Road tests 16.8.2018 10:00 am

DRIVEN: New Toyota Etios Sport is eye candy

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All in all, it looks pretty much like the Toyota title-leading rally car.

For Toyota South Africa, the Etios range is an absolute favourite.

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The reason, of course, is multiple sales. In these times, with the ANC government’s insatiable greed plunging taxpayers into a dark hole of debt and despair, disposable income rates as a rare commodity.

Thus, car sales suffer.

Having a vehicle that still finds around 1 000 homes per month among the long-suffering middle classes is pure survival gold.

Toyota realise the value of the Etios and they know why the vehicle sells well: it provides affordable, reliable and practical motoring. That apart, it has a sporty image.

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As you read this, a Toyota Etios is leading this year’s South African Rally Championship.

To keep the magic alive, the Etios range has recently been treated to a host of upgrades.

There is also a limited-edition model in the Etios Sport, which is the subject of this story.

In order to be viable, the Sport had to remain affordable. Thus, no engine modifications, retro-fitted turbo or trick electronics.

WINNING. Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy Lyle (Gazoo Toyota Etios) en route to winning last weekend’s Bronkhorstspruit Rally. Picture – Dave Ledbitter.

The car is powered by the same four-cylinder, 1 500cc petrol engine found in other Etios derivatives. It develops 66 kW of power at 5 600 rpm and 132 Nm of torque at 3 000 rpm.

A five-speed manual gearbox passes the above to the front wheels.

Standard fare, then, but the Etios Sport offers all-new visual enhancements for buyers who demand individuality and expressive personal transport at a reasonable cost.

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The test vehicle featured a striking two-tone colour scheme with black roof and pillars paired with White lower body.

Complementing the contrasting paintwork is a black radiator grille, black exterior mirrors and black treatment for the rear-roof spoiler.

Pretty much, in fact, like the title-leading rally car.

The package sits on 15-inch alloy wheels in a bright silver finish, in 185/60/R15 tyres, while a Sport badge rounds out  the exterior package.

Inside, the instrument cluster sits in the centre of the dashboard.

This makes a lot of sense, precluding the driver from seeking information hidden in a cluster behind the steering wheel and his or her hands.

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A digital-sweep tachometer is positioned on the left with a fullsweep speedometer completing the gauge layout.

Typical Toyota, the interior feels durable and usable, and the doors close with a reassuring “clunk” that promises many untroubled kilometres.

The Etios Sport is not particularly fast – Toyota’s official figures list a 0 to 100km/h time of 11.3 seconds and a top speed of 165km/h.

But, it is fun to drive. The engine likes to rev, while the torque activates at pretty low speeds, making it a doddle to zip around in traffic.

The brakes – discs front and drums rear with ABS and EBD – were more than up to their task.

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The car is also easy to park and manoeuvre in confined spaces.

It proved economical during the test, returning an overall fuel consumption figure of 6.7 l/100km.

In terms of passive safety, it boasts seatbelts front and rear, driver and passenger airbags, plus a full quota of headrests.

At an asking price of R178 800, the Toyota Etios Sport comes with a two-year/30 000km service plan, backed by a three-year/100 000km warranty

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