What happened to the once popular Progrès?

Friday December 8 2017

Toyota Progrès was sold on the Japan market

Toyota Progrès was sold on the Japan market from May 1998 to June 2007. However, in Uganda it became a popular choice for many motorists in the mid-2000s.  

By Mustaf Ziraba

Sometimes you wonder how some car brands become a popular choice for many Ugandan drivers but disappear all of a sudden.
For instance, if you have been observant, you should have seen how Toyota Wish, a medium-sized hunchback has taken over the Ugandan market.

Others that have become a popular choice include Harrier, Ipsum, Subaru Forester, Mark X, Premio and some Mercedes Benz classifications.
However, unlike the Toyota Progrès, these cars have maintained their stay popularity with some outing new modifications.

Toyota Progrès, which made its entry in 1998, only became popular in Uganda in the mid-2000s.
Pronounced as “Prog-Ray”, French for Progress, the box-shaped automotive, is a conservative and old fashioned car whose body rides on rough edges

Its wide and huge windscreen guarantees good visibility and a smooth flow of wind off the ridges.
However, one might wonder why, after a pompous appearance on the Ugandan market, quickly became a lesser option.
When the Progrès first appeared on Ugandan, it promised more than just a car designed with a luxurious interior.

The interior is designed with luxury in mind and offers an enjoyable drive unlike many of the cars in its category.
Its chassis is tuned to offer an excellent blend of comfortable and subtle responsiveness with a low-effort steering which makes driving aimlessly smooth.

What happened if it has such a good review?
According to Steven Ntambi, one of the few Ugandans who still own a Toyota Progrès, the car has lots of electronics and is high on fuel consumption.
This and many other reasons such as high price, make Progrès a high class car yet it does not fit in the category of cars such as Crown.

The electronics means it costs more to repair and it is difficult to repair, especially in a market where there are few or no specialised mechanics.
Additionally, the Progrès comes with either a 2.5 litre or 3.0 litre engines, which is relatively high for a market that on average consumes less than 10 litres of fuel per week.

Such consumption was bound to make it an unpopular choice given that it had been bought by middle income earners who have less to spend on luxury.
While these are not new, they are out maneuvered by high end and popular brands such as Mercedes Benz and BMW, among others that present superior choices.

The Progrès doesn’t have much merits to out shadow such brands.
Worst of all its resale value is extremely low, which gives it low leverage over other brands in its category.

Market comparisons
Named Progrès has equipment specification that not only surpass many sedans of similar exterior size, but matches much larger cars such as the BMW 5 series and the Mercedes-Benz E Class.

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