Diesel certainly is emerging as the new buzzword for the Indian automotive market, and manufacturers seem to be taking proactive steps to ensure that buyers looking keenly at their products do not veer away owing to the lack of a diesel option. Examples in the recent past have been stunning, be it the Maruti Suzuki SX4 which recently acquired a VGT-turbo diesel engine which has already been seen in the Fiat Linea. The move has made the car a seriously competent rival for the rapidly developing diesel sedan space and promises to create a new and fruitful innings for the model. The other major model to come in with a diesel variant has been the Chevrolet Beat diesel, again a brilliant exercise in downsizing with the three-pot oil-burner that has created what could be the most sensible car in the Indian compact hatchback space yet.
When the Toyota Etios was launched last year, we were quite frankly surprised with the non-inclusion of a diesel option given that buyers in the segment had preferred cars with the frugal fuel in an uninhibited fashion, be it the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire or the Mahindra Verito (the Logan, as it was then known). The same act was followed up with the launch of the hatch version of the car, as the Toyota Etios Liva made its entry with a lone 1.2-litre petrol engine in the options list for its powerplant. Again, the premium hatchback space had long begun to show a healthy favour for diesels and cars ranging from the Ford Figo to the Maruti Suzuki Ritz had all been selling larger numbers of their diesel variants despite the higher costs – and the longer waiting periods for the same emphasised this aspect even more. Buyers wanted diesel cars.
And Toyota had been listening. The Liva twins have meant a big first step by the Japanese biggie into the Indian market, accompanied with massive investments in ramping up local manufacturing facilities. The importance of this duo cannot be overstated, especially since Toyota's Japanese rival Suzuki has already made hay while the sun shone with the Swift and the Swift Dzire combo. The multifarious 1.3-litre DDiS engine has been at a massive contributor to this success, and Toyota seems to have taken the read the signals right since the “one diesel for the nation” concept will be mimicked on the Etios duo as well.
We're talking about the 1.4-litre D-4D engine, which we have already seen and appreciated on the Toyota Corolla Altis diesel, since this is the same engine that will be doing duties on both the Etios sedan and the Liva hatchback as well. It would be a sensible move given that the sedan and hatchback share a whole bunch of aggregates, and using the same engine on both the cars will help create an economy of scale that Japanese have exploited greatly to their advantage in the past.
The engine itself will not see a Variable Geometry Turbocharger the way it does on the Corolla Altis, so the power could drop from the 87PS to a figure of around 75PS, which would be more in line with the power and cost demands of the segment. Toyota is no stranger to diesel technology and the Indian market itself has given a resounding thumbs up to the D-4D line through the Innova and more recently the Fortuner, and this is for good reason.
The refinement of the 1.4 D-4D was absolutely stunning with the Toyota Corolla Altis diesel, and Toyota's ability to tune the engine just right in conjunction with the gear ratios in the 6-speed manual gearbox meant that the tiny tornado provided more than enough firepower for even the executive-sized Corolla, while creating class beating fuel economy figures upwards of 20 kilometers to the litre. The same characteristics can be expected once it is employed on the Etios sedan and hatchback.
The engine itself comes with solid credentials. Internally labelled as the 1ND-TV, this mill made its debut in Europe with the Yaris hatchback in 2002, and was the first time Toyota employed an aluminium cylinder block for a diesel breathing engine. The basic idea was to reduce the mass of the engine as much as possible, with directly allied benefits in terms of not just the fuel efficiency and emissions, but also reduced NVH and increased refinement. The direct-injection, common rail engine also has an appreciable compression ration of 17.9:1, which is at par with global competition. In fact, German-owned brand MINI showed interest in the engine too before BMW made its own scaled-down four-pot diesels for application in the city hatchbacks, but Toyota's 1.4 D-4D has been enjoying success around the world since.
With the entry of the diesel variants, the appeal of both the Etios sedan and the Etios Liva are set to take a step forward not just in terms of sense and appeal, but consequently in the form of hard sales numbers. Just to put things in perspective, 7 out of 10 pieces sold of the Maruti Suzuki Ritz are diesels. The Ford Figo and the Tata Indica Vista also sell at least as many diesel powered cars as their corresponding petrol variants. The current year is figuring out quite well for Toyota itself, with a 99 percent jump in year-on-year sales, all thanks to the Toyota Etios and the Toyota Etios Liva. One can only imagine how the addition of the in-demand diesels will add to this figure, to the benefit of not just the world's biggest carmaker, but also of one of the world's fastest growing car markets.
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