DRIVEN: New Toyota Vitz is a decent package for the price

Published May 18, 2023


Launch Review: Toyota Vitz 1.0 XR

Johannesburg - Toyota South Africa continues to head the vehicle sales charts by a large margin every month, thanks to its diverse range of vehicles and, of course, its reputation for reliability.

The collaboration with Maruti Suzuki of India has also paid off handsomely when you consider the Toyota Starlet (Baleno), Rumion (Ertiga) and the new Urban Cruiser (Grand Vitara) that recently replaced the Brezza-based original version.

Joining the fray and launched locally is the Toyota Vitz, based on the Suzuki Celerio. It replaces the Agya as an entry-level car in the Toyota fraternity.

As South Africans continue to face the reality of ever-decreasing disposable income, interest rate hikes and a falling rand, the A, Sub-B and B segments are getting a lot more attention. It has a 64% share of the total passenger market compared to 53% in 2018.

The Vitz then comes at a time when things are tough and it’s good news for consumers but less so for car manufacturers who face an all-time high rand/dollar exchange rate.

The Toyota Vitz is a city car with the three variants, 1.0 MT, 1.0 XR and 1.0 XR AMT, all powered by a three cylinder twin-injection naturally aspirated engine that has 49kW and 89Nm of torque coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox or, in the case of the XR AMT, an Automated Manual Transmission.

It’s not going to win the most-stylish design award but the boxy shape isn’t entirely unappealing, with swept-back headlights, teardrop rear lights and attractive front end.

On the XR variant that we drove on the launch, you get front fog lamps, colour-matched door handles and side mirrors as well as glossy smoked 15-inch alloys which rounded off the package well.

(Photo by Cornel van Heerden)

Inside, you get cloth seats, a swooping-designed dashboard with carbon-fibre-look inserts replicated in the door panels and silver-satin finishes around the speedometer, ventilation dials and air vents.

There’s a round instrument binnacle with what Toyota calls a “roulette-wheel inspired speedo”, with a smaller circular inset TFT with the rev counter and trip computer.

On the XR, the steering wheel is tilt-adjustable, with controls for audio and phone while rear parking sensors are standard across the range.

Also on the XR, the touch-screen infotainment system features Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

For its size, it’s fairly roomy inside and with the front seat set comfortably, there was enough legroom for a tall third passenger.

There’s an impressive 295 litres of boot space, with a 60/40 split rear seat.

While it may be an entry-level car, the build quality is solid without the tinny-door sound found in some of its competitors when closing the door.

We drove it in its natural city habitat around Joburg towards Orange Grove and Edenvale, which showcased its easy manoeuvrability through gridlocked blackout traffic but also the city’s state of disrepair and filth. Not so much a world-class African city but more one on the cusp of collapse.

As you would expect, the Vitz isn’t going to be a robot drag winner but, considering its design brief, it ticks all the boxes, as they say.

The three-cylinder mill provides a familiar thrum on pull off and will quickly spin into the red line without sounding like it’s about to jump out the engine bay. The clutch is easy to use and while gear changes aren’t exactly GR Yaris crisp, they are as you would expect from a car at this price point, as are the handling characteristics.

Toyota claims fuel consumption figures of 4.4l/100km aided by stop-start technology. This doesn’t seem unreasonable, considering we got just over 5l/100km, with some enthusiastic driving on some parts of the route.

Considering many drivers are likely to be first time owners and students, safety is taken care of by ABS, EBD, Vehicle Stability Control, driver and passenger airbags, front seat belts that have pretensioners with force limiters, child locks and ISOFIX child-restraint systems.

It comes with a two-year/30 000km Service Plan and a three-year/100 000km warranty.

The Toyota Vitz comes at a time when buyers are looking for value for money and an easy way to become mobile hassle free which Toyota KINTO SA will shortly offer on the Vitz.

KINTO ONE is a pay-for-use service available through all Toyota and Lexus dealers that offers the ability to drive a Toyota or Lexus of your choice (with optional approved genuine accessories) including financing and depreciation costs, all scheduled services and maintenance included as well as warranty items for the contract period, connected Car (wi-fi and Telematics), SVR tracking device, initial licence and registration and KINTO Protect Limited in the event of an accident.

Says Toyota: “KINTO ONE is the ultimate mobility solution, combining the use of the vehicle, service and maintenance, in one monthly transparent payment with no additional hidden fees when you return the vehicle at the end of the contract.”

Toyota Vitz Pricing (May 2023)

Vitz 1.0 MT: R189 900

Vitz 1.0 XR MT: R219 900

Vitz 1.0 XR AMT: R239 900