The Japanese auto giant, Toyota, introduced a facelifted version of the Etios twins recently following their debut in Brazil. As we got a chance to test drive the petrol version of the sedan dubbed as Etios Platinum, we would here be putting all the pros and cons from the shoot right way. First let us take a look into what Etios has so far been meant for Indian customers as it is present in the market for quite a few years now.
Being sold in the market for over half a decade, there is no faking the fact that Toyota’s volume selling ambitions were pitched high upon its launch as the reliability, affordability and low-maintenance cost brought forth a perfect recipe. While it has become an instant hit among fleet operators, the family crowd was not much enthralled by its rather underwhelming looks and lackluster interior despite hitting sweet spots in practicality and spaciousness.
Toyota has added a new front end along with slew of interior features to mend the issues the customers have been facing. Let us see how the changes have panned out and whether they made the Etios any better:
In the flesh, the Toyota Etios facelift does have an appealing stance when compared to the outgoing model. The front portion is where the changes can be very well visualized as the front bumper has been made wider and a substantial grille mounted high, bringing an youthful appearance altogether.
It features a new V-shaped grille with black inserts, and chrome embellishments, alongside an aggressive bumper with larger inlets. The round-shaped foglamps get boomerang-alike chrome accents in the facelifted model.
It can be seen from the pictures that the front fascia is the only portion where Toyota concentrated more on styling despite the rear-end getting minor influences of modern design. However, the side profile largely stays similar to the outgoing model with a thick strip running in the middle from the front door to the rear and a new set of alloy wheels.
Going to the rear, Toyota did not make big changes as the bumper receives a slight revision and there is the presence of repositioned chrome strip moved to the middle with contrast red reflectors on the boot portion. Much like the front bumper, the lower portion of the rear has slightly been tweaked as well.
Overall, despite the black inserts up front bring an upmarket feel, as a whole package the very dull styling of the past has been snubbed for a rather decent exterior update that should be good enough for some customers. But, in majority, many will be settled with the fact that it’s better to have an update than not to have anything at all.
Toyota Etios Platinum Interior and Features:
The outgoing Etios sedan was unconventionally equipped with instrument binnacle at the top of centre console. It was an unsettling feature as you cannot see them without having to be distracted from the road. The Toyota Etios Platinum has the same units but they have been improved for further convenience with semi digital combi-meter display.
As standard, the Toyota Etios Platinum comes with ninth generation ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution) safety systems across all variants alongside two ISOFIX child-seat mounts at the rear. The additional safety equipment includes three-pointed seat belts and driver side force limiters and pre-tensioners.
The interior has been given grey and ivory colour combo while the shape of the entire dashboard remains similar to its predecessor. The Brazilian-spec Toyota Etios Platinum boasts a touchscreen infotainment system but the domestic model doesn’t have such system and instead the customers are restricted to the 2-DIN audio system with Bluetooth and USB provision.
Toyota has made subtle changes on the inside of the Etios Platinum as well as the modified seat fabric currently is in 3D design while the new back seats are now foldable for additional cargo space. The door lock switch has also been changed from GX trim onwards.
For the riding convenience of the rear passengers during long drive, Toyota has made available rear seat centre armrest which is installed within the seatbacks and consumed three litres of bootspace. It can now be folded down to expand the already massive 592 litres of cargo area. The new Etios also gets electrically foldable Outside Rear View Mirrors – an essential feature in modern day cars – but it’s being offered in the top-spec trims only.
Toyota retained the USP that is spaciousness and practicality. The front seats are wider and offer good support while there’s good leg and head room. The back rest is well inclined and gives appreciable under-thigh support. The bench rear seat allows for comfy seating of three adults and large window area makes occupants to feel the extra space.
Toyota Etios Platinum Engine and Performance:
For our test outing, we laid our hands on the 1,496 cc, four-cylinder, 16V, DOHC petrol engine with Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI). The inline motor is good enough to produce a maximum power output of 88 bhp at 5,600 rpm and 132 Nm of peak torque at 3,000 rpm. It comes coupled with a five-speed manual transmission and disappointingly no automatic drivetrain is being included in the facelift.
The most impressive bit Toyota has done is reducing the noise and vibration levels using more insulation as the rubber engine mounts have been replaced by hydraulic ones that absorb vibrations from the engine.
The flat bottom steering wheel is a charm and has not just sporty looks but feels nice to grip during long drive. It can be tilt-adjusted and brought to desired driving position. The gearbox took some more muscle to change effectively but the response when pressing the accelerator pedal was indeed quite instantaneous.
In the urban and congested traffic conditions, the lower gears won’t stress you at all as the torque delivery and power came in at the right moment. But the engine got restrained for a certain period at speeds above 95 kmph. Moreover, the engine refinement has improved and you won’t fail to notice it if you had driven the older version.
Ride and Dynamics:
Toyota has sought to improve the ride quality and performance of Etios Platinum. As a result, the clutch system in the diesel variants were claimed to have been improved for good response and feedback. The petrol model we drove needed extra effort to master the clutch though. The new Etios rides on front MacPherson strut and torsion beam rear with front disc and rear drum brakes.
Sudden braking from higher speeds do not unsettle the car as both ends have good tyre grip and appreciable brakes. The front shock absorbers have been revised for better ride and comfort additionally. Over sharp speed busters at lower speeds, the ride is stiff enough which came into play significantly at higher speeds as the sedan was planted and stable.
It can cruise all day on the highway as the low NVH level and responsive ride will make the driver wanting to clock more miles. On the irregular patches, the Etios Platinum failed to crack too as the corners can be maneuvered with confidence. We did endure quite a bit of body roll but the stability was uncomplaining to compensate that.
Toyota Etios Platinum Test Drive Verdict:
There are some points that Toyota has managed to retain from the outgoing model despite it being an average seller and those attributes are the strengths on this new facelift. The Etios Platinum sedan has hit the sweet spots in riding comfort, practicality and interior space. With added features and improved safety techs, it is now one of the safest cars in its segment. We would say the revised exterior will attract buyers preferring family outing as well as for taxi operators.
Price for the base petrol starts from Rs. 6.94 lakh and it goes all the way up to Rs. 8.98 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi, prices) for the fully-loaded top diesel variant. It is to be noted that the Etios Platinum is a little expensive than some of the better equipped rivals in the sub-four metre segment or higher but if you are in for a budget Toyota sedan with trademark bullet-proof reliability, we would absolutely recommend the new Etios sedan. If we had to point the finger at something, the updated interior should have been given more pondering to appeal for a large group of buyers.