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Toyota Etios Diesel

3rd Oct 2011 10:22 pm

With a diesel motor under the hood, Toyota adds an even more frugal touch to the Etios.

  • Make : Toyota
  • Model : Etios

The Etios is pretty nimble for its size and easy to punt around town, thanks to a tight turning circle and super-light electric steering. However, the steering which is totally devoid of feel doesn’t give much feedback. With plenty of turns lock to lock, it’s quite slow and there’s a dead zone around the straight-ahead position which makes you feel disconnected from the road. With a weighty diesel engine up front, the steering has become a bit heavier but it is still too light at speed.

For a car that doesn’t have sporting pretensions, the Etios is quite stiffly sprung but there’s a reason for that. High-speed stability was a priority for Toyota and hence a firm suspension set-up for better control was chosen. At low speeds, this has compromised the ride quality a bit which feels a bit jiggly over uneven surfaces but it’s not to the point of being jarring. Accentuating the stiff-kneed ride is a fair amount of road noise that filters through. Tyre noise and clunks from the suspension are quite audible, much of which is down to insufficient underbody insulation.

Up the pace and the ride smoothens out and in fact is quite comfortable for the most part. The Etios cruises with a flat and consistent poise which gives the driver a huge amount of confidence, especially at highway speeds. With a full load too, the suspension copes well and the saloon feels planted over most road surfaces.

 

It's clear that the Etios diesel has many shortcomings. The engine, though adequately powerful in the city, feels a bit breathless on the highway and is pretty noisy too. Built to a cost, it doesn't feel as plush as it should and priced at Rs 7.87 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), it's not that cheap either. But space and comfort is where the Etios scores in spades. It is phenomenally practical, thanks to its unmatched space, superb comfort and terrific fuel efficiency. Also, the light controls and the engine's linear power delivery make it very easy to live with. It may not enthuse you but the Etios diesel comes across as a car that you can depend on, day in and day out. If you're looking for a fuss-free efficient diesel-engined saloon, you can't really go wrong with this Toyota. 

What really catches your eye on the spec sheet is the Etios’ unreal 1005kg kerb weight. And when you consider its generous dimensions, especially the 2550mm wheelbase, this achievement is even more astonishing.

It’s easy to see how Toyota has chopped the flab. Look closely and you can spot some obvious weight and cost saving measures. The door handles are of the grab-type, there’s no rear quarter-glass, the rubber beading for the door is missing as is the engine cover, there’s only one horn and a single wiper.

Where the Etios disappoints though is in its ordinary exteriors. Not many would call the Etios ugly but even fewer would call it pretty and if there is one area where the Toyota is at a disadvantage, it’s with the styling. The meek-looking headlights, simple body lines and a bulky boot won’t turn heads. However, Toyota has tried to add some visual drama. The only distinctive bits of the Etios are the boomerang-shaped grille, the bulge on the hood, and a prominent crease that runs across the doors. Toyota has added a chrome strip at the rear to break the mass of the boot. But the triangular tail-lamps and the large mass of the boot make this difficult to achieve.

The Etios diesel’s interiors are unchanged from the petrol sibling and you get the same airy and spacious cabin. The front and rear seats are both big and wide, offering excellent back and thigh support. There is plenty of leg and headroom around as well. Since the Etios is almost as wide as a Camry, sitting three abreast at the rear is quite a comfy affair. And making life easy for the middle passenger is the flat floor and well designed backrest. However, what these seats lack is good lateral support and passengers do slide around a bit on the flat and firm surfaces if you corner hard.

There are no proper headrests in the rear and no central armrest either. However, the spacious seats, the perfect backrest angle and the ‘hip’ point translate into a comfortable sitting posture. It’s not just passenger space that’s class-leading. Storage space is phenomenal too. Apart from the massive cooled glovebox, there are lots of useful cubbyholes, generous door pockets and seven bottle-holders! To top it off the Etios has a 595-litre boot which can easily swallow the luggage of five passengers on a long holiday.

The quirky dashboard design  does take some getting used to, but once you get accustomed to the new layout, the change is actually quite welcome. Surprisingly, for all the chopping and changing, the functionality of the cabin is brilliant. The chunky steering with its dimpled finish feels terrific and the white semi-circular speedo and tachometer are quite distinctive, especially when lit up at night.

However, there are plenty of low-rent bits as well. The dashboard plastics don’t have a quality feel, the air-con controls look like they have been lifted from an old Maruti, and the cable-type headlamp height adjuster looks tacky. Then, the carpets are very basic and the sun visors look cheap too. Why Toyota has painted many bits in lipstick red is anybody’s guess. It looks too loud and is at odds with the conservative nature of this car.

The Etios is pretty nimble for its size and easy to punt around town, thanks to a tight turning circle and super-light electric steering. However, the steering which is totally devoid of feel doesn’t give much feedback. With plenty of turns lock to lock, it’s quite slow and there’s a dead zone around the straight-ahead position which makes you feel disconnected from the road. With a weighty diesel engine up front, the steering has become a bit heavier but it is still too light at speed.

For a car that doesn’t have sporting pretensions, the Etios is quite stiffly sprung but there’s a reason for that. High-speed stability was a priority for Toyota and hence a firm suspension set-up for better control was chosen. At low speeds, this has compromised the ride quality a bit which feels a bit jiggly over uneven surfaces but it’s not to the point of being jarring. Accentuating the stiff-kneed ride is a fair amount of road noise that filters through. Tyre noise and clunks from the suspension are quite audible, much of which is down to insufficient underbody insulation.

Up the pace and the ride smoothens out and in fact is quite comfortable for the most part. The Etios cruises with a flat and consistent poise which gives the driver a huge amount of confidence, especially at highway speeds. With a full load too, the suspension copes well and the saloon feels planted over most road surfaces.

 

It's clear that the Etios diesel has many shortcomings. The engine, though adequately powerful in the city, feels a bit breathless on the highway and is pretty noisy too. Built to a cost, it doesn't feel as plush as it should and priced at Rs 7.87 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), it's not that cheap either. But space and comfort is where the Etios scores in spades. It is phenomenally practical, thanks to its unmatched space, superb comfort and terrific fuel efficiency. Also, the light controls and the engine's linear power delivery make it very easy to live with. It may not enthuse you but the Etios diesel comes across as a car that you can depend on, day in and day out. If you're looking for a fuss-free efficient diesel-engined saloon, you can't really go wrong with this Toyota. 

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