Toyota has pulled the covers off the sedan version of its new Etios, a compact and affordable car range that was developed by Toyota with significant input from its Indian subsidiary, which will also be building the car.
This low-cost model measures 4265mm in length and is spacious for its size. Think of it as Toyota's answer to the Renault Logan. There's also a hatchback version waiting in the wings, and this will go on sale in India in April 2011.
While Toyota has confirmed that the Etios is coming to South Africa and that we'll be one of the first markets outside of India to get the car (expected launch date is late 2011 or early 2012), Toyota cannot yet confirm which model derivatives are coming here. We'd bet the house on the hatchback coming here, and won't be surprised if the sedan is also part of the mix.
As you've probably gathered by now, the Etios is unlikely to win any beauty contests and will once again raise the question many asked when the Renault Sandero was launched - why can't cheap cars be good looking too?
Judging by the concept cars shown earlier this year though, the hatchback will be a bit easier on the eye, and it has a shape resembling the Toyota RunX.
Mechanically, Toyota has kept the Etios rather simple. The sedan is powered by a 1.5-litre 16-valve petrol engine, which is a bit more rudimentary than the variable-valve-timed equivalent in other markets and this reflects in the outputs of 66kW at 5600rpm and 132Nm at 3000rpm.
The hatchback model will be fitted with a less powerful 1.2-litre engine, but let's hope that TSA convinces them to also slot the 1.5 into the hatch for our market.
Four models are offered in the Indian sedan range, all of which are fitted with air conditioning and all but the base model have electric power steering, central locking and electric windows. On the safety front, ABS and airbags are only fitted to the two top models.
According to Toyota, the Etios offers a smooth ride even in demanding conditions, so it should be perfect for our roads.
It's practical too, with generous rear legroom, a flat rear floor and the sedan's luggage volume of 595 litres even betters many large sedans.
Toyota desperately needs a vehicle in the entry level segment and although the rivalry here is ruthless, the Etios is almost guaranteed to sell in droves if Toyota can keep the pricing competitive enough.
Prices start at R76 000 in India, although it'll inevitably be more expensive in South Africa once import duties and the like have been factored in.