Toyota Etios Motor Racing Car : First Drive
Just when it seemed like there was nothing left on the manufacturer platter for these rookies, Toyota has stepped in with the Etios Motor Racing Trophy and this is according to us, one of the best things that could have happened to grassroots level motorsports in the country
But does it go like a race car?
The first time you get into the Etios race car, you’re actually quite surprised with some of the details that TRD has left unchanged – the seat for example, retains the stock ‘lift-lever-to-slide-forward’ adjustment mechanism. The steering wheel itself is a race wheel but the electronic power steering setup has remained unaltered. Toyota has even left the air-conditioning fully functional in the car for those hot days spent racing in Chennai! Strapped into the bucket seat though, your outlook changes and it does feel like any other race-prepped saloon car out there.
Blip the throttle and the exhaust tips roar with healthy snarl which only amplifies through the gears. Some drivers might find the suspension a tad too stiff, but those who like keeping their setup more towards the harder side will feel totally at home in the Etios race car. There’s an endless supply of data making its way from the car to your brain through the hip and you feel every bit of hop, skip and bump that the car goes through – a rather vital detail considering that the race car isn’t very powerful and that being ahead will depend extensively on understanding the car’s handling.
The slick tyres have awesome grip and mid-corner stability is pretty good. As with any front-wheel drive car, as long as you have the throttle included in all the action through the corner, you’re safe but the moment you let go of it, the Race Etios will snap back at you. That said, we found only two things that we’d really love for Toyota to take care of before going ahead with the debut race in 2013, or even before the exhibition races that are scheduled for this year!
The stock power steering makes for very little feedback coming to the driver through the steering wheel and that can be quite scary sometimes when you’re going fully committed through a corner trying to hit the apex. We’d have preferred if the wheel was weighed down a bit more and that would make for some interesting driving character. Also, the stock engine setup will be overrun by driving talent very quickly and the competitors will demand more performance. Apart from that, the Race Etios is as good as any race car I’ve ever driven and in fact even better because it never once loses focus on the group of drivers it will help train right down at the grassroots level.
Great thought and even better execution has been put into the EMR prototype and that’s nothing short of what we’d have expected coming from Toyota. The car’s good but we’ll need to wait and see if the rest of the infrastructure is as good as well – after all, it’s not about just once race, but a full Championship. It was a rather hot day in Chennai at the MMST at Sriperumbudur and not once did we turn the air-conditioning on – because that would be blasphemy! Toyota, take off the air con – you need as much weight saved as possible and think about a hydration system for the drivers instead. After all, real racing cars don’t have air conditioning!
Readers' opinions ( 5 )
ET Bureau Photography by Kunal Khadse
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