The new Toyota Starlet – which is actually a rebadged Suzuki Baleno – is scheduled to launch in South Africa from mid-September 2020.

As we reported in August, Toyota plans to market its Suzuki-built hatchback as the Starlet in certain African countries; as a reminder, the model is known as the Toyota Glanza in India. The Glanza was revealed in June 2019 as a rebadged Baleno and one of a number of “joint projects” between the two Japanese automakers. It is produced by Maruti Suzuki in India.

Now, Toyota Tsusho has announced sales of the Starlet “will be initiated in South Africa from mid-September” before being “successively expanded to 47 countries in Africa”. Toyota South Africa Motors confirmed to CARmag.co.za the new Starlet would launch locally soon.

Like the Baleno, the Starlet measures 3 995 mm long, with a width of 1 745 mm and a wheelbase of 2 520 mm. The most obvious differences between it and the Baleno on which it’s based are the tweaked grille design and slightly different front bumper.

Power for the SA-spec Starlet will come from Suzuki’s K14B engine, a naturally aspirated 1,4-litre petrol unit sending 68 kW and 130 N.m to the front axle via either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. So, exactly like the Baleno, then.

Pricing has yet to be confirmed but it’s worth noting the three-strong Baleno range spans from R221 900 for the GL model to R274 900 for the GLX auto. With production of the Etios having ended in India, it seems likely the new Starlet will serve as a local replacement for the hatchback variant.

Toyota’s Starlet badge, of course, dates back to 1973 when the original was introduced. The fifth and final generation went out of production in 1999. Interestingly, the Starlet Glanza offered in Japan was billed as the “sports version” of this final generation.