The complex Indian automobile market has, over the years inspired many strange and unique products specific to our market. The crossover hatch market is among one of these. What started with the likes of the Cross Polo by VW, soon enough got crowded with more than a few offerings. The Japanese giant entered this low numbers yet profitable segment with the Toyota Etios Cross. One can assume the Etios Cross to be the farming (in terms of build and looks) cousin of the regular Etios hatchback. The rugged appeal has been added in good measure to aid the ever-expanding cross-over market in the country (and across the globe). Even though the segment cannot be said to have been a huge volume turner, it still generates enough of them to keep the makers interested in it. So what exactly does this strange premium hatch crossover segment does differently than its regular siblings then? Let's find out.
The very obvious design cues of the base Etios Liva hatchback are clearly visible once you set your eyes on the Etios Cross. However, you do realize that the Etios Cross does look a bit broader and bulkier than the Liva. Still, the dimensions lie in the strict confines of what we come to expect of small hatchbacks. The additional brawl worthiness has arrived through Toyota’s keen efforts to use every usable black plastic from its bin for external cladding. From the side profile to the back of the Etios Cross, you see a thick black cladding running across lending a beefy bulky appearance to the car. This black cladding is further accentuated with the use of silver skirting in combination to the dark background. This same idea goes on to the front that, even though largely remains similar to the much mellower Liva, gets a new bull bar painted in silver along with a skid plate. With this brawnier rugged ‘beard’ of sorts, the Etios Cross is definitely more muscle than the Liva’s pleasing gentleness. Then there is more of that black plastic in that front bumper where the rather huge fog lamp housing is present. And while we are at it, the side claddings also have Etios Cross carved out of them to make sure you know what specimen you are looking at. To add further to this adventurous kink are the roof rails painted in silver and a tiny spoiler. Again the Etios Cross has a prominent badging at the rear as well. All in all, Toyota has somehow managed to inject some character into the Liva’s modest existence while still keeping the whole presence premium. The Etios Cross, even though carrying extra cladding bulk doesn’t look ungainly and rather handsome from some angles.
Since at the end of the day, the Etios Cross is still connected to the Liva and the Etios Sedan by genetics and birth, the interiors are more or less in the same vein. You still find that centrally mounted instrument cluster, however, with the Etios Cross you do find that the all-black theme has made this archaic positioning a lot more bearer. This all-black treatment also adds premium-ness to the cabin, much more than the other two siblings. The sportier seats need a good mention here especially with that Etios Cross badging stitched on them. Should you feel like adding some background score to this sporty brawny-ness, there is a 2-DIN music system that comes with compatibility for AUX, USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Toyota also offers creature comforts like a cooled glove-box and steering mounted controls for audio on the top spec variants. The top spec also offers two airbags. The cabin is, just like the Liva, still airy, even with far more black surrounding you. The space on the inside is again good, just like the Liva as well. Sadly though, that centrally mounted instrument cluster needs to go, this segment deserved much better than this. Then, even at this price, Toyota isn’t offering electric ORVM adjustment while there are only four speakers at the front, and that’s top spec variants we are talking about.
Same as its subtler sibling, the Etios Cross is offered in both fuel burning options. There are two petrol engines and the one diesel burner being offered. The smaller petrol is a 1.2-litre powerplant that is found in the lower ‘G’ variant. It makes around a decent 79bhp and 104Nm of peak torque. The bigger Etios Cross petrol unit is a 1.5-litre unit that is more powerful at 89bhp and 132Nm of peak torque. It is available in ‘V’ trim. The diesel heart, on the other hand, is the 1.4-litre turbocharged unit good enough for a mellow 68bhp and 170Nm of torque. In terms of driveability and performance, the Etios Cross returns more or less same experience as that of the Liva’s even after the addition of the extra weight. The Diesel evidently is the lest fun be had in, while the 1.5-litre Petrol comes out the most satisfying to drive among the three engine options. The NVH levels are also something Toyota needs to get back to and amend, they are sadly much higher than expected for this segment. The Petrol units, however, are much calmer and silent as compared to the Diesel powerplant that always tries too hard to move. The handling is ok with the steering that could have been a bit more involving. The suspension is where the Etios Cross shines giving itself a rather comfortable ride. Then there is a slightly higher ground clearance as well on the Etios Cross serving true to its Crossover origins.
Toyota’s reliability. Comfortable seats. Enough space for five adults. Smooth Gearbox and clutch.
Limited appeal. Lacks desirability. Rivals offer more features.