Toyota Etios Liva TRD Review
Toyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Toyota Etios Liva Review

Car Tested: 2013 Toyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 7,75,568/-

Toyota’s Etios Liva TRD Sportivo is quick and sounds great when you step on the gas.

It is raining hot hatches in India. Fiat started it with the Palio 1.6 GTX way back in 2001, which produced 100 BHP and 138 Nm. In 2005, Maruti Suzuki launched the Swift powered by a 1.3-litre, 87 BHP petrol engine with a light kerb weight. The 1.6 Polo and Fabia could not find homes because of various reasons. The next hatch was the Honda Brio. It may not be a full size hatch, but the numbers which it produces, speak for themselves. The Polo GT TSI is a probably the best today, but it’s autobox won’t please all enthusiasts. It not always the cubic capacity which matters. As Indians we have our priorities set and manufacturers need to find the right balance. The Toyota Etios Liva is a full-grown hatch with best in class space and comfort, but the 1.2-litre petrol engine was not up to the mark. The TRD Sportivo version made its debut and market response was positive. Behold! The 1.5-litre 89 BHP engine from the Etios makes its debut in the Liva! With an old fashion naturally aspirated engine, manual gearbox, a light kerb weight, a subtle body kit and a good power to weight ratio, is it the right combination for the enthusiasts? We find out!

Toyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo Test DriveToyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo Review

Exteriors – The plain vanilla styling on the Toyota Etios may be ideal for people who do not like to grab attention in their mid-life. However, when the Liva was spawned, it looked crisper than the booted brother with the better finished rear end. The boxy body with minimum curves and slashes looks contemporary. In the recent facelift of the Etios Liva, Toyota has given the vehicle an updated grille with chrome finish along with new tail lights with minor modifications in the turn indicators which now use orange glass rather than clear glass.

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The major contributor to the feel good factor is the subtle body kit, rear spoiler, gunmetal finished 15-inch alloy wheels (all other Liva variants get 14-inchers) and a plethora of TRD Sportivo badges. The side skirts, front-lip, boot-lid, rear-spoiler, side-skirts and even the rear bumper is not spared from TRD Sportivo badges.

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Interiors – The Etios Liva now has proper seats (with TRD Sportivo inscribed on them) with adjustable headrests and seats themselves are much beefier than before offering good overall support. Seating position is upright, rather than low and sporty. We personally love grey and black interiors. However, it is the cheapness of the materials and super hard plastics that are a let-down. There are some good bits such as piano black finish around the dials, which look good. Inspite of this, the cabin looks a bit empty and basic. Surprising Toyota has skipped on quite a lot of equipment and the Liva TRD Sportivo doesn’t get fog lamps, rear wiper/washer, distance to empty, audio controls on steering wheel and electrically adjustable rear view mirrors, a shocking omission at this price point.

Toyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo PerformanceToyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo Experience

The build quality on the inside is decent and there aren’t too many uneven panel gaps. However cost cutting is glaringly evident. The hood release and headlight lever switches are very flimsy and feel like they will fall off at any moment, makes you feel as if you are still in the 1980s. A quick glance under the steering wheel will show you all the wires and fuses, there is no covering below. Toyota has added clean air filters for the AC and even though the vents are placed haphazardly, the aircon cools quickly and chills the cabin in no time. All around visibility is good but only the rear visibility is slightly limited. Glove box size is large enough and there are plenty of storage places including two cup holders in the front of the car.

Toyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo Seats2013 Toyota Etios Liva Review

The new audio head unit with Bluetooth connectivity is the only star in the cabin and works flawlessly, although pairing a phone is quite complicated. Sound quality is decent for a stock unit but there are no speakers at the rear which spoils the audio experience of rear passengers. Instead Toyota has installed two speaker on the dashboard and two on the front doors. The blue backlit adds a bit of flare but the centrally mounted instrument cluster is uninspiring. The seats at the rear offer good recline position and there is plenty of head, knee and shoulder room for three adults. Boot space at 251-litres is adequate by hatchback standards and the practical layout of the Liva should not see most owners complaining. NVH levels on the inside are significantly lower over the old Liva. It is well controlled, but at all times you can hear the engine roar with a mix of wind noise and road noise.

