Cars Dining Reviews Toyota

A Date with the Toyota Vios (Car Review) to Sapore Italian, Spanish-Mediterranean Restaurant, Ampang

[Car and Restaurant Review]


Beatrice and I decided to head over to Sapore in Ampang from Kota Damansara one sunny Saturday afternoon. With us was the latest (3rd generation) Toyota Vios which the nice folks at Toyota Malaysia passed to me to try for a couple of days.

Since being introduced in 2003, the Toyota Vios has been the best-selling non-national model in Malaysia for 11 years. More than 100,000 units of the 3rd generation Toyota Vios have been sold since 2013, as customers prefer its combination of spaciousness, good fuel economy, a comfortable ride and high quality.

The improved Vios 1.5GX we were in is a certified EEV (Energy Efficient Vehicle) – with fuel economy, weight and emissions criteria have been tested and approved by the Road Transport Department.

The Toyota Vios 1.5GX comes with a brand new powertrain consisting of the new 2NR-FE engine and a CVT (Continuously-Variable Transmission) in place of the conventional 4-speed automatic transmission.

The new 2NR-FE engine, has a 1.5-litre displacement with a DOHC 16valve cylinder head. However, where the previous engine had VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) on just the intake side, this new engine has Dual VVT-i which means that the opening/closing times of the valves on the exhaust side are also continuously variable according to driving conditions.

The all-aluminium engine also uses Iridium spark plugs and the combustion chambers now have a tapered squish design to enhance the combustion process. Oil jets provide more efficient lubrication for the pistons which reduces friction, and the new enhanced engine cover reduces noise and vibration.


The new Vios 1.5GX variant has a newly designed aerokit with new 15-inch alloy wheels that are fitted with 185/60R15 tyres. The car is also equipped with projector headlamps, and daytime Running Lights (DRLs) integrated in the front bumper.

With the rear seats in use, the boot volume is 506 litres.

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Toyota’s own factory testing shows that the Improved Vios with the new engine and CVT can achieve 18% better fuel economy than the previous engine with a 4-speed automatic transmission. If an owner travelled 25,000 km a year, this would mean fuel-savings of around 302 litres.

Contributing to the better fuel economy is CVT which incorporates a torque converter to provide much smoother operation with less shift shocks. The computer will always maintain the transmission ratio at optimum based on driving conditions and to enhance fuel efficiency within the 0 to 100 km/h speed range (which is the most frequently used), there are more ratios available.

The Vios 1.5GX has the same CVT technology in the Corolla Altis which provides an immediate response to the slightest tap on the accelerator pedal and smooth and linear acceleration. There is also the 7-speed Sport Sequential Shiftmatic mode where you can select pre-set ratios (in a sequential manner) by pulling or pushing on the shift lever – something I enjoyed playing with!

The Vios 1.5GX comes with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) which used to be available only in more expensive models. It is an Active Safety system which helps a driver to regain control of the car if a skid occurs. A computer constantly receives data from various sensors and when it detects that the car is skidding sideways, braking forces will be automatically applied on certain wheels to create a counteracting force. In this way, the skidding will be stopped and the driver will be able to maintain control to safely drive around the corner.

Other Active Safety systems include ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA). For extra stopping power, the Vios 1.5GX comes with rear disc brakes.

In terms of Passive Safety, there’s the computer-engineered impact-absorbing body structure with high tensile steel used in many areas. The front of this strong structure is designed to absorb and dissipate the impact forces of a collision so that they do not reach the cabin and cause injuries to the occupants.

There are SRS airbags for the driver and front passenger, a collapsible steering column, and a knee brace below the dashboard which will prevent the driver’s legs from being injured in the event of a frontal collision.

All three rear passengers have 3-point seatbelts, and there are ISOFIX points for compatible child seats. Various sections of the cabin, including the ceiling, have been fitted with impact absorbing materials.


The upholstery is perforated two-tone (black & saddle tan) leather with a new cubic print trim design with a metal hairline pattern.
The reverse camera makes reversing much easier and safer, while the Smart Entry System makes locking/ unlocking the car very convenient.
The audio system in the Vios 1.5GX is a 2-DIN head unit with a large 6.8-inch touchscreen and a DVD player with connectivity options such as AUX and USB ports as well as Bluetooth, with control switches available on the steering wheel.


Other standard equipment includes power retractable door mirrors with integrated turn indicators, rear centre armrest and acoustic glass for the windscreen and side windows to lower noise transmission for a quieter cabin ambience.

The car comes with Toyota Premium Security & Solar Film developed and manufactured using nanotechnology methods, fully complies with JPJ regulations and is certified by PUSPAKOM. Besides providing protection from the harmful and uncomfortable infrared rays of the sun, the film also includes a security layer to delay grass breakage.

