First Drive: Toyota Vitz
Competition is what drives the motoring industry, and there is a battle taking place in the compact hatch category. Toyota has played a prominent role in this segment for a while now, and the Agya just wasn't cutting it. The New Toyota Vitz has arrived and is taking a stab at the spot previously filled by it. It targets younger adults, claiming it inspires success, adventure, and an overall upbeat lifestyle.
Creating the perfect compact hatch is a balancing act which is undoubtedly difficult to manage. Finding a car that uses little fuel, has enough space for passengers and cargo, looks smooth and, most importantly, is affordable surely isn't easy. The Vitz ticks most of these boxes; however, it looks somewhat familiar. Toyota and Suzuki have teamed up again, producing both the Vitz and Celerio. Both vehicles are almost identical, with slight body changes, like the front grill and, of course, the badges.
There isn't too much to say about driving the Vitz. Its 1.0-litre inline-3 engine doesn't pack a punch in the traditional sense, but at least it's easy on the fuel bills with a claimed consumption of 4.2-litres/100 km in the automatic and 4.4-litres/100 km in the manual.
With 49 kW and 89 Nm, the power specs aren't anything to write home about, yet the driving experience is pleasant enough. The overall ride quality is good, and the Vitz remains a comfortable place to be, even on rougher road surfaces. I found that the clutch was rather soft, which could be beneficial to new drivers. The gearbox, too, is smooth and a treat to use.
If you prioritise safety, the Vitz should appeal to you with a selection of standard safety features, including ABS and stability control, driver and passenger airbags and rear parking sensors. These features greatly improve your confidence in the car when out on the roads.
While the exterior falls short of spectacular, there is a certain charm surrounding the city runabout. The front halogen lights and fog lamps paired with chrome accents on the grill are nice touches, but the overall shape is rather round. The Vitz has two model-dependent wheel designs; the base model comes with 14" steel wheels, whereas the XR models come with striking 15" black alloys, and I like how they look.
Modern, Plastic Interior
The Vitz is a cosy car, and despite limited shoulder room, I found it relatively comfortable. There is good legroom in both the front and rear.
The stand-out feature in the Vitz RX is the infotainment display; it fits comfortably into the dash and features functionality like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The XR models also give the owner features like front and rear electric windows and a tilt-adjustable steering wheel.
I noticed a significant amount of plastic used in the car's interior. However, it is understandable since it is an entry-level hatch.
The Toyota Vitz does come in three model options. The Base model is offered only in manual, which costs R189,900. The second option is the RX manual option which will set you back R219,900. The final option is the RX Automatic which comes in at R239,900. All options come with a 2-year/20,000 km service plan. The Vitz comes in seven paint colours, white, silver, grey, blue, black, brown and red.
Interestingly, the Suzuki Celerio comes in slightly cheaper at R183,900 for the base model and R219,900 for the top-spec automatic. The Suzuki Celerio also has a 2-year/30,000 km service plan. Other vehicles to consider exploring in this category include the Hyundai i10, with a starting price of R219,900, the Renault Kwid starting at R183,999, the Kia Picanto (R214,995), or Volkswagen's Up! at R214,900.
The Toyota Vitz is a perky little hatch with character but not much flair. It's comfortable, fuel efficient, and a brilliant option for a first car, but it has a lot of engine noise and an intimate cabin. Being targeted at Gen-Z and Millennials, this car is designed to support their busy and efficient lifestyles. It has enough space for friends or family members to tag along and a lot of boot space, especially for a few gym bags and book bags. If you're starting out as a driver or need a quick ride in the city, definitely consider the Vitz.