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In the comfort zone

Toyota’s first hatchback for India is practical and comes with midsize car-rivalling interior space.

autos Updated: Jul 09, 2011 15:42 IST
Nikhil Bhatia

The Liva is this year’s biggest launch and marks Toyota’s foray into the highly competitive small car segment.

Retaining the now-familiar face of its elder sibling, the Etios, the Liva is devoid of radical lines and the styling can be deemed conservative at best. Even then, the design philosophy does have some nice touches that add a bit of flair to the Liva.

The hatchback is at it’s best when viewed from the rear three-quarter angle where the well-defined shoulders and chunky C-pillars add considerable muscle to the design. The large 15-inch wheels on the higher V and VX variants (lower J and G versions get 14-inchers) add to the car’s balanced stance. Observe closely and you’ll notice the raised suspension that contributes to an adequate 170mm of ground clearance.

The Liva gets MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam axle at the rear. Fit and finish is good as is the norm with all Toyotas. However, the feeling of being in a car that is extremely light and built to strict costs is something that you can’t shake off; a feeling reinforced by the 920kg kerb weight making it the lightest hatch in its class.

Measuring in at 90mm shorter than the Etios saloon, it is hard to make out the difference between the two cars unless you look up the spec sheets. The interiors are decidedly spacious and that can only bode well for a car rivalling a hatchback like the Maruti Swift.

No height adjustment
The front seats have decent cushioning and superb lower back support too. The only gripe was the fact that there was no height adjustment for the driver’s seat. Outside visibility remains good though. The boot-space is restricted to 251 litres, which is good enough for a suitcase, at best.

The Liva’s dashboard is a direct lift from the Etios and it looks and works well with easy to read instruments, despite their unconventional placement. Bottle and cup-holders are aplenty and the cavernous 13-litre glovebox that comes with air-conditioning keeps things cool.

Peppy engine
Under the hood, the Liva’s 920kg kerb weight and 79bhp add up to a power-to-weight ratio of 85.8bhp per tonne, making it the best among the 1.2-litre hatchback brigade. On-road performance, however, reveals a different story. Owing to Toyota tuning the twin-cam, 1,197cc engine for fuel economy rather than pep, the Liva is slow off the line and takes time to gain momentum.

Great handling
Refinement is acceptable for a small car, but the car does filter in some road noise at higher speeds. The car simply coasts over potholes and the stiff suspension tackles speedbreakers with aplomb. Highway mannerisms were decent too, except for the occasional windblasts at high speeds that ruffled the car slightly. The electrically-assisted steering on the Liva is something buyers will really take to because the car is quite an able city commuter. The 185/60-R15 tyres are good and hard stops are uneventful. Overall, the road behaviour of the Liva, though not exciting, is safe and predictable. Save for the base J variant, ABS with EBD can be had on the G version and comes standard on the higher V and VX variants.

Toyota Etios Liva
Price: Rs 3.99-5.99 lakh ex-showroom
L/W/H: 3775/1695/1510mm
Wheelbase: 2460mm
Ground clearance: 170mm
Turning circle: 4.8 metres
Fuel tank: 45 litres
Kerb weight: 890-920kg
Engine: 4 cyls in-line, 1197cc, petrol
Installation: Front, transverse, front-wheel drive
Power: 79bhp at 5600rpm
Torque: 10.6kgm at 3100rpm
Gearbox: Five-speed manual
Suspension (f/r): MacPherson struts/torsion beam
Brakes (f/r): Ventilated discs/ drums
Tyres: 175/65-R14 (J and G)/185/60-R15 (V and VX)

Verdict
The Liva is another car based on what Toyota stands for — quality, reliability and practicality.

The spacious interiors, good ride quality, and decent levels of equipment will be appealing at this price point, but the ace up the Liva’s sleeve will be its fuel efficiency that’s expected to be pegged at around 18.3kpl. With a price tag of R 3.99-5.99 lakh, this car looks to be an outright winner.

Autocar India

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