Thanks to Mark, am not driving his friend’s BMW or Porsche or whatever fancy car for this review. Thus, when it’s time to restructure my friends, the sort of cars your other friends (the ones you are bringing to this friendship) drive will be a major deciding factor.
Recently, I realized that all of my friends don’t drive German or European cars (in general). They either drive Toyotas or Subarus, and I am now starting to think, I might be the only one on a high-performance car bandwagon.
Marvin who drives a Lexus was heartbroken when he came to us bragging that his car is foreign. Only for me to remind him that unless one drives the Kiira EV (the only car Uganda makes and does not even sell, yet!), we all drive Foreign.
Also Read: Kiira EV Has the Potential to be Like Tesla
He then said ‘okay,’ he drives a European car. I fact checked him again by informing him that what Lexus really is, is a fancy name for higher-end Toyotas. Lexus is the luxurious brand from Toyota, so technically, he drives a Toyota. He then told me to go and eat my car facts, which I did.
He also refused me to test drive his Lexus for a review but I can confirm that that review is coming up in a few months.
Now, when most Ugandans are buying cars, the cost of maintenance is a very key factor. With fuel prices increasing faster than our salaries can keep up, it’s important that you have a small engine that won’t eat into your lunch money.
Spare parts must also be easy to find i.e. your mechanic should be able to steal a part from a similar car parked at a nearby church and fix it on yours. Thus when a car model becomes popular, it’s everywhere like a new Eddy Kenzo song. And one of such models, is the 2004 Toyota Spacio (E121), the second generation of the “Spacio” nameplate.
Toyota redesigned everything about its exterior and they built quite a looker. Compared to its bigger sister, the E110 (1997 – 2001 Model), the 2004 is that hot younger sister that you only discover when you go over to your girlfriend’s home to visit. The 1997 Model is still very popular and we have a whole lot of them “donning” our latest number plate series – UBB.
For one that just got the 1997, seeing the 2004 on the same road is realizing that your girlfriend’s way hotter younger sister is also of age and maybe, you are with the wrong sister. With such redesigned beauty, this Spacio stands out and despite being very common already, it is still refreshing whenever you see one. Especially in white like my review unit was.
However, when you get to the interior, it feels like Toyota spent so much on the designers, they didn’t have enough money left to spend on an equally attractive interior, and yet keep the end product as affordable as this car is. The interior is basic. No, the interior is in fact below the 2004 market standard.
It is a car meant for the average person, and it is not a luxurious car at any level, as that’s boldly written all over the interior.
The seats are fair enough if it’s a short journey. Wait!, the seats are actually fine, given that many consumers in Uganda don’t’ prioritize comfort when buying cars. That aside, the light material on the standard seats is not very cushiony, and soon you’ll be restless trying to balance the discomfort on your butt cheeks and your back.
The dashboard is as interesting as your least favourite movie. It does the basic functions, but it lacks that re-imagined appeal that I’d hoped for seeing what a good job they did with reshaping the car. But let’s face it unless you are a geek, you won’t care what the dashboard looks like. And also, as a geek, you’d never buy this sort of car. It’s boring.
On the plus side, the below standard interior utilizes its lack of captivating nobs and buttons and features, to give you nothing more. Therefore, it is a very spacious car. For a compact city car, it has a whole lot of space.
You can comfortably transport your very tall friend who uses bodabodas a lot because taxis don’t offer enough leg room. All your 6 friends, plus you driving = 7, can comfortably travel in your Spacio. The one for this review was a 7 seater, with two seats stored away underneath the floor mat of the boot.
Fuel economy is great. 1.6 Liter, petrol. Despite the inconveniently high fuel prices now, that is a manageable little engine. And it produces ignorable enough power to take you from point A to B with many moments of wishing it could give you more, but what can you do?
The ride is smooth, nothing special about it. The cabin isn’t disturbingly noisy too. Everything from the steering wheel to the agility, to the ride comfort, is just okay. Nothing will blow your mind or excite you. This isn’t built for driving pleasure whatsoever.
With the 2004 Toyota Spacio, Toyota is catering for the sort of person that doesn’t have a lot of money to buy something more interesting from Honda, Renault or Mazda. They are giving you a basic compact city car that does precisely what one would need a car for. No toys and tricks to distract you as you drive, you simply get in, drive to work and work.
Author: Ian Paul Byamugisha
Ian Paul Byamugisha is a writer/author/novelist and car journalist. As a writer for Newslibre, he writes car reviews, cars news, tech news and anything that one might find interesting to read. Currently working on a spy novel collection titled “Arthur Vintage.”