• Toyota's entry-level Agya is now available as the carmaker's cheapest offering in South Africa.
• It's based on a Daihatsu Ayla and built in Indonesia. Its 49kW and 89Nm are derived from a 998cc engine.
• Toyota offers a five-speed manual and four-speed automatic gearbox options; pricing starts from R178 600.
There's a new cheap car in town, and it's from a brand we all know and love. The Toyota Agya might sound like an awkward name, but you'll be seeing a lot of them on the road.
The Agya replaces the Aygo and Etios to offer the cheapest Toyota in South Africa at R178 600. The diminutive model is aimed at first-time buyers, and competes directly with the Datsun Go and Renault Kwid.
We test drove the newcomer briefly down in the Western Cape, and discovered beneath the niggles, such as small seats that don't move back far enough and a non-adjustable steering wheel, it's still a good little car.
For the record, Toyota has fitted the Agya with an anti-lock braking system, electronic brakeforce distribution, and two front airbags as standard no matter which model you opt for.
The engine and gearbox
The five-door hatchback isn't a brand new car, it's a rebadged Daihatsu Ayla built in Indonesia. The 998cc engine is tiny but has enough oomph when revved (peak power is reached at 6000 r/min). The little three-cylinder produces 49kW and 89Nm and performed well on the drive from Camps Bay to Noordhoek.
Toyota claims a 0-100km/h time of 14.9 seconds for the manual and 16.3 seconds for the automatic.
A particular delight is the five-speed manual gearbox that has a quick, positive shift action. The stop-start traffic in the city allowed to get a good grip of the clutch and because the Agya is aimed at first-time buyers, I can attest to its ease of use. There is a model fitted with a four-speed automatic gearbox, priced from R192 500.
The one ink stain is that because I'm close to 1.9-metres tall, and the steering wheel isn't height adjustable as well as the seats, my left leg was perched against the bottom of the steering column, hindering the driving experience.
On the return journey we ventured onto the highway and immediately it became apparent that a sixth gear is needed. The engine revving at over 4000r/min in fifth at the national speed limit isn't ideal. It also creates quite a buzz in the cabin.
Compared to my driving colleague, who is significantly shorter than me, our experiences were vastly different.
I've kept the best part of the drive for last: the Agya's steering feel. This little budget car has heavily-weighted steering that gave oodles of confidence over Chapman's Peak drive. The power steering is devoid of any artificial lightness that many city cars feature.
Because it doesn't have much power, I could chuck it into corners with gusto and its 14-inch wheels didn't even let out a tyre squeal, and the brakes do a fine job of applying good progressive feel.
The fit and finish of the cabin is good for an entry-level car. The one I drove was fitted with an audio system that has a CD player (really?), USB, Aux, and connectivity to Bluetooth.
It also has Toyota Connect that can be accessed via the MyToyota App. All in all, I was impressed by the little Agya, it replaces the Aygo and should certainly be on first-time buyer's car lists.
Agya MT – R178 600
Agya AT - R192 500
Agya MT (with audio) – R182 400
Agya AT (with audio) – R196 300