Toyota Porte / Spade


Debut: 2012
Maker: Toyota
Predecessor: Porte Mk1



 Published on 16 Jan 2015
All rights reserved. 


Revisiting my old review of the first generation Porte written 8.5 years ago, I am amazed that most of the descriptions are still applicable to the new car. It is still a very tall hatchback featuring a sliding door on the pavement side and 2 conventionally hinged doors on the other side. It still borders between a B-segment hatchback and compact MPV. Its exterior dimensions are virtually unchanged at 4 meters long, 1.7 meter wide, 1.7 meter tall and rides on exactly the same 2600 mm wheelbase. Time seems standstill when it comes to styling, or build quality, or engines and performance. Maybe the “Lost Decade” of Japan is not finished yet.

In fact, the only news about the new Porte is the addition of a sister car, Spade. It’s the same car except different styling and interior trim. Toyota expected sales to be evenly distributed between the two, though the Spade turned out to be more popular. Anyway, the twins are still considered to be a disappointment, as they never met the (already conservative) sales target of 96,000 units a year. In 2013, i.e. the first full year of their sales, just over 80,000 units were sold. They dropped to 65,400 units last year thus the road ahead could only get worse. For a car whose sales bounded in the domestic market, it is unlikely to be profitable.



So what’s the attraction of the single sliding door? Well, as every MPV owner can tell, it is easier to get in and out at tight parking space. For parents having small children, sliding door is also safer and more convenient, especially when this one is powered and remote controlled. It would have been even better to have twin-sliding doors, but Toyota considered one on the pavement side is more cost effective. As in the first generation Porte, the front passenger seat is mounted on rails. It slides and flips forward to ease access to the rear seats. Thanks to the lack of transmission tunnel, the driver may also get in and out from the sliding door.

The car’s extraordinary tallness is said to allow children to stand in the cabin or store very tall luggage like a small tree, both are pointless to me. It doesn’t help handling and fuel consumption. Since the roof is so tall, the car allows high-mounted seats yet affords enormous headroom. The seats have unusually thick cushions thus are comfortable, but they are not as flexible as a true MPV should. The 60/40-split rear bench does not slide. It folds but not flat. Its cushions may flip up to store luggage on the cabin floor. Toyota said you can place a bicycle there, but that has to be a small one, not a mountain bike. After all, this is a parents' car rather than a multi-activity vehicle.



The interior design looks funky at first. A closer look will find the whole dashboard is made of toy-grade hard plastics. Perhaps it deliberately appears to be a Toy Kingdom to please children and their mothers. Every detail seems incompatible with the sense of conventional drivers. For example, at the place you normally expect for an instrument pod it is an empty space for you to put your purse and wallet. Moreover, there offers a pair of clips for you to put your family photo, so you can see your beloved ones all the way driving. This cabin also offers countless of small cubbies, shopping bag hooks, cup holders, bottle cubbies, tissue box holders and even an umbrella bin at the C-post. It is not a car cabin but a living room.

There is little to talk about its driving dynamics, because this is an area its designers put at the lowest priorty. The Porte is not too heavy, but its 2 engines – 95 hp 1.3 DVVT-i and 109 hp 1.5 VVT-i – are not particularly gusty. Considering its lack of driver appeal, the smaller motor is a smarter buy, because it is sweeter revving and more refined. CVT isn’t the choice for keen drivers, but it matches the character of the car well. Anyway, you don’t have other choices. The second generation car has its body roll reduced in cornering, but it is still not happy to be hustled. Compared with K-cars like Honda N-Box, the Toyota does offer superior ride refinement and better sound deadening. It costs significantly more, too.


Verdict: 
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Porte 1.3
2012
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3995 / 1695 / 1690 mm
2600 mm
Inline-4
1329 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
-
-
95 hp
89 lbft
CVT
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
165/70R14
1110 kg
-
-
-
Porte 1.5
2012
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3995 / 1695 / 1690 mm
2600 mm
Inline-4
1496 cc
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
-
-
109 hp
100 lbft
CVT
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
175/65R15
1150 kg
-
-
-



























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