Toyota Etios Cross
Crossover is a new segment which some manufacturers are tinkering with. It is a smart way of tackling two segments at the same time. The Ecosport and Cross Polo are the best present day examples of this body type.
A vehicle of this type need not specialise in any category but then it should try and bring in the benefits of a hatch and a SUV or other categories together. The Etios Cross tries just that by bringing the convenience of a hatch and a ruggedness of an off roader together. Generally, the excitement levels for the Etios series have not been high and thus with the Etios Cross, the company wants to refresh this brand.
Powered by a 1.5L petrol engine, it is not really an underpowered car. We know that many would type cast the Etios Cross and not consider it all but then no car is all that bad. We try and find out more on it in our review.
The Etios Cross looks very much similar to its hatchback version except for the cladding. The main idea was to make a car look rugged with a go anywhere theme.
Keeping the upper half same, the Etios Cross gets a massive bull bar style radiator grille. This grille is basically made of reinforced plastic but then it doesn’t feel as strong as a protection bar. The angry face looks inspired from the company’s international line of SUVs. The lower section of the bumper gets a contrasting bash plate. One interesting bit of the front face is the fog lamp positioning with vertically stacked indicators which is interesting.
Door handles get chrome accent and external mirrors get indicators. Apart from looking like a normal hatch it is the faux macho cladding which makes the difference. Tough profiles and contours on the cladding try hard to give it a rugged look but then they don’t succeed in doing so. It also gets 15inch diamond cut alloy wheels. Now if you are making a tough looking crossover you might consider giving it tough looking wheels too and not diamond cut alloys which normally feature as a premium design option. Bright roof rails give it a sporty touch along with a rear spoiler
Bold signature style model name embossed on the rear with generous matte cladding again. The rear number plate is a part of the bash plate on the bumper. More than looking tough, it reminds of the earlier days when companies used to offer lower variants of cars in black bumpers.
If Toyota wants to revamp the Etios platform, they have to start by completely changing the interiors of the car. Hard plastics and oddly positioned cluster do not work in its favour. There are cars lower than its segment which offers better interiors.
It all begins with the centrally positioned instrumental cluster. Tatas had tried that with Indica following the Etios and the response it got was discouraging. The cluster should be shifted towards the driver and it will not just make aesthetic sense but also make it more convenient. Also, the tachometer and the odometer need a fresh design as the blue stickers are not helpful.
Whoever suggested the AC vents position needs to justify them. Front passenger gets three vents the driver has to adjust with only one. The third vent on the passenger side has to be tilted completely towards the driver and centrally if the occupants in the rear need it. The seats get Etios Cross etched on them and is finished in good quality fabric. The cabin feels sufficiently spacious but then the seats are not comfortable. The seats need more support and cushioning as their flat construction can be tiring.
It gets a 2 DIN music system with Bluetooth and Aux-in. Music playback quality is average. Pairing devices with the system is fairly easy. The entertainment system is easy to use. We did face some operational issues with the system after pairing our phone and playing music via Bluetooth. The volume function once set could not be changed unless you change the mode and then switch back to BT audio. It is only the top variant which get steering mounted controls along with rear wipers and defogger.
The missing bits of convenience need to be improved like the missing electrical adjustment for adjusting the external mirror sticks out like a sore thumb. Not that for a major like Toyota giving good quality interiors is difficult and the new Corolla Altis is the perfect example. It is just the efforts taken by the company to make its premium cars feel good, the same approach has to be applied for its entry level cars too.
The Etios Cross is offered in1.2L and 1.5L petrol along with the 1.4L diesel engine options. For this review, we chose the 1.5L petrol variant as it is the most powerful of the other three and thus claims more fun to drive too.
This Etios surely comes with Cross badging and mate cladding but it is no SUV or a potential SUV rival from any aspect. It does not have a higher ground clearance nor is it a go anywhere vehicle. It is still very much the Liva hatch which looks rugged and muscular.
If one can ignore everything about the model brand and its typical image in the country, there is something interesting under the hood. Yes, the 1.5L petrol engine. The concept of plonking a big block engine on a hatch sounds legendary Japanese as many custom car builders there do this to make a conventional road legal hatch get exciting.
I personally love higher displacement petrol engines and a 1.5L petrol engine in the Etios Cross absolutely puts a tick on all desires boxes. Presently, the hot hatch segment is at a very nascent stage and except for Volkswagen who have tried their way with the GT series, no other car makers has shown an interest in this segment. The GT TSI is a perfect definition of an enthusiast’s dream.
But what if you have a wish of owning a performance car without shelling a premium on the German hot hatch? The 1.5L of the Etios Cross comes into picture. The one on the Cross is a 1496 cc engine which produces 89 bhp at 5600 rpm while the same on a GT TSI is a smaller 1197cc engine which produces 103.5 bhp at 5000 rpm.
It is not the perfect replacement for the German powerhorse but then the 1.5L has some great potential to be a tuner’s delight. The engine is a free revving unit and builds power rapidly. Even the exhaust not gets coarse at higher engine speeds with the sweet sound of the air intake. The 5 speed manual transmission does a great job with quick shifts in city traffic. On highways, it comes handy during overtaking.
The suspensions are decent but then the handling is not as impressive and here it takes severe beating. It has a great heart but gets no support from the handling section. The tyres just don’t have the confidence at high speeds and even the steering drops on its holding power at corners. Thus, the potential fun 1.5L engine cuts on all the excitement without proper support. Now, if the company takes this aspect seriously and takes effort to make it a great handler, things can look a lot different.
|Variant||1.5L DOHC Petrol-V|
|Power in PS/RPM||90/5600|
|Torque in NM/RPM||132/3000|
|Dimensions in mm|
|Fuel Tank capacity in Liters||45|
|Front Fog Lamp||Yes||Yes|
|Rear Wiper and washer||Yes||Yes|
|Air conditioner with heater||Yes||Yes|
|Electric power steering||Yes||Yes|
|Audio System with remote||Yes||Yes|
|Audio controls on steering||No||Yes|
|Internally adjustable ORVM||Yes||Yes|
|steering wheel with sporty leather wrapped||No||Yes|
|Dual SRS Airbags||Yes||Yes|
|ABS with EBD||Std for GD||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||1.5L DOHC Petrol-V||1.5 Diesel MT Titanium||RxL Petrol|
|Engine Displacement/No. of Cyl.||1496||1499||1598|
|Power in PS/RPM||90/5600||109 @ 6300||102 @ 5850|
|Torque in NM/RPM||132/3000||140 @ 4400||145 @ 3750|
|Dimensions in mm|
|Tyres||185/60 R15||205 / 60 R16||215 / 65 R16|
|Fuel Tank capacity in Liters||45||52||45|
|Front Fog Lamp||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear Wiper and washer||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Air conditioner with heater||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Electric power steering||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Audio System with remote||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Audio controls on steering||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Internally adjustable ORVM||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dual SRS Airbags||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ABS with EBD||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Tweaked design, revamped interiors and improved dynamics can make the Etios an acceptable car. The Cross is a brave attempt but then it does not succeed in creating any excitement like its elder siblings produce.
Toyota has an amazing reputation when it comes to reliability, strength and quality. Customers of Innova, Corolla Altis and Fortuner have always sweared by it but then the same is not the case when the company’s entry level cars are considered. It is about time the company realises the importance of this segment and moulds their cars accordingly.