mReview: 2022 Toyota Sienta - A Sienta, But Not a Siesta

Published by on . Updated on 2 May 2023
Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1666675804683 Sienta FeaturedAkio Toyoda had an ambitious plan when he took over the reins to the company. He wanted to build cars that were 'fun-to-drive' in a bid to revitalise the Toyota brand.

You can trace these initiatives back to the original GT86, and the subsequent Gazoo Racing cars that have since spawned. Toyota has since continued to wow the world with cars that not only drove well, but had the visual mettle to compete with the Europeans too.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1666676092469 Sienta 3But hold on for just one second. Am I really going to use these same terms to describe the all-new Toyota Sienta? Afterall, this is a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder hybrid CVT MPV - hardly the last word(s) in performance or handling, right?

Just hold your horses.

All The Space a Growing Family Needs

Realistically, driving engagement ranks fairly low on the priority list in the formulation of a seven-seater MPV. Ultimately, what matters is the car’s ability to ferry a young family and all of their associated baggage as they go about their day.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1666675836503 Sienta 4On this front, the latest Sienta has not lost any of the capabilities of its predecessors. To create a low load lip, Toyota has dropped the height of the boot floor. The third row seats can be folded away and tucked neatly underneath the middle row. Realistically, this is the configuration that you’d usually find your car in anyways, as legroom in the last row isn’t what you’d call optimal.

Space is good when it actually counts. The middle row has generous head and legroom, and the large van-like power sliding doors create large apertures that makes for easy ingress and egress. There are also two USB-C charging ports mounted on the back of the driver’s seat, with two pockets to hold your devices whilst they are charging too.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1666675934072 Sienta 1Practicality is also good up front row - you’d really struggle to make yourself uncomfortable, especially with the space on offer, and with the seats that are manual, but infinitely adjustable (at least for the driver). The driver also gets his own cubby hole on the panel in front of the instrument cluster, which is useful for stowing things that you’d use regularly, but would prefer for them to be hidden out of sight.

Honourable mention to the fabric materials used to cover the seats. The patterns and texture really help to lift the cabin experience, whilst also feeling durable. Otherwise, it’s the usual Toyota interior, with stout, hardwearing plastics throughout the cabin.

How Does It Drive?

The TNGA platform used in the Sienta can also be found in other, more fun-to-drive Toyota offerings. As such, you’d be in for a pleasant surprise if you were jumping behind the wheel expecting the car to behave like its predecessor.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1666675989288 Sienta 2Unlike its second-generation counterpart, this all-new car actually drives fairly competently. It is definitely more stiffly sprung than its predecessor, but at no point did my passengers ever complain about its ability to soak up imperfections on the road.

In fact, the new platform and stiffer springs mean you can actually feel some sense that this is a chassis that has been used in the creation of one of the most iconic modern performance cars in the past ten or so years. Now, I’m not suggesting that this is an out-and-out hot hatch, because it really isn’t one.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1666676008717 Sienta 06But what really shocked me is how competently it handled some of Singapore’s best driving roads. Feedback through the wheel was adequate, and there was actually grip from the front end too. It’s only when you really properly push the envelope and up the entry speed that you really start feeling the front wash out. Also props to the feeling through the brake pedal - the heft and response gives enough feedback that I’m sure would allow anyone to accurately and repeatedly left-foot brake when you do decide to drive it hard.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1666676026069 Sienta 5Though it isn’t really something the car explicitly encourages. The powertrain consists of a 1.5-litre three-cylinder, paired with an electric motor, that outputs a combined 114 bhp, and 141 Nm of torque. Coupled with the CVT transmission, whilst sufficient to keep up with traffic, the car isn’t anyway near encroaching on even the lowest tier of performance cars.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1666676133441 Sienta 10In fact, the car excels when you drive it cautiously, returning fuel economy figures that are really only marginally off what Toyota claims if you spend most of your time cruising on the expressways. It also feels like there’s still a good chunk of torque available just slightly above the rev range that you’d be driving in at 80 - 90km/h, so overtaking is a relatively breeze.

The Visuals

Perhaps really the only questionable thing about the whole Sienta experience. According to Toyota, the car was inspired by a simple “Shikakumaru” circle and square design. This has been done to create a compact appearance, as well allowing for the fitment of more glass for greater visibility.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1666676048360 Sienta 07There’s no denying the results, because you actually have a good view out, as well as minimal blindspots, making vehicle placement a breeze. It also bears more than a passing resemblance to the original Sienta, with the profile more reminiscent of the second generation it replaces.

There’s a very French-esque quirkiness to the styling, which is a refreshing departure from the other cars in its class. And as it very much is a case of different strokes for different folks, as I do know of others that really do not like the way this all-new car looks.

A Sienta, Not a Siesta

It may not be the most conventional-looking MPV that you can buy today, but there’s really no denying its capabilities, both on the driving and on the practicality front. Having spent some time in the previous generation Sienta models, I legitimately expected this third generation car to maintain the CVT MPV status quo, sacrificing any driving feel and feedback in the pursuit of being the most efficient and practical MPV.Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1666676071445 Sienta 08But I was pleasantly surprised by the way this car conducted itself even when I wasn’t exactly driving sensibly. It still retains all the traits and characteristics that made its predecessors popular in the very first place, competently balancing value and space.

And you can now add yet another positive trait to the Sienta equation - a half-decent handling vehicle. Practical, affordable and actually relatively capable should you really wish to drive it harder - there’s really no other mainstream MPV that actually comes close!

Toyota Sienta Specifications
Price: $151,588  VES Band: A2
Inline 3 Cylinder Hybrid
1.5 Litre
114 bhp
Driven Wheels:
25 km/l
12.5 secs
Top Speed:
Battery Capacity:
4,260 mm x 1,695 mm x 1,695 mm
2,750 mm
Cargo Capacity:

Photo Credit: ACube Creative (@weareacube)

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