Toyota introduces latest Starlet into SA
It’s been a bit of a rough time for Toyota with regards to the flood damage at their Durban manufacturing plant. That however has not stopped them from introducing the latest Starlet, the brand's compact hatchback contender. We recently got behind the wheel to see what this newcomer is all about.
Now, Suzuki has also just introduced its latest Baleno, the car on which the Starlet is based. However, when you slap a Toyota badge onto anything it tends to garner a few more sales and that is exactly what happened with the previous model. So, the Starlet then. What is it like?
The new Starlet promises to deliver even more, on all fronts. The front styling ups the visual ante with sleek headlamps with LED options on the top-spec. The front is further unified by a sleek chrome 'brow' and prominent lower air dam - creating a signature Toyota look. Wide-mounted fog lamps replete with C-shaped trim, add to the overall appeal. The rear features two-piece rear light clusters and a broad, chrome tailgate garnish which completes the sporty yet elegant profile.
Step inside and you will notice a revised interior design that features swooping accent lines and multi-hued detailing, with a large centrally-mounted infotainment screen and easy-to-read instrument binnacle. Here designers focussed on creating a stylish design while maintaining excellent ergonomics.
It is also worth noting that the new Starlet also boasts an upgraded specification list. All models now come equipped with a touchscreen audio system with USB, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto interface, as well as two rear USB chargers. Automatic Climate Control, power-retractable mirrors, electric windows and Multi-Information Display are features on the standard menu which is great news.
Spaciousness and comfort remain a hallmark of the new Starlet. A 60/40 split seat back provides the option to expand the 314-litre boot space and create even more utility.
Under the bonnet, the newcomer gets a boost in performance with the adoption of a larger 1.5-litre engine. This motor develops 77kW and 138Nm of torque and can be paired to either a 5-speed manual gearbox or an automatic gearbox.
Safety is also improved upon as driver assistance systems now include rear parking sensors, Hill Assist Control , Vehicle Stability Control, ABS, and EBD across the board. Driver and Passenger airbags are also provided with the flagship Xr grade featuring Side & Curtain versions too, for a total tally of 6. ISOFIX anchor points are standard across the range.
Ride and handling has also been enhanced, in fact, the new Starlet makes use of a completely revised suspension setup, with changes to the torsion beam at the rear, new coil springs all-round, and recalibrated dampening in conjunction with an additional 20mm of suspension travel.
We have no doubt that the Starlet will remain a top seller within the market. It offers decent value and a badge that tends to retain that value. If you are looking for a compact hatch then this should be at the top of your list.