The Vios 1.5GX comes with a 5-year Warranty with Unlimited mileage, and is priced at RM 92,800.00 (On-The-Road Price for Peninsular Malaysia including GST with Insurance).




Sapore is an Italian, Spanish-Mediterranean Restaurant located at Ampang. Sapore means flavours in Italian, and the establishment serves authentic Italian and Spanish cuisine. The restaurant’s main specialities include imported quality Jamon Iberico, cold cut Charcuterie, Antipasti Tagliere, various cheese selection, hot and cold tapas, classic Italian Bruschetta bread, and more.

The restaurant is helmed by Chef Fabio Ruggiero who hails from Bari, the capital city of southern Italy’s Puglia region. Chef Fabio graduated from the Professional Institute of Hospitality, Molfetta (BA) Italy in 2006.

From 2006 till 2012, Chef Fabio Ruggiero worked as a Chef de Partie at  5-stars hotels and some of the best restaurants worldwide, such as Relais La Suvera & Hotel Caruso, Hotel Eden (*1 Michelin Stars) in Italy and (Getti Restaurant) London.

Chef Fabio was also the Assistant Head Chef at Marini’s on 57 from 2012 to 2016, before deciding to open Sapore.


The interior is kept simple with dark wood furniture and tables set reasonably far apart so the next table won’t eavesdrop on your conversation
Some refreshing drinks to start lunch!
Red sangria

Prosciutto di Parma ham

Known as the King of Hams. it is a time-honoured classic imported only from Italy, where the pigs are humanely raised, carefully chosen and cured naturally. With only four ingredients, specially-bred pork, sea salt, Italian air, and time, Prosciutto di Parma is 100% natural and does not include harmful ingredients like nitrates.

This was absolutely delicious! Went well on its own or with the warm bread.

Lardo di colonnata (Flavoured tuscany pork lard)

The art of Italian cured meat, lardo is about richness, and the creamy texture of fat and succulence.

Yes I know what you’re thinking… lard? Yes! Eat this with the complimentary warm crusty bread in place of butter! Delicious! Also, new research has shown that pork fat aka lard is the healthiest animal fat!


Spaghetti Carbonara with Eggs Yolk, Guanciale Ham & Pecorino – RM29

Authentic taste of carbonara (unlike the versions found in Malaysia), Sapore uses Guanciale Ham, the cheek meat of the pig, as it provides the flavours to make the pasta carbonara more outstanding. The Guanciale ham is marinated with black pepper, salt, thyme, and dry fennel. The Guanciale ham marination time takes around 3 to 4 months before the meat can be used. An important ingredient for pasta carbonara is the eggs, and Sapore only the eggs yolk because the egg yolk gives more colours to the pasta presentation and the amalgamation (a result of combining) is better because eggs are a natural protein source. Sapore does not cook the pasta using cream, rather using Pecorino Romano (a very hard cheese from Italy combined with the natural salt that was made out from the sheep’s milk).

This was pasta carbonara that was made in the authentic Italian style, not the drenched in runny sauce stuff we get here that’s passed off as a pasta dish. As someone who really loves cheese, this dish was heaven for me! The saltiness of the Guanciale ham matched the creamy cheesy pasta sauce perfectly, balancing it nicely! Share this one though as it can be quite rich (even though there’s no cream)!


Button Mushrooms with Blue Cheese

This tapas went well with the breads, and was not too overwhelming as you might expect with the inclusion of the blue cheese. In fact, it was nice and creamy with the earthy flavours of the mushrooms being the highlight rather than the blue cheese.


Cooked with creamy cheese and garlic.

Deliciously creamy and cheesy escargots made this a very hearty dish indeed! Share this one though!

Tuna Tartar with Avocado Guacamole

Refreshing and creamy all in one bite!

Spanish Omelette

A breakfast/ brunch staple which is very filling!

Tiramisu with Coffee & Marsala

A dessert made of layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and a rich, velvety mascarpone cream, with the sweet red wine and marsala.

An incredibly decadent end to a fabulous meal! Beatrice really like this!

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

A smooth and creamy custard with a burst of lime citrus.

Oh my! Another very decadent dessert! A classic French dessert perfectly executed and given a slight twist of flavours with the addition of the green lime!


Sapore is indeed a very good value for money restaurant and ideal for lunch, dinner, and even private events! Check out some of their on-going promotions:


Sapore is located at:

18, Persiaran Ampang,

Desa Pahlawan,

55000 Kuala Lumpur,





Insider tip – Head over here for their promotions and specials –


Us with Chef Fabio Ruggiero. Thanks for having us!



Did something a little different this time and also shot the car at night.


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