REVIEW: Toyota Vitz X-Cite is a likable budget car with some frills
The model features niceties such as 15-inch alloy wheels, colour-coded door handles, front fog lights and a rear window wiper
The Vitz that recently replaced the Agya is the spiritual successor to the popular Toyota Tazz, providing affordable wheels for youngsters and empty nesters. The tiny A-segment hatch is a rebadged Suzuki Celerio as part of a manufacturing partnership between the two firms that has also spawned models such as the Toyota Urban Cruiser/Suzuki Vitara Brezza and Suzuki Baleno/Toyota Starlet.
Not much power is on offer but the Vitz does offer a few frills, and even the R189,900 entry model comes standard with necessities such as air-conditioning, rear park distance control and an adjustable steering column. The safety fare include dual front airbags, ABS brakes, vehicle stability control and rear Isofix attachments.
On test here is the deluxe Vitz XR X-Cite model priced at R219,900 that adds niceties such as 15-inch alloy wheels, colour-coded door handles, front fog lights, a rear window wiper, remote central locking, multifunction steering wheel, front and rear electric windows, trip computer, a digital tachometer and powered side mirrors. There’s a four-speaker audio system and a touchscreen infotainment system that syncs with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via a single USB port. That’s a good stack of features for the price.
The X-Cite cosmetic package adds styling flair in the form of orange exterior and interior accents, X-Cite decals, protective grey side and wheel arch mouldings, black wheels and a rear spoiler. It’s a fresh, vibey look that will resonate especially with young buyers.
Toyota has packaged reasonable space inside the tiny, 3,695mm long car, and it can take four adults without experiencing unwanted intimacy. The 295l boot has a small footprint but is deep, making it large enough to pile a few items of luggage. The rear seats flip down to accommodate larger shopping expeditions.
The interior surfaces have no soft-touch plastics to raise the plushness level and the seats are covered in a thin cloth — no surprise at the price. The cabin is neat and modern however, and the orange X-Cite flourishes provide a funky feel. All round it is built to a budget without feeling unpleasantly cheap.
Ergonomically the Vitz is well laid out with clear controls that cause minimal distraction, though it takes a while to get used to the window buttons being mounted on the dashboard instead of the usual doors.
Both Vitz models are powered by the same 1l three-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine with outputs of 49kW and 89Nm. It feeds the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox, with the XR optionally available with a five-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) for R20,000 more.
Those modest outputs sound like they won’t pull the skin off cold coffee, but the Vitz doesn’t feel underpowered when scampering through the urban jungle. The light controls, tiny size and good visibility make it a cinch to park too, and it makes an ideal city car.
The open road is more challenging to the tiny-engined car. It can usually cruise at the 120km/h speed limit though it takes work to keep it there, and steeper hills require a downshift or two. The 820kg car also tends to get buffeted by strong crosswinds, so while the Vitz is capable of freeway stints, city driving is more its happy place.
The engine has a start/stop function, which helped the manual test car achieve a frugal fuel consumption average of 5.6l /100km, and Toyota says 4.4l is possible.
As the lightweight hatch has not yet been subjected to a crash test, the jury is out on safety. Subjectively it feels well built and has no evident rattles.
In general it is a respectably refined car, though the tyres become vocal on rough tar, and when revved hard the engine makes a typical three-cylinder thrum.
The Vitz has an acceptably comfortable ride and does not feel overly choppy given its short wheelbase. It corners cleanly unless you try to push it hard, when its relatively tall stance and skinny tyres put paid to any sporting aspirations.
Overall there is a lot to like about the Vitz XR for those seeking budget wheels with a few frills. It’s affordable, runs on the smell of a fuel rag and has all the important amenities, while the X-Cite model throws a peppy image into the bargain.
Type: Three-cylinder petrol
Type: Five-speed manual
Type: front-wheel drive
Top speed: 160km/h
Fuel consumption: 4.4l/100km (claimed); 5.6l/100km (as tested)
ABS brakes, dual front airbags, stability control, front fog lights, remote central locking, multifunction steering wheel, electric windows, trip computer, electric mirrors, touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, air conditioning, rear park distance control
Cost of ownership
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Service plan: Two services/30,000km
Lease: R4,959 a month
*at 11.75% interest over 60 months, no deposit
Toyota Vitz 1.0 XR X-Cite
We like: Fuel consumption, price, ease of parking
We dislike: Not really for the open road, unknown crash safety
Verdict: An affordable city car with decent frills
Motor News star rating
Value For Money *****
Suzuki S-Presso 1.0 S-Edition, 49kW/89Nm — R200,900
Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL, 49kW/89Nm — R210,900
Renault Kwid 1.0 Climber, 50kW/91Nm — R213,999
Kia Picanto 1.0 Start, 49kW/95Nm — R227,995
Citroën C3 1.2 Feel, 61kW/115Nm — R229,900
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