Toyota Vitz: all new entry level model from SAs favourite brand

The Toyota Vitz is another Suzuki joint venture type operation in line with the Starlet/Baleno relationship that seems to be working well in the local market. It looks like a Celerio but with a different spec and of course a Toyota badge on the front.

The new Vitz does see the end of Ayga which it replaces. I am not convinced that looks wise the Vitz is an improvement as the sportiness of the Agya has been lost in the more rounded face.

It doesn’t get much better when you get around to the rear – and I was no fan of the Agya from the rear either. The rounded bum of the Vitz is a bit bland and boring whereas the Agya was either love it/hate it but certainly was distinctive.

And that’s about the worst that I can say about the Vitz. What we have here is a city run about budgeted to be affordable and starting off at R190k for the base version, climbing to R220k for the more upmarket XR manual and R30k for the Automated Manual Transmission (or AMT for short) XR. That’s very compelling indeed.

We had the manual XR for the introductory drive and it has a surprising level of spec – like AAACP (Android Auto Apple Car Play) that cables to the media module located in the centre console. A/C, electric windows, door mirrors – what seems to be an acceptable entry level sound system, digital tach integrated into the digital fuel consumption and usual mileage meters to name a few that stood out. The 1.0l normally aspirated 49kW 89Nm 3 cylinder engine didn’t feel too wheezy or over revved mated in this case to a 5 speed manual that was particularly easy to drive smoothly and economically.

Fuel consumption is claimed at under 5l/100 and ought to be achievable on the open road, around town you’ll probably get slightly over that but I don’t think it will be by much. For a small car there is quite a bit of room although I didn’t get into the rear seats. Boot space Toyota say has been improved by 35l and it’s now class leading in this department.

On the road the Vitz is certainly more at home in the city streets (which is what it was designed for) compared to the open road. The XR gets attractive 15” alloys and they’re not too bad in terms of ride either with a comfortable soft sprung ride.

On the highway up hills you are going to keep up with traffic but the fast lane is not going to be where you spend the majority of your time. Over takes might need some planning but really, the Vitz is not designed for grand tours of the country.

Interior cabin build quality is not bad for the price point. The plastics are hard and tough – and that’s what I want to see – nothing easily breakable means less cash for maintenance thank you and that’s a big chunk of the value for money component of the Vitz package.

Speaking of which…Enter Kinto.

This could shape up to be one of Toyota’s biggest offering ever, and, as Glenn Crompton (Vice President: Marketing) put it – potentially a game changer.

If Kinto sounds like Japanese anime you’d be 100% on the money. It is. But in this particularly Toyota-esque version of the normal world, there is a little more to it than a cartoon on paper.

Kinto is somewhat of a philosophy and there is more to it than the bit I am telling you about now, which is that simply you can drive a Toyota, any Toyota for a specified time period that you decide, for a fixed monthly fee.

All in.

Whilst you digest the implications of that let me point out a few things about how this differs a bit from a full maintenance lease.

Firstly, Kinto applies to everyone. As a student under 25 you can opt in. Pay your monthly fee, and that’s it. Some Ts and Cs will apply in case you damage it in say, an accident, because the car is not actually yours.

But you won’t have to care. Because if something breaks on the car it goes to Kinto. Your insurance, maintenance, road side assistance, tracker – everything other than the fuel you put in the car is no longer your problem and is paid for in one Kinto fee.

It is deceptively simple. The closest thing I could come up with is a longer term rental model. But with Kinto, Toyota are able to leverage who they are into the mix and it suddenly becomes extremely powerful.

Yes. There will be some math involved. Endless number crunching will reveal swings and roundabouts to the model but my first stab, back of the napkin maths shows that the sums are nowhere near as far apart as you might first think. If you work out total cost of ownership of a car – i.e. what you actually pay for a car over the time you own it and what your nett cost is, vs that of Kinto you might get a shock. It is the overall value of ownership is that Toyota are targeting with Kinto.

It’s a first, and conceptually it has exciting implications. Best of all this is not some pie in the sky BS marketing dream conjured up by lab coats in white rooms. It is here, it is real and it is all Toyota.

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