The MH Motoring Minute: Toyota Etios 1.5 Sprint HB
Review: 5 day test
Engine: 1.5 litre naturally aspirated 4 cylinder petrol
Power: 66kW, 132Nm
Price: R185 000
Ruggedness and reliability. It’s the Toyota DNA, and it’s hardwired into every four-wheel product they make. True to form, this little car is a solid people-mover, and has plenty of plus points – both in hatchback or sedan mode. In fact, it’s so good at so many things, the only real criticisms we can give: it’s relatively lukewarm looks and boring, cheap-feeling interior. That’s the only real places in which it loses out to competitors – specifically the VW Polo Vivo and the Ford Figo – but in terms of being an allrounder, this is a Jacques Kallis of budget cars.
A common criticism in this budget market is a lack of safety, as many of these lower cost cars skimp on safety features. However, this hatch scored 4 stars for adults and 3 stars for children in the global NCAP testing, which is better than most of its peers. It also comes standard with dual airbags, ABS, EBD and Isofix points, which obviously makes it great for parents.
The drive is engaging, and the acceleration is good, thanks to the efficient engine, the slick gearbox, and the light kerb weight. The steering is also commendable, and it handles less-than-stellar road surfaces with aplomb thanks to a decent suspension setup. It’s also relatively light on fuel – so all-in-all, a satisfying and safe budget car investment. If you’re after pure performance, this is just edged by the Ford Figo in our opinion, but it’s not by much.
The interior isn’t terrible – but it isn’t a highlight either. The quality of the cabin materials is decidedly average, and the layout isn’t very cleverly designed – but the overall feel is comfortable and utilitarian. We did like the hidden USB and Aux ports (behind a little flap) and the decent standard of spec – would have liked some steering wheel controls though. There’s plenty of space, both in terms or rear legroom for passengers and boot space (252 litres). An important point to note that the hatchback’s rear seats can be lowered for more packing space, but the sedan can’t – that will help guide your choice.
PROS: Good performance and handling; Plenty of space in cabin and boot; Decent standard spec; Resale value good; 4 Star NCAP rating.
CONS: Boring interior; No ESC
WHAT WE LOVE: Our favourite Etios in the range, this offers a powerful package of performance, practicality, safety and resale value.
RATING: 7 /10
COMPETITORS: VW Polo Vivo (R189 400), Ford Figo 1.5 Trend AT (R207 900), Suzuki Swift 1.2GL AMT (R191 900); Renault Sandero Turbo Exp (R179 900)