OPINION | Toyota's little Agya is proof that you can add the popular badge to any of its cars

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2021 Toyota Agya
2021 Toyota Agya
  • The Agya is Toyota's contender in the A-segment.
  • The car is powered by a three-cylinder engine.
  • Despite being a good seller in the stable, it doesn't come without fault.
  • For more motoring stories, go to

It might not be the most popular statement, but the Toyota Agya is a hit and miss for the Japanese automaker. Sure, they took a shot at the popular A-segment with their new hatchback, but they didn't get things quite right. The Datsun Go and Renault Kwid might be better purchasing options. Let me explain why.

What Toyota attempted with the Agya was simple: Bring an affordable car to market and get in on the action. In other words, try and dominate the empty space left by the Volkswagen Polo Vivo. If we're honest, the Vivo matured in leaps and bounds and became a tad too expensive for some. And like VW, Toyota's vehicles are among the most popular in South Africa. They sell like hotcakes, and buyers are almost guaranteed to drive away smiling.

But with the Agya, it might not be the case.

Toyota Agya
2021 Toyota Agya

It's not what you'd expect from Toyota

If a car's design was the only thing worth considering, then the Agya gets my vote. It's not the most beautiful car around, nor is it the most flattering, but it looks daring, and it challenges the status quo. In my books that's something worth commending. Years ago, with the first BMW X6, the SUV was ridiculed for being ugly. Thankfully, beauty is subjective, and the same applies to the Agya.

The car's sharp edges really do the trick, and the sporty rear spoiler gives it a sense of occasion. Sadly, this is where Toyota's designers seem to have drawn the line because the exuberant nature of the Agya's exterior has not been carried over to the interior, and should definitely be considered with the next upgrade - it will make such a vast difference.

The materials inside the cabin could use more sturdy ones to make it feel better on touch. The ergonomic setup of the dials feels out of place and could use a more modern redesign. The media system, for instance, is basic and is trumped by the unit fitted to the (more affordable) Kwid 1.0 Dynamique. That too is an easy fix, but we also need to remember this is an entry-level vehicle for the brand. For its consideration, Toyota could identify the shortcomings with the Agya now and improve on it when the facelifted model comes around. An improved media system and greater use of soft-touch materials will do the car's cabin a world of good.

Toyota Agya
2021 Toyota Agya

Better drive, at least?

Sadly, no. Road holding is poor, wind noise is a standard feature, and the steering is off centre - in our test unit, at least. While we understand that the car aims to live up to affordable mobility, this is not the way to have gone at it. Noisy three-cylinder engine aside, the Agya is not as confidence-inspiring as the other products making up the rest of Toyota's portfolio. Fuel consumption is a win, yes, but not enough to convince us otherwise.

I had high hopes for the Agya. I honestly thought that it would be the budget car South Africa needed. And perhaps, for some, it is. But apart from the polarising exterior, there is very little about the car to get excited about.

As a budget car, the Agya succeeds, but in terms of the overall package, it does not.

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post says: "Love it or hate it, the Agya does the job for many South Africans. It's a new car under R200 000 for peace of mind motoring, and some basic features such as aircon and power windows, and a 12V socket.

"With that said, there's definitely is loads of room for improvement for Toyota in terms of build quality and materials inside the car, and also engine performance and driving dynamics.

"It might not be the best car to drive, but the styling is pretty assertive with black alloys and a little rear roof spoiler, and for some people, that's more than enough. Surely, the fact that Toyota SA sold 888 units just in January 2022 should speak volumes, almost two years after it was launched locally. Many people who buy this vehicle have never owned a new car before, and they're proud as punch to be mobile or have a small family car, or a starter vehicle."

Price: Toyota Agya 1.0 with Audio 5MT - R190 700
Base mode: Toyota Agya 1.0 5MT - R186 700

Toyota Agya
2021 Toyota Agya
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