Driven: Toyota Etios Cross
The beefed up Liva does the job pretty well and sheds the favourite city cab image associated with it and comes by the name of Etios Cross. Could this be the car you were looking for?
Etios Liva has been here for a while, it has received quite a mixed feedback from the Indian audience. On one side we have the Toyota engine, reliability and built quality but on the other hand we had the total bland styling, evident cost cutting, light body panels and the cab image of the car. The transporters loved this hatchback, as a matter of fact most of the cabs deployed in my office are Etios Liva. So bringing new a new different version of the car into the office was quite confusing for everyone.
My test vehicle was a beefed up sibling of my office cab, this had more driver than my colleagues intrigued. They seemed more excited to what more does this beefed up version offered. Too many questions and too many people to answer, gave me a hard time getting to my office from the parking lot and I instantly knew penning down this story will be even more difficult.
Where the general audience despises the Liva the transporters loved it, we had the Toyota Etios Cross which could bridge the gap between these parallel opinions. What we had at hand was basically a Liva with plastic cladding on the outside, piano finished centre console, roof rails and 15 inch diamond cut allot wheels. This has resulted in the car being 40mm taller, 45 mm wider and 120 mm longer. The car definitely looks beefier but with no added power or 4X4 or extra torque, that is what we Indians get….. disappointing indeed. That is not just the case with Toyota but with every manufacturer offering crossovers in India. The only exception being the Tata Aria. If we have to narrow down it’s a hatchback gone under the knife to look like a crossover vehicle.
One important thing that changes the equation here is the fact that it looks quite different from your usual Liva that will appeal to a lot of Indian customers.
No questions asked or raised on those straight lines and square headlights they are an instant classic. The rear lamps do look out of place with the design language of the car, we hope that is addressed. The car looks tough and durable with all that plastic cladding and roof rails, it looks bigger and it indeed is with that added length, width and height. The all new 15 inch diamond cut alloy wheels compliment the entire exterior feel. I popped the hood and even the bonnet seemed heavier but I am not sure if they have added weight there. Step in and you will be greeted by the same Liva cabin but the piano finish on the centre console does make a lot of difference given that the instrument cluster is also designed in it. The seats still feel thin, which will be tiring over long journeys, this is something that is very unlike of Toyota vehicles. I suggest some extra padded seat covers on that. The crossover look is evident and does some justice to the car.
Etios Cross retains the feature list of the top spec Liva on offer with ABS, EBD, dual front Airbags, 2 din music system with Bluetooth connectivity (the 2 din music system looks like an aftermarket fitment and isn’t an dash integrated one) Steering mounted audio controls and the new 15 inch diamond cut alloy wheels. However the OVRM’s still remain manually adjustable!!!!!!! This might be the only car in that price range to get manually adjustable mirrors, adjusting the left mirror will require a lot of stretching.
At the heart of the car is the 1.4L turbo diesel returning 67bhp with 170nm of torque that is just the adequate power needed for city conditions and going off the road into some grass or mud but don’t expect this one to anything more than that. It sort of runs out of breath on highways where you’ll find yourself constantly working the gears but overtaking. With added ground clearance we did venture into some grasslands and nothing was difficult for this fellow, but that added height also adds to some extra body-roll over corners. The car remains pretty well behaved, the ride quality and handling are a major USP here. The steering is very direct and will keep the car pointed in the direction which your mind is executing, unless you do something terribly wrong the car won’t loose its line. If you take on the highway in a very calm and relaxed manner you can definitely munch many miles in it. The only distraction being of checking the fuel and other readouts from the center console.
If you are looking for a crossover vehicle with a budget and you want a really reliable product backed by a Toyota’s trust and reliability go for it. The car also a part of the Toyota QDR league, standing for Quality, Durability and Reliability which are very true to this car.
What’s My Take
I expected the car to fare out well, given my share of experiences with the Liva. That did give way to a lot of comparisons between the two here. It’s a nice Compact Crossover Hatch which more durable compared to its competitors and has proven its metal over time. Yes it has, I have come across more Etios Cross on road compared to other offerings in market. Given that its a 1.4L diesel unit I did expect Toyota to amp up the torque atleast if not the horses, but they did disappoint me there and also with the manually adjustable OVRM’s and the seats. If these three things are taken care of, this car can even give a lot of hatchbacks a run for their money. Trust me on that, a major chunk of our market comprises of people looking for cars with straight lines and they prefer the Etios, Liva and Etios Cross over other offers with contemporary design language. At a price tag of INR 7.76 and 8.06 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) I would say Toyota is offering a fair deal.
Words & Photography by Atul Bandhu