LAUNCHED — there’s much more to Toyota’s new Starlet than meets the eye

So you thought you’d seen it all in the car world? Well, think again!

Meet the Starlet – a brand new Toyota that brings an old badge and a whole new chapter to SA for the first time. But here’s the trick — it’s actually a Suzuki Baleno in drag!

Dancing with Suzuki

Allow me to explain: Joint ventures and partnerships are very much the way of the modern motoring world. Toyota and Suzuki joined forces last year. Suzuki wanted hybrid and autonomous and Toyota liked the idea of slapping its badges on some market-leading compacts.

And so, out pops the Toyota Starlet.

You’d be quite correct if there’s a bit of little deja-vu here. And it’s an interesting one. Baleno is big for a Suzuki but Statlet is a small Toyota. Let’s see if a little badge engineering will make it fly out of Toyota dealerships…

STarlet replaces Etios

It should. Because Starlet has big shoes to fill. It replaces the runaway Etios. That car commanded a quarter of its segment through its tenure. Starlet builds impressively on the Etios’ pillars of performance, economy and value. And adds a big dose of style, space and spec.

So besides the Toyota badges, grille and trim, you know the drill. It’s spacious, occupant friendly and climate-controlled with easy-to-read multi-info display and dual analogue dials behind a chunky multifunction steering wheel on upper models. That’s one way to run the Android Auto, Apple CarPlay CD, Bluetooth, USB and Aux 6-speaker audio infotainment with a reverse camera.

Starlet gets a rev-happy Suzuki-derived 68kW 130Nm 1.4-litre DOHC VVT four-pot with a tumble-flow intake manifold. It drives the front axle via 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto boxes. Good for 0-100km/h in 10.9 seconds in manual and 11.6 in auto get-up, Starlet returns low-5 l/100km. So its 37-litre tank can exceed 700km between refuels.

Built on Suzuki’s TECT high-tensile steel strengthened platform, Starlet has McPherson strut front and torsion-beam rear suspension. Add ABS, EBD and Brake Assist; Vehicle Stability Control. You can tow a ton braked and auto models get hill assist control.

XS AddS the Kitchen Sink

Base Xi models are air-conditioned with tilt-adjustable electric power steering. They have 12-volt power outlets, power windows and wing mirrors, a 60/40 split rear bench and remote central locking. Add telematics, a Wi-Fi hotspot and 15Gb free data to manage your Starlet via the MyToyota App.

Xs adds alloy wheels and the flagship Xr gains chrome, rear privacy glass, LED+ DRL headlights and front fog lamps. Mirror indicator repeaters and a roof spoiler and button starting. Plus climate and cruise control, a digital speedo, telescopic leather steering and park distance control.

Xi and Xs models are fitted with Driver and Passenger (D+P) airbags, while the Xr variants add curtain and side airbags (C+S). Two ISOFIX points and a security system are provided across the board.

Starlet is sold with Toyota’s 3-service/45 000km service plan at 15 000km intervals and a 3-year/100 000km. Additional service plans and warranty extensions from your local Toyota dealer.

Toyota Starlet Pricing
1.4 Xi     MT R204 900
1.4 Xs     MT R215 200
1.4 Xs     AT R235 700
1.4 Xr     MT R258 500
1.4 Xr     AT R272 500

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