Japanese car maker Toyota wants a growing pie of the compact SUV segment and is therefore mulling a rival to the likes of the Ford EcoSport and the Nissan Juke crossovers. The new compact SUV could be based on the third/next-generation version of the Daihatsu Terios, whose replacement is due in a year from now.
Daihatsu is a low cost brand of Toyota that does duty in Japan and other South East Asian countries. Currently, Toyota sells the Rush SUV in South East Asian car markets. The Rush SUV is based on the second generation Daihatsu Terios. As of now, the Rush is available only with a 1.5 liter petrol engine.
While the first two generations of the Daihatsu Terios have used a body-on-ladder frame and a rear wheel drive layout as standard features, the next generation model could take the monocoque chassis route along with the front wheel drive layout in the interests of fuel efficiency.
India is a major market for compact SUV given the country’s less than perfect road conditions. With global automakers making a beeline for India’s compact SUV market, Toyota is likely to do the same once it has the new compact crossover in serial production. Interestingly, the Daihatsu Terios is sold in India in the form of the Premier Rio, a rebadged Zotye Nomad, a Chinese compact SUV that is in turn based on the Terios.
However, Toyota India has announced that it would be going slow on all-new product launches for the next couple of years. So, even if the compact crossover from Toyota sees the light of the day in the next year or so, the SUV is likely to be sold in India from 2016 and beyond.
Until then, Toyota will keep the bench warm with the Etios Cross, a crossover styled hatchback due for a released in India during May 2014. The Etios Cross is based on the Liva hatchback. The crossover will be sold with petrol and turbo diesel engine options. The major changes on the Etios Cross include the addition of a body kit to make the Etios Liva look more butch and revised interiors. The car is likely to be priced about 50,000 rupees higher than the top end variants of the Liva.
Video walkaround of the Toyota Etios Cross showcased at the Auto Expo