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Old 20th March 2013, 16:33   #1
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Default Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

The Toyota Liva 1.5L TRD Sportivo has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 6.14 Lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• Punchy 1.5L petrol engine offers fast performance & fabulous driveability
• Body kit is well-designed. Sporty, but not flashy
• Spacious interiors can easily carry 5 adults
• Super light steering, gearshift & clutch. Effortless to drive within the city
• Well-tuned suspension. Neutral handling and a comfortable ride
• Toyota’s fuss-free ownership experience & excellent after-sales

What you won't:

• Light steering with zero feedback is a fly in the enthusiast ointment
• Dated design lacks the contemporariness of the i20, Swift etc.
• Missing equipment (No fog lamps, electric mirrors, rear defogger and rear wash / wipe)
• Interior, though improved, is still economy-grade. Unconventional dashboard too
• Cost-cutting is glaringly obvious in many areas

Thanks to GTO for accompanying me on this drive and sharing his views.


Last edited by GTO : 27th March 2013 at 15:42.
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Old 20th March 2013, 16:35   #2
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Default re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

This report will only focus on the Liva 1.5L TRD Sportivo, since the regular Toyota Liva has already been reviewed by Team-BHP. For easy reference, here are direct links to the complete Toyota Liva Review:

Exterior Design & Build Quality (Toyota Liva : Test Drive & Review)

Interior design, space, practicality & features (Toyota Liva : Test Drive & Review)

Engine, gearbox, suspension & on-road behaviour (Toyota Liva : Test Drive & Review)

Other Pertinent Points (Toyota Liva : Test Drive & Review)

The Smaller yet Significant Things (Toyota Liva : Test Drive & Review)

Last edited by GTO : 26th March 2013 at 16:46.
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Old 20th March 2013, 16:36   #3
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Default re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

The hatchback segment hasn't been kind to petrol-heads. The Palio GTX is long gone and manufacturers have become obsessed with 1.2L motors, thanks to the resultant excise benefits offered by our Government. The Polo 1.6 has been discontinued, and the Fabia 1.6L was the only (relatively) big engine petrol hatchback you could buy. Ford has a dynamically rich car in the Figo, along with a superb 1.6L petrol engine, yet it refuses to mate the two.

Enter the Liva 1.5. Toyota earlier offered a TRD Sportivo edition of the Liva, although it was powered by the dull 1.2L petrol engine. Plonking the Etios' 1.5L mill into the Liva's engine bay had to be the simplest exercise, given the mechanically identical nature of the hatchback & sedan siblings. As enthusiasts, we're glad Toyota chose to offer a more powerful Liva; this is one car that has the "go" to match the "show".

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It's amazing what a subtle body kit can do. Despite the old design of the body shell, the Liva TRD Sportivo is quite a looker and has good presence. The car gets the same front & rear bumper extensions (skirts), side skirts and roof spoiler of the earlier 1.2L TRD Sportivo. And yes, we are glad that Toyota dropped the cheesy racing flag decal from the side. The 2013 Liva TRD Sportivo looks clean and proportionate. It's sporty, without being too loud.

The first iteration of the Sportivo was launched at Rs. 5.23 Lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). The 2013 car thus carries a Rs. 90,000 premium, offering a more powerful 1.5L engine and some other exterior / interior enhancements. A chunk of that 90K premium goes toward the higher excise duty that is applicable to cars with >1.2L engines. Where the earlier Liva Sportivo was available only in white & blue body colours, the 2013 model is offered with a colour palette that's identical to the regular Liva.

It's strange that the more expensive TRD Sportivo doesn't get all the features of the cheaper Liva 1.2L "V" variant! A rear defogger, rear wash & wipe, fog lamps, integrated blinkers on the ORVMs and (optional) steering-mounted audio controls are all available on the Liva 1.2, but not on the Liva 1.5. Of course, that difference does reflect in the pricing. One gets the engine, the other gets equipment. The Liva 1.2L V-SP (Safety Pack) is priced at Rs. 5.99 lakhs. For a mere 15,000 rupees more, you get a bigger motor with better looking exteriors on the 1.5L TRD Sportivo.

