Johannesburg - Toyota has tweaked its Etios range in South Africa and the big news is the arrival of a new grade called ‘Sprint’. Replacing the previous mid-range ‘Xs’ model and sporting a redesigned front end, you could basically call this is a facelift that applies to only one model.

The ‘Xi’ base model continues with same sagging face as before, except that in place of its black grille it gets the previous Xs version’s colour coding and upper chrome garnishes.

Though the Sprint name might imply a performance upgrade of sorts, it’s a purely cosmetic enhancement. Beneath the bonnet you’ll find the same 66kW/132Nm normally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol unit that the Etios has always had, and experience tells us it’s a perfectly decent motor at this price point.

The Sprint’s unique frontal design is clearly inspired by more modern Toyotas such as the latest Auris, and although the headlights retain their familiar contours, the rest of the bumper-grille treatment is all-new, with the upper air intake getting a wing-like design and the lower intakes increasing in size significantly.

Whereas the Xs made do with covered steel wheels, the Sprint rides on new twin-spoke, 15-inch alloys.The newcomer also gets a fresh rear bumper design, with a lower crease that runs into the number plate recess.

Not much changes inside the latest Etios range, but Toyota does claim to have improved the trim surfaces.

As for standard kit, the base Xi comes with air conditioning, a four-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, height-adjustable steering wheel, dual airbags and ABS brakes. In addition to all the visual extras already mentioned, the Sprint adds electric windows, central locking and a height-adjustable driver’s seat. The Etios Cross has all that too, and remains unchanged with its unique crossover styling elements.

A two-year/30 000km service plan is also part of the deal, across the Etios range.

TOYOTA ETIOS PRICES

Model Power/Torque Price
Hatch
1.5 Xi 66kW/132Nm R163 900
1.5 Sprint 66kW/132Nm R172 600
1.5 Cross 66kW/132Nm R194 300
Sedan
1.5 Xi 66kW/132Nm R172 200
1.5 Sprint 66kW/132Nm R180 500

ALTERNATIVES

Renault Sandero 0.9T Expression 66kW/135Nm R159 900
Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL 63kW/113Nm R167 900
Toyota Etios 1.5 Sprint 66kW/132Nm R172 600
VW Polo Vivo 1.4 Citi 55kW/132Nm R177 300
Hyundai Grand i10 1.25 Motion 64kW/120Nm R186 900
Ford Figo hatch 1.5 Trend 82kW/136Nm R187 900