With cash-strapped households and economic turmoil only a newspaper article away, the entry-level segment has become one of the most fiercely contended with carmakers offering more value for your hard-earned buck.
This segment used to be the preserve of Toyota and Volkswagen with the much-loved, yet hopelessly outdated, Tazz and Citi Golf leading the charge.
The demise of the Tazz left somewhat of a hole in Toyota’s model line-up. No more.
The introduction of the Toyota Etios has filled said hole rather nicely, offering a relatively large car and a decent value proposition for those looking to appease their bank managers.
Powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine, the Etios could be seen as a little underpowered. Developing just 66kW and 132Nm, it’s by no means the most powerful engine in its category. Mated to a 5-speed gearbox, it has a tendency to whine a little at high speeds and could certainly use a sixth cog for highway driving; but then it wouldn’t be a budget car, would it?
The Etios interior is pretty much what you would expect for R120 900, although I was somewhat surprised to find that the radio/CD installed on our test unit is only an optional extra. What is standard is power steering, aircon, power windows front and rear and remote central locking.
On the safety font, ABS with EBD is standard as are the driver and front passenger airbags. I’ve been saying for a long time now that ABS needs to be standard on all cars, regardless of price, and it seems some car manufacturers are finally listening.
In terms of the Etios’ ride and handling, well, it’s an underpowered entry-level car with all of the prowess that comes with budget motoring. It’s not awful by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just not great either. The fact of the matter is, it’s adequate for what is expected of the Etios. Besides, with only 66kW on tap, you’re never going to get yourself into too much trouble anyway.
So is the Etios the best car in its class? Well… no.
A quick glance at the Ford Figo shows a very similar spec list (this time with the inclusion of a Radio/CD ) for R118 670. Despite the fact that the Etios comes with a 2-year/30 000km service plan, I think I would still opt for Fords Figo. It just feels more robust with better road-holding and its 1.4-litre engine is only down 4Nm on the Toyota.
No doubt this won’t influence the Toyota faithful as very little ever does. But that’s not really a problem because the Toyota Etios is still a good, entry-level, budget offering.
||Boot Size: 251 litres
|Model: Etios 1.5 Xs Hatch
||Active Safety: ABD, EBD
|Power: 66kW @ 5 600rpm
||Tyres: 175/65 R16
|Torque: 132Nm @ 3 000rpm
||Service Intervals: 10 000km
|Gearbox: 5-speed manual
||Service plan: 2-year/30 000km
|0-100km/h: 11.3 seconds (claimed)
||Warranty: 3-year/100 000km
|Top Speed: 165km/h (claimed)
||Price: R120 900
|Fuel Tank: 45 litres
||Rivals: Ford Figo, Chevrolet Spark, Hyundai i10, Suzuki Alto, Renault Sandero, Peugeot 107, Nissan Micra, VW Polo Vivo, Kia Picanto,
|Fuel Consumption: 6.0 litres/100km