The quality of plastics is something that’s a bit of a disappointment, mainly because this is a Toyota product. It would be acceptable in a Suzuki, but not in a Toyota — even if it is a model that competes with a Suzuki. The glovebox is large, there are plenty of bottle holders and then some more, it has additional and very prominent AC vents that can cool the glove box as well, the steering wheel is large though a bit plasticy and there is only a single wiper. Yes, long after the W124 Merc and the Uno have become history, the Etios has only a single wiper. Though it has been designed for maximum coverage of the windscreen, it still leaves an unclean gap near the driver’s side of the A-pillar (the one benefit of it being a rainy day in Japan!) and I wonder whether it can handle our monsoons. Net net, the Etios looks as if it’s been built to a cost. It’s perhaps the cheapest car that Toyota has built, still our expectations from Toyota are sky-high!
Powering the front wheels of the Etios sedan is a 1500cc four-cylinder 16-valve DOHC petrol engine that develops 88.8 bhp at 5600 rpm and 13.5 kgm at 3000 rpm, which is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Yes, it is marginally more powerful than the Dzire petrol and torquey as well. The extra cubes means the engine is not stressed. Driving the car on the track, the benefits of the diesel-like torque come through — it is responsive at low revs and takes up the slack well, something which will make it driveable on our roads. The transmission is slick enough, but I didn’t have the chance to do some enthusiastic shifting, while gearing is yet to be seen.