Early 2000s WiLL Project for Youth (Part III)

Some Japanese companies Will Sub-brand movement at the dawn of the new millennium. Other WiLL brand products were introduced along with new funky cars from Toyota. WiLL Vi..

The baguette-themed retro sedan quickly failed among the young consumers that WiLL was supposed to attract, so Toyota rethought it very quickly. Meet VS.

Vi’s fate was sealed a little over a year after it went into production. The Vi was manufactured until December 2001, but VS production began in April of that year. Toned down, the VS, which looks sportier and more serious than Vi, has a completely modern design. No retro cute themes or French clues were found. VS chased another young customer. But in Japanese.

Based on the new E120 Corolla platform (like the future matrix) in 2000, the 2001 VS was mysteriously introduced at the Los Angeles Motor Show that year. The right-hand drive VS wasn’t intended for sale in North America, but Toyota decided that Americans should see it anyway. VVC apparently drew inspiration for the design of this new VS from the Rocky’F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft of the 1980s. What do you do with that information?

A few months after the LA Auto Show, it went on sale in Japan. The referral was accompanied by a lively advertising campaign featuring the very pretty British electronic band Underworld.

This time, WiLL offered the customer trim, engine, and transmission options and did not impose a single specification on the customer with a small engine and automatic transmission. Three of the best three basic trim levels in Premium VS with a sporty body kit, fog lights, alloys and paddle shift automatics. The engines were all in-line 4-cylinder engines with a displacement of 1.5 or 1.8 liters. Two different 1.8 were available: VVT-I providing 140 hp, or 180 hp VVTL-I from Celica. While a typical 4-speed automatic transmission was available, sporty WiLL customers chose the 6-speed manual. All examples were front-wheel drive.

All of these advantages meant that VS was more expensive than the smaller Vi for both showroom and tax collector purposes. However, unlike the unloved Vi, VS has gained a lot of popularity in Japan. Fans liked the styling like that concept and the higher level of equipment offered by the Corolla. However, as is often the case, expected popularity does not always lead to sales. The VS has been in production for just three years and ended in April 2004. Toyota noted that a total of 14,965 examples were produced, which was not surprising.

But by the time VS was in the middle of running, the WiLL admins and the VCC people decided to go to another Vi under a different naming scheme. But the third and last WiLL was arguably the worst of the three. Next time I will talk about it.

[Images: Toyota]

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Early 2000s WiLL Project for Youth (Part III)

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