Urban Cruiser: Tough on the road, friendly on your pocket

Urban Cruise. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • One of the most prominent features of the Urban Cruiser’s performance is its impressive fuel consumption of 6.2 litres per 100km.

While the Urban Cruiser may have a Toyota badge on its grille, it is, in fact, a rebadged Suzuki Vitara Brezza. That fact has been well publicised and, therefore, will not come as a surprise to most consumers. The Toyota Urban Cruiser is the second project resulting from a Toyota/Suzuki teamwork that was announced in 2016.

The Urban Cruiser is mechanically identical to the Suzuki Vitara Brezza, but Toyota has given its small crossover a slightly different face to differentiate it from its Suzuki-badged sibling.
Performance and efficiency

Under the bonnet of the Toyota Urban Cruiser is a 1.5-litre petrol engine. It produces 77kilowatts and 138 Nm, which may not sound like much, but considering that the Urban Cruiser weighs just 1,130kgs, the engine does not need to work hard to get the vehicle moving. One of the many good things about the Suzuki-sourced engine is its eagerness, which makes it a rev-happy motor that is keen to deliver. 

A key to the sensation of “eagerness” is the newcomer’s gearbox. Although an automatic transmission is available in the range, the Toyota test unit came equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, which seemed near-perfectly matched with the performance characteristics of the motor. 

Those who still regard stick-shift as the purest and most engaging form of driving will be utterly delighted by just how pleasant this gearbox and clutch combination is. The actions of the clutch pedal and shifter are effortless and positive, plus the gearbox’s ratios are quite short, which aids the illusion of ‘fast progress’.

While the Toyota Urban Cruiser can easily accelerate up to 120kph (and will strive beyond the national speed limit with relative ease), the 1.5 XR’s short gearing means the engine will be revving at over the 3,000-rpm mark at that velocity. This presents a few issues…

The engine note is a bit harsh; the Urban Cruiser does not have sufficient noise insulation to suppress all of the motor’s buzziness and secondly, your fuel economy will suffer. 

There is also noticed a fair amount of wind noise, but this can be countered by cranking up the audio system’s volume.

Speaking of fuel economy, the 1.5-litre engine proved impressively frugal, despite the less-than-ideal short gearing. Toyota claims an average figure of 6.2 L/100km and, at the end of the test unit’s tenure in our fleet, its trip computer had a combined-figure readout of 6.7 L/100 km. 

The fuel tank capacity is 48 litres, which gives the Toyota Urban Cruiser an estimated range of 774 km.

Ride and handling

Since the Toyota Urban Cruiser tips the scales at just over 1.1 tonnes, it feels nimble and agile in general traffic conditions. The steering setup is good, with minimal effort required to turn the wheel from lock to lock. 

While the steering column is only adjustable for rake, the height-adjustable driver’s seat means you can get into a comfortable driving position with ease. 

The ride quality is good too, with the 215/60 rubber-wrapped 17-inch wheels blending comfort with style. The higher-profile tyres cope well with the ruts and undulations of our poor roads and offer good grip, especially on the tarmac.

Toyota claims the ground clearance of its Urban Cruiser is 198mm and a glance at the short nose and rear suggested potentially usable approach and departure angles. However, it is important to note that this is not a 4×4 vehicle and it does not have the necessary mechanical parts to tackle a 4×4 course, but should that dirt road to your friend’s farm take a turn for the worse, the Urban Cruiser is well up to the task. That short gearing we mentioned earlier comes in handy. 

Interior 

There are three levels of trim to choose from in the Urban Cruiser range and even the entry-level version boasts a commendable level of standard specification. It comes with automatically activated headlights, cruise control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, dual 12V outlets, a front armrest, a leather steering wheel and a pair of additional speakers.

Those luxury features are in addition to climate control (auto air condition), a reverse-view camera, rear parking sensors and touchscreen infotainment system complete with android auto connectivity. The vehicle also comes with the Toyota connect telematics system, which includes an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot.
Meanwhile, the car’s cabin layout is simple and traditional. The car’s interior feels well put together; there is a distinct impression the vehicle was designed with longevity in mind. Although there are admittedly some cheap-feeling plastics, which should not be a big deal. 

Safety
When it comes to safety, the Toyota Urban Cruiser features driver and front-passenger airbags, side-protection beams and ISOfix child-seat mounting points. The Suzuki version of the vehicle scored four stars in the Global NCAP test, which shows the structure is reasonably robust.

Practicality
The car is not the most practical vehicle in its class, but the luggage area offers enough space to accommodate two large suitcases. We also appreciated the additional storage wells on the sides. If you want to transport more things, you can flop the rear seat back forward in a 60/40 configuration, but note that it does not fold all the way. Toyota offers the Urban Cruiser with a full-size spare wheel (located under the load-bay floor).

Space for rear passengers is adequate, but not the best for seating taller (or adult) occupants. Although there is sufficient headroom, the legroom is a bit tight. To its credit, the car comes equipped with ISOfix anchor points for baby seats, but its rear compartment is best suited to accommodating children and teenagers.

Cost
According to www.ccarprice.com, the Toyota Urban Cruiser costs $12,090 which is approximately Shs 45.8m. It comes in a number of colours including brown blue, grey and orange, among others.

Specifications 

Model: Toyota Urban Cruiser 1.5 XR
Engine: 1.5-ltr naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder petrol
Power/Torque: 77 kW and 138 Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Fuel efficiency:  6.2 L/100 km
Load space: 328 litres

Additional information from www.Toyota.co.ug

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