For quite some time now, the Toyota Spacio has been trending on the Ugandan market, especially among women.
This of course, is attributed to it's reliability, comfort and impressive fuel consumption. But the more common model on the Ugandan market has been the 1998/2000 model year; so, when I got the chance of driving a newly imported 2003 model, it was a great leap.
Better than its predecessor, the newer model is spacious with a total of 22 different storage areas (yes, I counted them). Its tall roof and ample width gives especially the front-seat occupants plenty of space. The Spacio has a dash-board-mounted automatic gear lever and foot-operated handbrake which counted for more space. I found the dash-board instruments easy to use and the positioning of the driver's seat good, enhancing visibility.
On the road, it drives and handles fairly well although there's a sense of lack of balance and it felt delicate going over some rough patches of our potholed roads. And it didn't matter how careful I drove; I kept feeling the underbody scrapping the ground while manoeuvring big speed bumps and potholes.
What impressed me was the well-insulated cabin that minimizes wind and road noise. The 1.5 litre VVT-i engine is quiet, responsive and smooth with impressive fuel consumption. It returns 16 kilometres per litre, which means that for me who stays in Kiteezi and works in Kamwokya, I would use one litre of petrol to and fro.
The Spacio has twin front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, remote-central locking with an inbuilt alarm and CD player with good sound quality. I recall driving while nodding to Young Mulo's Tebansobola like I was in a club. When I consulted a mechanic about the car's maintenance, he said it is reliable and cheap to maintain. The spare parts are readily available and it shares a lot in common with the Toyota Corolla.