2013 Toyota Etios Test Drive Review
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Toyota Etios Review

Car Tested: 2013 Toyota Etios VD SP

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 9,30,198/-

Toyota has resolved quite a few issues in the 2013 Etios which makes it a better package.

In a bid to expand market share, Toyota launched the Etios in India in 2010. The vehicle has been specially made for India but hasn’t performed as per expectation. Toyota started selling the Etios in other markets including Brazil and South Africa where it hasn’t caught the attention of buyers either. Two years ago when we tested the Toyota Etios, we came out with mixed feelings. While the concept of designing a sedan like the Etios seems sensible, the main issue with the Etios was it’s unlike Toyota like traits. Now Toyota has updated the Etios by giving it a facelift for 2013 and the company seems to have resolved quite a few issues. Does the 2013 Toyota Etios get our nod? Read on to find out.

2013 Toyota Etios Review2013 Toyota Etios Test Drive

Exteriors – On the styling front of course the Toyota Etios still doesn’t evoke a second glance. The design is quite boring and efforts to spruce things up with extensive use of chrome hasn’t really worked much. The pre-facelift model was heavy on chrome too but the new one adds a bit more to the package. The front grille gets a minor re-design and gets chrome finish. The rear of the vehicle now dons new tail lights but the overall boxy feel is still present and this minor facelift doesn’t address much at least in the styling department.

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The side of the 2013 Toyota Etios is identical as before. Even the alloy wheels are the same as before and Toyota had upgraded all models to 15-inch wheels. The only visual difference from the side are the turn indicators on the rear view mirrors. The company has also added classic grey colour to the Etios’ paint shade and our test car was finished in the same colour. This colour has been seen on the Innova and Fortuner sine a long time and looks really cool.

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Interiors – Open the door and get inside the facelifted Toyota Etios and you will quickly notice the quality looks improved from before but it hasn’t. Toyota has just upgraded the colours which give an impression of improved quality. The cabin gets two-tone interiors finished in ash brown colour which gives a very airy feeling to the occupants, unlike the grey interiors which looked really un-Toyota like. Gone are the el-cheapo seat finishing in black and red, which Toyota thought would imbibe sportyness in the Etios. The red on the gear knob is replaced by silver. The updated model definitely feels better to be in but some flaws are still persistent. To start off with, the instrument cluster continues to reside in the center which is no way in the driver’s sight. Then there is the lack of cover below the steering wheel which shows hanging fuses, etc. If that is not enough the switch for opening the hood and leveling the headlight is from the 80s.

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To Toyota’s credit is the space inside the cabin, which is truly generous. Whether you are seated at the front or rear, you get ample room to stretch in the Etios. Shockingly though there are no front seat back pockets, nor is there a rear seat arm rest! The front seats now get adjustable headrests and the driver’s seat gets height adjust too. The rear seats get bigger headrests which are fixed but adjustable ones would have been better as tall passengers find the fixed ones quite uncomfortable. The seats are new and offer good back support unlike the thin seats found on the old model. Other changes include a one touch driver side power window and an all new head unit which gets Bluetooth connectivity along with USB and AUX ports. This 2-din unit can be controlled via a remote and the steering has audio controls too. The combimeter gets blue illumination with new background and Toyota has given the AC a new clean air filter. The AC switches are new as well and don’t feel like they will fall off soon.

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There are quite a few storage spaces inside the cabin, like the doors and the glovebox which has a cooling duct from the AC to chill your drinks. The doors themselves look better with faux wood on them. However Toyota still doesn’t offer many features which are standard on hatchbacks like a climate control system, multi-information display, electrically adjustable rear view mirrors and twin wipers (the single wiper does do the job but makes cost cutting quite evident). The boot is generous and can gobble up two bags with ease.

