A Starlet is born

Toyota Starlet lands in South Africa and replaces the very popular Etios in the sub B segment

Reuben Van Niekerk
New Model
Toyota Starlet

It is a well-known fact that in times of uncertainty consumers will stick to brands that they trust. As South Africa moves to level 1, Toyota have launched a new contender in the sub-B segment and it is the type of car that the market needs right now.


The global automotive space has changed and joint ventures and mergers are common place as manufacturers look to give the consumer a wide variety of vehicles to choose from without the large investments and long lead times required to get a concept from the idea phase to reality.


One of the biggest automakers in the world, Toyota, too is using this strategy to build their brand. They collaborated with BMW to reinvent the iconic Toyota Supra nameplate and have recently entered into a joint venture with Suzuki. They are using this relationship to bring back another iconic nameplate, as they launch the Starlet in the sub B segment, as a replacement for the much loved Etios.


The sub-B segment accounts for the second highest share of passenger vehicle sales in South Africa and is a fiercely competitive territory. The Starlet has big shoes to fill as it replaces the Etios, which enjoyed a 22 percent market share of this segment across its lifespan.


However, the Starlet builds on the core strengths of the Etios such as good performance, fuel efficiency and affordable pricing while amplifying the product offering with a modern exterior design, spacious interior and enhanced specification levels.


Modern exterior

The exterior follows a classic hatchback profile, with a short downward sloping nose and rounded-off rear hatch. A v-shaped front grille, in Toyota specific finishing are joined by two vertically arranged headlamps with chrome inlay. The rear end centres around large LED tail lamps with red and translucent accents that are joined by a stylish chrome garnish strip and trapezoidal indent in the lower bumper.


Inside story

The centre hang-down section of the dashboard neatly groups the ventilation, infotainment and climate-control switchgear. The driver is greeted with an easy to read instrument cluster with on-centre multi-information display and dual analogue gauges. A chunky three-spoke steering wheel incorporates steering switches and cruise control.


Under the bonnet

Powering the Starlet is a 1.4-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine featuring variable valve timing and a tumble flow intake manifold, the engine exhibits a rev happy character and makes light work of the daily commute thanks to 68kW at 6000r/min and 130Nm from 4200r/min.


Two transmission choices are on offer including a five-speed manual and a four-speed torque convertor automatic that drives the front wheels. Low fuel consumption is a key feature, with Toyota claiming that the manual model will use only 5.1 litres/100km.



A three-grade strategy has been adopted using the familiar Xi, Xs and Xr symbols used across Toyota’s passenger-car ranges. Even the entry level Xi model is generously specced, featuring air-conditioning, electric power steering, dual 12-volt power outlets, electric windows, 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 receive the full package, comprising 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. Inside it receives a digital speedometer, leather steering wheel with telescopic adjustment, PDC, reverse camera, climate control and keyless start and cruise control.


Keeping occupants entertained

Xi and Xs models feature a double-DIN audio system with CD/Bluetooth/USB/Aux functionality, playing through six- speakers. Xr models offer a feature-rich touchscreen audio system complete with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.


All Starlet models are equipped with the Toyota Connect telematics system, which includes and in-car Wi-Fi hotspot and complimentary 15Gb of data.


Safety and Security

All Starlet models come generously equipped with safety and security equipment including ABS, EBD, Brake Assist and Vehicle Stability Control. Automatic Transmission models also feature Hill Assist Control. Xi and Xs models are fitted with driver and passenger airbags while curtain and side airbags are added to the Xr variants. Two Isofix points and a security system are provided across the board.



The Starlet takes over from the Etios and in doing so offers consumers a higher quality offering with advanced levels of specification, safety and efficiency at only a slight price increase. Combine that with legendary Toyota, and Suzuki on which it is based, reliability and an extensive dealer network and you are left with an offering that is hard to beat.


Model Line-up & Pricing

Starlet 1.4 Xi MT          – R204 900

Starlet 1.4 Xs MT         – R215 200

Starlet 1.4 Xs AT          – R235 700     

Starlet 1.4 Xr MT         – R258 500     

Starlet 1.4 Xr AT          – R272 500


Warranty & Maintenance

All Starlet models are sold with a 3-services/45 000 km service plan – with 15 000 km service intervals. A 3-year/100 000 km warranty is also provided