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Space and style
MORE than a year after the new Toyota Sienta first arrived in Singapore as a parallel import, the cool seven-seater is now available officially from authorised distributor Borneo Motors Singapore (BMS).
But while the compact multi-purpose vehicle looks just as funky, it is not exactly the same car.
In the first half of 2016, the Toyota Sienta shot up the parallel import (PI) charts to be the third most popular PI model mainly because of its price - it is the cheapest seven-seat MPV on the market.
Costing less than S$110,000, this COE Category A model with a 1.5-litre engine is made in Japan and combines space and style.
Its strong appeal was probably one reason why BMS decided to bring it in too, as well as the fact that the Toyota Avanza reaches the end of its model life later this year.
The Sienta is of course a huge step up from the Avanza, which is an entry-level seven-seat MPV with the same body-on-frame construction used for pick-ups and lorries. But even if the Sienta is less basic than the Avanza, it comes from the same country.
Unlike the PI version, the Sienta from BMS is assembled in Indonesia.
Its provenance also means that while both have 1.5-litre engines, the Indonesian Sienta's has Dual VVT-i (variable valve timing with intelligence) while the Japanese Sienta's is Dual VVT-iE (VVT with intelligence by Electric motor).
On the latter, the inline four-cylinder engine's intake camshaft timing is electrically controlled.
This more sophisticated version of VVT-i not only results in better economy but also better emissions, meaning that the Japanese-made Sienta attracts a CEVS rebate.
On the other hand, the Sienta from BMS falls into the neutral band.
Price aside, the Toyota Sienta from BMS has the same endearingly quirky styling inspired by - of all things - a trekking shoe, with contrasting plastic trim to outline the front and rear ends.
The Sienta is the only car in its class to have electrically operated sliding rear doors.
Inside, the Sienta from BMS does not have the bright orange trim on the dashboard but it does have a 4.2-inch TFT screen in the instrument binnacle to display drive information, an eco score and door opening animation, among others, as well as personalised messages including greetings and birthday wishes.
More importantly, it has a tropics-appropriate rear air-con, which the PI version lacks.
The efficient 1.5-litre engine drives the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission and like all small Toyotas, manages to deliver adequate performance.
The woolly steering and higher centre of gravity may not make it an exciting drive, but its wonderfully wacky style should more than make up for that.
The Toyota Sienta from BMS has the same endearingly quirky styling inspired by - of all things - a trekking shoe.
Engine 1,496cc inline-4
Transmission Continuously variable
Max power 105 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max torque 140 Nm @ 4,200 rpm
0-100 kmh 12.8 secs
Top speed 165 kmh
CO2 emissions 143 g/km
Average OMV S$17,500
Price S$112,888 (with COE)
Distributor Borneo Motors