The all new Toyota Starlet replaces the Toyota Etios, which achieved 22% of the Sub B segment of the market over its lifespan.

The Toyota Starlet which is based on the Suzuki Baleno, is the first in a new alliance between the two Japanese manufacturers. Toyota drawing from Suzuki’s small car expertise whilst Suzuki will gain from Toyota’s Autonomous and Hybrid technology. The name Starlet dates back to 1973 when it was Toyota’s sub compact hatch in the Japanese market till 1993. The name has been revived as a compact efficient and value focused product here in the South African market. Toyota reported 1102 sales in its first month of sales in South Africa which certainly bodes well for the future of the model.

We tested the top of the range Starlet 1.4 Xr MT. (Manual Transmission)

Using the Suzuki TECT platform as a basis the vehicle has the feel and comfort of a much larger car, with a classic hatch design. The sloping nose with the bold Toyota insignia is further enhanced with the striking rounded off hatch rear end design. The wheel arches give the car a confident and agile stance on the road.

Fitted with keyless entry the driver’s door automatically unlocks when approaching the car, saving the time to physically unlock the door. Settling into the driver’s seat, a multitude of features are easily accessible and are standard on this model. The modern dashboard with leather, telescopic adjusting steering along with a host of controls, enhances the drivers experience. Cruise control, audio controls and phone are all controlled with ease from the steering wheel. Other features including park distance control and a reverse camera ensure safe parking in tight situations. Telematics include in-car wi-fi with 15Gb of free data.

On the open road the Starlet boasts safety features including ABS braking and EDB-electronic brake force distribution, which ensures the correct amount of braking on each wheel. Other features not always available of vehicles in this market category include Vehicle Stability Control, detecting loss of traction. Electronic Stability Control also detects loss of steering control and applies braking to help steer the vehicle. 

Six airbags including side and curtain airbags also enhances safety. 

These spec levels are for the test vehicle, but even the lower priced models are generously specced with air conditioning, electric power steering, dual 12volt power outlets, electric windows, tilt adjustable steering, 60/40 split rear seats, power adjustable side mirrors as well as remote central locking.

Whether travelling in town or on the open road the Starlet feels comfortable and gives the driver a sense of confidence. The 1.4 DOHC 4-cylinder engine featuring Variable Valve Timing (VVT) revs freely and has more than enough power for city commuting or open road travelling. The power output is 68kw/6000rpm with 130Nm of torque/4200rpm.  Fuel consumption of approx. 5.4/100km ensures costs are kept to a minimum. With enough space for 5 adults with reasonable luggage space, the Starlet is an ideal vehicle for the family, as a run around in the city environment or for trips over the weekend.

All Starlet models come standard with a 45 000km service plan-15 000km service intervals- and a 3 year/100 000km warranty

Model line up

  • 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

John Elford