JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Back in August 2019 automakers Toyota and Suzuki announced an alliance to share each other’s strengths and now the result has arrived in South Africa with a name many Safricans will remember from the 1970’s.
…for which Toyota has supplied expertise in hybrid technology and autonomous driving, Suzuki its experience in compact road vehicles. The Starlet will replace the Etios in Toyota SA’s model range – which might be scary for some dealers as the Etios badge appeared on an average of 22% of their sales.
The Starlet name dates back to 1973 – a model very similar in appearance to the early Toyota Conquests – and was used on small Toyotas in Japan until 1999. The rather soppy name? Time will tell…
The ”sub-B” (small, cheapish, cheerful) segment of the SA vehicle market, Toyota says, accounts for the second-largest share of cars in South Africa – ”fiercely competitive sales territory”.
The Starlet, The Corner was told, builds on the core strengths of the Etios: good performance, fuel-efficiency, ”affordable”, contemporary design.
DIODE BRAKE LIGHTS
The exterior, Toyota says, is ”classic hatchback”. A V-shaped grille (in Toyota-specific finishing) with central Toyota badge is flanked by vertical headlights, and a trapezoidal lower air dam on some models has a pair of foul-weather lights.
The tail has large diode tail/brake lights.
The interiors variously include aircon, a bright and easy-to-read instrument cluster, and an info centre. The tri-spoked steering-wheel (according to model) has various switches and cruise control.
Suzuki’s TECT platform uses high-tensile steel in critical areas – described by Toyota SA as ”a strong, safe and lightt chassis”. The front suspension uses McPherson struts, the rear a torsion-beam axle.
The Xi model is equipped with 15” steel wheels shod with 175/65 R15 radials; the boot carries a space-saver spare. Xs and Xr variants ride on 16” alloy rims with 185//55 tyres.
Powering the Starlet is a 1.4-litre, DOHC, four-cylinder engine capable of 68kW at 6000rpm and 130Nm of torque at 4200rpm. Buyers can opt for a five-speed manual or four-speed auto. Acceleration can reach 100km/h in 10.9sec (manual), 11.6sec (auto).
THREE SMART GRADES
Toyota lists fuel consumption at 5.1 to 5.4 litres/100km depending on variant. The 37-litre fuel tank should cover around 700km. Towing capacity is 400kg unbraked, 1000kg braked.
There are three model grades – Xi, Xs, Xr – variously supplying aircon, electric power-steering, two 12V power sockets, power windows, tilt-adjustable steering column, 60/40-split rear seats, power-adjustable external mirrors and remote central locking.
The Xs adds alloy wheel rims.
The flagship Xr picks up price but includes a raft of goodies: chrome door releases, side mouldings, rear privacy glass, front fog-lights, projector headlights with daytime running lights, side-mirror indicators, and a roof spoiler.
The Xr cabin – this time more for the driver – has a digital speedometer, adjustable leather-wrapped steering-wheel with cruise controls, parking radar, reversing camera, aircon, and start/stop button.
Xi and Xs models bring a double-DIN audio system with CD/Bluetooth/USB/Aux functionality, playing through six speakers. Xr models have touchscreen audio with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for navigation, phone and music streaming.
Traditional USB, Bluetooth and MP3/Aux compatibility remains – offering the user a wide variety of entertainment sources.
Each Starlet has Toyota Connect telematics: WiFi hotspot and an initial complimentary 15Gb of data. Once linked to their profile, users can manage their car through the MyToyota App: service bookings, vehicle information and history, tracking data, Toyota Connect data recharge services.
Safety & Security
Each Starlet will be delivered with with electronic emergency aids such as anti-lock brakes, stability control, and emergency brake-pressure.
Xi and Xs models will have front crash-mitigation nitrogen bags, Xr variants will add curtain- and side-bags. Two IsoFIx child-seat anchors and a security system will be standard in all units.
…AND SO TO THE PRICES
2020 Toyota Starlet 1.4 Xi – R204 900
2020 Toyota Starlet 1.4 Xs – R215 200
2020 Starlet 1.4 Xs a/t – R235 700
2020 Toyota Starlet 1.4 Xr – R258 500
2020 Toyota Starlet 1.4 Xr a/t – R272 500
Warranty and maintenance
Each unit will be delivered with a three-service or 45 000km service plan*. A three-year or 100 000km warranty* is also provided. Customers can buy an additional service plan and warranty extensions from their Toyota dealer.
Service intervals 15 000km.
*Whichever comes first.