DRIVEN! Toyota Etios and Liva diesels

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The success of the Etios and Etios Liva may show no signs of abating and if the diesel is anything to go by, then this could very well be the sign of things to come.

A 1.4-litre diesel motor is identical to the one found on the Corolla diesel, except that it has a fixed geometry turbocharger instead of a variable one. A 5-speed manual is mated to the motor and the company claims an ARAI figure of 23.59 kpl for both the Liva hatch and Etios sedan. It produces 67 bhp@3700 rpm and 17.2 kgm of peak torque from 1800-2400 rpm.

The Liva hatch is expected in a single trim, called the GD. Weighing in at 980 kg, the Liva hatch will come with a body-kit that includes a rear-spoiler and skirts but with plastic wheel caps instead of alloys on its 175/65 R14 tyres. The GD has ABS with EBD as standard, twin airbags as an option but no music system nor a tachometer. A single tone grey trim adorns the interiors.

The Etios sedan will be available in three trims – the GD, VD and VXD. The GD weighs in at 990 kg, while the VD and VXD at 1005 kg. The GD trim has features that are similar to the hatch, which means you get the same 14-inch tyres and plastic wheel caps, and ABS-EBD as standard and airbags as an option. You don't get a body kit here however. The VD and VXD have kit-levels that are identical to the 1.5-litre petrol V and VX siblings. That means you get twin airbags, ABS with EBD, a CD music system as standard on the VD and a DVD compatible music system, red interior, audio controls on a flat-bottom steering as additions on the VXD.

Mechanically, the rest of the cars are more or less identical to their petrol siblings. Our first impressions of the car were that it is surprisingly silent on the outside, but once in and when you step on the throttle there is a shrill clatter that can get annoying.

The motor is quite tractable and is tuned for efficiency rather than outright performance, just like the petrol variants. The car rides quite well but it tends to roll and wallow a fair bit. A soft suspension setup gives it a pretty good ride but on bumpy roads the vertical oscillations continue for a fair bit after you have cleared them. There is not much steering feel to boast of.

The gearbox is more or less identical to the one found on the petrol. It shifts well enough and is quite decent as far as throws go.

The rest of the car is identical to its petrol siblings so you get the same good rear seat space, nice large boot and airy interiors. The plastic quality is some places leaves a lot to be desired and fit and finish could be better, given that the new Swift has now raised the bar considerably in this segment. The lack of some important features and the plastickiniess continues to take some charm away from the car.

Toyota claims that the car has the best in-cabin and boot space in its class. If the class consists of the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Swift/Dzire, Ford Fiesta Classic/Figo that is. We expect Toyota to price the diesel hatch in the region of Rs 5-5.5 lakh, ex-showroom, Mumbai while the sedan could be in the range of Rs 6.3 to 7.8 lakh, ex-showroom, Mumbai.