Is Toyota’s first hatchback good enough? | autos | Hindustan Times
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Is Toyota’s first hatchback good enough?

autos Updated: Oct 22, 2011 15:46 IST
Nikhil Bhatia

Based on the Etios saloon, the Etios Liva is a car that won’t win you over with its looks. It’s identical to its saloon sibling till right after the B-pillar. Styling is inoffensive, but not striking. For instance, the beak-like smiling grille and small headlamps won’t grab your attention. It is only the power bulge on the bonnet that adds flavour . The Liva, at 920 kgs, is the lightest hatch in its segment. Smaller measures like equipping the car with a single horn instead of two have helped Toyota shave vital kilos and rupees at the same time. The Liva can be had with dual front airbags, ABS and EBD.

Given its timid exterior styling, the Liva’s interiors are adventurous. A straight carryover from the Etios, the dashboard is dominated by a centrally-mounted instrument cluster.

The white backlit dials are easy to read. The fascia below comprises two vertically stacked air-conditioning vents, which can be directed to the rear passenger compartment.

An area where the Liva is hard to fault though is space. The front seats are accommodating and offer great back support, the fixed headrests are comfy too. There is no height adjust for the driver’s seat and you do have to contend with minimal lateral padding from the flat seats when driving hard. The Liva shares its basic engine architecture with its saloon sibling. However, the engine on the Liva uses a shorter stroke, so displacement has reduced from 1.5 litres to 1,197cc.

The Liva does not stand out in terms of power or driveability, but is not bad on either count. Get going from a standstill and progress isn’t all that fast till about 2000rpm. Once past this figure, the Liva gets a spring in its step.

Good manoeuverability is a priority for city car buyers, and here the car shines. A small turning circle and light steering give it an easy to drive feel that will find favour with even first-time drivers. The Etios Liva returned 12.1kpl in the city and 16.7kpl on the highway, making it among the most fuel-efficient petrol-engined big hatchbacks on sale in India.

The Liva isn’t very involving to drive and its simple looks might put off buyers. Interior plastic quality is not very impressive and the cost cutting is very blatant. That aside, it is spacious, easy to drive and, being a Toyota, will probably outlive its buyer. Its mileage, given the ever north-bound petrol prices, is its biggest selling point.

Pricing at Rs 5.99 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), if there’s a small car you can safely bet your money on, this is it.