A Toyota is a Toyota is a Toyota, even if it is called an Etios Cross.
Despite the new large black grille with plastic trimming, roof rails and padded side panels its DNA is clearly derived from the Etios Hatch and sedan. But more DNA from the Hatch. It has the identical 1.5 litre engine which pushes out 66kW and 132 N.m at 3 000 rpm and the same five-speed manual transmission.
Even the claimed top speed of 165km/h and the 0 to 100km/h in 13.2 seconds are the same. Toyota says the Etios Cross uses 6 litres/100km. But that is an exaggeration, the fuel consumption figures I recorded were closer to 7 litres/100km and that was without putting the pedal to the metal and in a town and country cycle.
The upgrades on the Etios Cross include a new exterior mirror design featuring aero stabilising fins; a new front seat design; a redesigned central instrument cluster and an enlarged LCD display. The Cross is also reasonably green with carbon emissions of 138gm/km. There is more than enough space inside with plenty of head and shoulder room. The rear can comfortably seat three adults. The steering and driver’s seat are height adjustable so it is easy to find a comfortable driving position. There are numerous storage spaces including seven cup holders and a 13-litre glove box with a cooling function. The audio system with Blue Tooth and USB port, is easy to operate. An odd touch is the boot spoiler which seems unnecessary. The plastic trim doesn’t appear to be of good quality and there were quite a few unexplained rattles and squeaks.
The Cross is assembled in India so perhaps there should be more stringent checks at the production line.
It has a boot capacity of 562 litres, but if there are four of you luggage space will be limited. However, there is room for shopping or the children’s school kit and the back seat can be folded forward.
On the road, wind and engine noise are intrusive and sometimes I had to yell to make myself heard. The engine is quite peppy with power to spare when you have to overtake. The Etios Cross is not happy on bad roads and you can feel every imperfection.
Handling is good, it corners well and doesn’t feel top heavy. Unusually, there are no buttons on the steering wheel to control the audio system and other bits and pieces. The five-speed manual gearbox is light although shifting feels notchy at times.
Safety kit includes ABS, EBD, and dual front airbags. Toyota is known for its reliability and I don’t doubt that the Etios Cross, which is aimed at the younger market, will score high in this respect.
If you spend a lot of time behind the wheel then the Etios Cross is what you want, even though it doesn’t have a list of standard features that its rival, Renault’s Sandero, for example, has.
There is only one Etios Cross and the price tag of R159 800 includes a two-year/ 30 000 km service plan.