Ractis XP120: A fuel-efficient subcompact

Thursday May 14 2020

The Ractis XP120 features triangular headlights

The Ractis XP120 features triangular headlights with the bottoms curved inwards. PHOTO BY MARK KAWALYA 

By Mark Kawalya

The time for the older generations of cars is winding up. Like normally happens, this is going to change the motoring landscape as older cars cease to be available and are replaced. As one of the new upcoming cars, the Ractis is still not too common on our roads. The model is slowly gaining acceptance among a few buyers. However, a number of car dealers have many units of the Ractis already in their bonds possibly anticipating increased demand.
The first generation of the subcompact minivan rolled down the assembly line in 2005 and is a product of Toyota. However, I will focus on the second generation of the Ractis that was produced from 2010 to 2017, which I had at my disposal for this review.

First impressions
Dubbed the XP120, the newer Ractis is similar to its predecessor but features headlights that have a triangular shape with the bottom curved inwards for a more stylish look. The back of the car too has been redone and the flat back has been replaced with a back that curves inwards at the windscreen level. The general size of the car has been maintained but I generally prefer the more straightforward aesthetics of the first generation model.
The XP120’s looks are consistent with the post-2010 Toyota design trends that the company uses as a philosophy. Its newer cars have bold modern looks that are a sharp contrast to the boxy concentric shapes that Toyotas of old such as the Toyota Mark 2 had.

The car comes with three engines with the 1NR-FKE for its 1.3L petrol variant. The 1.5L option has a 1NZ-FE, which is also a petrol engine. There is a less common diesel 1ND-TV engine that is 1.4L. These came mated to a 4-speed automatic CVT. Also available is a six-speed manual transmission that came with models that were meant for the European market.
The XP120 is capable of covering between 18.6 kilometres to 21.5 kilometres using a single litre of fuel. This is good fuel economy and is characteristic of a number of the newer smaller engine cars. The car can comfortably seat five and the back seats can be collapsed in case you want to increase its boot capacity to haul luggage. However, for a subcompact vehicle, the Ractis has substantial boot space, which left me quite surprised.
It also has five doors with the passenger doors opening outwards unlike the sliding doors that Toyota adopted with many of its vehicles. Some of these sliding doors proved problematic due to persistent door jams. The car is capable of achieving a top speed of 180 kilometres per hour although for a car this light, caution needs to be exercised when putting the engine to the max.

The interior is appropriate for the car and comes in a variety of colours such as black, grey and cream. I would recommend black because it can take quite a beating without showing signs of wear and does not get dirty easily. The cockpit is synonymous with what you would get in a simple automobile that is made simply to move people from point A to B. This is not a luxury car and lacks the intricacies of well-crafted interiors that are common with many top range German cars.
The main material of use here is plastic for the dashboard and the centre console along with the door cards. It also has a three-spoke steering wheel with silver highlights along the spokes. The gear lever is located upwards near the dashboard, a move from the normal position of many Toyotas between the seats.
The centre entertainment console has the climate control vents on top of the slot that holds an FM radio receiver followed by a set of air conditioning dials. In terms of comfort, the seats are okay for short drives although for a long upcountry trip, you may feel varying levels uncomfortability.

Common problems
Some owners complained about the car lacking automatic indicator shut off after completing a turn. On doing some research, it turns out that this was a defect, much to the irk of many Ractis owners.
It is also noteworthy that many owners have experienced this issue. There was a Toyota vehicle recall across some models including both the old and new versions of the Ractis.
One of the issues cited was a failure for the airbags to deploy. Another issue was a defect in the engine starter which led the car to fail to ignite.

General use
The Ractis XP120 is a nice little car its hallmark being great fuel economy. Although the car is based on a modified Vitz chassis, it is more spacious and perfect for a small family. Spares are readily available and as is the case for most Toyotas, you will not struggle to find a mechanic to repair it. Also, the cost of spares generally will not have you queuing in banking halls to withdraw large sums.
The car is appropriate for someone that mainly makes town runs possibly to and from office. While the car has good highway fuel statistics, it is not well suited for longer journeys upcountry.