The first generation of the 1998 Toyota Vitz was for a season one of the top sellers in Uganda among a certain demographic.
The car was a hit for anyone that wanted a small manageable no-frills automobile that rivals a large motorcycle in terms of fuel consumption. In case you think my imagination is a tad wild, I will point out that the Honda CBR1000RR motorcycle has the same engine cubic capacity as the smaller version of the Vitz. They both stand at 1000cc.
Be that as it may, Toyota was onto something when the company mass-produced the Vitz. Codenamed the XP10, the Vitz went on to become the first choice for many first-time car owners and a driving staple for a number of women in Uganda. A friend that drives the 1000cc variant praises the car as being cheap to maintain and that its fuel consumption is hard to beat. As a single woman with no children to drop or pick from school, the car is the perfect option for this stage of her life.
A number of women that are simply looking for convenient transportation echo similar sentiments. But do not be deceived; there is a section of bold men that ¬¬drive the Vitz despite social beliefs that the car is more suited for women. Most of these walk against the social norm and drive these cars for the same reasons that women love them. They are cheap to run.
The Vitz XP10, was designed by a Greek-born auto designer called Sotiris Kovos and was produced from 1998 to 2004. The car was an instant hit with buyers and later went on to win the ‘Car of the year’ award in Japan for 1998. As with many Japanese cars, the Vitz has different names for different markets. The company used the names Echo and Yaris for markets outside of Japan.
The XP10 is powered by a small but reliable inline-four series engine code-named the 2NZ-FE that has different variants. Each of these has different power outputs across the different cubic capacities that the car runs. For capacities, the car was not without options.
It has variants with 1000cc, 1300cc, and 1500cc for the petrol options.
However, there is a diesel option with 1400cc, which is the expert of all matters fuel economy. The 2NZ-FE uses Toyotas VVT-I technology that among other things, increases efficiency and fuel economy and reduces emissions.
The car also came with two types of transmissions, with one being a five-speed manual shifter and the other, a four-speed automatic gearbox.
In October 2000, Toyota launched the RS version of the Vitz which was the facelift version of the car that had a host of upgrades such as more powerful brakes, fog lamps, a side skirt, and alloy wheels. Also thrown in was a firmer suspension calibration that improved ride quality.
The Toyota Vitz generally did not come with many problems apart from a few squeaks as the car gets older.
However, according to Ronald Matovu, a mechanic, some of the XP10s with the 5-speed manual gearbox had trouble shifting into lower gears. This problem was caused by a part called the synchromesh that needed to be reconditioned.
However, buying an entirely new one is a better option. He also adds the some of the cars had air conditioning that failed prematurely. The car would fail to cool the interior at the lowest AC setting signaling trouble with the compressor.
A new compressor would have to be bought. “For some of the Vitz cars, the rear wheel bearings would wear out prematurely and need replacing rather too quickly,” he says adding however that he has not yet worked on a Vitz which had a real manufacturer centered problem that would make him advise buyers against the car.
Overall, I would recommend the Vitz for anyone that wants a small car that purely moves them from point A to be B at the cheapest maintenance rate possible. This is, especially, if you are not looking for a spacious automobile for carrying many people or things in.
The best place to buy the Vitz XP10 would be the bond if you are lucky to chance on one. With current legislation, it may be impossible to import the car in since it has passed the threshold of acceptable years of manufacture allowed into the country.
Before money changes hands, take the car for a test drive and have it thoroughly inspected by your mechanic. Ensure the car changes gears smoothly, does not overheat and the engine runs with no unexpected sounds. Also, ask for service details of the car in case the seller can avail them to you.
Go with the five-door body instead of the three-door alternative which can be a hassle for back seat passengers to get out of.