Successor to Tazz on way
Toyota SA this week announced that the much anticipated Etios range will be launched on May 21.
Unveiled at the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) last year, it is Toyota's first foray into the highly popular sub-B segment of the market, since the discontinuation of the Tazz more than five years ago.
However, this is where the similarity between the Etios and its much-loved ancestor ends.
As Kerry Roodt, the general manager of marketing communications at Toyota South Africa, points out: "Rather than rely on hand-me-down technology and yesteryear's styling, the Etios is a bang up-to-date product that was specifically designed around the needs of today's cash-strapped, yet ever-demanding driver.
"Keeping the target customer in mind, the Etios is youthfully styled and extremely well packaged - in fact size-wise, it's a class up from the competition. And, thanks to its modern yet durable 1.5-litre motor that comes with a healthy smattering of techno hardware in the form of twin cams and four valves per cylinder, the Etios is also well-equipped in the performance department."
Commenting at the launch of the Etios in India, where the car is built at a state-of-the-art facility in Bangalore, Yoshinori Noritake, the chief engineer for the Etios, said: "With the Etios, we aspire to offer the best suited car for the customer at an affordable price, while providing a vehicle that is one class above. After interviewing and studying the customer preferences, we found a growing need for affordably priced, quality cars. We first observed various aspects that were sought after by the customer and then enhanced the features and performance aspects that were truly needed, while doing away with excessive design elements."
This ethos is very evident when one looks at the exterior styling of the new Etios. As India's Autocar magazine observed: "Toyota asked everyone and his uncle what they would like in a family hatchback. The feedback was then collated, analysed and acted upon."
The result? A design that is universally pleasing with "styling that is well proportioned and balanced, thanks to the long wheelbase - 2550mm".
The Etios grille is typically Toyota - shaped like a smiling face with "dimples" (headlights).
Prominent bonnet creases add a touch of character to the face of the newcomer.
The side profile is very clean; the only design punctuation provided by a low character line, which follows the contours of the doors.
The five-door hatch has a truncated rear "a la RunX", while the sedan is cohesively styled without that "tacked-on-tail" look that aesthetically sabotages so many of its competitors, Toyota says. This is despite the fact that it has the biggest boot (595 litres) in its class.
Finishing touches add that bit of gloss - both model grades, Xi and XS, feature body-coloured bumpers and 14-inch steel wheels with full wheel trims. XS models get a top-up in the form of a colour-coded grille and door handles, as well as a few chrome accents.