Japanese car manufacturer Toyota is no new comer in the Indian car market. They have being on the scene for decades and over the years have earned themselves a reputation for offering quality products. However, budget hatches and sedans are something that Toyota didn’t really attempt until a few years ago. And when they finally did, the products had to be good enough to wear the company’s badge.
Positioned as a no-nonsense, no-frills offering in the entry-level sedan segment, the Toyota Etios is available in six variants in three trim levels each in petrol and diesel.
The base petrol variant of the Toyota Etios is priced at Rs 5.63 lakh and goes up to Rs 7.30 lakh for the top V trim with the safety package that includes SRS airbags, ABS, EBD and driver seat belt warning.
The base diesel comes with the price tag of Rs 6.91 lakh and goes up to Rs 8.40 lakh for the top VD variant with the safety package. All prices are ex-showroom Kolkata.
The Toyota Etios comes with six colour options – Classic Grey, Symphony Silver, Celestial Black, White, Vermilion Red and Harmony Beige.
We got behind the wheel of the top-of-the-line Toyota Etios 1.5 petrol V and 1.4 diesel VD trim and took it around town. Read on to find out how they fared.
Design & Engineering
The Toyota Etios is a very conservative looking car. There aren’t any radical elements in its appearance. The Etios is 4265mm long, 1695mm wide and stands 1510mm tall.
From the front, the Toyota Etios sedan is identical to its Liva hatchback sibling. Recently Toyota has made certain subtle changes on the exterior which led to the Etios sedan getting a refreshed front grille, with little protrusions along the vertical slats giving it a slightly sporty appearance up front. Similar protrusions can also be noticed on the revamped tail light clusters. The ORVMs have also been reworked upon. As a result, they have lost their boxy appearance and now look sleeker.
The Liva benefits from a sporty looking rear, which in my opinion is the best angle of the Toyota hatch. However, such is not the case with the Etios sedan which gets a rather boxy back, much like the Mahindra Verito. But the boxy boot pays benefits in storage space.
Identical to the Liva hatchback, the suspension architecture in the Etios sedan comprises of McPherson Strut at the front and Torsion beam at the rear. The Toyota Etios diesel is powered by the same D-4D 1.4 litre diesel powerplant that also does duty in the Toyota Etios Liva and the larger Corolla. However, unlike the Corolla, it does not have a variable geometry turbo. The ECU mapping is different as well, giving less power and torque as a result.
Many have earlier complained that Toyota has cut corners in terms of the NVH levels in the Etios sedan and Liva hatch to control cost. Well, looks like the company has taken note of that and have tried to make improvements on that front in the new Etios with thicker insulation and hydraulic engine mounts for reduced NVH levels. However, there is still a lot left to be desired.
The top-of-the-line petrol and diesel trim that we tested came equipped with rear wash and wiper, built in turn indicators and 12 spoke alloy wheels.
Interiors & Comfort
The wide-opening doors of the Toyota Etios ensure that getting in and out of the car is comfortable even for the elderly. The front seats offer good overall support. The rear seat has decent under-thigh support and can seat up to three adults.
The Toyota Etios comes with a generous 595 litre boot. In case you need more luggage space, you do have the option to fold down the rear bench, however, there is no split.
The layout of the dashboard is identical to that of the Liva hatchback. The dashboard gets centrally mounted instruments with blue backlighting which although slightly unconventionally placed are still fairly easy to read. The quality of plastics used isn’t very great in terms of look and feel but the dual tone interior does enhance the look of the cabin. But bear in mind that only the top petrol and diesel trim come with the new dual tone interior. Those opting for the base and mid-range variants will have to settle for the earlier dark grey interior which in my opinion isn’t as impressive in appearance.
The air-conditioning proved effective and ensured fast cooling even on a scorching hot May afternoon. The AC controls are big and easy to operate even on the move.
The mid-range models now get a new 2 DIN music player with USB connectivity while the sound system unit for the top end trim comes with Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary input options. The sound quality isn’t very impressive and those who appreciate top class sound production might consider getting it replaced with something better.
Features like electric power steering with tilt function, remote fuel lid and tailgate opener, air conditioning with heater and digital trip meter comes as standard across the model range.
The 7 bottle holders, cooled glove box and front and rear door pockets prove useful for storing knick-knacks and beverages.
The top variant that we tested also came with rear defogger and tachometer. Steering mounted audio controls come as optional in the top petrol and diesel trims.
Performance & Handling
Under the hood of the Toyota Etios petrol is a 4-cylinder 1.5 litre motor that delivers 90PS of maximum power at 5600rpm and 132Nm of peak torque at 3000rpm.
