Toyota has started development of a new mid-size sedan for the Indian market. The car will be positioned between the existing entry-level sedan, the Toyota Etios and their premium 3-box offering, the Corolla Altis. The car is expected to hit the market at the end of 2016 and will compete against the Honda City, the Hyundai Verna, the Fiat Linea, the about to be launched Maruti Ciaz, the VW Vento and the Skoda Rapid. It will most likely be based on the Etios platform and is internally code-named Etios C or Etios Core. The decision to develop such a product was made after conducting several feasibility studies over the past few years.
Although the Corolla has been reasonably successful, their entry-level sedan, the Etios didn’t find as many buyers as their other popular models. The hatchback version of the vehicle, the Liva, too hasn’t posed any threat to rivals like the Maruti Swift and the Hyundai i20. Toyota is supposedly banking on this product to garner an annual volume of about 40,000-50,000 units and it will be a significant product for the manufacturer, post the launch of the Etios and the Liva. Although a good amount of mid-size sedan buyers have changed sides with the Compact SUV camp, industry experts see a turnaround in the sedan segment, as the overall auto market has started picking up. Buyers are also returning to petrol-driven models as diesel – the fuel that powers most of these compact SUVs – becomes expensive with the government phasing out the subsidy. Testimony to that is the new Honda City, which has a waiting period running into four-five months. If the new sedan looks anything like the new Vios, it might turn out to be another success story for the world’s largest car maker in India. We only hope the cabin doesn’t take any inspiration from the Etios though.