The Toyota Etios Cross is a visual upgrade to the Liva designed to appeal to the Indian buyers’ fondness for compact and muscular machines

Toyota first displayed the Etios Cross at the Auto Expo in February. Basically a Liva hatchback with a rugged-looking body kit, the Etios Cross is Toyota's attempt to make good on India's love for butch SUVs and crossovers.

The Etios Cross gets a matte black plastic band that goes right across from its chin, to the flanks and around the rear, thereby adding muscular appeal to the car. There are also pseudo skid plates with a dull silver finish adding to the complete picture. Roof rails, a spoiler at the rear and diamond-finish 15-inch alloy wheels all add to the Etios Cross’ appeal. Additionally, the ‘Etios Cross’ badge is prominently displayed on the boot lid and looks rather good. All of these add to the dimensions of the Etios Liva and makes the Cross 120mm longer, 40mm wider and 45mm taller than the standard Liva. It is also heavier by around 20kg.

The Etios Cross will be offered in two levels of trim and with the option of three engines; 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre petrol engines and a 1.4-litre diesel motor.

On the inside, you get piano black interiors, sporty seat fabric and Etios Cross badging. It also features a 2-DIN audio system with aux, Bluetooth and USB compatibility. The top variants will also get audio controls on the steering wheel, and a rear defogger and wiper. However, rather strangely for a car of this class, there are no electrically adjustable wing mirrors. For safety, it will come equipped with ABS and EBD and dual front airbags.

The front seats are quite comfortable and at the rear, there's plenty of room on offer. However, the rear seat could have offered more support.

Under the hood, the Etios Cross is identical to the Liva and the 20kg increase in weight doesn't really affect the way the car drives. The 89bhp 1.5-litre petrol motor (available only on the top-spec car) is focussed more on urban driving rather than outright performance. The engine responds well at low motor speeds and even when on the highway. The 67bhp 1.4-litre diesel, on the other hand, feels more sedate and while turbo-lag isn’t much of an issue, you will miss the mid-range punch on the highways.

Both engines, unfortunately, are quite noisy and the cabins don't do a very good job shutting the world out.

However, the ride handles most broken patches rather well and the car is a nifty handler as well, albeit a little slow to respond to steering inputs.

Toyota has done a decent job of beefing up the standard Liva hatchback with the Etios Cross. It's macho looks, roomy interiors and reliable mechanicals do make it a reasonably good offering. Expected to come at a premium of around Rs 60,000 over the standard car, this should be a good entry point to consumers looking for a macho machine.