JOHANNESBURG – It’s no secret that Suzuki and Toyota are building certain cars for each other, aimed at specific markets.
South Africa got its first taste of that agreement last year when Toyota launched the Starlet hatchback, which is essentially a rebranded Suzuki Baleno. And now TSA is entering the booming compact SUV segment with another product sourced from Maruti Suzuki in India.
Enter the Urban Cruiser.
Although its front end design bears some resemblance to the Fortuner, the Urban Cruiser is in fact very closely related to the Suzuki Vitara Brezza, which was also recently launched in South Africa.
The big question, of course, was how Toyota SA would price the newcomer in relation to its Suzuki sibling and now we can answer that as TSAM has published prices and specifications for the Urban Cruiser on its website.
However, unlike the Starlet, which has a lower starting price than its Baleno sibling, the Urban Cruiser is actually slightly more expensive than the Vitara Brezza, starting at R247 900 for the 1.5 Xi, which is a R3000 premium over the Suzuki. It’s a similar situation at the top of the range, where the 1.5 XR automatic retails at R315 700, which is R6000 more than Suzuki charges for its flagship.
However, while Suzuki only offers two specification grades, the Toyota Urban Cruiser range has a middle model called the Xs and it’s priced at R267 800. Interestingly, while Suzuki offers automatic versions of both its models, the Toyota base model only comes as a manual, although the Xs and XR are both available in auto guise.
What features do I get for my money?
A walk through the range, then..
Toyota’s entry-level 1.5 Xi comes with manual air conditioning, keyless entry, electric windows and mirrors, a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, a height-adjustable multi-function steering wheel, rear park distance control, fixed folding rear seat, dual front airbags, ABS brakes and 16-inch covered steel wheels.
Upgrade to the 1.5 XS and you get automatic climate control, reverse camera, height-adjustment for the front seat, rear window wiper, split-folding rear seat, black roof rails and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Over and above all that, the 1.5 XR adds cruise control, light and rain sensors, front armrest, electrochromatic rear view mirror and a cooled glovebox. On the outside the range-topper is distinguished by silver roof rails and it’s also the only model to be available with a two-tone exterior paint scheme.
One engine option
All Urban Cruiser models are powered by Suzuki’s familiar 1.5-litre normally aspirated petrol engine, which is credited with 77kW at 6000rpm and 138Nm from 4400 revs. The manual gearbox is a five-speed unit, while the automatic has four forward gears – which seems rather old fashioned by today’s standards.
The mechanical bits and pieces are backed up by the usual three-year/100 000km warranty, which looks a little skimpy next to Suzuki’s five-year/200 000km promotional warranty. Same goes for the service plan, where Suzuki offers a four-year/60 000km plan, whereas Toyota’s is good for 45 000km (3 services, within three years). However, Toyota’s practically unbeaten aftersales reputation and vast dealer network will no doubt be weighed up against the aforementioned deficits as consumers choose between the two near-identical options.
TOYOTA URBAN CRUISER PRICING
1.5 Xi manual – R247 900
1.5 Xs manual – R267 800
1.5 Xs auto – R289 000
1.5 XR manual – R294 500
1.5 XR auto – R315 700