It's a global premiere for the Toyota Etios

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Toyota quite made up for their absence in the mass-market segment in the country after over a decade of being here. The much-talked about Toyota 'small car' was finally unveiled to the world at the Auto Expo today. Well, not the production car, but the hatchback and sedan concepts. We may call them concepts, but they are pretty close to what the final cars will look like when they come off the Toyota Kirloskar Motor assembly line very soon.

The Etios sedan will be the first to get launched in the country, well before the end of the year, while the hatchback will be ready for Indian roads by January 2011. By showcasing it in India first, Toyota wants to make a point as to how important the country is for their operations. Also, the 'i' in the Etios logo looks like the 'tilak' worn on Indian foreheads - surely, it's not a coincidence.

The Etios sedan and hatch signify Toyota's intent to capture big volumes in the country. So far, Toyota has been selling premium models in India, but with the Etios, Toyota gets into territory that's dominated by Maruti Suzuki.

The sedan will get a 1.5-litre petrol engine, while the hatchback, as anticipated, will be powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine so as to benefit from reduced excise duties.

So what do we think of the design language of these two brand-new Toyotas? The concept behind the design is 'bold simplicity.' The sedan looks quite futuristic when viewed from the front three-quarters, but the profile is typically conservative Toyota. The triangular tail-lamps frame the rear three-quarters quite well. The hatchback, on the other hand, barely conceals its sporty intent - bright red brake callipers, anyone? The overall design of the hatch is quite explicit with its youthfulness and sportiness. And it is in tune with the design language set by Toyota's modern small cars like the iQ and the Aygo, especially the rear three-quarters.

Toyota promises a best-in-class mileage with both the cars and say that the price will be competitive. That can only be good news!