November 08, 2016 @ 07:26 PM

Review: Toyota Sienta 1.5V - The funky appliance

A sub-RM100k MPV that infuses a little zest into its styling whilst hauling seven and change... why not we say?

MPVs are hardly the bastion of motoring fun; instead representing the palpable restraints of parenthood or family life that usually forces a trade-in from drop tops and seating for two to powered sliding doors and bench seats for seven.

Things take a turn for the worse with the midi, or compact MPV, that squeezes in seven and flattens out fun. A quick look at some of the entry-level MPVs only serves to reconfirm this notion.

Toyota however is painting a pretty picture of its Sienta MPV; a sub-RM100k seven-seater that is labelled as “Fun United” in its ads. That’s honestly quite a generous application of marketing Vaseline but on first glance, its funky styling is hard to ignore. Once that tugs you in, you find that the Sienta is quite a capable seven-seater with all the convenience and practicality we’ve associated with Toyota.

If you’re wondering about the origins of its name, it wasn’t from the bowl of alphabet soup during the marketing team’s lunch hour. In actuality, it’s an amalgamation of the Spanish word for seven, “siete”, and the “entertainment.” Therefore, Sienta logically indicates an entertaining seven-seater; or at least as amusing as an MPV can get.

Things are off to a flying start on the exterior. Almost always on the boxy side of design with 90-degree angles, the Sienta ditches the traditionally insipid MPV lines for something a little more curvaceous and impish in nature.

Black A-pillars lend it a floating roof look and the outer edge of the bi-LED projector headlamps branches off, flows downwards and joining hands at the bottom of the trapezoidal grille. In white, the front bears more than a striking resemblance to the worse shots in the Star Wars universe but the Storm Trooper look bodes well with its playful complexion. The very same design cue appears in the rear as well with the combination LED taillights.

Furthermore, some rather impactful colours such as the metallic orange our media review unit came in just adds to the youthful exuberance. There’s a shade labelled “Air Yellow” but resembles lime green more although that isn't offered here for the time being.

The funkiness goes beyond skin deep and the cabin exudes a hint of that fresh-faced energy from the outside. A tow-tier dash makes for a ridiculous amount of cubby holes, including a cooled upper glovebox.

However, there’s only so much that styling can distract you from and the tactile feel doesn’t do the styling justice. That’s not to say the cabin is lacking. Rather the functionality and practicality goes above and beyond with multiple configurations available for the three rows.

The materials are certainly above average and smart placement of fabric together with satin chrome trimmings help the level the aesthetics and tactile field. These are just minor shortcomings that are more than compensated with generous amounts of kit.

Features such as stability control, climate control, keyless entry, push-start and dual powered sliding doors make it quite a bang for your buck, which should also nudge most buyers towards the premium 1.5V.

Legroom is fair for all three rows with even the third being sufficient for the vertically-gifted to endure long road trips. Headroom is more than generous as well and a rear air-conditioning blower helps cool the cabin faster. The cinema-style tiered seating takes some getting used to, especially for the driver that noticeably sits a little lower than usual.

The flat-folding third row drops underneath the second that tumbles forward to swallow them up. You can fold the third row seats individually; same goes for the middle row. Everything can be done with just a tug of a lever or yank of a handle but the split configuration means work from both sides, softened a bit by the powered sliding doors.

While it doesn’t look cheap and feels more upmarket than its pricing suggests, the drivetrain noise lets the cat out of the bag. The 1.5-litre mill isn't a powerhouse with 105bhp and 140Nm of torque. Furthermore, it racks up quite a buzz and the CVT droning adds to the din.

One of the more telling signs between a premium-looking product and one that’s actually premium is the refinement. NVH levels are one of the biggest giveaways and it applies here.

However, the engine is a proven unit with respect to fuel efficiency and reliability. Official figures put it at 6.2l/100km but try as we did, the best we could muster was 7.3l/100km which in all honesty is actually pretty darn good. Being a Toyota engine, expect it to keep running until the end of time.

For a seven-seater, the Sienta is quite compact for its dimensions; a fact accentuated by the generous cabin space. It isn't until you park it next to a B-segment car that it actually hits you how tiny its footprint is. For comparisons sake, the new Toyota Vios is longer and wider although the Sienta edges it the wheelbase department.

The Sienta is for all purposes and intentions an appliance and just like shopping for your home, always go with the established brands. As a bonus, you can pick one that’s a little cool; just like those refrigerators with touchscreens and Wi-Fi. The Sienta is essentially that.

Toyota Sienta 1.5V
Engine: 1496cc, DOHC 16, inline-four, variable valve timing, 105bhp @ 6000rpm, 140NM @ 4200rpm
Transmission: CVT, front-wheel drive
Performance: 6.2-litres/100km
Dimensions (l/w/h): 4235mm, 1695mm, 1695mm
Weight: 1350kg


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