Toyota Etios Cross Driven at Launch

Etios Cross 014

Next in line to make headway into the entry level ‘crossover’ market is this Toyota Etios Cross. It’s a pumped-up Etios, full of extra cladding to make it look a bit more butch. Toyota says the current Etios seems to be a bit girly and it wants to attract more masculine buyers, hence the muscle flexing bits around this Toyota Etios Cross.

Same Old?

Essentially you’re still getting the same Toyota Etios that has been selling around 2 000 units a month locally for the last couple years. The Etios has had a bit of sprucing up over that period in order to keep it up to date. The interior was definitely improved upon from the first models we saw at launch in 2012.

The centre display of the Toyota Etios Cross where the RPM, speedo, fuel level and trip metre display look less tacky and the font size has been increased to a legible level. The radio unit is standard in the Etios Cross and has been upgraded as well to a modern unit that features Bluetooth, a USB port and an auxiliary jack.

Key Improvements

Toyota has certainly improved on what was a decent value for money offering by adding the extra touch of refinement our SA market requires over the Indian market where the car is built. The exterior bits though are what Toyota is hoping will get dudes into its Etios Cross and there’s definitely some distinctive bodywork to mention.

Firstly the front ‘bull bar’ grille changes the face of the Toyota Etios Cross and gives it a sort of handlebar moustache look. The side skirts have got serious sills now with bulging plastic running right the way around the Etios Cross. The rear end gets a grey scuff-plate as well as a roof spoiler for that boyish rear wing cool factor. The roof rack has been added and is not purely cosmetic, it can support a load of up to 50kg – more than enough for a couple bicycles. You’ll also note from the pictures that the Toyota Etios Cross isn’t lacking for branding, the new model to the Etios lineup’s name is badged three times on the bodywork as far as we can see.

Strong Engine

The Toyota Etios Cross’ strong point remains its 1.5-litre petrol engine that really feels peppy when driven around the city. It accelerates up to speeds quickly, never feels laboured and with Toyota’s quick shifting five-speed gearbox is happy to rev hard all day long. The ride is satisfactory and there’s a decent amount of space for passengers in the back.

No Lift

The Toyota Etios Cross does not come with any sort of raise to the ride height, according to Toyota the Etios was built with SA in mind and therefore already had a slight ground clearance elevation. The standard 15-inch wheels do give the overall height of the Etios Cross an almost negligible increase in ride height if you want to be pedantic.

Pricing for Toyota Etios Cross

The Toyota Etios Cross comes onto the market at R159 800, those who are keen price watchers may have noted that it’s exactly R100 cheaper than the Renault Sandero Stepway launched in May 2014. Toyota is confident it’ll be able to hold the price advantage over the long run, but we’ll have to wait and see who’ll hold out as the winner when it comes to sales. Never thought I’d be saying that in a Toyota vs Renault sales showdown in South Africa…