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