Driven: Toyota Urban Cruiser 1.5 Xr

Remember the Suzuki Vitara Brezza? Well, Toyota asks us to pretend we don’t, with their latest compact crossover, the Urban Cruiser.

What is it?
Look, I’m not going to pretend I didn’t spend the entire month of January with the aforementioned Suzuki, so this test is hardly being conducted in a bubble. The two cars are identical in all ways, but three. The badge, the terms of sale and… their internet connection? We’ll get to those.

How does it look?
We’ve covered this, just like the Suzuki but with Toyota badges and addenda. Add to that identical paint colours and it becomes quite clear how similar the cars are. It is my very humble opinion that the styling falls naturally into the Suzuki stable and has less design cues native to Toyota products but then, they’ve got a legacy now of letting other brands build their cars. Supra, 86 and Starlet, I am looking at you.

What about living with it?
Ok, Toyota magic do your thing. I’m going to focus on distinctions and the Urban Cruiser has quite a large perk. That’s Toyota Connect telematics system as standard, specifically the included on-board Wi-Fi with 15gb of complimentary data plus various e-services. I mean, who doesn’t love being connected (for free)? Beyond that the cabins are identical, the safety and performance offerings perfectly on par. For another difference we need to look at after sales, that is the fact that the Toyota has a lesser warranty and service plan. That’s just three-years or 100 000km warranty and a three-service/45 000km plan, against the Brezza’s promotional five-year/200 000 warranty and four-year/60 000km service plan. To which Toyota can counter with its impeccable resale values and significantly larger dealer network.

How does it go?
Just like the Brezza I drove for the full month of January, so very well indeed as long a you’re living at the coast. It will suffer somewhat at the reef, where breathing is a challenge. It’s got a matchy-matchy natty 1.5l petrol engine with 77kW and 138Nm. The overall bodyweight is low at 1130kg so the result is a responsive chassis and decent acceleration. In both cars, I yearn for a sixth gear on the manual box. The four speed auto moans less at highway speeds.

Should you buy one?
Well now, yes. Because it’s a Suzuki Vitara Brezza (which we thought was excellent) with 15gb of data and great resale value. It’s marginally more expensive than the Suzuki, and has a unique middle grade in the Xs derivative, but furthermore there’s nothing in this decision other than brand loyalty. Speaking of brands, this segment is chock a block with rivals, some quite fresh faces such as the new Kia Sonet and Nissan Magnite. It’s a buyers’ market.

Quick Stats: Toyota Urban Cruiser 1.5 Xr
Price: R294,500
Powertrain: 1.5l fwd, 77kW, 138Nm, 5-speed manual/4-spd auto
Performance: 170kph top speed, 7.5l/100km fuel consumption

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