'It reminds me of the Maruti Esteem”. I distinctly remember the comment from one of our judges during the 2011 BSM COTY evaluation, after driving the Toyota Etios. At that point, I figured what the Etios was, because prior to that, I was trying hard to find a parallel or a thought process behind the car. And that one phrase perfectly summed it up.
Most of you are already talking about it as a jazzed up, new-gen Renault Logan from Toyota, and I assure you that you are not wrong. It’s designed to look simple, with straightish panels and fairly bland overtones. The rear seat is large and comfortable and the trunk is huge (I can’t think of any sedan, with its rear seat in place, that has a larger boot than this). Yet, there’s so much that has gone into the Etios that I can’t help but wonder what went through the minds of countless Japanese and Indian engineers in 2006, when the car was first conceived.
In fact, this car is late by a good four years. Toyota originally planned to have its small car for India by 2006, and in a lengthy cover article in a leading business magazine in 2000, they chalked out their India plans post-Qualis and explicitly mentioned its plans of an India-specific car in ’06. But Toyota seemed to put it on the back burner for one reason or the other and it’s only today, at the fag-end of 2010, that the car has finally seen the light of day.
All along, the benchmarks for Toyota changed. The Esteem became history, and in its place came the Suzuki Dzire and the Mahindra Renault Logan — an ideal car for India that has suffered because of joint-venture issues. Both these cars defined the concept of the entry-level sedan, and Toyota observed them keenly. In fact, in an interaction with a senior TKML executive a year ago, he mentioned in more than just passing that the Logan did influence the path of the Etios.
At its price, the Dzire is still the overall package to beat, and even Toyota can’t seem to do that well enough. If you can wait for six to eight months (that is the period Toyota dealers are quoting to deliver the Etios), then you will have the better car. But if you can’t, then the Dzire is a good choice either way. Of course, it won’t remind you of the Esteem the way the Etios does!