2014 Toyota Etios Cross Review
Car Tested: 2014 Toyota Etios Cross
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 6.83 – 8.92 lakhs
The Etios Cross is a pseudo crossover which has much more appeal than the Etios Liva.
Times are indeed changing and the same can be seen in the automobile industry where the conventional hatchback, sedan and SUV body styles are now branching into new and smaller sub-segments. The past few years has seen hatchbacks transforming into every possible thing, right from a sub 4-metre sedan to a hatchback on stilts, aka a compact SUV. Somewhere in between, manufacturers have tried to make a pseudo crossover. The first one is obviously buried in our history books, the Skoda Fabia Scout while the second such vehicle to hit the market is not so visible, the Volkswagen Cross Polo. Now Toyota has brought in the Etios Cross, which is on similar lines as the aforementioned vehicles. Can the Toyota Etios Cross change the perception to such kind of vehicles? We take a spin in this pseudo crossover and try to gauge the same.
Motor Quest: The Toyota Etios Liva was launched in 2011 and did not really catch the market by storm. The Cross version is an attempt to woo buyers to this emerging market specific car.
Exteriors – Toyota isn’t really known for making attractive looking cars which will make you go wow with the design and the Etios wasn’t any different. The styling of the Etios is quite bland even by Toyota’s plain-jane design standards. In fact, the reason for the poor sales of the Etios twins can be attributed to the way these cars look, not standing apart in front of more appealing competition. With the Etios Cross, Toyota hopes to woo customers who want a stylish hatchback and they have succeeded to a certain extent. While photos don’t really do justice to the Etios Cross, the car looks way better in person and its muscularity does rub off well with on-lookers.
While the Etios Cross is nothing but a Etios Liva with add-ons, the dimensions of the car have increased due to the various changes on the exterior front. The Etios Cross gets black body cladding which runs across the lower side of the car (getting silver accents on the side), bulging out a bit over the wheel arches. The vehicle also gets faux silver skid plates at the front and rear, blackened B-pillar, 15-inch diamond cut alloy wheels, roof rails, rear spoiler, turn indicators on the rear view mirrors and above the fog lights. There is also ETIOS CROSS proudly written on the boot and the rear door cladding. Overall, the Etios Cross ends up looking quite muscular. It’s offered in 8 colours with our test car (pictured here) having the new Inferno Orange shade.
Interiors – Step inside the Etios Cross and you find yourself in a familiar cabin. The layout of the dashboard hasn’t changed which is dissapointing as the centrally mounted instrument cluster is still not easy to read on the move. That said, the cabin looks much improved thanks to the use of piano black inserts on the doors, instrument cluster and centre console. Quality inside seems improved as well but is still not up to Toyota’s legendary standards. Our test car which had done only 130 kms showed signs of rattling over bad roads, which can be attributed to the light weight of the vehicle.
The other change to the interiors is the Etios Cross badging on the seats. There is ample amount of room inside the cabin, with rear seat passengers having enough space to stretch out in utmost comfort. Even the seats offer good support making the Etios a comfortable car to be in. The boot is reasonably big at 251-litres and it’s when you close the boot lid do you realise the Etios is a very light car. Toyota is offering the Etios Cross in 4 variants – G, V, GD and VD. All variants get a 2-DIN audio system with MP3, FM and USB functions but the top-spec trim also gets steering mounted audio controls and Bluetooth connectivity. The Etios Cross comes loaded with quite a few features even on the base trim but the lack of internally adjustable ORVMs is a shocking omission.
Performance – To boost the appeal of the Etios Cross, Toyota has done a very wise thing of offering the vehicle with three engine options – 2 petrol and 1 diesel, all matched to a 5-speed manual gearbox. None of these engines are new and we all are quite familiar with them as Toyota has been offering these motors on the Etios Liva hatchback. Available in base G trim is the 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine which belts out 80 PS at 5600 RPM and 104 Nm at 3100 RPM. This engine has just about enough pep to keep the Etios moving on the highways, although city performance is decent. The ARAI certified mileage is 17.71 km/l.
The other petrol engine is the 1.5-litre unit borrowed from the Etios TRD and Etios sedan, offered only on top-end V trim. This powerplant generates 90 PS at 5600 RPM and 132 Nm at 3000 RPM. Performance is good, there is enough grunt for both city and highway duties with the vehicle feeling quite fun to drive when you rev the nuts of it. The light weight of the Etios Cross does have its benefits which translates into quick acceleration. The Etios Cross weighs around 20 kgs more than the Etios Liva and the added weight isn’t apparent with performance being almost identical to the hatchback. The ARAI certified mileage of the 1.5-litre engined Etios Cross is 16.78 km/l.
The most popular engine in the Etios Cross would without doubt be the diesel one and thus Toyota has offered it in two trims – GD and VD. This 1.4-litre SOHC mill thrusts out a mere 68 PS at 3800 RPM and 170 Nm between 1800-2400 RPM. In spite of the modest output, the diesel Etios Cross has good performance for both the city and highway. There is ample amount of thrust low down for ambling around the city, with turbolag being almost non-existent. The mid-range lacks the punch and the top-end isn’t great either. This small diesel motor is frugal, returning a claimed 23.59 km/l. Since noise insulation is below average, all engines are vocal inside the cabin but with the 1.5-litre petrol motor, you do enjoy the soundtrack of the Etios Cross.
Driving Dynamics – The Etios is a car which has a good blend of both ride and handling, with the Cross version being quite similar. Handling is good and body roll is well contained but the steering lacks feel and has too much of artificialness attached to it. It simply doesn’t give feedback, whether you are driving slow or fast but the lightness at low speeds does help in easy manoeuvrability. The Etios Cross is a front-wheel drive vehicle and isn’t apt at off-roading, no matter what the exteriors might suggest.
Where the Toyota Etios Cross totally excels is in the ride quality department. It simply absorbs bad roads in its stride comfortably and doesn’t pass on much to the occupants. The suspension has been well tuned for our road conditions and the good ground clearance means you never have to worry when approaching speed-breakers, it never scrapes anywhere. The Etios Cross is decently stable at speed and the brakes are well calibrated too, offering good stopping power. It’s only the high NVH at speed which reveals the un-Toyota like refinement.
Safety – The Toyota Etios Liva hatchback has received 4 stars from Latin NCAP, which makes it quite a safe car. However the vehicle which was tested was equipped with dual airbags at the front. The Etios Cross gets dual airbags on the top V (or VD for diesel) variants. The base G doesn’t get airbags, nor does it get ABS. ABS with EBD is offered as standard on all diesel trims of the Etios Cross. With cars like the Hyundai i20 getting 5 stars from NCAP, we expect the world’s largest automaker to beef up safety on the Etios.
Verdict – The Etios Cross isn’t much different than the regular Etios Liva, as it carries the same underpinnings and engines. With unchanged mechanicals, the performance and dynamics are almost the same. However the Etios Cross is a car which has some attitude and muscularity. While it still isn’t the most polished when it comes to interior design and overall quality, the Etios Cross comes across as a much more appealing Etios. Coming at quite the premium, the Etios Cross is without doubt the best version of the Etios yet but not really worth buying over better cars at that price.
The Etios Cross is a pseudo crossover and the first from a Japanese company in India. The aesthetics is the only differentiator from the regular Etios Liva, which is a crucial parameter for many buyers.
* An Etios which looks good
* Interior space
* Frugal engines
* Toyota service and 3-year standard warranty
What’s Not So Cool
* NVH and quality needs improvement
* Some equipment missing
Alternatives: Volkswagen Cross Polo
Further Reading: Toyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo Review