The Toyota Etios has gone through yet another update. Since being launched in 2010 this is now the fourth iteration of the car and it looks like this time around, the Japanese automaker has really put its weight behind the vehicle. Despite always being priced a bit higher than its compact sedan rivals due to the extended length, it has been a decent seller in terms of numbers. Now, to keep continuity of volumes Toyota has worked on the strengths of the car to improve them. It gets some major cosmetic updates as well as an upgraded safety suite which has multiple first-in-segment features. But are these update s enough to finally propel this ‘giant among men’ into the big league? Read on to find out…
The Etios in all its iterations had always been labelled as dull-looking and it looks like Toyota wants to shed that image once and for all. The manga inspired aggressive face and subtle changes to the back have certainly given the car a bit of drama.
The grille is now minimalistic while the bumper has been given a sporty appearance. To reduce the visual weight of the chrome on the front, it (the bumper) has been fitted with black inserts above the fog lamp housing while the overall shape has moved from rounded to in-your-face square. The side profile remains the same as before while the rear has had its chrome strip moved from the top of the boot lid to the middle below the Toyota logo. Also changed is the rear bumper which now gets some sporty curves that flow from the sides and into the number plate section.
Toyota has updated the cabin of the Platinum Etios rather than overhaul it completely. The overall layout has not changed but the colour combination is now black and beige. It has made things easy on the eyes but the overall quality of plastics has not changed. For a car that is priced over Rs 9 lakh, it still falls short of what we expect from vehicles in the segment nowadays.
The instrument cluster is new and gets a digital display for the tachometer and trip meter. It’s a welcome change but we felt that it could have included things like instantaneous fuel consumption as well as distance to empty indicator. The top-spec VXD model gets a two-din music system with Bluetooth and AUX connectivity as standard equipment.
The front seats are quite comfortable and offer good support while the rear bench is a bit flat and to have three sitting abreast is a bit of a challenge especially if any of the occupants are on the larger side. There is also the question of the sloping roofline which is hindrance when it comes to headroom for taller people. On the practicality front, there are seven 1.0-litre bottle storage spaces as well as a 13-litre cooled glove box.
Where Toyota has put in a lot of effort is to make the car high on the safety front. In view of the Centre introducing new protection standards from 2018 onwards, Toyota has fitted the Platinum Etios with dual front airbags, adjustable headrests, ABS with EBD and seatbelts with pre-tensioners as well as force limiters across the range. In addition you now also get a three-point seat belt for middle rear passenger and two ISOFIX mounting points at the rear for child seats. What this has resulted in is a 4-Star Global NCAP adult safety rating for not just the sedan but also the hatchback as well as the mini crossover version. When looked at from a cost point of view, this would be a long term investment as you get 2018 safety standards but at 2016 prices.
The Platinum Etios can be had with a 1.5-litre petrol or a 1.4-litre diesel. Both are four cylinder units and the former produces 88bhp/132Nm while the latter is good for 67bhp/170Nm. Both are only offered with a five-speed manual.
We got our hands on the more popular diesel model which uses the same engine from the more expensive Corolla Altis albeit in a lower state of tune. Firstly, it’s a noisy engine this and the clatter is quite audible in the cabin even in heavy t raffic. It has a lower torque figure than most of its contemporaries and has gained some weight over the outgoing model in view of the new safety standards but this has not really affected its performance. Toyota has worked to spread out the same and has given it an excellent mid-range which allows for ease of movement at low speeds as well as out on the highway. You can cruise at 100kmph at just 2000rpm while pottering around in traffic in third gear works just fine. It has an ARAI fuel efficiency figure of 23.59kmpl. They have also addressed the issue of the clutch action by making it lighter than the one in the outgoing model.
If there is one thing that Toyota has done right with the Etios and now the Platinum is the ride quality. It is slightly on the firm side but seems to work as it absorbs most pot holes and bumps without sending much back to the cabin. Consequently, the car has good high speed stability and feels quite planted even at 140kmph.The electrically assisted steering despite needing too many turns to go from lock to lock feels light, is easy to use and weighs up quite decently as you go faster.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||67bhp @ 3800rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||170Nm @ 1800rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||45|
|Tyre size||185/60 R15|
|ABS with EBD||Yes|
|Dual front airbags||Yes|
|2 ISOFIX child seat mounting points||Yes|
|13-litre cooled glove box||Yes|
|Optional 5 year and 7 year extended warranties||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||99 @ 3600rpm||74 @ 4000rpm||67bhp @ 3800rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||200 @ 1750rpm||190 @ 2000rpm||170Nm @ 1800rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||35||42||45|
|Tyre size||175/65 R14||185/65 R15||185/60 R15|
Has Toyota done enough to boost the Etios in the round of updates? Yes, we think so. The aggressive new design and fancy name adds some excitement to the car while the comprehensive safety package across the range has made it a good value proposition to the growing league of safety conscious buyers.
Learning from the struggles of other manufacturers, Toyota has finally also separated the lower spec fleet market version of the car from the one that will be sold exclusively to private buyers. It has also introduced two new extended warranties of five years/1.80 lakh km and seven years/1.40 lakh km which are pretty much first in the market.
The Platinum Etios is priced in the range of Rs 6.49 lakh to Rs 8.98 lakh (Ex-showroom Delhi) and goes up against the likes of the Honda Amaze, Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, Hyundai Xcent and Volkswagen Ameo.
Photographs : Kapil Angane