Toyota’s new Starlet compact hatch to launch in South Africa this month
JOHANNESBURG - Toyota is getting ready to launch a new compact hatchback in South Africa and like the Etios, it is built in India. That’s where the similarities end, however, as the Toyota Starlet, which is badged Glanza in its home market, is actually closely based on the Suzuki Baleno.
It forms part of a previously announced partnership between the two Japanese carmakers, and one that has also resulted in a new Suzuki Vitara-based Toyota SUV called the Urban Cruiser, which has yet to be confirmed for South Africa.
According to the Toyota Tsusho website, the Toyota Starlet will go on sale in South Africa from mid-September, and it will also be gradually rolled out to as many as 47 African countries. When approached for comment, Toyota South Africa confirmed to us that it would be launching the Starlet soon, but that further details would be furnished during the launch presentation.
What we do know is that the car will be powered by Suzuki’s 1.4-litre normally aspirated petrol engine that produces 68kW and 130Nm. That, for the record, is slightly more power and a little less torque than you get in the 1.5-litre unit fitted to the Toyota Etios.
Likely to replace the Etios
On that note it is looking likely that the Starlet will replace the Etios in South Africa, given that Toyota recently ended production of the latter at its Indian plant.
We don’t have the pricing information yet, but the Starlet could be a bit more expensive than the Etios, given that the Suzuki Baleno starts at R221 900 in South Africa, while the Etios currently retails from R191 800. Bear in mind though that the Starlet is somewhat bigger than the Etios, measuring 3999mm in length versus 3775. In fact it’s not a lot smaller than the 4145mm Yaris, which potentially opens up another can of worms for Toyota South Africa - is there really space for both the Starlet and Yaris in Toyota’s line-up? Only time will tell.
But there could be more Suzuki-based Toyotas on the way too, with Toyota Tsusho stating that it plans to expand its line-up of compact cars to include a wide range of body types, from SUVs to sedans.