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The new Starlet gets more power with a 1.5 petrol engine replacing the old 1.4. Picture: SUPPLIED
The new Starlet gets more power with a 1.5 petrol engine replacing the old 1.4. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Toyota Starlet was initially launched in SA in 2020. An all-new version has been launched here this week and as before it is a rebadged Suzuki Baleno.

Toyota’s small hatch is quite a popular model, having sold 12,103 units in 2021. A combination of stylish looks, a traditional hatchback layout, comprehensive specification levels and impressive frugality are the main attractions, not to mention the Toyota badge.

The new Starlet styling ups the visual ante with sleek headlamps that can be LEDs dependent on model grade, a chrome “brow” and prominent lower air dam and wide-mounted fog lamps turn on the charm in the new generation car. The body-coloured side view mirrors now also feature built-in turn signal lamps.      

The interior is revised through a sporty, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with grey metallic inserts and a flat-bottom edge. The cabin has swooping accent lines and multi-hued detailing of an upper fascia that incorporates a metallic grey surround while a dark blue panel trim echoes the door panel trim.

A large centrally mounted infotainment screen, new front seats with improved contours for better lateral and shoulder support, a centre console with adjustable centre armrest and multiple cup and bottle holders feature for added convenience. Rear seats have improved thigh and shoulder support and 60/40 split-foldable seat backs to expand the standard 314l boot space.     

All models 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 also standard fitments.

The interior gains new seats, touchscreen display and a flat-bottom steering wheel. Picture: SUPLIED
The interior gains new seats, touchscreen display and a flat-bottom steering wheel. Picture: SUPLIED

A 1.5l that is also used in Toyota’s Urban Cruiser compact crossover is now found in the new Starlet. Power is rated at 77kW and 138Nm, representing a boost of 9kW and 8Nm above the outgoing 1.4l engine. 

The engine can be paired with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Performance figures say the 0-100km/h sprint comes in 11.2 seconds with a top speed of 175km/h. Fuel consumption is said to range between 5.4l/100km and 5.7l/100km while CO2 emissions check in at 127g/km-133g/km.

The new Starlet uses an evolved version of the previous platform, with increased use of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel in key areas of its construction. The suspension too has been completely revised, with changes to the torsion beam at the rear, new coil springs all-round, and recalibrated dampening. It also has an additional 20mm of suspension travel to improve 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 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.

Driver assistance systems list rear parking sensors, hill assist control, vehicle stability control, and ABS brakes across the board. Driver and passenger airbags are also provided, with the flagship Xr grade featuring side and curtain airbags 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, a reverse camera, auto-dimming rear-view mirror a colour TFT screen and better sound system. 

All Starlet models are sold with a three-services/45,000km service plan and a three-year/100,000km warranty. Customers can additionally purchase service plan and warranty extensions. 

Starlet 1.5 Xi manual — R 226,200

Starlet 1.5 Xs manual — R 239,100

Starlet 1.5 Xs auto — R 261,100

Starlet 1.5 Xr manual — R 294,900

Starlet 1.5 Xr auto — R 313,300

New style alloys and redesigned tail lights are part of the new package. Picture: SUPPLIED
New style alloys and redesigned tail lights are part of the new package. Picture: SUPPLIED
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