Toyota South Africa Motors says it will later in 2020 introduce a model to “fill the gap” left by entry-level variants of the now-discontinued Etios.

The news comes after the local launch of the new new Starlet, which arrives as a rebadged Suzuki Baleno. While the Etios hatch range had started at R191 800, the new Starlet kicks off at R204 900.

Toyota SA says it expects to sell some 500 units of the Starlet each month, down from the average of 1 125 units achieved by the Etios (including the Sedan, which won’t be directly replaced).

“This vehicle [the Starlet] is slightly more expensive than our outgoing Etios, so we aren’t expecting exactly the same volumes that we had from Etios,” Clynton Yon, senior manager for communications at Toyota SA, said during an online product presentation.

Still, Yon suggested there were plans to introduce another budget vehicle to make up this lost volume.

“Watch this space as we will have further model introductions later this year that will fill in the gaps when it comes to entry-level Etios models,” he added.

For the record, the A-segment Aygo range currently starts at R182 000.

During the same online event, Riaan Esterhuysen, manager for product communications at Toyota SA, said the Yaris – which is positioned above the Starlet and currently starts at R264 200 – “will continue”, despite rumours to the contrary.

“Of course, we will judge market reaction. The Starlet with the higher grade can play in that traditional B-segment as well, where customers want style and good spec levels,” Esterhuysen said.

“So, we will monitor market reaction and see if we need to tailor the line-up potentially on the Yaris side or whether there’s a space for them both to occupy the market.”