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.