Even though Toyota continues to rule the roost of premium category, its gamble to wrest control of sedan and hatchback segments of Indian market hasn’t really paid off. Both Etios sedan and Liva hatchback that company launched amid quite fanfare fails to connect at large with their target audiences. Unanimated design, bland interiors and rather average performance made sure that customers’ remain at arm’s length from these propositions. Toyota in time tried to improve the overall aesthetics and latest iteration in chain of efforts has materialized in form of new 2014 Etios and Liva. Equipped with cosmetic changes inside and outside facelift version of both these cars promises to bring extra zing and excitement that was sorely missed on the outgoing versions of otherwise very practical cars. Now whether Toyota has succeeded this time to titivate the overall appearance of its warriors; we find through road test of new 2014 Etios sedan.
New Etios: Groomed up frontage
What’s New Outside & Inside
Toyota has tried hard to zing up the overall aesthetics of Etios though the culmination of overall efforts fails to lend much differentiation between new and outgoing model. At front new chrome toothed grille defines the nose of Etios flanked by pointing headlamps on either side. A bit flared bumper houses wide air dam along with provisions of fog lamps standard on Etios top end variant. Buldges on bonnet is too subtle to grab attention though large single wiper is perceptible enough to point towards ample cost-cutting embraced by Toyota.
New single-toothed grille
In profile view the overall silhouette remains unaltered with chrome waist line and primitive grab-type door handles. Door lock sitting below door handle is another jarring detail to the very slab-like side profile however new edition has some nice touches in store. For one, the new EORVMs’ with integrated blinkers looks nice in addition to aiding practicality and overall appeal of car.
Rear of the Etios looks like the outgoing model as heavy bottom and grudgingly fat chrome bar stretching across the rear length define the rear of car. Despite of numerous attempts, Toyota fails to differentiate Etios design similarity from Logan as both cars feature almost same bulky derriere.
Slip into cabin of Etios and uplift in overall ambience is quite evident immediately. Clever use of bright colour shading does mask up the average quality to a certain extent successfully. That said grey-beige dashboard layout feels lacking and in overall appearance lags behind most of its rivals. AC controls however feels chunky to operate and overall tactility feels good too. The contentious centrally mounted instrument cluster now feature LCD display and has got added features of warning buzzer for seatbelts and headlamps. Top trim VX/VXD comes with 2-DIN music system that is capable of playing most of music formats with added convenience of Bluetooth, USB and Aux-in. Toyota has also added 4 speakers and 2 tweeters to improve overall level of sound quality.
Best-in-class space and room
Another salient feature of upgraded Etios is new stripped fabric seat upholstery that features on inside now. Melding of bright and dark textures bode well for the overall looks of cabin though we would like to see seats to be on more supportive side. Although slim stance of the front and rear bench frees up ample of space inside Etios lacking support is sure to hinder the long drive comfort of occupants. A long highway trip mandates halts to let the occupants stretch and expanse at regular interval of time. Rear bench is wide enough to seat 3-adults without juggling for space. Flat floor aids the overall practicality and there won’t be any grumbling on account of available space inside Etios. Safety has also been beefed up with Etiso now feature dual front airbags across the range as standard feature. With VW starting this trend and Toyota falling in line, we hope that sooner or later other manufacturers will oblige with this safety requirement.
Humongous boot space
Massive boot space to the tune of 595 litres is simply best not in its own class but even among few notches higher segments too. Wide opening lip is boon though height of loading lip could have been lower. Suspension towers intrude to eat up some usable space though towards outside this encroachment diminishes in its intensity freeing up more usable space to users.
Engine & Suspension Hardware
Mechanically Etios carry forward all engine as well as suspension hardware underpinning its outgoing model. Under the hood there is extremely drivable and reliable D-4D diesel engine displacing 1.5-litre of cubic capacity. Breathing through old-school architecture of 8-valve mounted on single overhead cam, this unit dishes out moderate 68 PS and 170 Nm of max power and max torque respectively. Fuel is fed through common rail direct injection and performance is whipped through mechanism of turbocharging.
Extremely drivable city-friendly unit
At idle, refinement level of D-4D unit is impressive and there is no clatter that is usually associated with turbocharged units. Start off the line and Etios progresses in unhindered way. Drivability of unit is extremely good and doesn’t require the shifting of gears very often. Turbo lag is virtually absent and pottering around the town at low rpms’ at higher gears is quite a breeze. Unlike Swift Dzire one need not to be concerned about downshifting to keep up with the traffic. In mid-range too Etios doesn’t disappoint as long as one upshifts early. Driving Etios in lower gears at higher rpms’ do pose a problem as hoarse sound emanating from under the bay and filtering into cabin is sure to irritate the occupants. Best bet to avoid this is to upshift early and let the engine cruise under red-line rpm mark.
Slick-shift 5-speed gearbox
5-speed manual transmission mated with 1.5-litre motor channelizes power to front wheels of this sedan. Clutch feel is middle of the way as it is neither heavy nor light with quite a progressive feel. Shifts are slick, sporty and with short throws can be safely assumed to be on the par with best in class. Brake bites well, its modulation is easy and nothing spongy or squishy about it.
Ride-comfort oriented suspension
Suspension of wheels is through MacPherson strut up front while at rear suspension beam has been used. 15” wheels are shrouded with 165 mm tubeless tyres which provide enough grip for normal city conditions. In line with its target audience, Etios feature soft-sprung suspension setting to aid overall comfort of passengers. We expected diesel Etios to behave a bit firm because of obvious reason of accommodating heavier diesel engine though Toyota seems to have not compromised on ride comfort.
A very soft pliant edge is asset of Etios that it plans to play to hilt in order to complement the strength of back seat space. Handling however has taken a back seat as Etios experience quite a roll when flung at corners. Heavy rear tends to go out of control mandating drive to get off the gas pedal. Sedate and mannered driving is what Etios demands and as long as you oblige it won’t throw any tantrums back at you.
New Etios sedan is priced between Rs 5.74 lakh and Rs 8.16 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). This price point makes it quite average performer on value for money front as there are good number of sedans undercutting Etios at this price point. But then no sedan has the full-fledged credentials as Etios boasts of. Unlike under 4-metre restriction that others cars have adopted to get excise exemption, Etios proudly flaunts its genuine sedan status with best in class cabin as well as boot space. There is no other vehicle in this price points that can provide more occupant comfort than Etios. However on flip side, Etios even after this facelift feels mundane and unanimated in its turnout. Its presence hardly gets noticed and same is true for lifeless interiors. It would have been better if Toyota had used its designing knife more thoroughly especially on inside. Overall 2014 Etios sedan comes with added zing of excitement though about its appeal to hook the customers’.
Style & Substance 3/5 Ride & Handling 3/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3/5 Safety & Equipment 3.5/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 3 .5/5
Value for Money 3/5