Toyota has pulled the plug on the Etios family of cars. They will not enter the BS6 era for the Japanese automaker and their respective slots are being taken over by the Glanza hatchback and a Toyota badged version of the Vitara Brezza which is expected to arrive in the market early next year.
Nine years in the life of budget car these days is not particularly large but with not much in terms of sales performance, the move to shut the door on this trio seems logical. Well here then are some of the highlights of their nine-year run.
The Etios range comprised the Etios sedan, Liva hatchback and the SUV(ish) Etios Cross. While they wore different top hats, underneath they made use of the same platforms, engines, interiors and even feature list. The range got it is first update in 2013 where the Etios Cross was added to this family.
A second update followed in 2016. Both updates included cosmetic changes as well as additions to the feature list which in the case of the latter also included dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat mounting points and three-point seat belts both rows, making it one of the safest cars on the road well ahead of the government deadline.
The engines on offer for the Liva and Cross are 1.2-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel, while the sedan got 1.5-litre petrol to match its larger size. The only gearbox on offer for all three is a five-speed manual. In the last ever update, the top-spec VX versions, apart from segment standard features, got auto folding ORVMs, touchscreen music system, auto-locking doors, height adjustment for the driver’s seat and the comprehensive safety features mentioned in the previous paragraph.
King of the fleet
To some, it’s a byword for convenience while for others who aimed to aspire big, it is a pain the rear. In the case of the Etios range, it turned out to be both its strength and weakness. The former because, when you deem a car a taxi/cab/fleet vehicle, it lives a life of hardship racking more kilometres on the odo than one could care to count. But to even consider a vehicle for such a life, it has to be reliable, easy and cost-effective to service and sufficiently large inside to squeeze in the fare and then some more- all of which the Etios and Liva qualified for with ease.
However, the downside to being pegged as a popular taxi vehicle is that those aspiring to buy a car, will not want to be associated with something that’s used as a taxi despite whatever benefits the car offers. The 2016 update dubbed the Platinum Etios, saw Toyota adopt a strategy where the sedan got a fancy name and private buyer only tag but this did little to help the range move ahead.
There’s an irony in this as Toyota employs the same strategy with the Innova Crysta and it has worked for the MPV for so many years now. In a segment where 300-500 units is an acceptable number, Toyota sells over 10 times the number of Innovas every single month.
Average sales for the Liva and Etios Cross
While the sedan performed consistently over the years, thanks in part to the fleet sales, the hatchback and crossover could barely match their segment rivals. Where the Swift and i10/Grand i10 consistently managed to find space on the top of sales charts, these two cars together but barely managed to breach the 2000 unit mark. For reference, the previous generation Swift at its peak managed to retail over 15,000 units consistently for a year.
Bland looks and performance
Today, with the competition in the Indian car market being so tight and close, constant innovation seems to be the only way to stay ahead of the game. This innovation could be in the form of new looks, new features or even adding a fun to drive factor- a bandwagon that Indians have begun to take more seriously these days.
The Etios did not offer the fun to drive factor (evinced by all our reviews of the cars since they were launched). Toyota even tried the age-old method of racing the Etios and the Liva, to give them sporty credibility, with the Etios racing series but was ultimately shelved within a few years in favour of other activities. There was an Etios Liva TRD Sportivo with the sedan’s 1.5-litre petrol engine but it didn’t do much for the range.
The appearance of a car is very important as it is the first thing that catches your attention and while the latest update brought some funky credibility to the cars, it was too little and too late as the competition had moved on.
Suzuki expertise in sub 10 lakh cars
The final highlight for the Etios seems to the alliance between Suzuki and Toyota. The sub Rs 10 lakh market for India has always been a tough nut to crack thanks to the tight competition in terms of price and styling. Very few have succeeded and Maruti Suzuki is the king of the hill here. The former’s high ground in the sub 10 lakh segment and 20-year advantage over its nearest rivals is unparalleled. The cost benefits for Toyota from producing models already in existence finally sealed the deal for the Etios range.