Every category of Indian automobile industry has its own pet customers. While hatchback segments boasts about its appeal among practical city-dwellers, sedans seems to be relied more on family oriented buyers looking especially for extended trunk space. Similarly SUV has its charm among the bigwigs of business and politics though of late this pecking order has begun to crumble under intensifying competition.
With rapidly changing market dynamics traditional segment boundaries are beginning to blur with now more and more manufacturers throwing their hat in cross category ring. Compact sedans, city-friendly SUVs’ etc. are some of befitting examples of hybrid breeds that have successfully carved their place in Indian auto market. Latest entrant in this ongoing trend is all new Etios Cross that comes with combined chromosomes of hatchback and SUV in its genes. This cross-breed version of hatchback Etios Liva had already garnered enough eyeballs at 12th Indian auto expo with masses just went berserk over this novel Toyota offering. Toyota expects to convert that expo enthusiasm into actual sales as Etios Cross is all set to get its market debut in some weeks hence. With uphill challenge of winning over highly discerned and rapidly changing Indian customers’, Etios Cross has already its work cut out. After giving you sneak peek into Etios Cross at ECARDLR few days back, this time we bring to you a complete and exhaustible road test of this hatchback cum SUV that promises to zing up the otherwise very mundane and banal small car category of Indian automobile industry.
STYLE & DESIGN
Etios Cross comes with some interesting design details that will sure to catch attention of onlookers immediately. Up front face is hogged by large silver slatted grille finished by glossy black matte bumper. Silver skid plate gel with the overall nose seamlessly and lends unique sense of perspective to overall front design of Etios Cross. Still some meek signs like timid headlamps and bland bonnet successfully conspire to downgrade the otherwise manly appeal of the Etios Cross.
Thankfully on sides and rear no such accomplice is present as Etios Cross exudes every bit of rugged character at both these fronts. Black matte cladding that runs all around Etios Cross is sure to play a crucial role in enticing the prospective Toyota customers. In addition to being an effective scratch resistance, this black cladding equips Etios Cross with elemental and fiercely powerful appeal. Roof rails and rear spoiler further hammers home the aggressive quotient Etios Cross is heavily banking upon its market success. 15” alloy wheels and wing mirrors with integrated indicators further spruced up the already animated design of Etios Cross.
On dimensional front, Etios Cross comes with extended measurement save for wheelbase of 2460 mm which is same as featured in Liva hatchback. There has been increase of 120 mm, 40 mm and 45 mm on length, breath and height front that Etios Cross comes with compared to its hatchback cousin Liva. Ground clearance too has been upped by 4 mm to 174 mm against 170 mm of Liva.
CABIN & INTERIORS
Hop inside the cabin of Etios Cross and significant change in quality and ambience is immediately apparent. Quality has taken a leap in Etios Cross though mundane basic lay-out and control scheme of Liva has been carried forward in Etios Cross. It is rather hard to justify for Toyota to stick to this unanimated design that has already drawn a lot of flak from customers and critics alike. Fortunately company has used a new black piano finish interiors and fabric with embossed Etios Cross badging.
Instrument cluster is centrally placed and 2-DIN music system comes with all regular formats of playing in addition to USB, Aux-in and Bluetooth compatibility. AC works quite well in terms of cooling voluminous cabin though controls lack the tactile feel; especially the temperature and position adjustment knobs.
On space front, Etios Cross continues to hold on its roomy advantage with wide rear bench and liberal leg and shoulder room. Front seats too feature good space though it could certainly come with more support. In the same vein Etios Cross rear bench although offers commendable seat width capable of seating even three adults still it lacks heavily on supporting aspect.
