Picture: Toyota SA.
Picture: Toyota SA.
As a Lotto winner, if you chose to spend 5 BIG ONES on 22 – yes, that’s right – twenty-two new Toyota Vitz superminis instead of one Lawrence Stroll mobile, you will get a monstrously good deal. We have nothing against the Aston Martin, you must understand, we just want to make a point about relative value. The 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine in the DBX is borrowed from Mercedes-AMG and is good for 520 kW and 900 Nm of torque.
But how does 22 litres, 66 cylinders, and a combined output of 1 078 kW and 1 958 Nm sound!? Come on, that’s an earth-clattering amount of power, not to mention really good value, too. Granted, a downside of our elaborate plan is you will need a BIG garage to park ‘em all in. Parked nose-to-tail, at 3 695 mm long, your fleet of 22 Toyota Vitz hatchbacks will span more than 80m. However, being a city car, the Vitz is pretty narrow, 1 655 mm, and has a great turning circle fo super-easy parking moves. And the XR model we’ve been testing comes with a handy reverse camera.
Assuming you’re part of the average two-child South African household, you and your partner can each have one and each of your kids can have one when they’re of driving age. Which leaves eighteen for you to run a car rental company. Toyota Vitz rentals, anyone!? Who says cars can’t be an appreciating investment?
Best of all, the Toyota Vitz XR you keep for yourself drives pretty darn well for the smallest offering in the Toyota model lineup. No, we’re not kidding. Okay, full disclosure, the Vitz is not quite as quick to 100 km/h as James Bond’s SUV. The former does the deed in a claimed 3.3 seconds, while the supermini hits the benchmark in a tested 11.15 seconds … so nearly four-times slower. But what’s 7.85 seconds between MI5 agents? More time to appreciate the R4.78 million you didn’t spend.
Crucially, the rorty three-cylinder under the bonnet of the Toyota Vitz doesn’t sound bad. Six cylinders growl, eight cylinders burble, ten cylinders bark and twelve cylinders wail, but the Vitz triple kind of trills through gnashed teeth. Its 49 kW and 89 Nm demands to be used to the fullest, taken by the scruff of the neck if you will. Build up the revs, release the clutch, and a satisfying hum from the all-aluminium engine shakes its way through the cabin all the way to the rev limiter. The Toyota Vitz is more engaging to drive than most in this segment.
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This engagement is mostly down to the fact that it weighs just 810 kg – far lighter than an aluminium-bodied DBX707. Granted, that means it’s not the most luxurious or cosseting on road (or dB sound measurement confirms this), the plus side is it’s maneuverable and economical. The claimed/combined economy figure is 4.4 l/100 km, with a CO2-tax-busting emissions figure of just 101 g/km. On our real-world fuel test route we returned 4.9 l/100 km, which is the lowest we’ve recorded to date. Standard auto stop/start is a worthy feature in this segment, too.
Keep the supermini in and around an urban area and it’s hard to fault. The engine is eager at low revs, the power-assisted steering is light but helps you navigate the typical challenges of city driving with ease. 15-inch alloy wheels wearing 175-wide rubber beats its closest competitors, so its pleasingly grippy in tight roundabouts, too.
The Toyota Vitz’s interior is spacious, providing loads of head and leg room, even for taller occupants. Interior fitment and quality is perfectly good for the money you’re spending. There’s Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and reverse camera as mentioned earlier. Luggage capacity of 295 litres is more than generous for a vehicle of this size.
The ride comfort is acceptable at reasonable speeds, considering the relatively short wheelbase. However, it’s still an entry-level vehicle, so it doesn’t behave with as much sophistication at speed as something not suspended by rear torsion beams.
Two specification levels in the Vitz range include the base model 1.0 for R189 900 and the XR picture for R219 900. All models in the range get Electronic Stability Control (ESC), ABS with EBD, dual front airbags and four ELR seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters.
Toyota is offering an incredible deal on the new Vitz, too. You can drive away without having to pay a deposit, warranty, service and maintenance costs. It’s called Kinto One and its Toyota South Africa’s new subscription service that helps cash-savvy South Africans into a brand-new Toyota for less than buying, and without the costly hassles of ownership. Let’s be honest, if you need wheels but can’t see yourself driving a Toyota Vitz for years and years, a lease deal does make financial sense. We’ve done an in-depth article on leasing vs. buying and you can click on it below.
Whatever you decide, the Toyota Vitz is the right car for financially frugal South Africans. Its value-for-money philosophy, interior practicality, fuel efficiency, mechanical robustness and eager performance marks it out in its class. And, as we’ve argued, that makes it just as good, if not better, than a certain Anglo-German SUV with a R5-million price tag.
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