By on August 10, 2012

Last month, Toyota invited the Japanese press to join them for “the opening ceremony for its new plant in Brazil on August 9,” a three day event in and around Sao Paulo. The excitement lowered considerably as the Fourth Estate ventured to the bottom of the invitation. There it said that “flight costs to and from Brazil and all accommodation costs will need to be covered by participants themselves.” That’s Toyota as we know and love it. If you have dreams of lavish press jaunts, don’t dream them in Japan.  The event happened yesterday, without yours truly. The Nikkei [sub] hopefully sent its local stringer, and it reports what we know anyway: “Toyota Motor Corp.  will kick off production of a strategic small car aimed at the emerging-market middle class next month at a new plant in Brazil.” And the new car is the Etios.

Here at TTAC, we have followed the Etios from the get-go, and we talked to the car’s Chief Engineer  Yoshinori Noritake a few times.  The Etios is an interesting concept. It is Toyota’s car for the emerging markets. Toyota does not do what most other car manufacturers would do. Like take an existing, or worse, a former generation car  and hope it will sell. The Etios was newly developed from the ground up, for India first, but with an eye on all emerging markets.

Toyota also did not fall for the “logical” trap of selling a cheap little car. Cheap little cars usually are just a gateway drug when it comes to cars. People quickly want a real car, Noritake found out in India:  “People aspire to a real sedan with room for the family.”  Where roads are bad, people want a sturdy car with high ground clearance. The Etios is not a faux cross-over. It hides its ruggedness under an elegant suit.

The Etios was an instant success in India. It went to South Afria. It most likely will be built in Russia, and China. And now, the Etios is in the B of the BRICs, in Brazil.

According to The Nikkei, word on the street in Brazil is that the car will go for “between 35,000 reais and 48,000 reais,”  which would be between $17,000 and $24,000.  Says the Nikkei:

“This would make the Etios the lowest-priced Toyota vehicle in Brazil. While offering a price that is affordable for the Brazilian middle class, however, Toyota intends to stay away from price competition. This means the vehicle will likely be priced rather high compared with rival models such as Nissan Motor Co.’s March, Volkswagen AG’s Gol and Fiat SpA’s Palio.”

“We plan to promote premium features, such as fuel economy and driving stability,” Senior Managing Officer Hisayuki Inoue, told the Tokyo wire. “All we have learned about the Brazilian market is packed into the new vehicle.”

That attentiveness to customer demands had helped making the Etios a success in India. As we found out firsthand a year ago, Toyota even provided a little shelf space in the dash where to put the statuette of a Hindu god, and they made sure that bare feet don’t get marred by the seat rails.

It’ll be interesting to know what they came up with in Brazil.

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20 Comments on “Toyota’s Etios Comes To Brazil...”

  • avatar

    When will Marcelo test drive one and share his impressions?

    • 0 avatar

      Oi Autobraz!

      Will do!

      The press will surely rave over it. I’ve been inside a stationay one. It shows that it was designed in India for right-hand driving. The instruments, placed in the center, are oddly placed. Though the Toyota guy showing the car went on and on about Toyota’s superior construction, fit and finish to me seemed on par with Cobalt and just a wisp of hair above Siena and Versa. Materials also seemed like they were about same as Cobalt, maybe slightly better than Siena and better than Versa. Though they used some god-awful hard and shiny plastic in places.

      Interior is roomy but Logan and Cobalt seemed roomier. On par with Siena and Versa but that was just my impression.

      The engine is just 1.5 so it will surely suffer. Don’t really know but doubt Toyota will over VVT and other quetais for us, undeserving Brazilians.


  • avatar

    I admire the Etios. Its truly a car built for emerging economies with the needs of those consumers set as a priority. A completely different concept than first-world hand-me-downs, cheapened platforms and transplanted old tooling that have been the norms for these markets.

    BUT I just don’t understand why the Etios has to look like a last-gen product that doesn’t communicate the unique engineering that has gone into something that is actually truly modern.

    The competition seems to have gotten this. The Honda Brio looks modern, as does the Ford EcoSport, Rio, and the Hyundai i10. Why can’t this car look like something modern? Something that the new middle class in those emerging markets can ride with some bit of narcissistic accomplishment.

    Granted Etios sales have been stellar in India. And owning this car will probably be a joy as its likely reliable, rugged, and well though out vehicle matching its environment. But good design can bring a lot of appeal to your product with minimal costs. And once these economies emerge those customers are going to be crucial.

    • 0 avatar

      i agree with this

      i like smart engineering that is built to a strict design criteria

      of course i also like the 2013 SRT Viper GTS which represents a different goal but I also like looking at the Nano and the Peugeot 301 and the Dacia Duster types and even the Toyota 86…

      I do not like it when they make the car uglier than it should be. Why punish people for not being able to afford a full size car?

      • 0 avatar

        Tony, don’t worry about us 3rd world types. We feel very prestigious and feel like we made it driving cars such as this and others like it. In them, we can point to the hoity toity driving their poor, cramped hatches and feel superior. Afterall, it’s a SEDAN!

