10 features we liked in the Toyota Wigo

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TOYOTA’S budget hatchback is set to win

The Toyota Wigo has an inherent advantage even before anyone plants his or her bum on the driver’s seat: that “T” badge. Early reports pronounced that the car was more than just a pretty badge. The favorable impressions were mostly justified during our week with the Wigo. We tried the 1.0G with manual transmission, as it slots just below P500,000. Here’s what we found:

1. Engine

Three cylinders are the new four, as many entry-level hatchbacks are now sporting 3s. With just 64 horsepower on tap and, more significantly, only 85 Newton-meters at a high 3,600 revolutions per minute, we might have worried that it’s not enough. But it proved sufficiently powerful, making quick work of a run up a mall’s long parking ramp with a full load of passengers. The reduced size and fewer parts also help with the second feature.

2. Fuel efficiency

The Wigo’s fuel efficiency indicator stayed resolutely in double digits, even with the worst of Friday afternoon city traffic thrown at it. Keeping up with other traffic involves regularly revving to 3000 rpm, thus knocking down the mileage to 12.1 kilometers per liter. When new, our 1997 Echo with a 1.3-liter, automatic transmission could manage better than that, but it’s still not too shabby.

WIGO fuel economy stayed resolutely in double-digits after days of city driving.

3. ABS brakes and dual airbags

Two things that Echo didn’t have. Airbags are especially important in a car of this size, which has limited crush space.

4. Small outside, roomy inside

The Wigo clocks in at just 3,600 millimeters long, but it has a properly designed cabin. There’s no banging of elbows or knees on any consoles. There’s actually no console, granted, but with enough cubbyholes and storage compartments.  The rear seat has plenty of kneeroom.

5. Responsive handling

Small size should come with great handling, and the Wigo delivers. Turning radius is tiny, as expected, allowing it to squeeze into tight spaces. The narrow car doesn’t feel as securely planted as the Echo, though.

6. Electric power steering

SURPRISING amount of passenger space, front and rear. Photos by Jason K. Ang

Properly weighted for city driving, the steering is light enough for parking but still stable at as close to 100 kph as we dared take it. You had better like the factory-set steering rake, as the wheel is nonadjustable for tilt. We found the angle fine.

7. Air conditioner

A feature not to be lightly dismissed in this searing heat. The air conditioner was able to cope with noontime heat, even with nontinted glass. Some help from V-kool tint should help the cooling further. What we didn’t like: center air-conditioner vents that are loose and prone to falling out of their sockets.

8. All power features

Again, not to be taken for granted, when some rivals still go for crank rear windows and manual side mirrors. The Wigo has a full set of four power windows, with four driver’s switches, as well as power side mirrors and door locks.

9. Luggage space

The Wigo’s luggage compartment is enough for normal grocery shopping, that is, not S&R-size packages. If you need to go American-style shopping, you can drop the rear seat back to expand the luggage space. Just leave the kids at home, as the back seat is in a single piece.

10. Two-DIN audio

The audio unit has an included iPod and USB connector, as well as AUX input and slots for memory cards. It’s also upgradable to a navigation system.



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