Toyota, why’d you bother?

2011-10-14 11:34

Toyota finally saw fit to launch their eight-seater Innova on South African soil six years after the rest of the world – and they shouldn’t have bothered.

While the car is affordable and comfortable, it lacks safety features and its design is so old it’s like going back in time. And being regarded as a dumping ground for unwanted vehicles is seriously uncool.

The car comes directly from Indonesia where it is built, and under the bonnet is the same 2.7 variable valve-timing (VVT-i) engine you’ll find in the Hilux and Fortuner. It spits out 265g/km of carbon emissions, and since the threshold in SA is 120g/km and each gram above that costs R80, it means drivers of this car will pay almost R12 000 in emission tax.

But most disturbing is that the car has only two airbags – for the driver and the front passenger. It boggles the mind how a safety feature so basic is not included in a family car.

However, Toyota’s Leslie Long says their research shows that people who are looking for a big family car don’t make airbags a priority.

“These customers want comfort, affordability and lots of space for a big family. We have done our market research and this is the feedback we’ve received,” he says.

Still, the reason people buy cars with no airbags could be because those vehicles tend to be more expensive. VW’s Touran is an example. You’ll pay from R263 500 for a 1.2-litre engine with airbags for the second row. Their 2.0-litre TDI engine will set you back R303 900. Or expect to pay almost R500 000 for Volvo’s XC90 with all the bells and whistles.

The Innova is available in the lower-specified eight-seater which has a three-seat bench in the third row. There is also the higher-spec, leather-trimmed seven-seater with two individual captain seats in the second row and two folding seats in the third row for three passengers. These seats fold up on the side when boot space is needed.

Both models come with driver and passenger airbags and seat belts for all passengers. The vehicle has an impact-absorbing body, frame and steering wheel column and ­­ABS-brakes.

Legroom in the rear is ample, which makes it comfortable on even the most pot-holed streets. It’s probably what the true replacement of the Toyota Venture should have been.

But that’s as far as the nice things go. It’s hideous when it comes to looks – think Avanza’s ugly sister. Toyota SA’s answer to that is that if you want something prettier and smaller, go for the Verso.

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