Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Toyota Etios test drive..

No matter how hard I try, it is hard to keep the Logan out of my mind everytime I see the Etios on the road, in the paper or on TV. The lines, the wheel arches, the same cubic centimetres of the engine, the flat boot with a ‘in your face triangular rear lamps’ and the plain-jane front can't all be co-incidently same.

The Logan-ism is re-instated as I set my eyes on the sparkling new Etios at the Toyota showroom. The interiors are spacious. In fact, the boot claims to squeeze in more bags than the big-bro Corolla. The interiors are smart and simple. The peculiar Air-con vents and the instrumental panel at the centre of the dashboard reminds that something is new and ummm.. different. The quality is not all that great, but the plastics have been smartly used and make an agreeable sight.

Now the test drive started. The acceleration is good and there is ample torque at lower revs. The words ‘Smart and simple’ pop up yet again in my mind. The next thing that pops up is ‘Remembering the Logan, are we??’. The handling is fine and the steering is little too soft; something like the previous-gen Honda City ZX. The transmission is mated brilliantly and though there is no need for shifts at lower speeds, the power peaks at mid range. The low range torque set-up makes it a lovely city dweller. The vehicle is light and Toyota has removed anything and everything it thought was unnecessary. They even upgraded the brake casing to better it for the Indian roads where bouncing pebbles, stones are not uncommon.

As I step out, I feel peculiar as I am happy but not impressed. There is nothing missing here. It is a great deal which smartly packages the right elements to optimize comfort, power and space. Some will pay that price just for the Toyota emblem that comes along with it, because in India, hasn’t Toyota always been enjoyed only by the classes? I would love it some 10-15years later, when I need a nice sedan to haul a family and value proposition is paramount. But today, its different. I don’t want to be that sensible and no-nonsense fellow today. And this is where the Toyota lets me down. It has all the right elements; it maintains that perfect balance. The power is just enough to haul itself, there is ample space and the steering is very practical. However, most will agree that Practicality of the ideal good boy/girl has never impressed my generation. Even a fool can tell that the Etios will be a big hit, the 3 month waiting period post booking points in that direction. Yet the mean looking Fiesta, the street smart Swift and the gorgeous Linea will still attract the youth as the Toyota sadly might be too ‘nice’ for them.
The way Toyota has played with the price with the Etios has got all the competition on its toes. Suzuki is shortening it's Swift Dzire to get the tax advantage and slash its price, Hyundai &Ford are looking for replacements for their existing models. If Toyota manages to maintain similar pricing, God save the hatchback market once the Etios Liva is launched..

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