Live it up
It has it all — quality, reliability and low ownership costs. But the ace up Toyota Liva's sleeve will be its fuel efficiency, writes Nikhil Bhatia
Advantage Toyota Apart from new, appealing features, all the good things on the Etios has been carried over in the Liva
The Liva retains the now-familiar face of its elder sibling, the Etios. The design philosophy does have some nice touches here and there that add a bit of flair to the Liva.
The hatchback is at its best when viewed from the rear three-quarter angle where the well defined shoulders and chunky C-pillars add considerable muscle to the design. Viewed side-on, the Liva looks spades better than the Etios saloon and the short rear overhang gives the Liva a nice, well-proportioned silhouette. The large 15-inch wheels on the higher V and VX variants (lower J and G versions get 14-inchers) add to the car's balanced stance. Observe closely and you'll notice the raised suspension that contributes to an adequate 170mm of ground clearance. Roving eyes will also lock on to the ribbed roof which, like on the Etios, is one of the Liva's many rigidity-enhancing and weight-saving measures.
The Liva follows convention with MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam axle at the rear. Fit and finish is good as is the norm with all Toyotas. However, the feeling of being in a car that is extremely light and built to strict costs is something that you can't shake off; a feeling reinforced by the 920kg kerb weight, making it the lightest hatch in its class.
Measuring in at 90mm shorter than the Etios saloon, it is hard to make out the difference between the two cars unless you look up the spec sheets. The interiors are decidedly spacious.
Ingress and egress is made easy thanks to the large and wide-opening doors, and the rear seat is generous with decent under-thigh support and a near-perfect backrest angle. The front seats have decent cushioning and superb lower back support, too. The only gripe is that there is no height adjustment for the driver's seat. Outside visibility remains good though. The boot-space is restricted to 251-litres which is good enough for a small suitcase at best. The rear bench can be dropped down, albeit without an option to split the seats.
The Liva's dashboard is a direct lift from the Etios and it looks and works well with easy to read instruments, despite their unconventional placement. Bottle-and cup-holders are aplenty and the cavernous 13-litre glovebox that comes with air-conditioning keeps everything cool. Quality of plastics isn't great; the garish red gear knob and the upholstery are unappealing.
Under the hood, the Liva's 920kg kerb weight and 79bhp add up to a power-to-weight ratio of 85.8bhp per tonne, making it the best among the 1.2-litre hatchback brigade. On-road performance, however, reveals a different story. Thanks to Toyota tuning the twin-cam, 1197cc engine for fuel economy rather than pep, the Liva is slow off the line and takes time to gain momentum.
The Liva does manage to potter around traffic with ease and once on the move, the engine feels relaxed, aided by the smooth-shifting gearbox. Refinement is acceptable for a small car, but the car does filter in some road noise at higher speeds. The car simply coasts over potholes, and the stiff suspension tackles speedbreakers with aplomb. Highway mannerisms are decent too.
The electrically-assisted steering on the Liva is something buyers will really take to, because the car is quite an able city commuter. The steering is generally quite communicative, except during hard cornering when you wish the steering was a tad faster. The 185/60-R15 tyres are good and hard stops are uneventful. Overall, the road behaviour of the Liva, though not exciting, is safe and predictable. Save for the base J variant, ABS with EBD can be had on the G version and comes standard on the higher V and VX variants.
The Liva, then, will delight its owners with its competent city-runabout skills. The spacious interiors, good ride quality, and decent levels of equipment will be appealing at this price point, but the ace up the Liva's sleeve will be its fuel efficiency, expected to be pegged at around 18.3kpl. Toyota has once again equipped its car with quality, reliability and low ownership costs to boot, and with an expected price tag of Rs. 4 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh, this car looks to be an outright winner.
Price Rs. 4lakh - Rs. 5lakh (estimated, ex-showroom)
Ground clearance 170mm
Turning circle 4.8 metres
Kerb weight 890-920kg
Engine 4 cyls in-line, 1197cc, petrol
Installation Front, transverse, front-wheel drive
Power 79bhp at 5600rpm
Torque 10.6kgm at 3100rpm
Suspension (f/r)MacPherson struts/torsion beam
(f/r)Ventilated discs/ drums
175/65-R14 (J and G)/185/60-R15 (V and VX)
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