The new Toyota Starlet promises to deliver even more, on all fronts. The front styling ups the visual ante with sleek headlamps (LED, depending on grade), unified by a sleek chrome brow and prominent lower air dam – creating a signature Toyota look. Wide-mounted fog lamps (grade-dependent) replete with C-shaped trim add to the overall appeal.
A revised interior design features swooping accent lines and multihued detailing, with a large centrally mounted infotainment screen and easy-to-read instrument binnacle. Here designers focused on creating a stylish design while maintaining excellent ergonomics.
New front seats feature an improved contour focusing on lateral and shoulder support, additional bolstering and two-tone accents to complement the interior. A centre console with adjustable centre armrest aids front passenger comfort, while the interior is equipped with multiple cup and bottle holders for added convenience.
The rear seats feature enhancements, too, with improved thigh and shoulder support. Spaciousness and comfort remain a hallmark of the new Starlet. A 60/40 split seatback provides the option to expand the 314-litre boot space and create even more utility.
The sporty, three-spoke steering wheel includes matching grey metallic inserts and a flat-bottom edge, large Toyota insignia and conveniently placed steering switches – to provide the perfect driver interface.
The newcomer also gets a boost in performance with the adoption of a larger 1.5-litre K15B engine (as employed in the Urban Cruiser), replacing the outgoing 1.4-litre mill. This enhances performance by 9kW (for a total power output of 77kW), while the torque receives an 8Nm amplification to take it to a max of 138Nm. The 1.5-litre engine employs a traditional 16-valve layout and VVT-i to offer a great balance of torque, willingness to rev and fuel efficiency.
Performance figures clock in at 11.2s for the 0-100km/h sprint, with the top speed registering 175km/h. Despite the increase in performance, the fuel index remains low, ranging between 5.4 and 5.7 litres/100km, while CO2 emissions check in at 127 to 133g/km.
The suspension, too, has been completely revised, with changes to the torsion beam at the rear, new coil springs all-round, and recalibrated dampening in conjunction with an additional 20mm of suspension travel – to provide substantially improved ride quality without compromising on handling.
The suspension changes are joined by an increase in tyre width of 10mm versus the outgoing model. Models equipped with steel wheels are shod with Goodyear 185/65/R15 rubber, while alloy-equipped variants are upgraded to 195/55/R16 specification. The alloy wheels themselves too are new, with a bi-tone directional design creating a sense of movement.
In response to customer feedback and market trends, the new Starlet also boasts an upgraded specification roster. All models now come equipped with a touchscreen audio system with USB, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto interface, as well as two rear USB chargers (USB-A and USB-C). Automatic Climate Control, power-retractable mirrors, electric windows and multi-information display (MID) are features on the standard menu.
The infotainment system is synced with the on-board computer allowing occupants to access and display vehicle trip information alongside cellphone contacts, date and time, audio system status and multimedia inputs – all from the conveniently grouped home screen view. Detailed screens for each of the functions can also be called up.
Driver assistance is aided by rear parking sensors (PDC), Hill Assist Control (HAC), Vehicle Stability Control, ABS and EBD across the board. Driver and passenger airbags are also provided with the flagship Xr grade featuring side and curtain versions too, for a total tally of six. Isofix anchor points are standard across the range.
The top-tier Xr model adds Smart Entry, Push Start and Cruise Control, among other niceties. A reverse camera and auto-dimming rear-view mirror add even more convenience to the Xr package, while an additional two tweeter speakers (total of six) interface with a larger 23cm infotainment screen. The MID is upgraded to the colour TFT type and boasts a variety of telemetry-themed screens, including a g-sensor and power/torque monitor.
Pricing starts at R226 200 and includes a complimentary three-services/45 000km service plan – with 15 000km service intervals. A three-year/100 000km warranty is also provided. Customers can additionally purchase service plans and warranty extensions from their local Toyota dealer – and they benefit from the biggest dealer network in the country (over 220 outlets).