A proper hatchback despite its small size

Published November 19, 2021, 9:54 AM

by Eric R. Tipan

2020 Toyota Wigo 1.0 TRD S AT

The Wigo came out looking admittedly plain in 2014 and while there was a significant 2017 update, it still didn’t really stick out design-wise in our market full of subcompacts. That all changed though with this new variant introduced in 2020, the Wigo TRD S.

It really starts with its exclusive Yellow SE body and how it just enhances the sharp angles and shapes of the TRD kit it comes with. That wide-mouthed grille looks very aggro, especially the area by the foglamp housings and the front spoiler.

Ground clearance is 180 mm and even though it uses small 14-inch machine-cut wheels (not official TRD equipment), it still looks like it has a stylishly low profile because of the side skirts, which in turn give it a pretty nice stance for a hatchback.

The only LEDs are the brake lamps but the cute taillight design kind of makes up for it. There’s a spoiler on top, a rear skirt, decals and badges to complete the TRD package.

I like the whole setup. It may have gone a little over the top with the effort to look fast and sleek, even if everyone knows it has a small displacement engine. But as they say, ‘go all in or not at all.’

Keyless entry and a push-button start system are standard, so even for a P700,000 car, there’s amazing accessibility and high ease of use. And because it’s really compact, it fits in just about any size parking slot.

The bottom half of the cabin is mainly black while the top half is grey. It exudes a somewhat elegant vibe for an entry-level model. More so because of a better-looking center stack that’s highlighted by the glossy surface.

Toyota could have done better than a three-spoke polyurethane steering wheel but at this price point, I’m not going to make a big deal out of it. At least it comes with audio controls on the left spoke.

The nine-inch touchscreen with USB and Bluetooth connectivity looks really good. What makes it special compared to other Wigo variants with the same infotainment is that this is the only one with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Consider that if your serious about this model. Right below it is a shiny LCD climate control panel that really gives the cockpit a classy look.

Designed for first-time car buyers, millennials, and basically the young market with a lot of gadgets, I was glad to find so many cubbyholes, holders, and pockets just in and around the front. That way, devices won’t be sliding around should you decide to go for a fun ride on a weekend.

For a sub P1M Toyota, the instrument panel looks sophisticated, with a modern design with three rings and even a trip computer and gear indicator. What should get an upgrade is the long and old-fashioned gear shifter that looks like it came from the 80s.

I like how the seat fabric comes with a pattern to liven up the interior. Seats are almost bench-type with very little bolstering and are rather small (the headrest only reaches just above my nape), although it does adjust easily to the proper driving position. The cabin is so compact that I could easily reach for stuff on the second-row from the driver’s seat. That said, it’ll comfortably seat four; five would be a bit of a squeeze.

While the exterior looks flashy, it still uses that same 1KR-VE 1.0L three-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing (VVT-i) from the 2017 update. Output is a modest 66-PS and 89-Nm of torque but since it only weighs a little over 800 kilos, it has a very acceptable power-to-weight ratio. That means it takes off quickly and feels very agile for metro driving.

Don’t let its look fool you though. You don’t really want to toss it around like a rally hatchback because this is a city car. Plus, the combo of the front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam axle is on the soft side, which gives higher comfort but tends to have lower rollover resistance. Noise, vibration, and harshness levels aren’t that ood as poorly asphalted roads were very obvious in the cabin.

Fuel efficiency is one of its strong suits. I easily picked up 12.5 km/l in mixed driving conditions. If you’re a more conscientious driver or it had more than a four-speed automatic transmission, 14 and higher should be doable.

It has plenty of pros and some cons, but remember that this is a low-cost, first-generation model that continues to get better with each update. A couple of tweaks here and there, and maybe a CVT (continuously variable transmission) in the future will give it a few more points for performance and efficiency.

For now, I’m glad it has worked on its looks. With this kit, the 2020 Toyota TRD S AT has turned itself into an eye-catching hatchback.