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The lightest mid-sizer

Toyota’s most affordable car is sprightly, fuel-thrifty and exudes confidence on city roads.

autos Updated: Jan 27, 2011 00:19 IST

The Etios is Toyota’s most affordable car. It dives down into the Swift Dzire territory or the entry level mid-size segment. But does it give you enough bang for your buck?

The Etios is neither pretty nor ugly. The meek-looking headlights, simple body lines and bulky boot won’t turn heads. The only distinctive bits are the boomerang-shaped grille, the bulge on the hood and a crease that runs across the doors. At 930 kg, it is the lightest mid-sizer. The door handles are grab-type, there’s no rear quarter-glass, the rubber beading for the door is missing as is the engine cover, and there’s only one horn and wiper. The Etios is designed to meet tougher safety standards in future, but for now, it isn’t built with the same impact protection hardware and this helps in keeping the weight down.

The dashboard is bold; the central console with two vertically stacked centre vents is unconventional (the lower one can be aimed at the rear seat). The flat-bottomed steering wheel and the massive glovebox are unique too. However, the plastics don’t have a quality feel, the air-conditioner controls and the cable-type headlamp height adjuster are bad bits. The carpets are basic and the sun visors look cheap too.

The Etios is big on space. The front and rear seats are wide, offering excellent back and thigh support. The rear seat can comfortably seat three, but the seats lack good lateral support. There are neither proper headrests in the rear nor a central armrest. Storage is ample. Apart from the glovebox, there are cubbyholes, door pockets and seven bottle-holders! The boot capacity is 595 litres.

The Etios comes with a single engine option at the moment — a 1496 cc petrol, developing 90 bhp and 13.4 kgm of power and torque, modest figures for a 1.5-litre engine. However, the engine has phenomenal drive. The motor is super-responsive and has a solid tug from low engine speeds, making it ideal for city driving. Even in a high gear the Etios scoots forward in traffic. As a result, you don’t need to change gears frequently. But if you want to, the crisp and quick gearbox is quite nice to use. It hits 100 kph from zero in 11.38 seconds and 140 kph comes up in 23.5 seconds.

The car is quite stiffly sprung. Ride quality at slow speeds is compromised a bit. A fair amount of road noise filters through, but up the pace, even with a full load, and the Etios cruises with a consistent poise. It is also the most fuel efficient 1.5-litre petrol car in the country. In the city, we got a reading of a very impressive 11.8 kpl and on the highway it returned 16.8 kpl.
Autocar India