There are a number of budget-friendly offerings in the South African car market, specifically the sub-B segment – think Volkswagen Polo Vivo and Ford Figo – with the exception being a choice from Toyota. Sure, there is the Aygo, but it’s far from being a family car and the new Yaris is still compact and a little more premium than may be necessary for some. This is where the new Etios enters the fray.
Successor to the popular Toyota Tazz that was discontinued more than five years ago, the Etios is the product of Toyota’s recipe for the best balance of purchase price, running cost, performance and specification. The new car is manufactured in Bangalore, India and the name is taken from the Greek word ‘Ethos’, meaning spirit, character, and ideas.
Toyota say they have done away with excessive design elements and specification in an effort to offer value for money, but sadly this leaves the Etios looking very ordinary. Use your imagination and you may spot hints of Renault Logan in the front quarters and a Nissan Micra-esque roofline at the rear of the hatchback, but otherwise it’s not particularly memorable. Even the chrome grille isn’t really enough to give the car a unique identity, which Toyota are touting as the ‘smile line’, although it could just as easily be seen as a ‘unibrow’.
The hatchback’s rear-end is probably it’s best angle, with a short overhang, chrome strip underlining the rear window (XS model) and the upright tail-lights that share a pair of shallow ‘S’ curves. One must concede, however, that there has to be a trade-off when form follows function so closely, as in the case of the all-new Etios, where ‘value for money’ is the order of the day.
The Etios is available in sedan and hatchback body styles, as well as two specification levels. Starting at R115 800, the entry-level Xi includes colour-coded bumpers, power steering, air conditioning, anti-lock braking (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), dual front airbags and an immobiliser.
The exterior of the XS models are ‘lifted’ with the addition of a colour-coded grille, door mirrors and handles, as well as a set of front fog lights and a number of chrome highlights. Other features fitted to the XS include remote central locking, electrically operated windows, remote central locking and alarm. Both models make do with 14-inch steel wheels.
Toyota describe interior as having a “cockpit-like feel”, which is due to the central instrument cluster that is angled towards the driver, a’la Yaris Zen. The cloth-covered seats have a neatly integrated head restraint and proved comfortable enough over 2.5 hours of driving, while the driver’s instrument panel features white back lighting for the dials, together with three-dimensional graphics, which are easy enough to read, but the small digital trip display requires some study. The interior plastics feel well secured, with no creaks or rattles evident on the launch route, although interior road noise was intrusive at times.
The Etios scores favourably when it comes to space, with a cooled 13-litre glove box, cup holders that’ll handle a 1.0-litre capacity bottle, as well as an enormous 595-litre boot on the sedan (251-litres in the hatch), making it the most spacious in its class. Rear passengers have 160 mm of available legroom, which is enough for two adults, with a third seat also available in the centre of the rear bench if needed.
All models are powered by a 1.5-litre, 16-valve petrol engine, which produces peak power of 66 kW at 5 600 r/min and 132 Nm of torque at 3 000 r/min. It’s no red hot chilli pepper, but there’s enough power to easily maintain highway speeds with reserves for overtaking. The 45-litre fuel tank will be emptied at a rate of 6.0 L/100km in the hatchback and 5.9 L/100km in the sedan. The slight difference is likely due to the drag coefficient values of 0.33 and 0.31 respectively. Power is directed to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission that has a large ratio between 1st and 2nd, but is otherwise non-descript in its competence.
A number of accessories are also available for both the sedan and hatchback, including front and rear spoilers, side skirts, slimline window visors, seat covers, floor mats, three different specifications of sound system and more.
The all-new Toyota Etios may have arrived a little late to the sub-B segment party, with the Vivo, Figo and Sandero already enjoying the sweet taste of volume sales. Expect Toyota to make up for lost time, however, with an all-new product that’s cost-effective, not only with its initial purchase price, but also on a medium to long-term basis, thanks to a 2-year/30 000km service plan and a parts basket that is, on average, 17 percent cheaper than its competitors.
|Pricing (incl. VAT and C02 Tax)|
|Toyota Etios Xi 5-door||R 115 800|
|Toyota Etios Xs 5-door||R 120 900|
|Toyota Etios Xi 4-door||R 121 800|
|Toyota Etios Xs4-door||R 126 600|
Pricing includes a 3-year/100 000km warranty, 2-year/30 000km service plan and 24-hour roadside assistance.