Toyota SA takes another page from Suzuki’s book with affordable new Vitz city car

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  • Suzuki and Toyota are in partnership to share costs in building vehicles.
  • Toyota's new Vitz is based on Suzuki's Celerio and replaces the Agya.
  • This marks the fourth model in the automakers' partnership.
  • The Vitz will be launched locally in the second quarter of 2023. 

Everyone knows that Toyota is the best in the country where vehicle sales and brand loyalty is concerned. Name a model, and it's more than likely that anything mentioned easily sold units in the three-figure bracket. 

Models like the Corolla Cross, Fortuner and Hilux are unequivocal top models but are also flanked by the likes of the Urban Cruiser and Starlet, both of which have two things in common – they sell extremely well and are rebadged Suzuki models. And it's a partnership that works well for Toyota since they're raking in monthly sales numbers.

Toyota Vitz
Toyota Vitz

Just in case you weren't aware, Suzuki and Toyota are currently in partnership to share costs in building some vehicles, signing a memorandum of understanding for a business alliance in 2017. Both brands have benefitted significantly. On the one hand, Toyota doesn't need to build a car from scratch, while Suzuki now sells more products than before (even more than Volkswagen on one occasion). That's not bad for a brand that's been around since 2008. 

Introducing the Vitz 

At Toyota's recently held State of the Motoring Industry address (SOMI 2023), they gave motoring media a peek behind the curtain regarding models launching locally in 2023. Everything from the new Urban Cruiser (launching locally in the second quarter of 2023), Crown sedan (launching locally in the first quarter of 2023) and Toyota Supra manual (also set to be launched in 2023).

Toyota Vitz
Toyota Vitz

READ | These are all the cars Toyota is bringing to SA in 2023, and its new Urban Cruiser is a stunner! 

Now a new face has entered the fray. Toyota will launch its new Vitz compact hatch in the second quarter of 2023. It effectively replaces the Agya (currently priced from R200 000) and is based on Suzuki’s current generation Celerio (priced from R178 900). And, while it might not be the prettiest doll on the shelf, as Toyota's smallest cars tend not to be, it's most likely to sell like hot cakes in any case. Pricing has not yet been confirmed for the new Vitz, but since it's a smaller city car, and the model fits in at the lower end of the spectrum, we're expecting this car to be as affordable as Suzuki's offering.

Suzuki currently dominates the small car segment in South Africa with a host of value-for-money offerings: S-Presso (priced from R162 900), Swift (priced from R194 900), and the Ignis (priced from R208 900).

Suzuki Celerio
Suzuki Celerio

LETTER | To Brezza or to Cruise: Toyota is laughing to the bank with all Suzuki's cars

Do you think the Vitz will sell as well as the likes of the Starlet or Urban Cruiser? Please use the comments section below.

Although specifications remain unknown at this point, it will likely use the same power unit as the Celerio – a 1.0-litre engine that delivers 49kW and 89Nm. Still, there will be subtle mechanical tweaks to differentiate between the two. Pricing between the two vehicles will also be pretty similar, as is the case with Baleno (priced from R231 900) and Starlet (priced from R233 000), Ertiga (from R258 900) and Rumion (from R265 800). In other words, Vitz equals Yaris (and vice versa).

The first-generation Toyota Vitz was introduced in
The first-generation Toyota Vitz was introduced in Japan in 1999, better known as the Yaris in other markets. South Africa only received the model from the second-gen onwards.

Toyota didn't just magically come up with the name; it has been around since 1999 when the first-generation Vitz launched in Japan. It was badged as the Yaris in other markets, though SA only received the Yaris model from the second generation.  

According to Toyota Chief Engineer Yasuhiko Ichihashi, 'Vitz' is derived from the German word 'witz', meaning brilliance or wit. It also came equipped with an (in-line four-cylinder) 1.0-litre engine, weighed under 1 000kg and featured a sporty Euro Sports Edition.

READ | If you're going to buy a Toyota Corolla Cross, the new GR-Sport model is the pick of the bunch 

With the current slew of GR models on offer, I doubt that Toyota would rub any of that magic on the Vitz. 

In many ways, the soon-to-be-launched Vitz carries over the characteristics of its predecessors and will likely warrant a sub-R200 000 bracket. Unfortunately, the Agya wasn't everyone's cup of tea, so – like the title of the Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz song – On to the Next One.  

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