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Performance – There are no changes to the engines of the facelifted Etios Liva. The Etios Liva TRD Sportivo is an excellent move by Toyota as the company doesn’t have turbocharged petrol engines in the kitty like the Europeans and Americans. The TRD variant now gets the Etios sedans motor which is the 1.5-litre unit producing 89 BHP and 132 Nm of torque. This output is not much but when you factor in the low weight of the Liva, you start to understand what the big deal is all about. Larger displacement and shorter gearing is a key to driveability. In city traffic, loads of low-end torque aids stress free driving. Put it in third gear and you can amble around in the city and close gaps without downshifting. The same third gear is capable of doing 125 km/hr. You gather speed quite quickly and the Etios Liva is a genuinely quick car which can put a smile on your face with its performance. This motor delivers a good low end grunt with brilliant mid and high range. Low end torque is so good that the Liva TRD can pull cleanly in second gear from standstill. The ARAI certified mileage is rated at 16.78 km/litre but we expect it to return close to 11.5 km/litre on routine driving. Keep the engine on the boil and the mileage will still hover around the 9.5 – 10.5 Km/litre mark, which is pretty good. The Liva TRD stops the clocks in 12.1 seconds on its way to 100 km/hour from zero, a reasonably quick time by hatchback standards.

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Throttle response is linear but Toyota has missed out on a clutch rest and the foot well is rather cramped. The 5-speed gearbox offers smooth shifts and gates are well defined. With short throws, it is one of the best in the segment. The gearing on the Etios Liva is on the shorter side, aiding quick acceleration of the line. Even on short empty stretch, one can do 140 km/hr quickly. The exhaust note for a stock car is something Toyota has calibrated very well, sporty enough to delight anyone. The improved NVH levels on the facelifted model does show. The motor redlines cleanly and the sporty exhaust note is delightful.

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Driving Dynamics – The suspension setup on the Liva has been setup to provide best of both worlds. The handling is neutral. Liva turns into corners quickly, thanks to the lower kerb weight. There is a bit of body roll and the steering feel is average. It is nowhere as feedback rich or eager as the Maruti Suzuki Swift or the Ford Figo in the corners. The electronic steering is light and does city duties well but it does not offer feedback or weight up at high speeds. The steering wheel in particular is not good enough to hold in the first place, it’s too big.

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The ride quality is mature and the wide tyres offer splendid levels of grip. The Liva doesn’t get unsettled on bad roads and absorbs most bumps in its stride remaining reasonably composed. Braking is excellent with good pedal feel and offer quick speed shedding capacity. High speed stability is good too and changing lanes does not upset the car’s balance. Ground clearance is not an issue and we did not scrape the body kit or the under body on any large speed breakers at all.

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Verdict – The Toyota Etios Liva TRD is certainly a fun hatch to drive and not bad to look at with subtle changes to the exteriors. Not to forget, the performance it offers makes it quite a bargain. Of course, equipment has been skipped, but that is because the government duties on 1.5-litre capacity engine are higher in a hatchback. The pricing had to be competitive as a lot of fun hatches are already in the market and a quite a few are on their way (Fiat Punto Abarth!). Though, the uninspiring styling and interiors wont appeal to most, the Liva TRD Sportivo delivers on the performance front and is reasonably fuel efficient too. Besides, its also fulfills the role of your daily city car with great driveablity in the traffic. The Liva TRD is certainly going to appeal to those who want a powerful hatch at a price.

The Etios Liva TRD Sportivo is a practical hatchback which goes fast while being drivable in the city.

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What’s Cool

* Fun to drive
* Space
* Loud engine note

What’s Not So Cool

* Quality still not up to Toyota levels
* Missing equipment

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2013 Toyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo Specifications

* Engine: 1496cc, 16-valve, 4-cylinder, DOHC
* Power: 89 BHP @ 5600 RPM
* Torque: 132 Nm @ 3000 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* Top Speed: 180 km/hr
* 0-100 km/h: 12 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 11 km/l (City), 14 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Tyres: 185/60/15 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear), ABS
* Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual Airbags, Immobiliser

2013 Toyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 3775 mm X 1695 mm 1510 mm
* Wheelbase: 2460 mm
* Turning Radius: 4.8-metres
* Ground clearance: 170 mm
* Boot Volume: 251 liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litres
* Kerb Weight: 925 kgs