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The front grille has chrome lining on the 2nd slat (just like the regular Liva), but loses the chunk of chrome on the 1st slat...I prefer it this way:


Clean side profile. There's no hiding the car's dated styling though:


GTO says he prefers such a simple, proportionate design to some of the snazzier, overdone competition:


TRD gets a dual-tone wing and bumper skirts too:


That fog lamp cut-out looks awful!! Shocking that the TRD Sportivo is missing this vital piece of equipment:


Gunmetal shade looks swell. 185/60 Goodyears running on 15" 12-spoke wheels:


Roof rails wear a similar colour to the wheels:


Tail-lamps have been revised on the 2013 Liva. They have a subtle "fin effect" on the side:


Bumper's faux diffuser looks great in black:


That grey line runs all around the car and matches the alloy wheel colour. Neat attention to detail:


A close look at the rear spoiler:


Spoiler gets dual-tone colours & a mini diffuser:


Foam strips, where the spoiler meets the body panel. To prevent rattles and paint chipping:


TRD Sportivo badging:


Small, subtle TRD badges all over the car. On the front bumper....


On the rear bumper:


And on the side skirts. We drove around Mumbai over a variety of speed-breakers, yet the side skirts didn't scrape any one of them:


ORVMs have changed on the 2013 car; however, the TRD doesn't get integrated blinkers (available on the cheaper 1.2L "V" variant):


The ORVMs bear an uncanny resemblance to the ones of the Toyota Camry (pictured below). Even the mounting bracket is similar:


It was the perfect time to wrap up the exterior shoot. At the Bandra reclamation, Mumbai:

Last edited by GTO : 27th March 2013 at 15:46.
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Old 20th March 2013, 16:38   #4
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Default re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

The TRD Sportivo has black & grey interiors, unlike the beige colour of the regular Liva. Design & overall quality is economy grade. That said, parts have been screwed together perfectly. There aren't any ugly panel gaps or ill-fitted bits inside:


Soft touch, chunky steering wheel is great to hold. Has placeholders for your thumb. Horn pad extends out on to the silver spoke area. Still, the Etios' flat-bottom steering wheel with audio controls (link to image) would have suited the Liva 1.5L better:


No more a white weighing-scale meter console. The 2013 updates bring black and blue colours. However, the blue stands out in the black-grey interior theme, and we're pretty sure it won't gel with the regular Liva's beige interiors either:


How the meter console looks at night:


Silver finish, instead of the earlier Liva's red gear knob. Perfectly sized and light to use. The gear lever boot is made of good quality material:


The double-din head unit looks very premium, and blends in nicely with the interior theme. Features CD, Aux, USB and Bluetooth. Sound quality is acceptable. All four speakers are placed at the front (2 on the dashboard, another 2 on the front doors). Rear cabin area gets no speakers, and there isn't any provision to mount them on the doors either. You'd probably have to go the parcel tray route:


The remote control. Design hints that the head-unit could be from Pioneer:


A/C vents get a glossy black surround, as opposed to the chrome rings of the regular Liva. The air-conditioner is brilliant. On a hot sunny day in Mumbai, and with no sunfilm on our car, the Liva kept us cool. Climate control is sorely missed in a hatchback carrying an ex-showroom price of Rs. 6.xx lakhs!


Close look at the unique, lined texture on parts of the dashboard. It reduces windshield glare too:


All-black door pads. We prefer this silver finish of the control panel to the regular Liva's faux-wood effect:


Driver-side window now gets one touch auto-down function:


The seats get thicker cushioning on the 2013 car and this time, with adjustable neck restraints (headrests) too. The seats are of far better quality and provide great support:


Driver seat gets height-adjustment with a wide range. Even the shortest of drivers won't have any problems with visibility:


TRD Sportivo stitching on all 4 seats:


Fabric skirts (on the front seats) hide the metal seat rails from view. Toyota is trying hard to drop the "basic" image of the Etios / Liva:


Rear seat gets adjustable neck restraints as well. Though they look identical to the front units, the ones at the rear are thinner:


