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The journey of the Toyota Etios started off with a sedan. But now, it is set to make a dent in the buzzing hatchback space with the Liva.
The Etios Liva believes in doing things differently. To begin with, it broke the mould even before its launch. The normal practice for most manufacturers, at least in India, has been to launch the hatchback first and then bring in the sedan. So it did come as a bit of a shock when the spacious Etios sedan was launched first and the hatchback later. And now, the Toyota Etios Liva promises to continue 'breaking the mould' in many more aspects as well.
BEHOLD ITS BACKSIDE
The car has a certain 'cuteness' to it and despite the fact that it shares the same front end as the Etios sedan, the Liva looks more appealing owing to the rounded hatch at the rear. And that's really where the magic of the Liva lies - the way this end has been designed is a delight to behold. It finally makes the front end look complete - something that the sedan could never manage. Two corner-mounted tail lights do the trick to give it not just a charming look but also a sporty stance. The car has a huge wheelbase and some pretty good ground clearance, but the overall design helps hide both dimensions effectively from the outside so as not to jar.
If the exteriors can be called 'cutely aggressive', the interiors too live up to one's expectations. The complete set is a straight lift from the sedan which means it comes with the same vertically mounted central air-conditioning vents and the chilled glove-box. The central instrument console is also carried over giving the car a rather interesting perspective. The sporty theme extends all the way, from the seat fabric to the door trims, the steering wheel and the central dash layout. But then again, this was bound to happen, considering that the Etios sedan is a nice car to be spending time in and the Liva's interior is more or less identical.
There was a lot of talk of the Liva getting the big 1. 5-litre engine from the sedan, but anyone familiar with the Indian market would be aware that the hatch would be looking to exploit the maximum benefits from the excise duty concessions that the Indian government offers for small cars. And that means that under the Etios Liva's hood is a 1. 2-litre, four-cylinder engine. On paper, it isn't all that bad - 80PS @ 5600 rpm and 104Nm @ 3100 rpm aren't bad figures at all. In fact, they're pretty close to most of the competition and better than some as well. Coupled with the Liva's 900-odd kg kerb weight, it should also make for a great power to weight ratio to score high on performance. But, somehow, that's not the case because the Etios Liva's brief seems to be rather straightforward - better efficiency. With the gear ratios matched to make life in the city easier, the car does feel peppy enough at low revs and accelerates cleanly off the line, but a little later, all the excitement dies down and you really need to work the engine to get to over 120 kmph.
Our instrumented tests did see the car cross the 150 kmph mark but, trust us, it took a lot of patience and even more stretches of empty roads to get there. The 5-speed manual gearbox may be the culprit here with gear ratios more akin to city driving than highway cruising, but that does have a rather pleasing effect when you look at its fuel-efficiency figures. ARAI certifies them at 18. 3 kmpl cumulative but real world conditions should see you get about 14. 3 kmpl in the city and 16. 1 kmpl on the highway. Predictably then, the Liva wasn't a scorcher in the acceleration tests either, taking over 17 seconds to cross the 100 kmph mark.
SPACE TO BOOT
It may take a while for some to truly fall in love with the Etios Liva's looks and it doesn't really perform as well as we would have liked it to - especially with the 1. 2-litre engine running out of breath on the highway. But the flip side to that is the amazing fuel efficiency it returns both within city confines and on the highway.
However, the Etios Liva's appeal stretches way further than just looks or performance. It is probably one of the most practical small cars we have seen in the market. With Kunal Khadse, our photographer, sitting in the front seat with his legs fairly stretched out, I could fit my 5'6" stocky frame rather easily in the back bench and still have about six inches of knee room to spare! If you thought all that would eat up boot space, think again. The Etios Liva's boot is massive and can devour a whole lot more than just your luggage. And to top it all, it's a Toyota, which means there's more than enough of reliability and quality in that car to put major space projects to shame. The price: Rs 5, 99, 000 ex-showroom in Delhi.
Peace of mind and ease of operation is what you get with this car and that's quite a luxury in our stressful times. This is certainly not the car for someone looking at super fast milemunching, but when you look at your bank balance at the end of every month, the Liva will definitely make you smile. Maybe that's what Toyota meant when they said that the Liva was a happy-faced car.
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