New Toyota Etios sedan Road Test Review

  • May 22, 2013

Indian automobile space has vacuumed many international manufacturers to the country and one of them is the world’s leading automaker, Toyota. Been present in the country since more than a decade, the Japanese giant has grown its roots deep into the Indian automobile sector. Toyota’s presence in premium sedans, SUV and MUV segment can’t be ignored in this country. It was about time that the company increased the number on sales chart and the plan of mass segment car was forced into action. Toyota’s late entry into the segment was sure a set-back but then Toyota is always known for their quality of products.

After spending quite a time researching the market, Toyota finally entered the budget segment with the launch of sedan Etios. At a time when all other manufacturers were already cashing in through their products in segments, questions like what should we expect from the Japanese stable and how good the product would perform in Indian conditions were the few things customers were asking. After spending some time in the market with success, Toyota revamped their product with which we spend some time to know how different it feels.

The new improved Etios sedan is more of a cosmetic change than anything else. The company worked to make the car visually more appealing taking into consideration the feedback they received from both critics as well as current owners. Nonetheless, the car does look pretty much charming with the subtle changes that have been implemented. The new front grille does strikes you at the first eye contact with the car. The metallic imprint on part of the grille adds that premium feel to the sedan.

The headlight has little fins which the company dictates as air fins and the same theme has been applied on the tail lamp making the car a lot sportier than it used to be. From the exterior, most noticeable change have been the ORVMs - they are sleeker and blend with the body of the car unlike the boxy shaped those were earlier bolted with the last version. The top version gets turn indicators in the mirror. The body also gets side mould protection and itsy bitsy changes which generally would not be visible if you have not designed the car or if you don’t check the car inch by inch.

Interiors receive a longer list of changes and as expected and wished by many, the Etios now looks classier from the inside. The contrasting red and black interiors have been now replaced with the eye soothing 2-tone premium Ash Brown fabric which sure does make the car feel very premium now. What Toyota thought would be a college student’s dream and hence the initial red job, flourished itself in an entire different segment of buyers and the premium looking interiors will only help the car to further stage itself in the market as a premium carrier.

One thing that we expected to change in the car is the position of instrument panel, the centrally placed instrument panel looks awkward but now, Toyota has completely changed the panels with blue illumination which are much more appealing than the last ones. The seats are hugely improved with the adjustable headrest on front row and driver seats getting equipped with height adjuster in the top variant. The car also gets a new music system with USB connectivity and the top model gets the Bluetooth and aux-in feature. AC knobs have been changed to more premium ones but automatic climate control is yet to make its way to the car.

The car retains the same petrol and diesel engine from the last version without any change in tuning. The 1.5-litre petrol engine churns out 90 PS at 5600 rpm and 132 Nm at 3200 rpm and returns 16.78 km per litre. The petrol engine feels smooth and linearly powered and infact puts out better performance as compared to say the Maruti Dzire or the Honda Amaze. We spent more time with the diesel version so you will read more about this here - the 1.4 litre diesel engine peaks the power at 68PS at 3800 rpm and 170 Nm of torque at 1800-1900 rpm. Mated with 5-speed butter smooth manual transmission, the power feels enough for the regular city drive which takes you to office or the weekend highway drives.

Turbo lag is next to nil and this is what makes the Etios an effortless drive in city traffic. 68PS of power might look less on paper, but until unless you are driving with a full load of five adults with air-con on full blast, the need for extra power won’t really arise. With 23.59 km per litre fuel efficiency as per ARAI, the car feels well balanced between power and efficiency. The cabin has been well insulated, the diesel crackle is very faint and from the inside, the ride quality feels good. On the corners, the car holds its posture without sweating much. The shock absorbers are not very soft or hard, the medium setting feels optimum while accelerating or hard braking but what really works for the Etios is the ability to absorb undulations with ease. All you get is hear is an audible thud while going over potholes! The diesel machine feels well built for the city and has everything ticked. The big boot is another added plus point and is almost double the size of what most hatchbacks have!

Toyota has dropped the top-end diesel VXD and petrol VX models with the new version. The good part is that the safety package with front air bags and ABS is now made available with the mid-level trim. Starting from Rs. 5.45 for petrol and Rs. 6.7 lakh for diesel, the car is in direct competition with Maruti DZire, Mahindra Verito and newly launched Honda Amaze. The Etios is a true quality product and with an attractive price tag, the car surely proves to be a tough competition in the market. The Etios has right amount of premium features, right amount of power and right amount of things to attract the buyers and to top it up, Toyota’s brand value does put most of the other rivals in the back seat! This is also the reason why the sales rose to 4742 units in March 2013 when this new model was launched – a clear indication of the improvement and acceptance by consumers.

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