Thursday, 14 February 2008

2008 Toyota Corolla Altis on sale now in Thailand

Story and Pictures by: Peter Lee

Click on images to enlargeOnce again, another new Toyota model has been launched in Thailand, way ahead of Malaysia. I had the opportunity to view the all-new Toyota Altis 1.8E in a Toyota showroom in Rangsit, Thailand. Surprisingly, after taking about a dozen shots on my camera, I was barred from snapping further. Maybe they were paranoid that these images could be going online soon, to the detriment of other ASEAN countries where the new Altis has yet been launched. Buggers! Whatever the reason(s) may be, I found it absolutely ludicrous in this ICT age of broadband and internet.

Let’s go straight to my personal views of the car. If you are thinking that the new Altis will look like a junior CAMRY in the metal, you will be dead disappointed. In fact, there is no WOW-factor or drool-inducing aesthetics about the new ALTIS, unlike the Camry.
The side profile and rear looked much like the previous Altis while the front is much like a broader VIOS replica, albeit with slimmer headlamps. I do admit the interior and dashboard design/layout is better now (with Camry’s steering wheel et al) but I still hate the FAKE-wood trims, much like varnished coffins wood actually. For the record, I hate all the wood (pseudo or otherwise) inserts used in both Toyota and Lexus.

Which begs the question now: “Would I buy the new Corolla Altis?”
My family has owned 3 generations of Corollas. My wife currently uses a Toyota Wish for daily commute. I also owned both generations of Toyota Harriers aka Lexus RX. My company car in Bangkok office is a new Vios G. With such proven 'track records', I would likely be parking another new Corolla in one of my driveways, right? Sadly, the answer is...NO.

Because there is totally NO driver involvement. No positive feedback. No sense of excitement. In short, what you get is, more often than not, a detached driving experience. To sum it nicely, it’s just a reliable passenger carrier. Not much depth beyond that often much-treasured TOYOTA emblem/badge. Well, perhaps the all-new Supra coupe (ala LH-A concept) would change my perception but alas, that’s a super coupe with a possibly Continental-level premium price.

Back to reality, for the price that I may be paying (estimated circa RM115k) for the new Altis 1.8 come March 2008 in Malaysia, I would rather have a 2nd look at the SSS model or ML sedan - both Japanese imports (CBU). At least these are more exciting to be chucked around, relatively speaking of course.

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