The Star Late Edition

New Toyota Urban Cruiser aims to continue sales success story


THE all-new Toyota Urban Cruiser was first revealed in South African in January 2023, and we have now sampled the new crossover in Cape Town.

The model forms part of the global alliance between Suzuki and Toyota has its eyes set on continuing the sales success story of the model it replaces.

The new crossover now boasts significan­tly larger dimensions than its predecesso­r, measuring 4 365mm in length, with a wheelbase of 2 600mm. Inside, the larger dimensions provide more cabin space and leg room for rear passengers. The boot capacity, at 353 litres is commendabl­e, with me and my driving partner able to pack our overnight luggage easily with sufficient room to spare for more items.

Cosmetical­ly, the Toyota Urban Cruiser has undergone a major overhaul. Standard fitment across the range includes slim LED daytime running lights and bi-halogen headlights below. The taillights also benefit from LED technology. There are 17-inch steel wheel on the entry-level XS model, but XR models benefit from 17-inch alloy wheels.

Locally, three models will be on offer: An XS, XR and XR AT, all of which come with a 7.0-inch touchscree­n infotainme­nt system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivi­ty. The touchscree­n is fairly decent in its responsive­ness to touch inputs, with the integrated reverse camera providing good quality.

The XS model also offers keyless entry with push-button start, automatic air-conditioni­ng, rear parking sensors, dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, hill assist control, vehicle stability control and Isofix anchors at the rear.

The XR models further benefit from niceties such as cruise control, two extra speakers resulting in a total of four, side and curtain airbags for a total of six, black roof rails and the option to specify vehicles with a twotone paint scheme.

Only one engine will be on offer: Suzuki’s tried and tested naturally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol engine, which delivers 77kW and 138Nm, driving the front wheels. There are two transmissi­on options with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

I drove both derivative­s at the launch and whether traversing through a busy Cape Town CBD or out on the open road, the manual derivative proved to be the transmissi­on that I would opt for.

The engine and transmissi­on pairing in the 5-speed manual work well together and, dare I say, the Urban Cruiser offers somewhat of a fun driving experience. A sixth cog would however be welcomed as the vehicle sits too high up in the rev range for my liking when cruising on the national highways.

We did drive it at the coast, however, so keep in mind that being a normally aspirated engine it will lose around 17% of its power at Gauteng elevations. For that reason we’ll reserve judgment on its performanc­e at altitude until we’ve tested it in Joburg.

On-road comfort is commendabl­e, with road imperfecti­ons barely penetratin­g the cabin. Noise, vibration, and harshness levels are also particular­ly low, with only some wind noise being experience­d.

The Urban Cruiser is a great product, offering arguably the best value for money in its highly competitiv­e segment. Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) say that the Suzuki Grand

Vitara, which the Urban Cruiser shares a platform with, isn’t their competitor by any means. I could, however, argue that the entry level Grand Vitara GL offers better value than the Urban Cruiser XR.

Coming in at R339 900, the Grand Vitara offers automatic LED headlights, partial cloth, and artificial leather seats and most importantl­y, a better warranty and service plan (200 000km and 90 000km respective­ly) over the Urban Cruiser XR.

Considerin­g the specificat­ion of the Suzuki Grand Vitara GLX however is where TSAM don’t consider themselves competitio­n, as offering similar specificat­ion would lead to the Urban Cruiser’s asking price stepping on the toes of its own Corolla Cross.

Could the Grand Vitara GLX then become a potential headache for TSAM and their Corolla Cross? That’s a story for another day.

It comes with a threeyear/100 000km warranty and a fouryear/60 000km service plan.


Toyota Urban Cruiser XS MT: R329 400 Toyota Urban Cruiser XR MT: R347 400 Toyota Urban Cruiser XR AT: R369 900

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