Meet the new Toyota Starlet, the first vehicle to come out of the exciting collaboration between Toyota and Suzuki.

In August last year, Toyota and Suzuki announced an alliance aimed at leveraging each other’s strengths – and the first fruit of that partnership to arrive in South Africa is the Toyota Starlet.

Toyota fans will recognise the name: it dates back to 1973 and has adorned Toyota’s sub-compact hatchback in the Japanese domestic market for five generations (ending in 1999). Staying true to the ethos of being a compact, efficient and value-focused product, the newcomer proudly revives the Starlet badge.

THE STARLET COMES IN THREE DIFFERENT SPEC LEVELS – THE FAMILIAR Xi, Xs AND Xr SYMBOLS THAT ARE USED ACROSS TOYOTA’S OTHER PASSENGER-CAR RANGES.

REPLACES THE ETIOS

The sub-B segment accounts for the second-highest share of passenger vehicle sales in South Africa, and is a fiercely competitive territory. Here the Starlet replaces the Etios in Toyota’s lineup – a vehicle that captured an average 22% share of the sub-B segment during its lifespan.

Starlet builds on the core strengths of Etios – good performance, fuel efficiency and affordable pricing – then amplifies the product offering with a modern exterior design, a spacious interior and enhanced specification levels.

EXTERIOR DESIGN

The exterior design follows the classic hatchback profile, with a short, downward-sloping nose and rounded-off rear hatch. A V-shaped front grille with centrally mounted Toyota insignia is joined by two vertically arranged headlamps with chrome inlay. A trapezoidal lower air dam is flanked by stylised fog lamp housings (where fitted).

The side profile reveals contour-following upper and lower crease lines, which create a sense of motion; this is topped off with colour-coded exterior mirrors. Prominent wheel arches give the Starlet a sure-footed stance.

The rear design centres around the large LED tail- lights with red and translucent accents. These are joined by a stylish chrome garnish strip and a trapezoidal indent in the lower bumper section. The overall result is harmoniously handsome.

INTERIOR DESIGN

The interior layout makes spaciousness and ergonomics a priority – without compromising on flair. The centre “hang-down” section of the dashboard neatly groups the ventilation, infotainment and climate-control switchgear. Contour lines create a feeling of unison with the exterior design. As the driver, you’re greeted by a bright, easy-to-read instrument cluster with on- centre Multi-Information Display (MID) and dual analogue gauges.

A chunky three-spoke steering wheel incorporates steering switches and cruise control (where equipped).

CHASSIS AND PERFORMANCE

The foundation of Starlet is Suzuki’s TECT platform, which utilises high-tensile steel in critical areas, as well as energy absorption channels, to produce a strong, safe, lightweight chassis. A traditional McPherson strut front-suspension design is joined by a torsion-beam rear axle. The torsion-beam layout provides enhanced packaging, and contributes to the car’s spaciousness.

Powering the Starlet is a 1.4-litre DOHC four- cylinder engine. Featuring Variable Valve Timing and a tumble-flow intake manifold, the rev-happy engine’s output is pegged at 68kW at 6 000rpm, with 130Nm of torque at 4 200rpm.

THREE SPEC LEVELS

The Starlet comes in three different spec levels – the familiar Xi, Xs and Xr symbols that are used across Toyota’s other passenger-car ranges.

Despite serving as the entry point to the Starlet range, the Xi model is generously specced, featuring air conditioning, electric power steering, electric windows, dual 12-volt power outlets, a tilt-adjustable steering column, 60/40 split rear seats, power-adjustable side mirrors and remote central locking. The Xs model adds alloy wheels to the ensemble.

The flagship Xr models get the full package, which includes chrome door handles and side mouldings, rear privacy glass, front fog lamps, LED+ Projector headlamps with daytime running lights, side-mirror mounted indicators and a roof spoiler.

Moving to the interior, the spec level is amped up courtesy of a digital speedometer with colour MID, a leather steering wheel with telescopic adjustment, park distance control, reverse camera, climate control and push-start operation. You also get cruise control operated via steering-wheel-mounted switches.

AUDIO AND INFOTAINMENT

Xi and Xs models feature a double-DIN audio system with CD/Bluetooth/USB/Aux functionality, playing through six speakers.

The Xr models step that up with a feature-rich touchscreen audio system complete with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration for navigation, telephony and music-streaming services. Traditional USB, Bluetooth and MP3/Aux compatibility remains, offering the user a variety of in-vehicle entertainment sources. Reverse camera monitoring is also embedded within the infotainment system.

All Starlet models are also equipped with the Toyota Connect telematics system which includes an in-car Wi-Fi and complimentary 10GB of data. Once it’s linked to your profile, you’ll be able to manage your vehicle via the MyToyota app. This intuitive app allows on-demand service bookings, vehicle information and history, tracking data as well as Toyota Connect data recharge services.

SAFETY

All Starlet models come with active electronic aids such as ABS, EBD, Brake Assist and Vehicle Stability Control. Automatic transmission models also include Hill Assist Control.
Xi and Xs models are fitted with driver and passenger airbags, while the Xr variants also feature

WHEELS

The Xi model is equipped with 15” steel wheels shod with 175-65R15 tyres and a space-saving spare wheel. Xs and Xr variants feature stylish turbine-shaped 16” alloy wheels with 185-55R16 rubber.

MODEL LINEUP

Starlet 1.4 Xi 5-speed manual

Starlet 1.4 Xs 5-speed manual

Starlet 1.4 Xs 4-speed auto

Starlet 1.4 Xr 5-speed manual

Starlet 1.4 Xr 4-speed auto 0-100km/h 10.9sec (manual), 11.6sec (auto)

FUEL CONSUMPTION

5.1-5.4L /100km (depending on variant)

WARRANTY AND MAINTENANCE

All Starlet models are sold with a three-service/ 45 000km service plan (15 000km intervals). A three-year/100 000km warranty is also provided. You can purchase additional service plans and warranty extensions at your local Toyota dealer