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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Shine is back: Toyota Starlet returns as South Africa bound rebadged Suzuki Baleno

Revival of the Starlet name after almost two decades will also see it become available locally for the first time.

The Starlet name has been confirmed for revival after nearly two decades with a new report confirming it will uhm, star on Toyota’s rebadged version of the Suzuki Baleno.

Marketed as the Glanza in India, which incidentally denoted the performance version of the fifth generation Starlet sold in Japan between 1996 and 1999, Toyota Tsusho, in a statement, confirmed that the Starlet will be sold in African markets, including South Africa, from this month powered by the 68kW/130Nm 1.4-litre petrol engine mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox.

A completely different setup to that of the Glanza which makes use of a 1.2-litre petrol that pumps out 66kW/130Nm or 61 kW and the same amount of torque with the added mild-hybrid system, the Starlet’s positioning within the local Toyota line-up remains to be seen as it will no doubt replace the discontinued, Indian-sourced Etios, but uncertainty surrounds its comparison with the recently updated, segment down, Thai-made Yaris XP150.

In addition, how the Starlet stacks up against the Baleno on price remains to be established as Suzuki’s biggest hatch retails from R221 900 for the 1.4 GL to R274 900 for the 1.4 GLX auto.

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