Just as Mercedes-Benz is synonymous with luxury and BMW with sportiness, Toyota has established itself as a byword for quality and reliability. For years the Japanese automaker has churned out a range of well put together cars. Get behind the wheel of one and straightaway you’d be under an impression that it’s a thing that will probably last forever.
Oddly enough, it’s the knack of endlessly producing functional and reliable products that makes Toyotas of today (except for the utterly brilliant GT-86) rather dull and soulless appliances. Take the Etios for instance. On sale in the Indian market since 2010, the car has come under heavy criticism for its uninspiring design and low-rent interior. So when we heard that Toyota was bringing out a facelifted version, our first thoughts leapt to visions of a refreshing new Etios that is far more impressive to look at and sit in, compared to the earlier model.
EXTERIORS AND DESIGN
The Toyota Etios seems to derive certain cues from the Corolla though it has been designed suitably for the desired price range. The first look however is somewhat underwhelming. The car lacks curves, sleek shaping of bonnet etc.
At the front, the head lights on the wide front bumper and the chrome lined Toyota emblem give the confidence of Toyota brand. However, the head light size seems on the large size, and though positioned well, it certainly feels that it could have been improved much. The positioning of the windshield is in par with aerodynamics and adds to the aesthetics of the front portion. Black radiator grill and fog lamp add to a good impression of the car.
Toyota has used a good quality of body panels which is indicated by the sturdy feel of the front fender, front door, rear door and quarter panel.The rear side of the Etios is decent and has been covered with big tail lamps, and a somewhat lumpy dickey. The car from the back somehow reminds of the Mahindra Logan.
INTERIORS AND SPACE
The Etios diesel’s interiors are unchanged from the petrol sibling and you get the same airy and spacious cabin. The front and rear seats are both big and wide, offering excellent back and thigh support. There is plenty of leg and headroom around as well. Since the Etios is almost as wide as a Camry, sitting three abreast at the rear is quite a comfy affair. And making life easy for the middle passenger is the flat floor and well designed backrest. However, what these seats lack is good lateral support and passengers do slide around a bit on the flat and firm surfaces if you corner hard.
There are no proper headrests in the rear and no central armrest either. However, the spacious seats, the perfect backrest angle and the ‘hip’ point translate into a comfortable sitting posture. It’s not just passenger space that’s class-leading. Storage space is phenomenal too. Apart from the massive cooled glovebox, there are lots of useful cubbyholes, generous door pockets and seven bottle-holders! To top it off the Etios has a 595-litre boot which can easily swallow the luggage of five passengers on a long holiday.
The quirky dashboard design does take some getting used to, but once you get accustomed to the new layout, the change is actually quite welcome. Surprisingly, for all the chopping and changing, the functionality of the cabin is brilliant. The chunky steering with its dimpled finish feels terrific and the white semi-circular speedo and tachometer are quite distinctive, especially when lit up at night.
However, there are plenty of low-rent bits as well. The dashboard plastics don’t have a quality feel, the air-con controls look like they have been lifted from an old Maruti, and the cable-type headlamp height adjuster looks tacky. Then, the carpets are very basic and the sun visors look cheap too. Why Toyota has painted many bits in lipstick red is anybody’s guess. It looks too loud and is at odds with the conservative nature of this car.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
Now it is time for the engines. First is the 1.2-litre petrol, which will be the most selling engine today as the fuel prices have seen a major dip and petrol has seen a major jump in demand. The engine is quiet and this engine produces about 80bhp of power. Most of the power is available at higher revs, so you need to downshift for an overtake, especially while driving on an highway. Most of the drivers prefer relaxed type of driving then this engine will perfectly suit this requirement. The power produced by the engine is sufficient for city driving and it even returns a decent figure of 12 km per litre in city driving and with highway, the mixed figure is close to 14 km/litre. The five-speed transmission is smooth and has short throws.
The diesel engine of the Etios Liva is a gem. This is a 1.4-litre engine that churns out 67bhp of power. Let us not go by the numbers, once you get behind the wheel you realise how good this engine is. Be in almost any gear, the engine pulls without any hesitation. This is what Toyota’s are known for, and this diesel engine has the typical Toyota characteristics, which makes the Japanese auto giant one the best sellers in the world. The oil burner is a bit noisy, however it is highly fuel-efficient too. In city, the Etios Liva returns about 16km/l with ease, while on the highway, the figure is between 19-22km/l depending on your driving condition.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The ride quality on the Toyota Etios is very good but the suspension is stiffly sprung and hence some sharp bumps filter in the cabin. However, the car never loses composure and always remains stable irrespective of road conditions. The steering offers brilliant feels and feels great to operate. The car feels eager to dive into corners but on heavy cornering, the tail slides out due to the rear end of the car being a bit too light. Braking performance is also good and confidence-inspiring.
The list of safety aspects include dual front SRS airbags, driver seat belt warning light with buzzer , engine immobilizer, keyless entry, headlamp-on warning as well as door ajar notifications that adds to the safety quotient
There is no doubt that the new Toyotra Liva hatchback definitely has received some worthy upgrades especially if we talk about the safety side. The changes to the exterior have certainly given it a more sporty appeal which definitely will attract much attention, while the refreshed interior too adds a premium touch to the hatchback as well. Although there are no mechanical changes but all those above mentioned changes has made this hatchback worth every penny.
Toyota Etios Ex Showroom Price in New Delhi ranges from 6,65,800/- (Etios G) to 8,60,300/- (Etios VXD) .Toyota Etios has 6 Variants of Petrol are available in India. Toyota Etios comes in 7 colours, namely Vermillion Red,Celestial Black,Harmony Beige,New Pearl White,White,Classic Grey,Symphony Silver.