        Believe me. Outside the very small circle of enthusiasts and car lovers (with a snobbish outlook) who raise hell on the internet complaining how cars like these are horrible travesties, the makers have research, not to mention my subjective take on the market’s pulse, that people are happy and satisfied when they buy one of these. What’s not to like? Cheap (relatively) entry price, cheap maintenance, cheaper insurance than the hatches, space for growing family and all their bags, and a modicum of prestigious. Rest assured, the makers fulfill a real need with this kind of car.

    • 0 avatar

      I also like the idea, but as pointed out below, this is not an original Toyota concept.

      Even the design is derivative. To me, it looks like a Renault Logan that was left out in the sun and somehow melted a bit. Not good. Then again neither is the Logan’s design, but those with an eye for flair can always point out that the Logan’s design is a homage to its glorious communist forebearers. It look like a Laika would look like if it had been extensively modernized.

      The Toyota? Well the more things change the more they stay the same.Or as a Brazilian saying puts it, ‘nothing is created, everything is copied’. Trust me, it sounds better in Portuguese!

  • avatar

    That car looks like something else. A few something elses went into the recipe, I think. Two parts Echo, one part previous generation Focus, a dash of Chevy Cobalt, a pinch of something else I can’t quite pin down. Amazing how they designed an all new car but managed to make it LOOK like a rehash of previous-generation models.

  • avatar

    The first pic looks like a photo chop of a bunch of different cars

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I’m sure it has Toyota quality…but…how in h*ll did Bangle persuade Toyota to hire him?

  • avatar

    Hi Bertel!

    Aw, you’re all wonderstuck with the Etios, but it is nothing new. The ones who came up with the B-segment sized with A-segment pricing was Renault-Dacia with the Logan.

    Word on the street (and on the webs), gosh this car is ugly! Horrible interior! Third rate plastic! Way too expensive!

    That’s what I’ve been hearing. From my sources, everybody (as in other car makers) is worried, like wetting their panties worried. In the small sedan segment which has many competitors and two tiers. Seems like the Etios will outprice them all. Not good.

    In Brazil research shows that people perceived these sedans as more ‘prestigious’ than their hatch donors. now, Renault with Logan, Chevy with Cobalt, Nissan with Versa and Fiat with Grand Siena are re-writing this segment. These sedans now share little sheetmetal with hatches and even platforms, engines, transmissions can be different. The cars previously mentioned have grown the segment. Though the best selling small sedan is the Chevy Classic (2nd gen Opel Corsa-derived sedan), it’s sales are due just to price. The newer competitors add size (Logan). The newest are offering ‘some’ design and content (Siena, Cobalt).

    Seeminly the Etios doesn’t offer as much size (though trunk is big) nor design nor content. Hard sell. Trading off on the brand. We’ll see how that works out for them.

    My guess is that in their more direct segment they will come in 3rd or 4th after Fiat Grand Siena and Chevy Cobalt, tied or slightly under VW Voyage, but sell more than Nissan Versa, VW Polo Sedan or Ford New Fiest sedan.

  • avatar

    Bertel, the rearview mirror is always a good place to hang a ‘figo’ or a ‘galhinho de arruda’ to keep away the ‘olho gordo’!

  • avatar

    So far the Etios seems to be horrible in almost every way. It has ugly design, poor build quality and airbags are optional (are you kidding me Toyota?). But the fatal mistake was to put the instruments on the middle. Nobody in South America likes that, they hate it. That and the high price will make this car a failure.

    • 0 avatar

      Hola Magnusmaster. I’m not so sure. It’s the badge you know…

      How much will it cost in Argentina? In BRazil the 35000 reais Bertel mentions is for the hatch. With a 1.3 engine. The sedan will start at least 42000 reais. Airbags ok, but the real deal breaker in this price range will be AC. If that doesn’t include AC and the AC costs the usual 3000 reais, many, many people will look elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota seems to keep coming back to that feature for their cheap cars. The Echo had that setup and that was one of its problems in the US market. Obviously, it helps a manufacturer pinch pennies when designing a car to be sold in both RHD and LHD markets. However, it is at best an annoyance and at worst a safety issue to take the instruments out ofthe driver’s direct line of sight.

      • 0 avatar

        In the Etios is even worse. Not only are the instruments center mounted they didn’t change placement so RPM gauge, velocimeter are all on wrongside. Also, the vents are two and placed vertically. And on the other side of the radio, so the driver has to reach over to handle them. They are closer to the passenger! Penny pinching to the extreme and quite stupid. This placement, plus the design, plus the center mounted instruments, plus price make this car an also ran in my book. Would take almost all competitors over it. Brazilians lover their brands though. Let’s see how many of us fall in awe to the ‘T’ on the grille.

  • avatar
    Polar Bear

    On the plus side, the Etios makes Versa look elegant.

    • 0 avatar

      Hate to disagree, but I think the Versa (while no looker itself), is lightyears ahead in design. Not to mention has more content, less price and more space. The engine of the Versa (a 1.6 16v Renault unit) is also much better than the Toyota. For my money, the Versa would win hands down over this.

      • 0 avatar
        Polar Bear

        I would also pick the Versa. I agree with you, the somewhat clumsy shape of the Versa is nothing compared to the fugliness of the Etios. I have driven the Versa and it is surprisingly good on the road, the seats are comfortable and the interior is large. Versa felt like a bigger car than it is.

  • avatar

    Design-wise, I’d have trouble choosing between this and Geely CK.

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