‘Cross Hatch’ is the new trend gradually catching up in the present-day automotive scene. Frankly speaking, these ‘Cross’ versions of popular hatches have nothing heavenly in them. Media fellas are cynical on the latest addition to the niche segment, the Etios Cross, on whether it would be a game changer among the compact crossovers. But personally, I find it totally horrible.
So, how are these Cross hatches made?? Let me make it simple for you. Take a familiar hatch, which is truly devoid of any commendable revisions in its styling for years and looks little bored. Slap it with lots of SUV (or SUV ‘like’) bits and chunky alloys. Basically people think of it as a rough, rugged and ready version of the usual hatch, with its so called masculine and sporty looks. Which it isn’t. What you actually get is the usual drink in the very same bottle, wrapped around with a new catchy label! Plastic panels all around, with slightly tweaked lamps or alloys. Nothing heavenly. You use the same opener, same glass, same quantity and mixing, and ultimately the usual drink. New label is torn out to trash!
This is how automakers actually make crossovers. Somehow such cars make good numbers on road too. We are more crazier about SUVs than earlier times and people also appreciate something attractive and different than the usual ones. But it’s hard to generalise. We did find Skoda Fabia Scout had an amazingly terrible failure; I wonder whether it is still in production. Its twin bro VW Polo Cross also fell short of what the company expected. Now media fellas bark at the Etios Cross whether it would be a game changer among the compact crossovers.
If I have to talk about the quintessential Etios Liva, I must highlight two things. One, the Etios platform is a ridiculously low cost design and the company’s frugality in its make is visible so well in its design, build quality, ergonomics, etc. Body panels, plastics, and engineering were not of typical Toyota standards, as we have seen earlier. Second, the hatch is one of the best selling cars in the segment. But it has got a reliable power train, fairly good chassis, decent road manners and fuel efficiency, though no commendable interior or exterior styling.
Some say that serious lack of flamboyance and luster is what the Cross version tries to address. Maybe. But what Toyota has pulled out of the hat isn’t a rabbit; not even a hamster! Plenty of plastics is what my first impression of the car was. Too much plastic cladding wrapped all over the body, bumpers and on the boot lid, pose serious doubts on its durability. Will they stick to doors for ever without any rattles and cracks even after thousands of odo mileage in our driving conditions? Certainly no. That was the case with VW Polo Cross also.
Look at those skid plates, roof rails, and sharp alloy wheels. Those add-on elements on the bumpers are again plastics and not metal. The push-bar inspired front bumper makes it look distinctive to the usual Liva, as it augments that ‘SUV’ image we have in mind. It is actually the contrasting colour tone that grabs the attention and not the design. All those plastic cladding are bit over done and doesn’t give us an impression of a tailor made artistry. It feels more like an after-market, customised work by local designers. Specifically those plastic moldings protrude outwards the body so blatantly, which is less likely to be trait of genuine SUV design.
Toyota has at least acknowledged the fact that the interior dashboard of the Etios is perceived as terribly awful. That’s why at every opportunity, they do something to make it better. The Etios Cross boasts a shiny ‘piano black’ finish across the dashboard, which is appreciable. But the layout is the same as does the materials used. With an exception to steering wheel, I find nothing exciting with the Etios’s interior design.
The Etios Cross may look like a crossover to many, but does not have any such capabilities. Even the suspension setup remain unchanged as does ground clearance, something that is very basic to the idea of being a ‘Cross’. Engine ranges too remain identical with every Etios models. So I actually had no new expectations on drive. It still drives as a car, as a Liva.
#N for Neutral
Moving beyond the debate of what these ‘Cross’ versions of regular hatches actually serve, I certainly have to admit that people like such differentiation. These Cross models also serve our folk’s appetite for muscular SUVs, which is hardly affordable and practical to large consumers. But in all such cars I have seen, Toyota Etios Cross gets the least ranking. The Skoda Fabia Scout was fairly simple and neat looking. VW Polo Cross was a bit overdone with plastics, but its innate solid looks actually saved it from much of criticism.
Fiat’s Avventura, which is to be launched by this November and was earlier showcased in the 2014 Delhi auto Expo, appears to be distinctive and innovative of the lot. Though a derivative of the Punto platform, the Avventura looks novel and contemporary. Not to forget the spare wheel hinged at rear, the practical roof rails and sleek design. In fact, it was Fiat which for the first time did something like this here – offering a ‘Cross’ kind of vehicle – the Palio Adventure more than a decade ago. That Wagon Crossover also had some off-road abilities, though not like an SUV.
But it is the Etios Cross that is terribly horrible in almost every minute aspect of design, looks, quality and utility. But for an additional price of 50-60 thousand, if you aspire for a cosmetic makeover for your Liva, then here is the Etios Cross. Keep aside those funny commercials ads. Unbearable!