1. 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 with right from the Auto Expo reveal. When it will be launched on June 27, the Etios Liva could very well be among the cheapest Toyotas anywhere in the world, if not the cheapest. 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.
2. Viewed front-on and till the B-pillar, there is nothing much to differentiate between 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 in the Suzuki Swift for instance – instead, it is designed to give a feeling of space inside.
3. Space is the Etios Liva’s final frontier. Despite the wheelbase of the Liva less 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 VW Polo by only 4 mm. The Ford Figo and the Hyundai i20 have a longer wheelbase than the Etios Liva.
4. Cleverly, Toyota engineers have liberated extra space for rear passengers by using thin front seats. And unlike the VW Polo, the central hump is subdued in the Liva. The generous rear leg room is matched by shoulder room as well, as three adults can sit in decent comfort at the back. Evidently, this car has been designed inside-out.
5. Matching its functional aspects, the Etios Liva comes equipped with no less than seven one-litre bottle holders (for some reason), a 251-litre boot (just about adequate) and a large glovebox that cleverly uses the HVAC plumbing for being cooled. The airconditioner is quite good while the large, circular vents have been designed to throw air to the rear passengers as well.
6. 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 instrument console is placed at the centre of the dash, which takes time to get used to.
7. Powering the Etios is an 1197cc 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, for instance, comes early on while the gearing of the five-speed manual is devised for you not to redline the car every time, but to get to fifth asap and stay there!
8. 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 and 80 kph. Toyota claims an ARAI fuel efficiency rating of 18.3 kpl – 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 with the Hyundai i10, for instance.
9. The suspension, which includes a McPherson setup at front and torsion beam at the rear, has been tuned for comfort, and guess what, it works. The Etios Liva doesn’t get too unsettled when submitted to potholes and bad roads. It easily soaks up the hard sections and does not transmit it to the passengers. For a small car, the suspension is pretty good.
10. Along with the good ride, the suspension plus 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 surprisingly better than expected though the brief to engineers seems to have been to make it comfortable and easy on Indian hands.
11. There will be four versions on offer: the entry level J, followed by G (with optional safety package), then V and VX. The safety package includes ABS with EBD and driver+passenger airbags. The pricing will of course be competitive: we expect the G to retail in Delhi at Rs 4 lakh and going all the way up to Rs 5.4 lakh for the top-end VX.
Verdict: An affordable Toyota that ticks most of our requirement boxes.