Spare is a regular steel wheel (not an alloy):

Last edited by GTO : 27th March 2013 at 15:42.
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Old 20th March 2013, 16:40   #5
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Default re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

1.5L petrol is an easy fit into the Liva's engine bay, with room to spare. Friendly Mod Jaggu says "that valve cover looks like it is from the Maruti 800 era of the 90's!":

The engine & performance are the real talking points of the Liva TRD Sportivo. The 1.5L petrol motor is borrowed from its sedan sibling, the Etios. It runs an identical state of tune and produces the same power & torque figures. This 16V 4 cylinder DOHC 1496 cc unit is rated at 89 BHP (5,600 rpm) & 132 Nm of torque (3,000 rpm). The BHP / Liter output of 59.33 is pretty modest. Due to its light kerb weight though, the Liva 1.5 has a power to weight ratio of 96 BHP / tonne. That's better than any petrol hatchback, including the erstwhile Palio 1.6. It must be mentioned that the Liva 1.5L is 5 kilos heavier than the Etios base variant.

Get rolling and you’ll be left pleasantly surprised at the sheer driveability on tap. Torque delivery from low rpms is phenomenal, easily the best in class. 2nd gear can effortlessly pull the car from crawling speeds, as can the 3rd from as low as 20 kph. Depending on the traffic density, you could use either the 2nd or 3rd ratios like an automatic within the city. The Liva 1.5 can even get away from a speed-breaker in 2nd itself, a situation where most other cars require a downshift to 1st. Point worth noting : Shift into 5th gear a little over 50 kph, and the engine doesn’t complain. Where the Liva 1.2 had dull torque delivery, the Liva 1.5 is extremely tractable and makes light work of driving about in urban conditions. You won’t be working the gear lever as often as in most other petrol hatchbacks.

Out on the open road is where the fun begins. Slot the gear into first, slam the accelerator and release the clutch. There is a fair amount of torque steer. By now, you realise this isn't the ordinary, boring Liva. The car's quick acceleration is thoroughly enjoyable and easily makes it among the fastest petrol hatchbacks on sale today. The TRD Sportivo accelerates clean to a 100 kph, and eagerly continues beyond. What's more, throttle response is sharp, especially when compared to the Polo / Fabia 1.6L petrol. The mid-range packs a punch, making highway overtaking moves quick & easy. At the end of our spirited drive, we had a smile plastered all over our face. On the flip side, the 1.5L isn't a high-revving motor like the 1.2L of the Brio and i10. The revv-limiter cuts in at a mere 5,900 rpm! Also, over 5,000 rpm, the engine gets buzzy and sounds nowhere as sweet as the Honda or Hyundai 1.2s. The Liva's 5th gear isn’t too tall. Actually, all of the gear ratios seem to be tuned short for city driveability. On the highway at 100 kph, the revv needle is hovering just under 3,000 rpm. For a stock car, the exhaust note sounds good, even on the outside. Toyota says that the refreshed 2013 models have an updated exhaust system. The Liva 1.5's ARAI rating is 16.78 kpl. Real-world fuel economy should be the same as the Etios.

The 5 speed gearbox is smooth to use. Shift quality is positive, gates are well defined and the throw is just right. The clutch has an unusually short travel and is effortless to operate. It’s also reasonably light and makes gear-shifting an easy exercise. Overall NVH levels have improved from the early Etios & Liva that we tested. However, it's still not a match to the competition. The motor is fairly audible inside, even at the 2,500 - 3,000 rpm range. At 100 kph, road and tyre noise inside the cabin were on the higher side. The 2013 cars get hydraulic engine mounts (instead of the earlier rubber mounts). Vibrations are well under control. In GTO's Liva 1.2L review, he complained of a noisy suspension. This problem has also been addressed in the refreshed 2013 models.

The MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear is standard fare. The Liva's suspension is well-calibrated and it's neither too soft nor too stiff. Ride quality remains absorbent and compliant in the city, even over broken stretches of tarmac. The Liva rides flat on the highway as well; this planted ride and lack of bounciness greatly help in keeping fatigue away from passengers.

