Toyota Etios – Budget car or bust? You decide.

Toyota launched the Etios in South Africa in 2012, and while being built in India for developing countries, the Etios does offer a lot of features as standard, making it one budget car retailing for under R200,000 to consider if you are in the market.

Etios Sprint


The name “Etios” is derived from the greek word “Ethos”, meaning “spirit, character, and ideas”. This Etios is full of character, something very few cars in this price range offers.

Etios funny buttons

Interestingly the door lock and unlock button is not placed on the door where every other manufacturer puts it, but instead this button is on the dashboard, just above to the bonnet latch (which looks like an old fashioned choke knob) just below your knee.

Following suit with the previous generation Yaris’, the instrument cluster is in the middle of the car, and it is enormous.

Instrument Cluster

The rear passengers has cup holders, but when the door is closed, accessing them drink holders can be quite troublesome, especially if your passengers are fully grown adults.

Rear Door Cup Holders



I like the way the Etios looks. It’s not overdone with heavy lines an unnecessary shapes and folds. It’s simple and elegant. From the front some form of aggressiveness can be seen, but it’s more a case of “I might be angry” than any thing else. It works.

Etios Front

The rear is also simple. No unnecessary curves, or lines, or distractions. This car looks much better than the Nissan Almera, and I dare say, most of it’s competitors.

Etios Rear


Clear effort has been made to enhance the look in the cabin by using different plastics and textures, but sadly, the placement of the dials distract you from the rest of the inside. The speedometer is excessively big, and it does require you to look away from the road when checking your speed, or fuel leverl, or RMPs.

Front Door Texture
Although not clear in the picture, different textures makes the car feel more premium

Toyota said it wasn’t much different than normal placement, but I say Hogwash. It’s difficult to read and distracting.

Center Dashboard

The rest of the interior is simple. There are no infotainment buttons on the steering wheel, but the radio in itself, is easily navigated and operated. Bluetooth features as standard, and the sound quality it provides also seems better than average.

Etios Interior


The boot size in the Sedan offers a whopping 562l of space. (that’s roughly about two fat in-laws.) and has decent legroom for rear seated passengers. Fold down the seat and the boot space increases even more. It is now big enough to haul around 7 in-laws in a sardine-like fashion.

Etios Boot space


In this segment, this little Toyota is the best. Hands down. It feels better than it’s big brother, the Yaris, and is arguably the best engine and gearbox combination in this segment.

Offering a 1500cc 4 cylinder naturally aspirated (non-turbo) engine across all models, power comes quick, and is more than enough for overtaking. I did find the brake pedal to be a bit dead, not offering sufficient feedback, but the action of braking in itself was not at all bad.

etios engine

Cornering, quick acceleration and snap changes are effortless in this Etios. There is really nothing I can fault in this area.

Driving the the Etios is also quite easy once you get used to the sensitive clutch. This is by no means a car for a Petrol-head, but it is a car that will be perfect for town driving.


It would be a tough choice between this and the Ford Figo, and while the Etios offers typical Toyota reliability, I cannot help but to think that it’s ruined by the stupid, impractical, useless setup they have as an instrument cluster.

That said. I can grow to like the Etios, it really isn’t bad, in some instances better than the Yaris and the Figo, especially when driving it. If you want a sedan, this is it. If you want a Hatch, as the title states, you have to decide.

I know what I decided, now it’s up to you to tell me your choice!

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Juan Loubser

I am an old fashioned 30 year balding, ham fisted egghead, with a love for mechanical engineering, Victorian era architecture. There was always something about cars, and up to this day I cannot put my finger on it, the easiest way to explain it would be to like it to something you just understand, you get it, you don’t know why or how, but it’s something you've understood all your life. With Torquesteer I have created a couple of Goals. One is to tour the little market town of Todmorden, England in a MG B roadster, and the Second is to do the US route 66 in true american muscle style. Driving a Tesla is also on the list.

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