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Toyota Sienta Hybrid Elegance Review: A Happy Family Companion

May possibly be the next biggest thing in every local multi-storey carpark.
Ronald Chua
Ronald Chua
22 Feb 2023
I was surprised to achieve a fuel efficiency that was better than Toyota’s claimed 25.0 km/l...

What we like:
Clever interior packaging
Cute, happy looks
Fuel efficiency (26.5 km/l)
Overall sensibility
What we dislike:
No auto tailgate
Locally fitted headunit feels out-of-place
Sound insulation could be better

I’d be perfectly honest – the thought of testing the new Toyota Sienta Hybrid did not excite me tremendously. Don’t get me wrong, Toyota Sientas are regarded as earnest and hardy family haulers and the outgoing 2nd generation model has been a stalwart of local ride hailing fleets. Oh, how I have been proven wrong with the latest 3rd generation model.

Firstly, I love its looks. The car looks much better in person than in photos and in this shade of greenish grey (Toyota calls it Urban Khaki), it looks refreshing for a people carrier. Look at the car more and the front design starts to remind you of a cheerful valet that is inviting you to hop in with your family and friends.

Inspired by the ‘Shikakumaru’ design language, a Japanese term for circles and squares, Toyota has made a box-like van look fresh again.

The Sienta Hybrid Elegance comes with equipped with LED head and tail lamps. The front headlamps on this high specification model comes with Automatic High Beam Assist that is usually only seen on high-end Continental marques. The adaptive high beam system carves a light beam around traffic whilst keeping the rest of the roads and shrubs well-lit. The system was smart enough to work effectively on Singapore roads and will definitely come in handy on poorly lit Malaysian roads.

Park the 2nd and 3rd generation Sientas alongside and you can immediately tell that the newer model has a lower windowsill – great for creating an airy interior. Built on Toyota’s TNGA platform, the chassis is lower which results in a cabin height that is 2 cm taller than previous models. This creates an extremely voluminous cabin, similar to that of a kei car in Japan.

According to Toyota, there is more knee room for passengers. Open the 2 powered sliding doors at the rear and there is plenty of space for 3 adults to seat comfortably. Passengers in the 2nd row will also enjoy more legroom than many executive cars – perfect for the family to lounge or to keep young children from squabbling with each other from their ISOFIX mounted child seats.

The cabin also features a flat floor which allows direct access from the 1st to the 2nd row as the shift-by-wire gear lever is mounted on the dash. The interior of the Sienta Hybrid is upholstered in a light grey hardwearing, high quality denim-like material from the factory. This would be my choice as it brightens the atmosphere of the car although most Singaporeans would likely opt for locally fitted black or beige leather.

As with typical Japanese practicality, USB-C ports are found throughout the car (2 upfront, 2 in the 2nd row).

There are also numerous storage compartments and cubby holes and there are even cupholders (or are they bottle holders) that indicate small, medium and large which is a cheeky touch by the designers.

The party-piece of the Sienta Hybrid is its practical Origami-like seat design. On normal days where all 7 seats are not needed, the split 3rd row seats can be folded away and be hidden underneath the 2nd row seats to create a large trunk area.

Slide the 2nd row back furthest to maximise both your cabin lounge and trunk utility space.

As it was leading up to Chinese New Year, I put the Sienta to the test by heading to Far East Flora to purchase Pussy Willows and potted plants. The versatile seats definitely proved its worth.

When it is the weekend and all 7 seats are needed to ferry family or friends, pull out the 3rd row of seats and the Sienta becomes a true people carrier. To answer everyone’s question – “Can such a small MPV fit 7 people?” The answer is a yes but let us be realistic – do not expect Alphard levels of spaciousness and it may not be the best idea to get adults to sit in the last row for a journey up North. But at 1.75m, I could find myself seated comfortably in the last row for local journeys with the 2nd row shifted forward slightly.

The Sienta Hybrid is powered by a 1.5-litre Dynamic Force engine with an electric motor. With 114 hp and a 0 to 100 timing of 12.5 s, this family car is made for efficiency rather than speed. For the first time, I was surprised to achieve a fuel efficiency that was better than Toyota’s claimed 25.0 km/l. On one of my morning commutes to CBD in 100% city driving in peak hour traffic, the Sienta Hybrid managed to achieve 26.5 km/l with an EV driving ratio of 80%. This was truly impressive as I did not even put in any concerted effort to drive efficiently.

I certainly did not expect myself to like and enjoy the Toyota Sienta Hybrid this much. Its cute demeanour, versatile and commodious interior and its nippy efficient engine makes it an excellent car for the masses. With COE, the Toyota Sienta Hybrid Elegance would be priced at around S$157,000. It is no small change as a result of our COE system but it is definitely one of the most all-rounded family cars in the market. As odd as it sounds, I actually muttered ‘goodbye’ to this cute car when I returned it to Toyota and was slightly sad that I was not going to see it in my driveway anymore.


The Toyota Sienta Hybrid is an excellent all-rounded mini-MPV with cute Kei-car looks.

Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club


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