Best known for its people carriers, SUVs and luxury sedans, Toyota Kirloskar now wants to seriously be a part of the volumes game. The Etios sedan, launched in December 2010 has been a success story for the Japanese brand and it now wants to take it further with the Etios Liva hatchback. But can it make a dent in the fortunes of the established lot and is the Liva the great value hatch that it seems to be? We drove it and to make matters easy for you, we’ve even incorporated a competitor check list. Here we go.
Though the Etios is not exactly a beauty queen, the Etios Liva somehow looks better than its sedan sibling — especially in that shade of blue it’s been showcased in right from its unveiling at Auto Expo. The Etios Liva is among the cheapest Toyotas anywhere in the world, if not the cheapest, starting at Rs 4.12 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai. But in V and VX trim specifically, with all the aerodynamic paraphernalia like chin spoiler, skirts, hatch spoiler, etc., it certainly doesn’t look cheap.
Viewed front-on and till the B-pillar, there is nothing much to differentiate the Etios and the Liva. The hatch is quite barren and is flanked by bulbous tail-lamps. The greenhouse is not a dynamic shape, like the one in the Suzuki Swift, for instance.
Space is the Etios Liva’s final frontier. Despite the fact that the Liva’s wheelbase is shorter than that of the Etios by 90 mm, at 2,460 mm, it is better than that of the current Swift by 70 mm and the Volkswagen Polo by only 4 mm. The Ford Figo and the Hyundai i20 have longer wheelbases, though.
Toyota engineers have cleverly liberated extra space for rear passengers by using thin front seats. And, unlike in the Polo, the central hump in the Liva is subdued. The generous rear legroom is matched by shoulder room as well, as three adults can sit in decent comfort.
Matching its functional aspects, the Etios Liva comes equipped with no less than seven 1-litre bottle holders (for some reason), a 251-litre boot and a large glovebox that cleverly uses the HVAC plumbing for its cooler. The aircon is quite good. The large vents have been designed to throw air to the rear passengers as well. The interior plastic quality is like that of the Etios. It is evident that the car has been built to a cost, even though the dash is two-tone. The centrally located instrument console takes time to get used to.
Powering the Etios is a 1197 cc 16-valve DOHC inline-four petrol motor, with 78.9 bhp at 5600 rpm and 10.6 kgm of torque at 3100 rpm. Nothing exceptional in terms of output, but Toyota has tuned it to offer day-to-day driveability more than anything else. The torque comes early on, while the gearing of the five-speed manual is devised for driveability and efficiency.
The engine sounds a little harsh, especially when you push it. Leave it to its own devices and the Etios Liva will happily serve you well between 60 kmph and 80 kmph. Toyota claims an ARAI fuel efficiency rating of 18.3 kmpl — the idea, of course, is to stretch the litre as much as possible. This is also aided by a light body shell. The gearbox is sweet; the throws are positive and smooth, but it’s not a flickable, short-throw tranny like in the Hyundai i10, for instance.
The suspension, which includes a McPherson setup at front and torsion beam at the rear, has been tuned for comfort. It works. The Etios Liva doesn’t get too unsettled when subjected to potholes and bad roads. It easily soaks up the hard sections and does not transmit them to the passengers. For a small car, it’s pretty good.
Along with a good ride, the suspension and the rubber combine to offer pretty good levels of handling. It is a car that’s chuckable and holds its poise on corners. The steering wheel is sporty, with a flattened base, too. For an EPS, it is better than expected, though the brief seems to have been to make it easy on Indian hands.
There are five versions of the Etios Liva on offer: the entry-level J, followed by two G versions, then V and VX. The safety package includes ABS with EBD and two airbags. Prices for the Etios Liva go up to Rs 5.99 lakh, making it a competitive offering. At the end of it all, the Etios Liva is an affordable Toyota that ticks the requirement boxes of people looking for a practical, no-nonsense hatch. The writer was invited by Toyota to drive the new Etios Liva