The new Wigo: big star is a tiny Toyota car

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Sharp-looking halogen projectors, wide black grill with chrome trim and new 14-inch alloy wheels give the Wigo a more aggressive look.

Sharp-looking halogen projectors, wide black grill with chrome trim and new 14-inch alloy wheels give the Wigo a more aggressive look.

It may not have the comfort and refinements of the Camry or the advanced drivetrain and in-car technology of the Prius C.

It may not even match the performance of Toyota’s favorites, the Vios and the Yaris. However, the new Wigo held its own in this year’s edition of the Toyota Road Trek.

Perhaps it’s just coincidental, but the last time I joined the Road Trek—it was in 2014—the original Wigo was just introduced.

As expected, Toyota Motor Philippines’ (TMP) first entry-level mini hatch model was the highlight of the four-day event that brought the teams to several destinations in Iloilo and Aklan, and finally to the island of Boracay.

Fast forward to last week’s three-day event where we came up close and personal with the second iteration of the Wigo, a highly successful model that sold over 40,000 units since its market introduction.

Expect to see another sizable sales surge in the coming months considering that the new Wigo now looks much sharper with front fascia designs that may have been inspired by the current Corolla Altis and the Vios.

Another interesting upgrade that should convince a lot is its new 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine that is now equipped with VVTi (variable valve timing with intelligence) technology that promises much better fuel mileage.

Most anticipated event

For the uninitiated, the Road Trek—annually organized by TMP—is a ride-and-drive event aimed for the motoring media to experience and appreciate some of the company’s current automobile models.

At the same time, TMP takes this opportunity to bring the ever-busy, deadline-beating motoring media to first-class destinations to experience something new, something fun, and something extraordinary wrapped around the familiar setting of a road trip.

Of course, included in the itinerary is the friendly competition where teams can earn bragging rights and cash prizes (a reason why the motoring media were divided into nine teams).

This writer teamed up with Inquirer Motoring editor Jong Arcano and motoring columnist and Department of Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Karen Jimeno.

The new Wigo served as the centerpiece of Road Trek 2017: Siargao!

The new Wigo served as the centerpiece of Road Trek 2017: Siargao!

For the 13th staging of the event, TMP brought the road caravan to another island, Siargao, a tear-drop shaped surfer’s paradise situated 800 kilometers southeast of Manila in the province of Surigao del Norte (the Cloud Nine in the town of General Luna was once ranked No. 8 on CNN’s best surf spots).

“In the past 13 years, TMP has been conducting its Road Trek series as a way of highlighting the performance of its latest vehicles as well as showcasing the best destinations this country has to offer.

“This only signifies the deeply rooted tradition we have that makes the signature Toyota event a cut above the rest.

“Aside from all the fun and games, I am glad to experience the friendship and camaraderie all of you shared,” said Kei Mizuguchi, TMP marketing division EVP.

Mizuguchi (second from right) together with TMP executives Chualim, Atienza (first and second from left) and Ablaza (extreme right) congratulate this year’s Road Trek champion.

Mizuguchi (second from right) together with TMP executives Chualim, Atienza (first and second from left) and Ablaza (extreme right) congratulate this year’s Road Trek champion.

Mizuguchi was joined by other TMP executives including Jing Atienza, marketing division SVP; Sherwin Chualim, marketing division VP; and Carlo Ablaza, marketing division AVP.

Surf and drive

While Siargao may be famous for its surfing beaches (those facing eastward to the Pacific Ocean), the island also boasts of several secluded islands with white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, waterfalls, dive sites, large mangrove forest reserves and caves.

Mizuguchi

Mizuguchi

But since Road Trek 2017: Siargao! is also about driving, it should be interesting to know that the island is now lined with 142 kilometers of concrete pavement, perfect for exploring every section of this 437-square kilometer island (an area about two-thirds the size of Metro Manila).

Taking the new Wigo for a very short morning ride the following day, the experience seemed quite familiar: there was the same spunky engine, the roomy space that could seat adults comfortably despite its 2.45-meter wheelbase, and improved ride quality, thanks to a revised suspension geometry that gave the new Wigo a more planted and stable feel.

Indeed, Road Trek 2017: Siargao! should be remembered not only for the Camry, Vios, Yaris, and Prius C that this year’s participants enjoyed driving around the island—there was this lone orange metallic Wigo that never failed to pique attention and interest.

Although there are the obvious more expensive luxury and sporty rides that are sure-fire winners, a lot of us don’t exactly have the necessary means to go out and drop a million or more for a nice ride.

But that’s okay: With the new Wigo there is now a solid option for just around P600,000 that will do the trick.



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