Let’s face facts, the tough economic climate has also encouraged customers to downsize their vehicle purchases in favour of more affordable options – and here they’re spoilt for choice as Toyota has a model for every need. Occupying the first rung on this B-segment ladder is the Starlet, an entry hatch for those who are particularly budget-conscious and for whom an SUV is not paramount.
A bona fide sports car, the GR Yaris occupies a unique space right at the upper end of the B segment. And fitting flawlessly in-between, albeit far more value-focused, there’s the people-carrying Rumion, flanked by the newly anointed Urban Cruiser SUV, a zero-compromise package for the savvy citified adventurer.
Toyota is therefore pleased to welcome the all-new Urban Cruiser to its fold. Building on the success of the outgoing model, the newcomer gives customers even more – it’s appreciably bigger, commands a far greater road presence thanks to Toyota-SUV-inspired styling cues, is more feature-rich and comes with extra safety kit too. Reassuringly, it’s built in Toyota’s India-based plant with platform development having been led by Toyota.
Striking yet Understated Exterior Design
Straight off the bat, it’s very obvious that the new Urban Cruiser has undergone a radical metamorphosis. Familiar design cues such as the clamshell bonnet, slim light treatment and gaping lower grille show its related to other members of the Toyota SUV family, most noticeably RAV4 and Fortuner. It’s also considerably bulked up – body length has increased by 370mm with a corresponding growth in wheelbase of 100mm (now 2600mm). Slightly wider and taller than the outgoing model, it additionally benefits from improved ground clearance – 210mm vs 195mm.
The new Urban Cruiser is the recipient of a very unusual front-end treatment – eschewing the traditional headlamp placement, the newcomer instead positions the bi-halogen projector headlamps lower in the face so that they’re now inset within the bumper. They’re also neatly framed with a chrome bezel. The slimline LED DRLs now become the focal points, splitting into two with a chrome strip in between and merging into the piano black grille. A massive lower grille aperture with honeycomb design combined with a silver ornamental skid plate takes a majority stake in the upfront real estate, significantly upping the aggression factor.
The silhouette of the new Urban Cruiser reinforces its SUV credentials thanks to its increased length, high belt line and gently sloping roof. Like its bigger sibling Fortuner, clever use of blacked out pillars lends the appearance of a ‘floating roof’.
Bulging squared-off wheel arches and silver roof rails (XR) give it an air of ruggedness; this is complemented by colour-matched mirrors and door handles as well as chunky mouldings on the rocker panels and wheel arches. High-gloss, black lattice-design 17” alloys adorn XR models while the XS gets 17” steel wheels with turbine-inspired wheel covers.
Moving to the rear, the Urban Cruiser is refreshingly clean and simple. The ultra-slim C-shaped LED taillights are inset within a piano black panel which in turn is overlayed by a pale silver trim garnish. Another design highlight is the way Toyota has uniquely put together both the indicators and reverse lamps in separate vertical clusters. To give it a brawny look, there’s a roof spoiler and the lower lip of the rear bumper gets a decorative silver skid plate.
The colour line-up has been enhanced – there are now seven to choose from of which three are new. XR models are available in an additional four bi-tone colours (all paired with a black roof) – Luxe Red-, Liquid Silver-, Mystic Pearl White- and Jet Blue Bi-Tone.
Completely Reconfigured Cabin with Extra Features
The cockpit of the new Urban Cruiser is an aesthetically pleasing mix of fabrics and textures. Lifting the predominantly black cabin are subtle touches of silver – from the satin-plated trim inserts and chrome door handles to the metallic-tipped ventilation controls. High-quality black striated cloth upholstery is featured throughout the interior.
Taking centre stage in the completely re-designed dashboard is the easy-to-read 7-inch infotainment screen which is, of course, Android Auto and Wireless Apple CarPlay enabled.
The audio (played through two speakers in the XS and four in the XR) and Bluetooth-connected telephony can all be managed via switches on the small-diameter multi-function steering wheel which, for the first time, has both tilt and telescopic adjustment.
The instrument nacelle has a decidedly premium feel to it and houses a pair of grey-bezelled analogue clocks reminiscent of a sports watch – there’s a new colour TFT display as well.
In terms of convenience features, the new Urban Cruiser is certainly not left wanting. As before there’s Push Start with Smart Entry and rear PDC to name just two, but there are a few key additional niceties. The storage box, for example, between the front seat doubles as an armrest with a slidable lid. The 60/40 split rear seatback houses a centre-mounted armrest/fold-down table. The driver’s seat is now height adjustable and electric-fold mirrors are standard on both grades as are the reverse camera and auto-controlled air conditioning. New and exclusive to the XR model is cruise control.
Under the Skin
Adapted for the new Urban Cruiser is the familiar 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine delivering 77kW and 138Nm of torque. Providing animated performance with a top speed clocking in at 170 and 175 km/h for the manual and auto respectively, its star quality really comes to the fore when you have to fill up – fuel consumption is pegged at a penny-pinching
6,1 L/100km in the combined cycle. Buyers can choose between a 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic (XR) - all driving the front wheels.
The suspension system features MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. The set-up is perfectly calibrated for all driving conditions, providing a pliant ride that strikes the right balance between control and comfort.
The big news on the safety front is the fitment of VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) and HAC (Hill Assist Control) to all models. But that’s not all – a rear centre headrest along with a third rear ELR seatbelt is now also standard. And, XR models gain side and curtain airbags on top of the standard driver and passenger bags. Rounding off the safety and security package across the range is ABS with EBD, ISOFIX and an alarm/immobilizer system.
Pricing and Servicing
Urban Cruiser 1.5 XS MT – R 329 400
Urban Cruiser 1.5 XR MT – R 347 400
Urban Cruiser 1.5 XR AT – R 369 900
All Urban Cruiser models are now sold with a longer Service Plan of
4 years/60 000km service plan. A 3-year/100 000 km warranty is also provided. Service intervals are pegged at 12 months/15 000 km. Customers can purchase an additional service plan and warranty options via the extensive 220-strong dealer network.
All Toyota owners can sign up for a personal MyToyota profile. MyToyota is designed by Toyota SA to provide a platform for owners to quickly and conveniently access all information and services related to their vehicle(s). Additionally, all new Toyota vehicles are fitted with a device that opens up a whole new world of features. Simply opt in and you have access to in-car WiFi capability (with a complimentary 15Gb), along with a host of supplementary Connect services.