Toyota’s popular Starlet gets better in so many ways

Only around for two years now, Toyota’s Starlet has become a bit of a smash hit in the passenger car market’s highly competitive B-segment. A combination of smart looks, a traditional hatchback layout, good spec and economy has set it out amongst its rivals. Now Toyota has just raised the game with a highly revised and much improved product in the SA market. We went along to take a spin…

Torquier, More Powerful New Engine

It’s restyled, revamped, powered up and improved in just about every way. Biggest news is a step up to a 9 kW stronger 8Nm torquier 77 kW 138 Nm 1.5-litre K15B engine. The Urban Cruiser lump delivers a decent balance of torque, willingness to rev and fuel efficiency. Toyota claims an improved 11.2 second 0-100 km/h sprint and 175 km/h top speed. At a frugal 5.4 l/100 km petrol economy and squeaky clean 127 g/km CO2 in the manual. The perfect muti for petrol at R25 a litre.

Starlet comes in 5-speed manual or automatic variants. It rides on an evolved platform featuring higher tensile steel in key areas of the chassis. Suspension also benefits revised coil springs and damping and a revised torsion beam at the rear, along with 20 mm more suspension travel. For improved ride quality without compromising handling. Add 10 mm fatter Goodyear 185/65/R15 tyres stepped up to 195/55/R16 on premium models riding on a polish faced directional alloys.

You won’t miss new Starlet’s styling advances. A bold chrome brow links sleek headlamps above a prominent lower air dam in a typical signature Toyota look. More sculpted than before with blacked-out A-pillars and a fresh chrome waistline, the well-proportioned side profile clearly sets it out as a Starlet. The roof slopes back to a neat spoiler with a brake light atop edgy new two-pice tail lamps. Body-coloured wing mirrors get indicator repeaters.

Starlet Now Has a Better Quality Cabin Too

Step inside to a quality feeling two-tone cabin with swooping accent lines and multi-hued detailing. Starlet’s large central infotainment screen and easy-to-read instrumentation behind that sporty flat-bottomed three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, come together in a cohesive, stylish, ergonomic design. Improved, more bolstered contour focussed front seats bring improved lateral and shoulder support, and an adjustable centre armrest.

The rear bench now features improved thigh and shoulder support in the spacious and comfy cabin. The ample 314 litre boot opens up to a cavernous room with the 60/40 split seat back laid down. Add Automatic Climate Control, power-retractable mirrors, electric windows, all of them standard. And there are multiple cup and bottle holders for added convenience.

The new Starlet steps up to an upgraded touchscreen audio system. It has CarPlay, Auto, Bluetooth and rear USB-A and C charger ports. And a Multi-Information Display. The infotainment synchronises with Starlet’s on-board computer to allow occupants to access and display vehicle trip info alongside cellphone and multimedia.

Starlet Has a Good Safety Specification

Driver assistance includes rear parking sensors, Hill Assist and Vehicle Stability Control, and ABS and EBD brakes. Driver and passenger airbags and ISOFIX anchor points are standard. Xr models add Side & Curtain airbags, Smart Entry, Push to Start and Cruise Control. A reverse camera and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Plus 6 tweeter speakers and a larger 23 cm infotainment screen and upgraded colour TFT Multi-Information Display. It features a variety of telemetry screens.

The latest Toyota Starlet now looks far more the part versus its bland predecessor. Inside and out. Better equipped, its smarter cabin has an upmarket feel. it’s now a more pleasant, convenient and well equipped place to drive. Even if some finishes are a bit plastic, . On the road, the new engine brings a zipper, if a bit rowdier nature, it handles, rides and drives well, too. On first impression, the Starlet it is now far better equipped to do an even bette job.

Starlet continues in the familiar three-grade Xi, Xs and Xr strategy. Its 5 variant model matrix caters to a variety of needs. Backed by Toyota’s 3-service 45,000 km service plan with 15 000 km service intervals and 3-year 100,000 km warranty, customers can extend their service plan and warranty via any of SA’s over 220 Toyota dealers at any time within the standard warranty period.

New Toyota Starlet: Launch Pricing
1.5 Xi Manual                R226K
1.5 Xs Manual                R239K
1.5 Xs Automatic             R261K
1.5 Xr Manual                R295K
1.5 Xr Automatic             R313K
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