In the past few months we've seen two major trends in the auto industry -- automated manual transmissions and rugged versions of existing hatchbacks. Everyone from Maruti Suzuki to Mahindra to Tata is planning an offering with an AMT. Given the affordability, simplicity and high fuel efficiency of these systems it looks like our market is finally about to embrace automatic transmissions.
Talking of the rugged hatchback, this concept started with the Skoda Fabia Scout. Then VW followed with its Cross Polo while Fiat yesterday unveiled a new global concept called the Avventura that is essentially a raised and rough road ready version of the Punto. On Day 2 of the 2014 Auto Expo, Toyota took the wraps off its production ready version of such a version of their Etios Liva hatchback called the Etios Cross.
The car's mechanicals remain unchanged but there are considerable visual changes. The most obvious is the extensive butch looking plastic cladding all around. The head and tail lamps are the same but the headlamps get a small non functional reflector around the headlamps covering up the left over space thanks to the bull bar like front grille. There are smartly styled fog lamps as well while standard roof rails add to the overall height (increase by 35mm). The cladding in the front and back also increases the overall length. However unlike the Fiat Avventura concept, the car's ground clearance remains the same. Interior design and styling remains the same but the interior is all-black with piano black elements. The fabric seats follow a sporty theme. The 15-inch diamond cut alloy wheels look more premium than the Liva and Etios wheels.
Unlike the Volkswagen Cross Polo which was available as only a single variant Toyota is offering the Etios Cross with a choice of both the 1.2 and 1.5-litre petrol engines. Customers looking for diesel efficiency can also chose to buy the car equipped with a 1.4-litre diesel engine. The 1.2-litre petrol engine makes 80PS at 5600rpm while the 1.5-litre unit produces 90PS at 5600rpm. The diesel engine makes 68PS at 3800rpm. The prices haven't been announced yet, but expect the car to be more expensive than the equivalent Liva variant.