While doing duty on the Toyota Etios diesel is the same 1.4 litre engine in similar state of tune that also powers the Liva hatchback. In fact, this is the same D-4D engine which you will also find under the bonnet of the Toyota Corolla Altis, albeit in a different state of tune. The diesel motor puts out 68PS of maximum power at 3800rpm and 170Nm of peak torque between 1800 to 2400rpm. Both the engines are mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
The Toyota Etios boasts of impressive ride quality with potholes and rough patches being tackled without much effort. Slight jerks are felt inside the passenger compartment if you happen to drive over a major undulated surface, but nothing severe to unnerve the passenger. Braking was prompt with ventilated discs doing duty on the front and drums at the rear.
The Toyota Etios has a smooth gear shift, light clutch and feather light steering. The electrically assisted steering really feels very light and is supremely comfortable to maneuver the Etios through crowded and congested city roads. However, at higher speeds you do miss having good feedback, with the Etios providing a vague sensation at the straight ahead position. The steering feels over-geared too, and you feel the need to turn the steering wheel more than you might have expected. This is especially true when making a U-turn.
The 1.4 litre D-4D diesel motor generates adequate power to ensure good drivability. The 170Nm of peak torque output can be felt from almost as low as 1800rpm and is available at your disposal till about the 2400 rpm range. The petrol also boasts of good drivability. Toyota’s focus has been on making both versions easy to drive in traffic, and the prompt throttle response is great when closing gaps in traffic. Don’t expect thrilling performance from the Etios however, and revving either engine to extract more performance appears pointless.
Refinement isn’t the Etios’ strong point either, with Toyota having cut corners to keep costs low. As a result, the lack of adequate sound deadening material and the thinner glass mean more road noise and engine noise filters into the cabin than you would expect.
Toyota Etios 1.5 litre petrol (left) and 1.4 litre diesel
The Toyota Etios 1.5 litre petrol boasts of an ARAI ratified fuel efficiency of 16.78kmpl and although we didn’t get an opportunity to perform a proper mileage test, however, it can be safely assumed that actual mileage figure in real world conditions would be lower. As per our assumption, the Toyota Etios petrol should be able to deliver around 11kmpl with AC in city conditions. While cruising on the highway, expect around 15kmpl.
On the other hand, the Toyota Etios 1.4 litre diesel claims an ARAI ratified mileage of 23.59kmpl (identical to the Toyota Etios Liva with which its shares the engine in the same state of tune). Expect the Etios diesel to deliver around 15kmpl within the city and between 18 kmpl on the highway.
On the safety front, the engine immobilizer and door ajar warning comes as standard across the entire Etios model range. Barring the base J and JD trims, all the rest of the variants also come equipped with keyless entry. Similar to its hatchback road sibling – the Liva, Toyota has offered a number of safety features as cost options as part of their safety package. For example, the dual SRS airbags and ABS with EBD is available as a cost option on the G, V, GD and VD variants. This gives the car buyer the flexibility to decide whether they are willing to spend nearly Rs 40,000 more for the dual SRS airbags and ABS with EBD. In a price sensitive market like India, it really wouldn’t be surprising to see many buyers not opting for the airbags and ABS with EBD in a bid to save some cash.
However, taking into consideration the Indian road condition and general weather pattern, it is advisable to most certainly opt for the ABS with EBD as these features are live savers, especially when one considers driving on broken and uneven stretches of road during the monsoon. And if budget permits, then one should also opt for the airbags. Safety measures never really hurt anyone. The extra Rs 40,000 could go a long way in making the journey a lot safer.
Toyota has a global reputation as a good car manufacturer, and there is no doubt about that. They are also a known brand name in India and in the past its products like the Qualis, Innova and Corolla have done well in the Indian market. Competition in the entry-level sedan segment is gathering momentum with the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, Tata Indigo eCS, Mahindra Verito and the recently launched Honda Amaze trying to outdo one another. The Toyota Etios sedan and Liva hatchback have both jointly sold nearly 1, 50,000 units since 2010. So Etios has found acceptability among the Indian car buyers. And with the recent changes and upgrades that Toyota has incorporated will only ensure that the good product is now better.
It is true that in terms of external appearance, the Toyota Etios is no head turner, but looks shouldn’t be the single determining factor considered while choosing a product. The Etios has a decently spacious cabin and boot, boasts of good ride and handling quality, has light controls, smooth gear shifts and boasts of good mileage figures. And Toyota’s brand name adds to the reliability of the vehicle. Everything taken into consideration, it makes for a practical buy, but the Etios surely has a fierce battle to face.
Toyota is indeed banking on its brand equity to shift more cars, but the fact remains that although the Etios hasn’t quite caught the fancy of the market, for many customers the brand’s cache and reputation for reliability prove to be the primary motivators.