Despite the slowdown in the Indian car industry, Toyoa Etios and Liva seem to be gaining ground and customer respect with every passing month. Thanks to the Etios and Liva, Toyota today, has become a significant car manufacturer in India.
Diesel variants of Etios and Liva ensured a rapid growth in sales numbers of these two cars from Toyota. Etios and Liva from Toyota offer a unique combination of practicality and affordability to the car buyers in India.
Etios diesel, with abundance of space and affordability, managed to carve a significant niche for itself almost instantly, in the fiercely competitive sedan segment in India. We drove this diesel power plant from Etios to find out, as to why Indian car buyers love it so much.
STYLE & SUBSTANCE
Etios does not create a very positive first impression. She is not going to win any beauty pageant, so why has Toyota created an illusion of beauty in the form of smiling boomerang shaped grill, is beyond us. In-fact, externally there is nothing much to rate this car on style quotient, which to a great extent we believe is deliberate. Meek headlamps with bumper integrated air dams communicate a defensive design approach.
Etios’s prominent shoulder line along with chromes stripped rub rails on its side profile does try to give some character to the car. Rear without the Toyota branding would definitely remind one of the Logan; thanks to triangular tail-lamps and a flatish characterless boot. Thick chrome strip on the boot does try to add some zing to an otherwise very plain & conservative Etios rear.
What Toyota, however, has successfully mananged to provide the Etios, is the stance of sedan. Dimensions look balanced, without disproportionate overhangs. Every part of the car seems to have a purpose, which is much more than, what one can say for most other sedan segment cars in India. Cost cutting though is quite obvious; grab type door handles Vs pull-type, missing rear quarter glass and rubber beading on doors. Etios also has a single horn unlike most other sedan cars which offer dual horn.
INTERIORS, SPACE & ERGONOMICS
Toyota engineers/designers have not made any compromise is in the internal space department, though excessive use of black makes the cabin quite dull and boring. Add to this, the integrated, almost Nano like front seat headrest in a sedan which ensures a pause in Etios buy decision.
A visit to the driver seat does manage to delete the pause quite effectively and almost immediately. Sculptured steering wheel is quite nice to hold, Centrally placed instrument cluster works very intuitively. Vertically stacked air-con vents one above another, provides decent cooling, even for passengers in the rear seats. Stalks are solidly built & there is no sign of any cost cutting here.
Front seats are wide, large & well bolstered. The space feeling is enormous with lot of head & leg room. Etios has the longest wheelbase of 2550 mm. This extra long wheelbase sets a new benchmark in terms of rear passenger comfort.
Rear bench is nearly flat liberating more space which is further enhanced by the non-sculpting ends at the sides. This means that every inch of the space is used adding to the comfort & convenience of the passengers. Legroom, knee room as well as headroom are new benchmarks for the competition though addition of little more thigh space would have been quite welcome.
Some thoughtful tricks makes the comfort feeling special in Etios. Flat floor design means there is no need to stop after every hour to change the seats in case of three passengers abreast. 13 litres cooled glove box is quite a positive feature. Large and wide door pockets are quite useful.
595 ltrs of boot space makes Etios a good buy proposition for those seeking space in the boot.
POWERPLANT & TRANSMISSION
In its diesel variant, Etios uses 4-cylinder inline engine displacing 1364 cc. Contrary to modern architecture, this engine makes use of single overhead cam with 2-valves per cylinder for breathing thus taking a toll on refinement. Rated power of 68 PS at 3800 rpm along with usable rotating force of 170 NM between 1800-2400 rpm gives the Etios solid and strong legs.
Low Kerb weight makes the car quite responsive, with the drivability getting aided by not so frequent gear change requirement. Power delivery in the Etios is very linear as there is no sudden burst of power at the higher rpm like many other diesel mills. Highway driving is also good and car pulls along very nicely even at higher rpm range.
Engine is mated with 5-Speed manual transmission. The Gear shift is smooth, very direct, & precise. Shifting inspires the confidence but VW’s POLO still holds the crown for slickness as far as gear shifting is concerned.
Toyota Etios uses McPherson strut in front & torsion beam at the rear to suspend the wheels. 185 wide tyres are shrouded on the 15” rim with aspect ratio of 60. The suspension is calibrated perfectly: it strikes a good balance between softness & firmness. Even though at low speed Etios feels a bit firm but with increasing speed it takes everything that comes its way except the large potholes.
A long wheel base is adds to its stability & Etios feels well planted on the highways. There is no vertical movement or pitching & therefore the fatigue is very less compared to competing cars in India.
Handling department has also been given enough attention, even though it’s not as nippy as the Ford Fiesta, but Etios still inspires a secure feeling. The body roll is present but restricted within limits. The Under-Steer though present but doesn’t come very early in the operation.
Good driving position along with light electrically assisted power steering makes Etios very easy to drive in the city. Ground clearance of 170 mm along with small turning radius adds to Etios’s practicality.
Etios, since inception, has scored very well on Value for Money proposition. Now with the affordability of diesel VFM scores are even more in favour of the Etios. Toyota reliability has further catapulted Etios in every sedan car buyers consideration set. With near zero waiting periods, Toyota has made Etios a very solid buy option. No surprise that Etios sales is heading North month on month.
Style & Substance : 2/5 Ride & Handling : 3/5
Interior & Space : 4/5 Safety & Equipments : 3/5
Power Plant & Transmission : 4/5 Mileage : 3/5
Value for Money : 4/5