Padukka to Kegalle once with 5 adults and I never felt that it was underpowered. The Fit will do 0-100kmph around 8-9seconds but I never tested that. But trust me the car has more than enough grunt for day to day driving and sudden overtakes. The steering is really light with a little bit of weight, but much sharper than a toyota. It goes where you direct without a delay. In corners it’s steady, feels much more planted and rigid. Given the size and power, the car is miles ahead in the driving area when compared with a Toyota Aqua, the main competitor. You can corner this really hard without any slips or stability issues.
But the issue you’ll find with this car is the unrefined nature of the hybrid system. When you are going slowly round the town, the throttle response is a bit hideous. Sometime you really have to put your foot down to make it get going. When the engine kicks in, it’s much less of a trouble. This is existant in all the three i-DCD equipped models, Grace and Vezel also. Another thing that a felt is that due to the high amount of torque generated by the motor, the car is a bit hard to control during small manevours and specially entering into a garage with a bump. You’ll have to be a bit carefull or otherwise the car will jump forward.
Around the town the car is a breeze to handle due to low turning radius and light steering.
When compared with an Aqua, the ride is pretty comfortable, but not as a sedan with softer suspension setting, such as an Axio Hybrid. The seats are on the firm side and the suspension too, but for me the car feels a bit more comfortable than the Aqua. Also the seats hold you better when cornering providing good side support. One thing that you’ll notice is the amount of leg space for the both front and rear occupents when considering the size of the car. It’s really adorable.
One day I drove a Fit from Kadawatha to Kegalle and after the journey I felt a bit tired which I never felt in my 121. That’s due to the stiffer suspension and a bit higher road noise levels since it’s a hatch.
Most of the materials used are hard plastic. But the finish makes it feel a bit more upmarket. The door panels and dash are nicely finised with silver accents and piano black insertings, so I find the car to be miles ahead when compared with Aqua, Vitz and even the 3rd Gen Prius.
The car has much more options such as paddle shifters, brake hold and LCD colour multi information display.
Interesting Features and facts
-The climate control system is touch sensitive, which cannot be seen on far more expensive car models. It’s really cool, but sometimes a bit harder to control on the move.
-During a hard braking, the signal lights alert the rear driver by doing fast pulses.
-When you pass 100kmph, there is not much power left.
-Just like most Honda’s the original speakers are really good. Make sure to use a good head unit or keep the original japanese one than replacing with a crappy chinses head unit.
Overall the GP5 is a car that I really love to drive and would fit a small family with kids nicely. The economy is good but not good as an Aqua. But beware of the dual clutch system and the hybrid battery when you are buying one.
This review is based on my personal experiences and other people might have different opinions. If there is anything wrong or inappropriate please let me know. Also that this review is not sufficient as a deciding factor for a new car since it omly covers about the brief time period of driving experience but not MAINTENANCE AND DAILY DRIVING. Looking forward for your comments🤗Thank you for reading!
Corolla 121 can be introduced as one of the most popular cars in TYPICAL SRI LANKAN vehicle market. Even being aged closed to 20 years they still sell around 3 million.
So still most buyers are interested about this car, and I planned to share my 7 years of experience in this blog. I used a 2000 manufactured G Grade one which has a 1500cc engine.
What it really is?
Just a compact car designed for A to B transportation with good fuel economy and realiability.
So I’m going to start from how it is like to drive. When compared to the other cars in the same category the acceleration is really good for a 1.5L motor. The car is comparatively lighter than the 110 and Axio, so for me I’m yet to experience a better acceleration from a newer car with the same engine. It has good kick down acceleration due to 4 speed automatic transmission. For me the engine performance is better than the Civic ES5(1.5l), Mazda Axela 2004-2009, Lancer CS series and Nissan Tiida.
Handling is a bit sharper than the newer Axios,Allions and Premios, but not sharp as a Honda or a Mazda. Steering is really light with a very little amount of feedback from the road. Due to the rear torsion beam setup the car is not steady in corners when compared to the older 110 and Carinas(which has independent rear suspension). But it is comparatively better in corners than the Axio.Braking is ok. Neither great nor bad. When it comes to handling Hondas and Mazdas are better.
On the highways the car is steady for speeds around 100-120. After 120 there was a slight vibration(due to the resonance of the engine) but when you accelerate further around 140 the vibration goes away. There is a noticable change in stability after 140 as you can feel the car is well planted than before. You can go all the way upto 180 without any issue ONLY IF YOUR CAR IS IN PERFECT CONDITION(TIRES, ALIGNMENT,BRAKES AND SUSPENSION). I’ve tested twice and really impressed.
