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Latest entry Toyota Vitz simply does everything right

Toyota has only dabbled in the supermini sphere for the past decade or two. Its first effort was splendid. Shared with the Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1, the Aygo was a great little effort that splendidly delivered its mutual technical advantages under the Toyota mantle for a generation or three.

Powered by a perky three-pot, Aygo did just about everything right. But it was small. Toyota cured that with the more recent, little loved Agya. It may have been bigger, but derived off an ancient Daihatsu, it failed in many other areas in its tinny, plasticky and somewhat gawky rehash into a Toyota badge.

But that’s all forgotten. Enter Vitz. Perhaps the best South African baby Toyota yet, this time it gets everything right. The latest spawn of Toyota’s entente with Suzuki, that move is one of the best moves Toyota has made in recent years. Its smaller Suzuki-based Starlet, Urban Cruiser, Rumion, and now this Vitz, have considerably raise its game in those niches.


Vitz does little to hide its Suzuki roots

All-new from the ground up, the value for money Vitz rides on the latest, rigid Suzuki-Toyota rigid Heartect platform. It’s powered by an all-new new Dual Jet triple and gains a cheeky new cabin, too. Boasting a rounded and more deeply sculpted look, Vitz however does little to disguise itself from its Celerio stepsister.

The Toyota badge in the middle of the oval grille is the giveaway. It links into the headlamps above a moulded bumper complete with fog lamps on this XR. It comes in 30 grand more expensive than its basic, most affordable car in SA sibling. Even perkier in this deep sea blue metallic, XR gets neat darkened 15” alloys, body-colour doorknobs, and wing mirrors.

Step inside and settle into the comfy integrated new front seats. You sit taller in the car for a more commanding driving position and better visibility out, too. All four seats and the are made to optimise space and that’s immediately evident. You’d swear you were sitting in a far bigger car.


No nonsense, no frills infotainment

Metallic dash detail helps add to the sense of space around the CarPlay, Auto, Aux and USB-packed 7” touchscreen infotainment and four-speaker audio system. It does all you need to via the left stalk steering controls or touch buttons on its frame. And even finds your and other mobile devices without any fuss or bother. No nonsense, no frills. Just right.

There’s a reversing aid and even has access to apps Maps and Spotify and a handy 12V outlet too. Climate control is via real knobs. A host of actual buttons take care of remote central locking, power windows, all round with driver’s auto down, power mirrors and traction control. Vitz’s power steering sits ahead of a digital tacho and large, legible analogue speedo with trip info too.

All passengers get grab handles, central and door cup holders and a 12V. The deep boot base loads up to 295 litres above a full-sized spare wheel. It expands via 60:40 split rear bench seat and gets a flush parcel shelf and hooks.


Zesty little 49 kW 89 Nm K10C DualJet triple

Like its French and Daihatsu predecessors, Vitz’ new 49 kW 89 Nm Suzuki litre, multi-point, K10C DualJet engine is a triple. It gets a two multi-point fuel injectors for each of its three cylinders and a lofty 11.5:1 compression ratio. Add a variably timed roller rocker valvetrain with four valves per cylinder, exhaust gas recirculation, oil cooling jets under the pistons.

Albeit a little crude in its operation, automatic Start Stop brings even greater efficiency and the zesty little K10C turns the front wheels via a five-speed manual ‘box. Stiff and even light at just on 800 kg, Vitz runs a 2,43m wheelbase and a tidy 4.7 metre turning circle. McPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension has coils all round.

Front disc and rear drum ABS brakes have electronic force distribution and emergency assistance. Celerio also has a standard ESP system, has an airbag each for the front occupants and Isofix child seat restraint safety.


It’s no rocketship. But that doesn’t matter

Nobody promised that the Vitz would be a rocketship. Yet it brings a sense of pace and proved considerably quicker than both its Aygo and Agya predecessors. This little three-pot is a pleasure to drive and gets on with it with a friendly three-cylinder rumble central to a pleasant repertoire. It yaws a little if you push on. Yet it’s fun to drive, and comfy too.

To be honest, this Toyota ticks all the economy car boxes very well. Yet it’s fuel economy is this efficient little car’s biggest plus. Toyota promises 4.2 litres per 100 km and a squeaky clean 84 g/km CO2 emissions. We easily managed 4.5 per hundred in mixed driving and never saw the fives. All the more impressive at approaching R24 a litre of petrol.

Overall, we were more than just impressed with the Toyota Vitz. It may not win many drag races or beauty pageants. But who cares in this day and age? It certainly is comfortable, reasonably safe, and efficient. And more than just economical. And Vitz shoves Toyota right back on top of the supermini pile, just in case. – Michele Lupini

Images & testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Toyota Vitz 1.0 XR
Engine: 49 kW 89 Nm 1-litre petrol I3
Drive: 5-speed Manual FWD
0-60 km/h:        5.04 sec
0-100 km/h:       12.38sec
0-120 km/h:       17.18 sec
400m:             18.4 sec @ 121 km/h
80-120 km/h:      9.97 sec
VMax:             160 km/h
Fuel:             4.4 l/100 km
CO2:              101 g/km
Range:            725 km
Warranty/Service: 3y 100K/2 service 30K km
LIST PRICE:       R219K
RATED:            9
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