BIG NOISE

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By NEIL McDON­ALD

TH­ESE boxy bad boys are help­ing Toy­ota dance to a new beat. Decked out in wild paint jobs, ul­tralow pro­file tyres and edgy al­loys th­ese funky cars (pic­tured) are spread­ing the word that Toy­ota is walk­ing on the wild side with its new Rukus.

‘‘It’s Rukus by name and rukus by na­ture,’’ ac­cord­ing to Toy­ota Aus­tralia’s mar­ket­ing man­ager Scott Thomp­son.

Toy­ota Aus­tralia is us­ing the racy pair to snare in­ter­est from the car’s tar­get mar­ket of Gen Y buy­ers.

They re­ceived a big re­ac­tion at the re­cent Aus­tralian Grand Prix in Mel­bourne and will be show­cased at var­i­ous dealers ahead of a June 1 on­sale date.

The Rukus has also been con­firmed as a starter for Dar­win later in the year.

Thomp­son said Rukus would ap­peal mainly to young, ur­ban trend­set­ters, many of whom have pre- vi­ously never owned a Toy­ota.

‘‘Rukus is any­thing but a stan­dard car,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s ex­actly why we’re in­tro­duc­ing it.’’

He ad­mit­ted the boxy shape would po­larise opin­ions and is likely to spark spir­ited de­bate.

‘‘Rukus is not a mass-mar­ket car,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s an ac­quired taste.’’ How­ever, Toy­ota is con­fi­dent its space, per­for­mance and quirky looks will win over younger fans.

The Rukus is based on the bB in Ja­pan and re-badged in the US as a Scion xB.

Toy­ota has rum­maged around its parts bin for its new­est hatch.

The Aus­tralian car is ex­pected to use the same en­gine as the US ver­sion, a 118kW/220Nm 2.4-litre four cylin­der shared with other Toy­ota mod­els.

The front-wheel-drive five-door wagon also sits on the same 2600mm wheel­base as the Corolla hatch.

How­ever, com­pared to the Corolla, the Rukus is marginally longer and 128mm higher.

Like the grand prix show cars, own­ers will be about to pimp their rides with a long list of custom paint and equip­ment up­grades avail­able from Toy­ota.

Toy­ota is draw­ing on sim­i­lar cus­tomi­sa­tion ‘‘packs’’ avail­able in youth-ori­ented mod­els like the Kia Soul, Mini and Smart.

Aus­tralian mod­els will be im­ported from Ja­pan, re­ceiv­ing the lat­est up­dates seen in the US ver­sion.

In the US the Scion xB has been named a ‘‘top safety pick’’ in each of the past two years by the In­sur­ance In­sti­tute for High­way Safety, its high­est safety des­ig­na­tion.

Al­though lo­cal prices and spec­i­fi­ca­tions have not been re­leased the xB is tipped to be avail­able in two trim lev­els with en­try prices from about $22,000.

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