For day to day driving around the town the car is good due to reduced length and good ground clearance. Ground clearance is really good when compared to other cars from the same class and even with never Fit,Grace and Prius. The light steering really helps for easy manouvering.
Visibility is okay, but sometimes the thick front A pillars are a bit disturbing. Also there is a problem about visibility when the dashboards is reflected from the windscreen during direct sunlight.
Driving position is pretty higher like most other Toyotas and not sporty at all. Feels like you are sitting on a chair.
When I bought the car it was running on its original shock absorbers. But in 2015 I changed them using Japan made KYB Excel G and it reduced the the comfort level by a considerable amount. But the car is more comfortable than Mazda Axela, Honda Fit GP1 and GP5, Civic FD3, Honda Grace and Vezel, Toyota Aqua. I can really handle potholes well, but bumps can make the car wavy due to the rear torsion beam setup.
The refinement levels are really good when compared to the above mentioned set of cars and it is another field that the 121 really excels. Under lightfooted driving the engine noise can’t be heard, and road noise levels are much lower. After long journeys I felt less tired than the Gp5 and Gp1.
Seats are really comfortable and are a bit firmer than 110,FB15 N16s, but not firm as the Allion Premio 260 2007-2012 F grade and Hondas and Mazdas. One thing that I noticed was the rear seat thigh support is better than the Premios and Allions. Seat space is okay of you are under 6ft. Front seats feel a bit cramped due to the dashboard design beacause I’m 6ft. I always felt that Front seats are less spacious for me when compared to the other cars, even the GP1 is better.
Another area that this car excels. Based on my personal experienced around the town it does only about 9-10 kmpl with full time ac on 92 octane(because I live in a really hilly area). For trips like Colombo to Kandy it car return around 14-15kmpl with full time AC. It returned well over 18kmpl when travelled through highway to matara and longer trips with less traffic with 3-4 adults on borad. Also note that driving pattern hugely affects the economy level. Slow driving will never return good fuel figures. Maintaining a speed level around 70-80 will return really good fuel figures. After the first few months I never calculated fuel figures since it is much less expensive to run.
This is the car which made me a Toyota fan. It never broke down. Never even had to touch the spare tire. I had done 60,000km (93,000km to 153,000km). I only had to do the running repairs and replacements. Did the tuneups and changed the ATF fluid once for every 40,000km. Used only Toyota oils.Did the services on time and never let the “makabasses” touch the car. Changed the AC cooler. Changed one hub razor. Only the running repairs. But remember that most of the cars up for sale have been through much abuse and therefore don’t expect the same level of reliability from every car. Make sure to set aside about Rs.100,000 for the repairs when you are buying a car. Also note that some cars have manufacturing defects, eventhough the car model is proven reliable. I know a guy who sold his 2010 personally imported Allion after doing 60,000kms due to excessive repairs. That depends on your luck.
Has a good amount of options considering it’s age. Always go for a G, G limited or a Luxel grade if you buy one. I will do another entry explaining about all the grades and options.
Interior is really good with soft touch materials on the dashboard and upper doors. All trim pieces are solidly fixed so I never experienced any “creeks”. Interior material quality is better than the 141 Axio and 2nd and 3rd gen Prius. Good when compared with the cars of the same category.
Notable Faults with the car
-The steering rack is issue is famous with these Toyotas. It gives no problem except for the “duk duk” noise when travelling on bad roads. I repaired it but again after 3-4 months the noise came. Best thing is to replace it with a good reconditioned part.
-As mentioned before the dashboard’s reflection on the windscreen reduces the visibility during direct sunlight(only when the sunlight falls directly on the dash)
-The center console has a small compartment, just over the ash tray and the lid of it was broken from the begining and in most 121’s I’ve seen it broken.
-Discoloration of the headlights is pretty fast due to the shape of the headlights
The car was sold over a month ago keeping me a 150,000 profit even after 7 years of usage. Remember that if the price is right you can easily sell it. I was quoting a really high price earlier and got a chance to sell it keeping 275,000 profit. But at that time I had no car to move on so gave up the idea(3 months ago). I advertised the car on a not-that-much-famous site on internet and next day morning two boys came for inspection and in the evening gave the advance. He still calls me due to satisfaction.😃
Really I loved the car throughout it’s stay with me for 7 years. Really a good car which is suited well for the Sri Lankan conditions and Typical Sri Lankan car buyer’s requirements. Make sure to look after the car well and it returns you with good reliability. Always use japanese parts and good mechanics for the repairs.
Hope to do another entry to this blog about the Grades available in 121. This review is based purely on my experience and some details might differ from car to car. Please inform me if there is something inappropriate or wrong and welcome for all comments. I triend my best to provide and unbiased review.Thank you for reading👍