Article: Martin Pretorius. Photos: Chris Wall Media
The legendary RSi nameplate is due to return to South African Toyota dealerships early in 2017, with the imminent announcement of a limited production run of the new Etios RSi. This isn’t an official Toyota development however, but the brain child of a group of enthusiastic engineers and fanatics.
The development focused on resurrecting the spirit of the original (1980’s) Conquest RSi while packaging it to suit modern sensibilities. One of the key points was to instill top-notch handling dynamics in the Etios RSi, while maintaining the typically-Toyota easy-driving characteristics and a comfortable ride in traffic, town and on the freeway. To this end, the entire suspension has been re-engineered with a stiffened rear axle, new springs and dampers and dramatically revised geometry.
It’s nice to go quickly around corners, but that means that you’ll need to be able to get up to speed as well – and that means adding a healthy dollop of extra power into the mix. This power comes courtesy of a low-pressure intercooled turbocharger and some clever electronic controls which allows this boosted engine to emulate the in-gear characteristics of the iconic 4A-GE mill from the 80s and 90s. Peak outputs jumps from 66 kW and 132 Nm to a healthy 110 kW and 210 Nm, giving a comparable power-to-mass ratio to the Golf 5 GTI.
The 0-100 km/h sprint time drops from 11.3 seconds to 8.1 seconds, maximum speed goes up “well past 210 km/h”, and an average fuel consumption of 7.5 litres/100 km is claimed. Stopping power is upgraded accordingly through the addition of much larger front disks, braided metal brake hoses, DOT 5.1 brake fluid and re-calibrated ABS control.
The cabin is equally extensively revised through the addition of 25 kg of extra sound insulation; leather trim with red stitching for the seats, steering wheel and gear lever; a 6-speaker audio system with USB2/Bluetooth capability, and rear parking sensors. And to lift the visual appeal of the rather utilitarian Etios, the body shell is treated to some gloss black (but functional) aero add-ons and an optional waist-level pinstripe. 17-inch A-line wheels round off the cosmetic upgrade, and play host to a set of Bridgestone Potenza RE002 tyres.
Pricing is yet to be finalised, but expect the basic Etios RSi to retail around the R265 000 mark when it arrives at selected Automark dealers in March 2017. The first 40 units will be built to order, numbered, and allow buyers to specify add-on options such as a 600W audio upgrade, special upholstery, rear-view camera and HID headlights, and will be named Launch Edition. The Etios RSi will carry the same warranty as the stock Etios XS on which it’s based, and financing and insurance will be provided by the participating dealerships.
** For more information, search Facebook for “Etios RSi”