Everything Keeps Going Right With An Etios
Is Toyota’s underrated Etios the ideal way to get you moving?
The Toyota Etios, you’ve probably seen a million of them and never took a second look, and strangely enough, the Etios was the car people loved to hate.
I say strangely enough because the Etios had a lot to offer when it was launched in 2012 and the reason is simple, the Etios offers everything you need from a car.
The beauty of the Etios lies in the fact that it never pretends to be something more than a car, it’s not a hot hatch or super saloon, a lifestyle vehicle or a head-turner, it's a car that does car things extremely well, making it perfect for people who simply need...a car.
So where did the Etios come from? The Etios sold in South Africa was developed by Toyota initially for the Indian market before spreading to other developing countries in South East Asia, South America and Africa. Subsequently, the Etios which made its way to local shores was sourced from a new plant that Toyota built in India specifically for this model.
Being designed for developing nations meant that the Etios had to be affordable but at the same time reliable, something which the E-hailing taxi and fleet car industry can attest to. Another big plus that the Etios has going for it is space, despite its diminutive size, the Etios seats five occupants in relative comfort while offering good boot space if you chose the sedan version.
Despite the decent space, many buyers were not impressed by the design or finish of the interior. Well, in my opinion, given the car’s price point and a nod to simplicity, the interior is just fine. Yes, the seats are not covered in Mercedes quality leather or the dash plastics are not on par with BMW, but that’s not what the Etios is about.
Keeping with the K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach, the Etios is powered by a 1500cc 16 valve engine that produces 66kW and 132Nm of torque mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Those power figures may not be anything to write home about but bear in mind, the Etios only weighs 975kg and thanks to all those low numbers (both power and weight), you can enjoy fuel consumption of 6,0 L/100 km.
Having been designed for Indian road conditions, Toyota ensured that the spring and damper rating could cope when things got a little rough while remaining comfortable. This setup endows the Etios with a smooth ride, but don’t expect slick, race car cornering because as you should know; what suspension gives with the comfort hand, it takes away with the cornering hand. Then again, this is a commuter car, not a track day special after all.
Moving onto the styling, the Etios is not going to win any beauty contests but at the same time, it wasn’t exactly ugly either. The styling is simple with no fancy LED lights (gasp, normal bulbs) or fancy trim but there is a hint of sportiness. If you find the styling a little too Plain Jane, Toyota did offer a body kit for the Etios which, when coupled with a nice set of 17-inch wheels, transforms the Etios into a really good looking car. The Etios Cross however was where the styling took a bit of a strange turn thanks to SUV style cladding and a “bull bar” integrated into the front bumper and grill. The Etios Cross may not be to everyone’s taste but the raised ride height does make it more practical for the adventure types.
In 2020 however, Toyota discontinued the Etios and replaced it with the Suzuki sourced Toyota Starlet. Despite this, the second-hand market is overflowing with Etios models and given their popularity, keeping one going is not a costly affair.
So, how much will an Etios cost you? Prices for 2012 models with +/-200,000km can be bought for around R70,000. On the opposite end of the scale, an almost new 2020 run-out model will see you forking out in the region of R270,000. With such a diverse price range and relatively little change throughout its model run, finding an Etios which suits your budget is easy and doesn’t even require a lot of digging!
What I love about the Etios though, despite my passion for modified and performance cars, is that it evokes the spirit of the original Conquest, Tazz and Corolla models from the early 90s. They were basic cars that served as the starting point for so many people, be it their university car or the first car they bought once they started working, and the Etios is just that. So, if you are in the market for a reliable car that can get you from A-B and hit the road down to the coast come December, a used Etios is what you’ve been looking for.
Want to get your hands on a Toyota Etios? Then make sure that you check out the ClickaCar Virtual Showroom.