There is something that we cannot ignore with the new Toyota Veloz, and it’s not with the model itself, but with the naming and the positioning on Toyota Motor Philippines’ website. Something’s changed with the Veloz, but underneath it’s still the same Avanza that we’ve come to know. Before we go on to assume that it is the same Avanza but dressed up to look better, let’s look at a few details that Toyota has put on their website.
While it may seem like the Veloz is simply a high-end Avanza, rebranded and renamed to move away from the MPV, let’s also dive into how separating the two can benefit the Veloz nameplate in the country.
Sometimes, brands may choose to classify their cars under a different nameplate in order to differentiate them from the standard models. Toyota Philippines is moving the Veloz nameplate away from the variant list of the Avanza and slapping it onto its own model complete with its own model page on its website. Heck, there were separate launch events for both the Veloz and the Avanza. Prior to last year, the Veloz name served as the top-of-the-line variant and every top-spec trim was called the Avanza Veloz before this generation’s update. Now it’s going to be called ‘just’ the Veloz.
Up until 2021, however, we did already see the Veloz in other markets, and some of us assumed that it would slot into the Avanza’s lineup of variants. Toyota did something different this time around, however, positioning the Veloz away from the Avanza even if both models look identical.
A different classification
You may have noticed that Toyota now classifies the Veloz as a crossover/SUV instead of an MPV. The Avanza’s still in the MPV category with the Innova, so why isn’t the Veloz there with it considering that both share the same platform? Recently, both models have migrated over to a new chassis, promising better performance and comfort. Putting it in the crossover/SUV category means that the model will share the same space as the Rush, which is odd considering that the Rush is also related to the Avanza’s previous iteration. You could say that the Avanza is closer in build to a crossover, and it's all the better for it. Now the Rush sits close the Veloz in terms of pricing, which hovers a question mark over the future of the Rush nameplate.
Both models still seat the same amount of passengers and boast flexible seating arrangements and so does the Rush. Platform sharing is not uncommon in the Toyota stable, as the Innova, Fortuner, Hilux, and even the Hiace share the same modular platform from Toyota. The Veloz, even if it is based on a Daihatsu (which Toyota owns anyway), seems to be taking a similar approach to the ladder frame models of the brand, which wouldn’t be that big of a headscratcher in the first place if it was totally-different.
For a different market
Back then, the Avanza held its own place in the market, being a low-cost option for consumers to buy if they were in the sub P1,000,000 price range. The previous generation saw the Avanza get a Veloz variant as well, but to limited acclaim compared to the Rush. The Veloz was overshadowed by the Rush in quite a few respects, and its price overlapped quite a bit as well.
The Avanza Veloz was in a weird spot before, being a more upscale Avanza that didn’t quite match up to the Rush in a few regards. However, with the new revision to the Avanza platform, and with the Rush being seemingly dated compared to the rest of the market, separating the Avanza and the Veloz given the new front-wheel-driven platform could be the right move for Toyota to give the Veloz its time in the limelight. The brand is copying other brands like Suzuki in its decision, making the base MPV good enough then upselling the better trim level under a more differentiated name.
Lately, we’ve been seeing a lot of brands positioning cars in that MPV-Crossover grey area. Models like the Mitsubishi Xpander or even Toyota’s own Rush kind of blur the lines between what a crossover is versus an MPV. If we’re talking about a true MPV, the Innova has got that classification in the bag, but lately, even other segments are reaching into others' design cookie jars like Land Rover did with the Defender moving away from a ladder-frame construction in favor of a highly-engineered unibody chassis. The Avanza also moved away from its rear-wheel-drive platform in favor of a more crossover-like frame which incorporates a unibody chassis along with a front-wheel-drivetrain.
Even the engines between the two models are the same at their top specs. The Veloz comes standard with the 1.5-liter 2NR-FE from Toyota, which makes 105 hp and 138 Nm of torque mated to a CVT. Meanwhile, the Avanza can also be fitted with the same motor, but with a 1.3-liter option available that makes just 97 hp.
So what makes it different?
The difference between the Avanza and Veloz lies in the interior fittings and the features presented in the model. On the outside, we see that the Veloz has an exterior that’s similar to the Avanza, but snazzier thanks to a reworked front end, that has a fancier grille. On top of that, LEDs are standard for the headlights and the taillights, but it’s the same story on the Avanza as well, so no major improvements there.
There are some mechanical improvements, however, which include a set of rear disc brakes. On the interior, there are a bunch of other goodies that the Veloz has over the Avanza which include a 7-inch multi-information display in place of the standard gauge cluster found in the Avanza. Smart keyless entry is available in the highest spec models of the Avanza, while anything below will require a standard twist-to-start key, but the Veloz gets the feature as standard.
The Veloz, meanwhile, gets major upgrades in the form of an 8 or 9-inch infotainment display, and the top-spec trim will get a 360-degree camera system while a backup camera remains standard throughout the Veloz’s lineup. The Avanza is more basic, and its infotainment screen tops out at 8 inches, with base models coming in just 6.75-inch units.
Apart from that, there is a load of design changes and feature add-ons to the interior, and the Veloz has a more luxurious look compared to the utilitarian Avanza.
Better Avanza? Or Better than the Avanza?
It’s hard to see the Veloz as an all-new model compared to the Avanza, but that doesn’t make it any less of a car. Considering that it has a totally new platform and considering that the Avanza is already quite the star in its own right, it made sense for Toyota to rebrand the model into something that would appeal to the more upscale car buyer. Toyota’s been behind the curve a bit when it comes to crossovers in the more affordable segments of the market, leaving room for Mitsubishi and Suzuki to grow and other brands to take root. In fact, the lineup of the Avanza and the Veloz look similar to what Suzuki has done with the Ertiga platform, spawning the XL7 from the Ertiga.
However, does that make the Veloz better? If you are shopping around for a posh utility vehicle, then consider the Veloz’s price tag of P1,240,000 for the top-of-the-line trim. The Veloz name was added in the past to help differentiate the model from the standard trims of the Avanza, but now that the Veloz is on its own, it gets its time to shine.
Perhaps the change also has something to do with the perception that most consumers have of the Avanza, being an MPV and all. Now that the name is separate, maybe we will see more Veloz models on the road alongside the new Avanzas.
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