Recently Toyota and Suzuki announced a mutually beneficial formal alliance between the two companies, to leverage each other’s strengths and competitiveness globally.
By Rubin van Niekerk
Recently Toyota and Suzuki announced a mutually beneficial formal alliance between the two companies, to leverage each other’s strengths and competitiveness globally. Toyota’s expertise in Hybrid technology and autonomous driving would benefit Suzuki, while Toyota gains access to compact vehicles, a Suzuki strength.
The first-born from this brand alliance to arrive here is the Toyota Starlet. This charming name dates back to 1973 and has adorned Toyota’s sub-compact hatchback in the Japanese domestic market for five generations until 1999. Staying true to the ethos of being a compact and cost-effective product, the Starlet revives this badge.
The highly competitive sub-B segment represents the second highest share of passenger vehicle sales locally and the Starlet replaces Etios, which captured an average 22% share of the sub-B segment over its lifespan. Starlet amplifies the Etios core strengths of performance, efficiency and affordability with spaciousness, modern design and enhanced specification levels.
A lively 1,4-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine spins freely to generate ample power for daily chores with the choice of automatic or manual gearboxes dashing to 100km/h in 11,6 seconds or 10,9 seconds respectively.
Low fuel consumption is a key feature, with the fuel index registering between 5,1 and 5,4 l/100km depending on variant which provides a range of over 700km with a tiny 37-litre tank that is a pleasure to fill up.
A three-grade strategy, namely the familiar Xi, Xs and Xr symbols is used and although being the entry point to the Starlet range, the Xi model is generously specced. The flagship Xr models receive the full package, including rear privacy glass, cruise control, park distance control (PDC), reverse camera, climate control and push-start operation.
All Starlet models are also equipped with the Toyota Connect telematics system which includes an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot and complimentary 15GB data. Once linked to their profile, customers can manage their 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 and much more.
If you are debating whether to buy the Starlet or its twin, the Suzuki Baleno, then your answer lies in simple analytics and the sales in October 2020 when the Starlet sold 1102 units versus 51 Balenos sold. A whopping 20 to 1 difference, which reveals the brand strength of Toyota and their fantastic reputation for after sales service, resale value and low maintenance costs.