Toyota Etios

Smiling Grille

Let me tell you a joke – a seal walks into a club. Let me tell you another joke – The look on VW management’s faces after the first 3 months of Etios Sales have occurred. It’s going to be (as they say in the land of Visa) priceless

Toyota’s Etios is all about smiles, from the campaign, to the vehicle, to the features. This is one of their biggest launches yet into a segment that is going to prove very valuable to them. Remember, they lost the Tazz a few years back, and VW and Ford has been whipping they asses around the block in the Sub-B Segment. It’s a tough segment to play in, so to tackle this huge volume segment they did some of the most extensive ground level research of car buyers and South African motorists ever. It’s clearly paid off.

595 litres of space!

Understanding the Sub-B segment is key, and as said above, it’s a tough one too. Overall they want a vehicle that’s safe and secure, must show good value for money and be economical … oh yes and have a modern look. Try and package all of that in a vehicle that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? Well Toyota has, and roll on the Etios. Weird name, it is Greek for Ethos, meaning spirit, character and ideals, which is neither here nor there (much like the Greeks right now) but what this new model does want to do is build on legendary Toyota heritage, in a new vehicle in hotly contested segment.

Etios & Toyota Team

Take a look around the vehicle, and I must admit I thought it was fairly Indian looking in pictures. Thankfully it does come together a lot better in the flesh. There’s a hatch which looks a bit “flat” from behind and a sedan that doesn’t look like a hippo is holding onto the back of the car, but rather like a sedan designed ground up. Good. Not going to give too much comment to the looks, but keeping in mind VW’s Polo and Ford’s Figo (competitors in this segment) are both riding on now 8year old looks, so anything fresher than that is going to get a slight pulse.

The Etios comes in two spec trims (keeping things simple) an Xi (base level) and Xs (higher spec level). The Xs spec changes the exterior by adding fancy foglamps, body coloured mirrors, door handles and a wiper at the back. Both models are fitted with 14inch steel wheels with covers (Easy to fix and replace anywhere in the country)

Hatch & Sedan

Those tyres and suspension actually do a good job of damping and the ride in general is comfortable. It’s not pretending to be anything it’s not. There’s good suspension travel for the dust roads this car is likely to encounter, firm enough to not feel wallowy but soft enough not to upset the driving experience. The real gem however was the engine. Toyota comes in with a kicker to the competition, offering one engine variant, a 1.5litre petrol engine (No VVTI) using TwinCam technology (making it easier to fix anywhere in the country). It makes easy work of pulling both sedan and hatch around, with surprising punch through the gears (5 speed manual fitted – can’t complain at all) and easily cruises up above 120km/h without singing too high into the rev range. The 1.5 is a brand new engine, and puts out 66kW with 132NM of torque at 3000RPM. If the exterior leaves you frowning, the heart of this car will turn that frown upside down.

What’ll make your smile last even longer, is the fuel consumption. Claimed 5.9l/100km means you’re going to get at least 550+ km’s on a tank.

Air vents on the left so driver's hand don't freeze off. Smart

But the smiling doesn’t stop there. Toyota knows the Etios is going to be many family’s first vehicles, so safety is key – and again beating the competition with standard ABS, EBD & BAS as well as dual front airbags for both spec variants. Space was another key driver to purchase in this segment, and the Etios brings home the smiles here too. Class leading rear leg and headroom, as well as a sedan with a boot that can swallow 595litres. That’s more than a Jetta (THE south African standard for sedan boots). At least 4 dead hookers in my view. Otherwise the interior is what you’d expect for R115 000 and nothing more. A lot of plastic surrounds the centre speedo dash (a-la-yaris, just more tacky) with a nice 3 spoke steering wheel and typical Toyota switchgear (everything except the glovebox latch, which felt like it should be on a Mahindra) More space inside, with a massive cooled glovebox, 7 cup-holders and door pockets standard. Manual mirrors for both spec, but the Xs does then get electric

Laptop in Glovebox - and it closes!

windows all round with central locking! (Both vehicles feature an immobilizer as standard). It’s a fairly comfortable place to be, the seats are full piece headrest integrated to the seat for the front, and the rear backrest folds flat for more space (should you need).

What was another interesting decision in keeping the costs as low as possible, was to keep the radio / sound system optional for both models, but rather fit aircon as standard, because it’s a lot cheaper to fit a radio aftermarket than an airconditioner. Smiling customer!

Smiling Beale was the switch for the adjustable headlights which is way down on the dash – and looks like something that belongs on a standing fan. A massive dial to turn. I laughed a lot. Where a simple 3-spot scroller would have done the job I’m sure?

Another reason for potential buyers to smile, is that the Etios is the only car in class with a standard 30000km/2year service plan. Giving peace of mind motoring to the new car buyer.

Hatch from behind - not the best view

A lot of work has gone into making sure everything about the Etios talks to the key needs of the target market, and be the best at that. Over and above, they’ve made sure the vehicle is reliable, fuel efficient, and most importantly cheap to service and replace parts. Overall Etios parts are 17% cheaper than the other cars in segment. Smiling driver! Simple things like it only taking 30minutes to replace the accelerator cable – Saving time in dealer which means less money on labour! Smiling driver again.


I think they’re on the money here –Toyota has taken its time to do proper research on the segment, and come in and offering everything they can, at an excellent price. Hot cakes anyone?

A smile costs nothing (well almost nothing)

Etios 1.5 HB Xi           –           R115 800;

Etios 1.5 HB Xs          –           R120 900;

Etios 1.5 SD Xi           –           R121 800;

Etios 1.5 SD Xs           –           R126

There is also an extensive range of accessories (body kits, mags etc) that will be available from the 21st of May on

Comedians at launch - all smiles for us!

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