The Etios was conceived from a clean sheet of paper but it appears that Toyota has used the Yaris, which has similar dimensions, as a starting point. The end result, however, is a car that looks like it has been built by a committee rather than gut feel or any emotion.
Not many would call the Etios ugly but even fewer would call it pretty and if there is one area where the Etios 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 to (whisper it) make it less Logan-like. But the triangular tail-lamps and the large mass of the boot make this difficult to achieve.
The greatest achievement, however, is the Etios’s unreal kerb weight of 930kg which makes it, by far, the lightest mid-sizer and even lighter than several hatchbacks. And when you consider its generous dimensions, especially the 2550mm wheelbase, this achievement is even more astonishing.
How has Toyota managed to chop the flab? Cost and weight are inextricably linked and hence in the quest to remove expensive bits, the kilos have tumbled as well. Look closely and you can spot some obvious cost-saving measures. The door handles are 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 there’s a single wiper too.
Other not so obvious areas where material (and hence cost and weight) has been saved is in the headliner, carpeting and NVH insulation. Open C-sections are used for the suspension arms (instead of tubular or boxed sections) and instead of using unnecessary heavy duty (and expensive) components which are designed to work at -30deg C (like in the Corolla and Camry), the same bits have been engineered to work down to only -5 or -10deg C.
The Etios is designed to meet tougher safety standards in the future which could come into effect during its eight-year lifecycle. However, for now, the Etios isn’t built with the same impact protection hardware that’s demanded in Europe and this again helps keeps weight down. Twin airbags and ABS are an option on the top-of-the-line model though.