BEING on the large side, I’ve always had biggish cars. I've never owned a compact car, though my late father had a Mini which he often lent me, but I was a lot thinner in those days.
So when Toyota invited me to test-drive their recently launched Wigo, I assumed I was in for a few hours being cramped-up behind the wheel.
Wrong! I found getting in and out of the Wigo (pronounced "we go") a lot easier than cars a size or two up from this little guy. The Wigo is a lot roomier than I could have imagined for such a dinky car.
Legroom and headroom front and back are good as is visibility. It's comfortable for four regular adults or five for a short joinery. The trunk (or boot as we call it in England) is small, but big enough for most occasions. The rear seat folds down to make more space. It doesn't fold flat, but the extra space is sure to be useful.
The Wigo is a good-looking car - in my view, rather more stylish than some other compact cars I see on the roads these days.
The interior is clean and functional, though a bit basic, but then it has been built to a price so don't expect luxury fittings.
I would have preferred some kind of armrest between the front seats. I have a friend in England who had the same issue with his car so he made his own armrest from foam rubber and covered it with cloth. It works well and looks good.
Bearing in mind that this is a very modestly-priced car, it was good to see power widows and power mirrors. The air-conditioning was excellent. And it comes with dual air bags. The sound system, however, could be improved with additional speakers.
The instrument cluster features a tachometer and digital multi-info display. In the center is a large LCD screen that serves as the entertainment system. It has a touch screen and SD card slot. A USB port to connect an iPod or MP3 player is hidden in the glove box
As for performance, I found the Wigo's 1.0 liter three-cylinder engine very lively and responsive. Just the job in traffic. Our test car was the five-speed manual version. However, if using the car in a crowded city I'd go for the automatic. Less fuel efficient, but a lot easier to drive.
I found the handling quite respectable and perfectly adequate for everyday needs. Steering was responsive.
As for fuel consumption, the manual version returns between 16 and 18 km/L on the highway at an average speed of 80 kph. In light traffic we're looking at about 13.5 km/L. In heavier traffic expect around 10 km/L.
Fuel consumption for the automatic will, of course be, less but, in my view, well worth it for the extra convenience.
The Wigo is Toyota's first foray into the sub B-segment category and it's become so popular that dealers are having trouble meeting demands. It's aimed very much at first-time buyers who want a modestly-priced, attractive, but practical car.
My criticisms of the car are rather minor. Toyota has clearly come up with a winning package. The plucky little Wigo has much to commend it.