Wish for a liberating feeling

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 July, 2010, 12:00am


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If you're going to give a car a thorough workout - that's the point of a test drive, especially if you're on the verge of parting with more than HK$200,000 - there's one route that fits the bill. Push the start system at Star Ferry, in Tsim Sha Tsui, and head north along Nathan Road, then on up the Tai Po Road, which cuts between Golden and Beacon Hills, revealing the striking vista of the Sha Tin valley at the top, before starting its descent into the town.

Nathan Road's traffic lights, and their inclination to turn red at the most inconvenient moments, provide a good insight into braking and acceleration. The ascent of Tai Po Road, which twists and turns, and occasionally breaks into more than one lane, allows for handling and overtaking practice, not to mention testing the suspension. And there's a liberating feeling as you drive from innermost inner city, then start to climb above the high-rises into the greenery beyond.

Put through its paces, the Toyota Wish 1.8 performs creditably. In fact, truth to be told, extremely creditably. The Wish has been around for some time, but now it's got a 1,798 cc Valvematic engine, which delivers a faster response with enhanced maximum output and torque. This rides in concert with a seven-speed super CVT-i transmission, a device that's a breeze to flick through whether the traffic light has just gone green or you are in need of an extra bit of juice on an uphill overtake. The main point about the engine is that it improves combustion efficiency, which puts the Wish in the government's approval bracket for environmentally friendly petrol-powered private cars.

The interior deserves a minor round of applause - there's plenty of room for passengers in the back seat, a leather steering wheel, a six-speaker CD/MP3 audio system, and even an ion generator.

The Wish falls into the multipurpose vehicle category, and deservedly so. Big enough to pack with a cluster of friends and relatives, or cart home the results of a really large shopping trip, it's also a pleasure to drive solo, with a neat turn of speed and a great deal of comfort. And the overall look? Perhaps the best word is sleek. The design team has smartened up the front grille and given the front and rear bumpers a sporty look, while the headlamps are now equipped with auto-levelling. The rear parking sensor sounds a warning note for those of us who may not be fully concentrating when reversing.

Rather than ending with a pun about 'dreams coming true', perhaps a tip of the hat to Japanese automotive nomenclature would be more appropriate. Following such marvellous linguistic inventions as the Toyota Camry and the Toyota Deliboy, Wish seems surprisingly comprehensible.

It comes in two versions, Advantage and Luxury.