The electric power steering is effortless to use at parking speeds, and when pottering about in the city. Unfortunately, it's a major disappointment on the highway for us driving enthusiasts. At 100 kph, the steering is light and feels like a playstation wheel. You need to maintain a firm hand as it reacts to the slightest input. There is absolutely no feedback either. Whenever I wanted to know what the front tyres were up to, I’d roll my windows down. The Liva has neutral on-road behaviour with no nasty surprises thrown in. Outright grip levels are surprisingly good for a Toyota hatchback. We pushed hard into a fast corner or two and the car remained composed. Understeer doesn’t come in as early as you'd expect of a family hatchback. While some body roll is felt, it's well within acceptable limits. Some credit does go to the tyres too. While OEM Good Year rubber has usually been sloppy, the ones on our test car performed very well. As good as the Liva's behaviour is, it is no Figo or Punto when it comes to handling. The Europeans are decidedly superior corner carvers. The turning radius of 4.8 meters is the same as the Maruti Swift and makes city U-turns easy. The ABS + EBD brakes perform just as expected. The pedal has predictable behaviour and is easy to modulate.

Last edited by GTO : 27th March 2013 at 15:42.
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Old 27th March 2013, 15:58   #6
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Default Re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

Great review of a special car. The Liva 1.5 drives like no other petrol hatchback does. Period. I’ve always been a fan of the Etios petrol (not diesel) because of its punchy engine and superbly sorted suspension. It’s nice to see the good bits transferred to the Liva, which was a bore in the 1.2L guise. I thoroughly enjoyed gunning the TRD Sportivo in our test. With the ample space, superb driveability, light controls & Toyota reliability, the Liva is practical too.

One thing this car has is superb modification potential. Slapping a well-designed free flow & air intake onto the engine should take the horsepower rating close to a 100. Cars like this prove that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have fun behind the wheel. I’m just really happy to see another addition to the VFM enthusiasts club.

Not happy with the dead steering or cheap interiors, but I've always been an engines guy over everything else (remember, ex-owner of first-gen Vtec), hence will happily overlook those shortcomings. The design might be old, but it appeals to a chap with traditional tastes like me.

Rates thread a well-deserved 5 stars.

Last edited by GTO : 27th March 2013 at 16:22.
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Old 27th March 2013, 16:41   #7
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Default Re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

Was wondering where did the revew go and was impatiently waiting. Thank you and nice to know that there is another enthusiast version to look forward to. I really liked the TRD kit when I had a look at the showroom, except the roof spoiler. The seat fabric was really nice too. I was thinking that, If I am buying a Liva - it should be a TRD version. To add to it, TRD version was coming with grey interiors too!

Here I liked the interiors and the head unit looks really neat and gels so well.

Thank you for a wonderful review!
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Old 27th March 2013, 16:55   #8
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Default Re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

The first time I drove an Etios, I was blown away by the engine, steering and overall dynamics of the car. With this in place, I could probably ignore the rest of the car. What could not be ignored was the steep pricing. At well over 8 lac on road in Bangalore for the top of the line Etios, thats Ford Classic 1.6 territory. On the overall, the Ford works out as more value, much better built and an equally or better fun (as the engine revs more) to drive car.

As for the drive in the Etios, it sure was no rev monster but for the provided rev range, it moved really well. Now the same engine in a Liva can only be more fun. I find it strange that you report the steering wheel to be too light. It was the exact opposite when I drove the Etios. It felt like a hydraulic unit.

In true Sportivo (aka 1.5l) form, this Liva has to be the best little petrol rocket you can buy. Those alloys are probably the best I have seen in a long long time from this segment and higher. The design, color tone are truly sporty and go with the rest of the car.

Last edited by sandeepmohan : 27th March 2013 at 16:59. Reason: Needed to write a little on the alloys
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Old 27th March 2013, 16:57   #9
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Default Re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

Thanks for a superb review parrys

The exterior of the car has definitely improved and I must say that it does look sporty and yet remains understated. That is difficult to achieve. It is very basic and plain but the skirts add so much character and thankfully nothing is over done to retain the beauty of the car.