On equipment front, Etios Cross comes with dual front SRS airbags and ABS with EBD standard on top variant V and Vd. There is steering mounted audio controls as well as rear wiper on offer only if customer opts for these aforementioned highest trim of Etios Cross. There is no provision of electrically operated OVRM though company should have provided this option especially keeping in mind the sporty appeal of car.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
Power train options in Etios Cross have been carried over from likes of Etios and Etios Liva. Petrol version of Etios Cross will feature two engines displacing 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre of cubic capacity generating 80 PS and 90 PS of power respectively. On diesel front, Etios Cross comes with 1.4-litre oil burner good for 68 PS of power and 170 Nm of torque. There is no prize for guessing that it will be this diesel engine that will command a chunk of overall sales of Etios Cross and that’s exactly why we got behind the wheels of diesel Etios Cross to test its mettle. Breathing with the help of 8-valve mounted on single overhead cam, this D-4D oil burner from kitty of Toyota is quitter noisy. Diesel rattle is quite obvious though inside cabin things don’t feel much intrusive as they were at one point of time.
In comparison to 132 Nm of torque petrol Etios Cross, diesel version of this Toyota makes a healthier 170 Nm of rotating force that peaks at between 1800-2400 rpm. This early delivery of force is what makes driving Etios Cross an absolute breeze in city. Paddle responses are sharp as Etios Cross cut through hustle-bustle of city with quite an ease. Turbo lag is virtually absent with power delivery starts pouring in right at the start. Ambling around even in higher gears is not a challenging task with Etios Cross passing city driving test with flying colors.
Even on highway, motors revs nicely but requires the early upshifts. There is no mean of stretching the engine to its limits and Etios Cross behaves best at its early upshift maneuvers. D-4D engine lacks the rev-ability of Fiat’s multi-jet diesel engine as Toyota feels quite breathless toward the higher end of rev-range. Use of single overhead cam with only 2-valve per cylinder makes the top end of motor weak though in city driving no such issue crop up.
Both petrol and diesel engine come mated with 5-speed manual transmission with no automatic on option. Gear ratios are well suited for city driving and so is effortless power steering that aid maneuvering efforts. Clutch of Etios Cross is progressive though not the ultra-light like one we have experienced in Amaze. Still it has very positive progressive feel to it. Power is channelized to front wheel of Etios Cross through 5-speed manual gearbox that is one of the best transmissions we have today in business. Shifts are positive, throws are short and teeth clog in very assuring way. There is hardly any notchiness feel and that makes fiddling with transmission a pleasant experience. Brakes too bite very well and arouse a convincing feel about stopping capability of this Toyota. That said driving position is a bit on lower side and view is not as commanding as one expect in a SUV.
RIDE & HANDLING
Riding up front on McPherson struts and torsion bar at rear, Etios Cross does a decent job in cushioning the occupants from the pathetic conditions our roads are in. Further wider 185 mm of tyre tread, Etios Cross grips the road in a decent manner. Overall suspension setting has prioritized ride comfort over handling though even on handling front, Etios Cross does fairly well.
Any road undulation hardly filters into cabin though potholes cause some disturbance when approached slowly. Even slow speed ride is quite cushioned and rear passengers are sure to enjoy their rear seat stint.
Even on handling, Etios Cross tackles the corners well though it can’t resist tendency to get out of line when thrown around in haste. There is feeling of understeer but only to small extent as Etios Cross quickly gets back in business by showing decent control. Power assisted steering wheel is good for city convenience though we would like some more feedback from it.
With price range stretching between Rs 5.74-7.50 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) Etios Cross makes a decent overall buy especially considering the high retail value of its rival like Cross Polo comes with. Compared to its hatchback sibling Etios Liva, Etios Cross charges premium of around Rs 70 k which is not an exaggerated amount when one analyse the sheer amount of manly and butch character and appeal this new Toyota brings to table. In these additional bucks, what you get in terms of Etios Cross is really far from the commoner and prosaic aesthetics of Liva. Etios Cross with its pepped up exterior and spruced up interiors is far more desirable than any other economical Toyota currently on sales now. In a rather new and evolving cross over hatchback segment we feel that Etios Cross has a fair chance of success as its only direct rival VW’s Cross Polo has been failed to make its mark till now. But now with the advent of Etios Cross competition is bound to heat up and who knows tomorrow, we at ecardlr, will on our way to test the new edition of Cross Polo.
Style & Substance 3.5/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 3/5
Value for Money 3.5/5