Motoring: Toyota Vitz: One of the best low-cost cars

The Toyota Vitz is available in one base trim with a manual transmission, two trims with an XR manual transmission, and a third trim with an XR automatic transmission, all of which use the same engine.

THE Toyota Vitz is the fourth joint venture between the Toyota and Suzuki after the Urban Cruiser/Vitara Brezza, Starlet/Baleno, and Rumion/Ertiga.

The Vitz borrows heavily from the design of the Suzuki Celerio. The Toyota Vitz is available in one base trim with a manual transmission, two trims with an XR manual transmission, and a third trim with an XR automatic transmission, all of which use the same engine.

It will be available with either a 5-speed manual or an automatic manual transmission (AMT) for the customer's convenience. You may choose from seven different colours.

I am not sure if it will come to Zimbabwe, for it might not make sense to sell it locally due to its distorted high price.


I consider the Toyota Vitz to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing economy cars today. The teardrop-shaped headlights and taillights give it a youthful glow.

The Vitz's streamlined design results in a feminine silhouette. The Vitz's proportions are spot on; unlike many compact cars, it does not have a ridiculously high roofline or other exaggerated elements.

From the headlights through the grille to the Toyota emblem and the prominent front bumper grille, there is a single chrome strip.

A thick stroke line emphasises the wheel wells, and the side profile is curved. The XR package adds gunmetal grey alloy wheels (15 inches in diameter) and door handles and side mirrors that match the body colour.

The sleek profile is carried over to the back, where the park distance control sensors are discretely concealed behind the rear reflectors. The Vitz is aesthetically pleasing.


You may assume that the Vitz's reduced glass area would make it difficult to see out of it, but in practice, this is not the case. There is plenty of space for your head, shoulders, and legs within.

An abundance of internal compartments and drink holders are included. The interior design seems good to this author; the infotainment system, front window controls, and door locks all take up prime real estate on the center stack.

The interior's textured hard plastic is good and standard for a car in this price range. The cargo hold is spacious at 295 litres, and the car makes good use of its size by providing a large loading aperture and a flat floor. The back seats split 60:40, allowing for more space in the trunk.


In the XR version of the Vitz, a touchscreen infotainment system by Display Audio is standard, and it has four speakers. This is a serviceable sound system, but it may benefit from an amplifier to increase the volume without distorting the sound quality.

In addition to providing access to your vehicle's settings and diagnostic information, the infotainment system now supports Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto.

The door lock and window controls, for example, are at an inconvenient location in the Vitz. Just below the stereo are the controls for the power windows and door locks in the front of the vehicle.

Behind the handbrake is where you will find the controls for the back windows. These switches are often located next to the gear selector or the driver's door, where the driver's hands are most comfortable.

The rear-seat passengers' control panels would be installed in the doors.

It would have been more ergonomic if those buttons were situated closer to where a driver's hands would naturally be.

The Vitz's seating is adequate, but the lack of a height adjustment for the driver's seat and the lack of a tilt feature in the steering wheel are both deal breakers. The rest of the Vitz is also rather nice. 


The Toyota Vitz gets its power from a non-turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine displacing 1.0 litres and generating 49 kW and 89 Nm.

This may not seem like much, but keep in mind that the Vitz has a body weight of just 820 kg.

When you consider that the typical B-segment hatchback weighs about 1 100 kilogrammes, you realise that not a lot of mass is being transferred.

You may choose between a 5-speed manual and an AMT (Automatic Manual Transmission) that sends power to the front wheels. The Vitz likes being revved, but it also functions well in the lower rpm range for commuting and other urban tasks.

However, the Vitz's handling is a major drawback. Despite its reputation as a zippy city car, the Vitz has a disjointed, airy feel.

Some fine-tuning and refining might make the setup tighter and improve input to the steering wheel, making it easier to understand what the front wheels are up to.

The automobile has a very light clutch, making it simple to maneuver in tight spaces. There is a lot of slack in the gear shifter, and it might benefit from being tightened up and made to feel more notchy.

The Vit's fuel efficiency, thanks to its thrifty engine and Stop-Start Technology, is nonetheless a standout feature.

The timing of the system might be improved, for example, by waiting for the car to stop completely for at least a second before engaging the system rather than triggering it while the driver is coasting to a stop.

Aside from that little quibble, it is unusual to see a feature often reserved for high-end automobiles trickle down to something as pedestrian as this.

Fuel economy

The Toyota Vitz has a stated fuel economy of 4.4 l/100km and a reported maximum driving range of 727 km on a single tank of gas. I averaged 5.5 l/100 km, but I know I can do better.


The Toyota Vitz is equipped with the following safety features:

Pre-tensioner and Force Limiter Front Seatbelts

Driver and passenger airbags

Rear Window Demister

ISOFIX Child Seat Restraints

Centre Lap Seatbelt


Vehicle stability control

Hill Assist Control

Rear Park Distance Control


I estimate if you import it from South African, the Toyota Vitz will cost roughly US$20 000. Now a Zimbo would rather get a grey import top spec Mercedes Benz for that price.

It would cost half as much if duty and tax were not included. Our government should act on this and reduce these punitive tariffs. The tariffs and taxes in Zimbabwe are excessively expensive for a nation without a car industry.

Competitors include the Hyundai Grand i10, Suzuki Celerio, Renault Kwid, Kia Picanto, and Renault Kwid. 

My decision

At a time when the public needs cheap and efficient transportation options, the Toyota Vitz presents an intriguing value proposition. The Toyota Vitz succeeds in that respect and has many other advantages as an entry level buy for first timer buyers.

There is still room for improvement, but this has the makings of a real treasure if the right tweaks are made.

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