The Toyota Etios Cross, first showcased by Toyota at Auto Expo 2014 earlier this year, is the Japanese carmaker’s attempt to cash in on India’s love for compact SUVs and crossovers. The basic formula here remains the same as on the Volswagen Cross Polo that was launched in 2013. In essence, the Etios Cross is a regular Etios Liva hatchback beefed up with a rugged-looking body kit. The added body cladding imparts a serious aggressive look, and while it may look a bit over the top, it ensures that the Etios Cross doesn’t get lost in the crowd – something the Toyota Etios Liva was quite prone to.
The Etios Cross gets a matte black plastic band that goes right across from its chin, to the flanks and around the rear, thereby adding muscular chunks to the car. There are also pseudo skid plates with a dull silver finish adding to the complete picture.
Roof rails, a spoiler at the rear and diamond-finish 15-inch alloy wheels all add to the Etios Cross’ appeal. Additionally, the ‘Etios Cross’ badge is prominently displayed on the boot lid and looks rather good. All of these add to the dimensions of the Etios Liva and makes the Cross 120mm longer, 40mm wider and 45mm taller than the standard Liva. Weight, too, has gone up by around 20kg spec-to-spec.
Unlike the VW Cross Polo which is offered in a single variant with a 1.2-litre diesel motor, the Etios Cross will be offered in two levels of trim and three engines to choose from; 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre petrol engines and a 1.4-litre diesel motor.
While we’d closely inspected the Toyota Etios Cross at Auto Expo 2014, we couldn’t get behind the wheel. Now that we have, these are our first thoughts about the 1.5-litre petrol and the 1.4-litre diesel Toyota Etios Cross.
On the inside, you get piano black interiors and sporty seat fabric and Etios Cross badging. It also features a 2-DIN audio system with aux, Bluetooth and USB compatibility. The top variants will also get audio controls on the steering wheel, and a rear defogger and wiper. However, the lack of electrically adjustable wing mirrors (even on the top-spec car) is a surprising omission for a car in this segment. On the safety front, it will come equipped with ABS and EBD and dual front airbags. As for space and comfort, the front seats are on the right side of comfy and the leg room at the back is quite impressive too. However, the flat seat squab could have been a bit more comfortable had it been inclined by a couple of degrees.
As there are no mechanical changes to the Etios Cross, it drives almost identical to the regular Liva hatchback and the added weight (up by about 20kg, spec for spec) doesn’t really make a perceivable difference in its road manners. The 1.5-litre petrol motor (available only on the top-spec car) produces 89bhp and concentrates more on city drivability rather than outright power. Throttle response at lower revs is good and the car feels reasonably peppy on the highway too. The 67bhp 1.4-litre diesel, on the other hand, feels more sedate and while turbo-lag isn’t much of an issue, you will miss the mid-range punch on the highways. Also, both the motors are a bit too noisy and cabin insulation doesn’t do the best job at keeping out road noise either.
However, the ride is pretty absorbent and the suspension does a great job of shielding the cabin from the worst of our roads. Handling is quite decent too and the chunky steering wheel is nicely weighted but a bit slow to respond.
The Toyota Etios Cross does a good job of injecting a much needed dose of style to the plain Liva hatchback. Yes, the Etios Cross doesn't really add any real off-road credentials to the Liva hatchback, and the interiors still feel a bit low-rent, but the bold styling, spacious interiors and reliable mechanical package does make a reasonably strong argument in its favour.
The Toyota Etios Cross is expected to command a premium of about Rs 60,000 over the regular Liva hatchback (spec-to-spec) and we think the butch looks justify this price. Also, since the Etios Cross is expected to be about Rs 75,000 cheaper than the VW Cross Polo, it will act as a good entry point to consumers looking for a macho machine.