Forget fuddy-duddy. Travel Torque’s Melinda Ferguson discovers there’s some impressive power in the all new Toyota Etios Sprint.
Think “race track”, and you’re probably imagining the latest AMG or M-series burning rubber on bends and straight, not a Toyota Etios. But the somewhat unlikely East London Prince George Circuit was where a bunch of local motoring media recently found ourselves, to kickstart the launch of the new Toyota Etios Sprint. The Sprint replaces the previous Xs model in the Etios stable and sprint was exactly what this small-size passenger hatch and sedan did, as we put foot around one of South Africa’s oldest circuits. (This Eastern Cape classic track once played host to the South African Grand Prix in the 1930s, after which racing was halted when World War 2 broke out in 1939, resuming again in the 1960s.)
I clung to the dashboard as my Wild West partner, Dirk the Hot Rod, chucked us around corners and screamed down straights in what I’d always considered a sedate, almost fuddy-duddy vehicle. I swore I saw the speedometer hit 180 on Beach Straight, despite specs citing 165kms as top speed.
Back on the road, in rather wet and misty Eastern Cape conditions, with its new 15-inch alloys and 1.5-litre VVT-i engine, emitting 66kW power and 132Nm of pretty impressive torque, there was plenty of solid drive appeal in the punchy Sprint. Looks-wise I preferred the more trendy looking hatch to the sedan but based on the Etios’s impressive sales record in South Africa, a regular feature in the top 10 sales lists, both options should do well on the local market.
Whereas a lot of vehicles that come in under the R200 000 mark forsake safety for price, the Etios has a whole clutch of precautionary goodies, including all important driver and passenger airbags, ISOfix child seat mounts, plus ABS and EBD. Additionally there are also three-point rear passenger seat belts.
The Etios range now comprises three different models: the entry-level Xi, the mid-range new Sprint, as well as the urban adventurer – the chunkier Cross.
Toyota’s Glenn Crompton, vice-president of marketing perfectly captures the ethos of what should prove to be yet another Toyota winner.
“The Etios represents one of the core models for Toyota, and has proven popular with a wide variety of customers. The pay-off line “Here to make you smile” represents what Etios is all about; simple rewarding motoring – and with the most recent styling, spec and safety upgrades, it’s set to continue.”
With Toyota dealerships dotted all over South Africa, the Etios comes with a two-year/30 000km service plan, backed by a three-year/100 000km warranty. Service intervals are set at 10 000km.
Just three months into 2017, Toyota has already made a great head start with the launch of the impressive C-HR, now look out for the trusty and surprisingly nippy Etios Sprint.
1.5 Sprint Hatchback R172 600
1.5 Sprint Sedan R180 500
RATING: 3 stars