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Toyota RunX 160i RS

Date: 14 Jul 2003 Author Type: Registered Journalist
Author: Andrew Walker
Source:
The new Toyota RunX 160i RS offers a stylish value for money mid-specification hatchback model in the popular 1 600cc market, a sector where Toyota has only had representation in the entry-level segment for several years.

Designed to take advantage of the latest automotive technologies to produce a small car package that is not only offers a market competitive product, but one that will set new benchmarks in the performance hatch segment of the market, the RunX clearly draws on the heritage of the Corolla as South Africa`s best selling car ever.

This new hatch does, however, have its own unique personality and is positioned to appeal to a different buyer profile with its outgoing personality. The stylish appearance and dynamic performance of this new model in our range will attract younger buyers.

Manufactured to match South African conditions and specific interpretations of performance relative to local road conditions, including defined NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) characteristics - close consultation between local engineers and TMC`s design and engineering team resulted in an exceptional package.

Toyota has always aimed at providing value-for-money vehicles in terms of the overall ownership experience, and it’s apparent that as the company is now positioned to be even more aggressive in terms of purchase price and added value making the purchase of a Toyota vehicle a rational investment.

Besides the five-year/90 000 km Service Plan, the warranty package on the RunX is three years or 100 000 km. Warranty protection against corrosion perforation is three years, while roadside assistance is provided by the Automobile Association (AA) over the warranty period.

In surveying customer needs, to define their broad-based requirements, Toyota noted that affordability takes a high priority. In this context not all buyers regard safety items such as airbags and ABS brakes as essentials and would prefer a choice to include these in their purchasing specification given the cost implications, while there is sometimes a negative perception associated with these items when they are listed as optional extras.

To ensure that both customer choices are adequately met, the 1.6-litre RunX is available in four specification levels, one of which is a `safety specification` on the 160i variant, the RunX 160i RS."

The comprehensive baseline specification level includes all-aluminium, latest generation fuel injected engines, disc brakes front and rear, power steering, transponder key immobiliser system, r/f remote alarm, central locking with selective unlock feature, digital clock, dome lamp delay, headlamp on buzzer, 4-bulb halogen headlamps, engine exhaust catalyst, centre console with lid, in dash storage compartments, cup holders, whiplash reducing front seat design, head impact protection trim and height adjustable driver`s seat. Wheels are 6JJ X 15 alloy rims fitted with 195/60R15-88V tyres.

The RS specification adds a number of extra safety items to the specification list, including a driver`s side airbag, seat pre-tensioners and force limiters and ABS brakes with electronic force distribution. Also featured are electric windows at the front.

Aimed at a segment where the local market leader has not been a strong player in the recent past, Toyota sees a significant section of the RunX market being young, trendy people who are sometimes termed the "café society", where the latest technology and fashion are major points of discussion, as is the car these people drive.

The RunX was styled with a European bias as a new generation Toyota for the 21st century. The brief given to Toyota`s engineering team was: "Produce an exciting new model that introduces European DNA into the product." The RunX is designed to address just such a specific need in the South African market with its uninhibited, outgoing personality that will have appeal among a youthful and well-informed audience of buyers.

Although the RunX is a unique and self-standing model range with its own personality, the new model shares a number of design attributes and its drive train and platform with the recently launched, ninth generation Corolla. As such the RunX draws on the proud 35-year heritage of the Corolla as the world`s best selling car ever with cumulative sales approaching 30 million.

As a leading world brand the generic Corolla provides the base design concept and components basket for model variants that are specifically tailored for individual market needs.

Design

The design team went into the RunX project aware that nowhere in the world were expectations from a car in this class as high as they are in Europe. This new design had to have not just a European feel to it but it had to match the fullest expectations of that critical market. The design that came out of this brief is a robust and compact one. The RunX is easily recognised as a Toyota, but with a distinct European feel, with a youthful appeal.

The result is a stylish five-door hatchback with a long wheelbase and short overhangs. A sense of vibrancy is generated by the monoform shape of the body that is as functional as it is attractive with a Cd of just 0.29 - a drag coefficient that is in the sports car league. By products of the design are low wind noise and a high level of fuel efficiency.

The keynote large headlamps provide for exceptional lighting performance with their four-lamp configuration. They flank a grille with bold Toyota presence.

Quality

In recent years there has been a huge leap in quality perceptions in the market segment addressed by the RunX. Enhanced expectations focus on more refinement with regard to the look and feel of the vehicle interior. This requires that a great deal of attention is given to detail finish in the design stage, including the fit of interior panels, the feel of door opening mechanisms and the door closing action. Toyota engineers were charged with introducing quality perceptions that were the preserve of the luxury car segment just a design generation ago into a high volume production model.

The unified design of the door-trim, dashboard and centre console provide a quality feel that is enhanced by the neat fit of components and the mating of components with small and precise gaps. The metallic finish to the centre control cluster provides a sporty feel in keeping with the personality of the RunX.

Corrosion resistance, always a Toyota strong point, is enhanced by the use of "galvanealed" steel in vulnerable areas. Extensive use is made of anti-corrosion wax and hemming sealer in jointed areas to further inhibit corrosion.

Toyota engineers devoted a great deal of attention to ensuring a comfortable driving experience. An essential element of that is the NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness) characteristic of the vehicle. In this regard every possible source of NVH has been addressed to achieve NVH levels more akin to a luxury car experience rather than a high volume compact hatch.

Driving dynamics

The all-new platform design with its MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension provides the solid basic structure to meet this requirement.

High tensile steel is used in the body shell to provide a highly rigid and lightweight construction.

The MacPherson front set-up provides for a high degree of manoeuvrability and straight line stability. The torsion beam rear end with toe-in control function provides a high degree of straight line stability and excellent cornering control for a well balanced handling package.

Toyota`s GOA (Global Outstanding Assessment) body design principles were applied to ensure the highest levels of vehicle safety. (GOA is a programme used by Toyota engineers to ensure bodyshell design meets and exceeds the varying safety standards of authorities throughout the world). Shock absorbing ribs are incorporated in the design to limit the transfer of crash impact forces to the passenger cell.

The driving experience is rounded off by the superb performance of the range of new all-aluminium engines that provide an exceptional balance between performance and economy.

Disc brakes are fitted all round on all models. ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution is standard on some higher specification models, as are SRS airbags.

The 160i RS is equipped with a five-speed transmission.

Overall package

The new RunX is a product of what Toyota engineers call a "tall but compact" design philosophy that offers exceptional interior space and easy accessibility.

The RunX has an overall length of 4 175mm and a width of 1 695mm. The height is 1 470mm. The wheelbase of 2 600mm illustrates the short overhangs that are a feature of the RunX hatch. This provides a base set of dimensions that provide for class leading performance in terms of interior space.

The twin-cam, 16-valve engine with electronic fuel injection is equipped with a catalytic converter in the exhaust system. The unit has an aluminium block, cylinder head and sump pan and features advanced electronic fuel injection and engine management.

The 1.6-litre engine produces 81kW of power at 6 000 r/min and delivers 146Nm of torque at 4 400 r/min.

The engine also features VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing – intelligent), which changes the intake valve timing according to engine speed and acts to increase torque in the low- to mid-engine speed ranges. This enhances performance, driveability, improves fuel efficiency and assists in producing cleaner exhaust emissions.
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