Disappointments: dead steering. Is it as bad as the Hyundai(s)? Then there is no charm taking this on the highway. I find it dangerous more than just boring. A proper feedback from the steering is a MUST!

Central console, personally never a big fan and I have still not understood the advantages of it . Are there any or is it cost cutting? If cost cutting, how does it actually reduce the cost?

Thanks to Toyota for keeping the petrol segment alive especially after Polo 1.6 was discontinued.
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Old 27th March 2013, 17:07   #10
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Default Re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by MotoNanu View Post
Disappointments: dead steering. Is it as bad as the Hyundai(s)?
The super light steering makes city driving a dream, but as you work up the revv counter, it just doesn't weigh up as much as you would want. So if you own a couple of other cars and you have a heavy foot - you will need to keep this in mind that you need a much firmer hand on this one while driving on the highway. Zero center back action from the unit, thus you need to keep making the corrections on your own & accurately.

Last edited by parrys : 27th March 2013 at 17:09.
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Old 27th March 2013, 17:11   #11
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Smile Re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

Great review Parrys! I can only imagine taking this new Liva TRD to Red Rooster or Petes and asking them to do the same engine mods as that of the EMR tuned cars. You'll get a sub-10 lakh rupee hot hatch that is super light, fun to drive and comes with a free revving motor with mind boggling performance.

Toyota should seriously consider launching a better equipped 1.5 Liva and call it the TRD Sportivo+, if at all it wants this car to sell. A higher variant that comes with electric mirrors and blinkers on ORVM's, fog lamps, steering mounted controls and chrome door handles will look extremely cool! Add to that a TRD Sportivo 1.4 Diesel, in a higher state of tune and I am sure we'll see a lot more of these on our roads. The Liva Diesel anyway lacks a top-end spec and so a TRD variant with Corolla's 89 BHP unit makes perfect sense here.

Last edited by Abhinav667 : 27th March 2013 at 17:33.
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Old 27th March 2013, 17:17   #12
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Default Re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abhinav667 View Post
I can only imagine taking this new Liva TRD to Red Rooster or Petes and asking them to do the same engine mods as that of the EMR tuned cars.
Me and GTO could not deny this possibility either. A ECU remap, CAI and a good FFE would simply double the driving pleasure on the Sportivo.
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Old 27th March 2013, 17:18   #13
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Thumbs up Re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

Great Review.
I still miss the fun in Etios Petrol after I took the decision to cancel the booking of Petrol and go for the Diesel variant instead. Will some day buy this Liva TRD Petrol ( 2nd hand ) to have some real fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abhinav667 View Post
The Liva Diesel anyway lacks a top-end spec and so a TRD variant with Corolla's 89 BHP unit makes perfect sense here.
That would be sweet and maybe add a supercharger to take care of the lag at low rpms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by swiftnfurious View Post
To add to it, TRD version was coming with grey interiors too!
You do seem to be a fan of grey interiors unlike many others.

Last edited by amalji : 27th March 2013 at 17:43.
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Old 27th March 2013, 17:41   #14
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Default Re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

Lovely review there and mighty glad to know that finally there is petrol hatch which can be put under the performance category.

I personally put performance before everything else so whenever iam buying my next hatch, will seriously contemplate this car and see if it lives up to the peformance label. And, ofcourse with a remap, CAI and FFE, iam sure it will be really a hoot to drive

However the price seems to be a huge dampner with a petrol vehicle starting at 6.14L ex-showroom in north meaning it will be atleast a lakh more down south taking the OTR to almost 8 lakhs. Is Toyota repeating a Fabia mistake? I hope not

Nevertheless, it would be a great buy in the pre-owned market down the line.
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Old 27th March 2013, 17:41   #15
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Default Re: Toyota Liva 1.5L (TRD Sportivo) : Official Review

Hey guys it it high time TBHP reviews add performance numbers. At least we can start with 0-60 kph , 0 -100 kph times. VBOX Racelogic gear which is used by the automobile magazines is not that expensive. TBHP should procure it.
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