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Performance – Toyota hasn’t touched the engines of the Etios and the vehicle continues to be powered by the same set of petrol and diesel engines. The petrol engine is a 1.5-litre unit which produces a modest 90 PS of power and 132 Nm of torque. This engine is tuned for drivability and the petrol Etios performs very well in the city but becomes very uneasy when revved hard, very un-Toyota like again. The diesel engine on the other hand is a complete gem. The 1.4-litre D-4D unit produces just 68 PS of power and 170 Nm of torque but performance is simply excellent. This engine has almost no turbolag and pulls in a linear fashion. It’s an apt motor for city conditions and the gear ratios are well spaced out giving the car an extremely good mid-range punch with the redline coming up at 5000 RPM. Like most diesel engines, the Etios D becomes out of breath at high RPMs (above 3500 RPM). This diesel engine doesn’t fare well when it comes to outright acceleration and it does feel a bit underpowered on the highways. However buyers will have little to complain about due to its frugal nature.

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While the petrol Etios returns an ARAI certified mileage of 16.78 km/l, the diesel Etios returns an impressive 23.59 km/l. In real world conditions the petrol Etios will return 11 km/l in the city and 14 km/l on the highway. The diesel Etios simply blows away its competitors with a city mileage of 15 km/l and a highway mileage of 18 km/l. The company is able to achieve such good mileage by tweaking the gear ratios so well which along with the light weight of the car make it very frugal. Both the engines have a light clutch and a very slick shifting gearbox. Many had complained about the buzzy sound from the petrol engine and clatter from the diesel engine being audible inside the cabin. Toyota has resolved NVH issues by opting for hydraulic mounts for the engine instead of rubber mounts. The company has also used extensive sound deadening material and the cabin is definitely a quieter place than before.

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Driving Dynamics – The Toyota Etios is not a car for the race track, even though the company might want you to feel otherwise with their One Make races. The light weight of the vehicle aids in handling which is predictable for the most part but the steering is really the fly in the ointment. At low speeds, the steering is extremely light which is a boon in crowded city conditions but it simply doesn’t weight up as speeds build up, making it low on feel and feedback. The improved NVH results in less road noise filtering inside the cabin.

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Toyota has set up the suspension on the Etios on the stiffer side to aid high speed manners. The vehicle remains planted to the road but cross winds do effect it drastically. Ride quality is a bit stiff at low speeds but as you go faster, the suspension flattens out road surfaces beautifully. The re-tuned dampers do their job very well to offer a pliant ride. Braking performance is good and the car stops with reasonable urgency and confidence. Overall the dynamics see a minor improvement which makes the Etios a slightly better car to be in than before.

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Verdict – Toyota has given the Etios a few changes but called the vehicle the new Etios in the process. There is not much new as the changes are not drastic although they do end up making the Etios a better and more upmarket car. What Toyota has managed to do is make the Etios look less of a cost cutting engineering exercise which is sure to work for those looking for a practical vehicle to drive mostly in the city. However as far as appeal goes, the Etios still hasn’t reached there yet. This is a car you buy with your head and it does deliver on those requirements.

The 2013 Toyota Etios is not a vastly improved car and the minor changes should help the company till the next generation model arrives next year.

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What’s Cool

* Interior room
* Diesel engine performance and mileage

What’s Not So Cool

* Quality still needs improvement
* Lack of features

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2013 Toyota Etios Specifications

* Engine: 1496cc, 16-valve, 4-cylinder, DOHC (Petrol); 1364cc, 8-valve, SOHC, D-4D (Diesel)
* Power: 90 PS @ 5600 RPM (Petrol); 68 PS @ 3800 RPM
* Torque: 132 Nm @ 3000 RPM (Petrol); 170 Nm @ 1800-2400 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* Top Speed: 160 km/hr
* 0-100 km/h: 16 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 11 km/l (Petrol), 15 km/l (Diesel)
* Tyres: 185/60/15 Tubeless Radials
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear), ABS
* Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual Airbags, Immobiliser

2013 Toyota Etios Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4265 mm X 1695 mm X 1510 mm
* Wheelbase: 2550 mm
* Ground Clearance: 174 mm
* Turning Radius: 4.9 metres
* Boot Volume: 595-liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 45-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1020 kgs