Despite a few quality niggles, the Indian-built Toyota Etios has shot up the sales charts, proving just how price-sensitive and brand-loyal South African buyers can be.

In fact since its launch just a year ago, almost 25 000 of them have hit the streets.

To address some of those earlier concerns and give it a touch more gloss, Toyota is giving the Etios an early upgrade.

MINOR MAKEOVER

You'll need an eagle eye to spot the external changes, which are limited to a new trim strip on the grille's middle slat, redesigned mirrors and a new inner design for the taillights. Although Xs models still make do with a black grille, this base model does gain colour coded mirrors.

Inside, both models gain redesigned rear seats and 'icy blue' backlighting for the central instrument cluster.

NEW FEATURES

The flagship Xs models receive newly designed front seats, which now have separate head rests as well as height adjustment (driver's side), additional cushioning and under-thigh support.

In addition, the Xs line gains a standard 2-DIN audio system and an Auto Up function for the driver's electric window switch.

They're still not fitting a radio to the base Xi, but they have thrown in some pre-wiring for door speakers and instrument panel speakers.

MORE REFINED

The new Etios is said to be a little smoother and quieter than before thanks to a new NVH package, modified silencer and damper settings that have been fine-tuned to filter out suspension noise and improve the quality of the ride.

One of the car's strongest selling points, its engine, has been left untouched. Thus, the 1.5-litre 16-valve unit is still good for 66kW at 5600rpm and 132Nm at 3000rpm.

Prices go up slightly, and include a two-year/30 000km service plan.

THE BILL

HATCH:

1.5 Xi - R118 800

1.5 Xs - R126 800

SEDAN

1.5 Xi - R125 100

1.5 Xs - R132 600