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HomeAutomobileMotoringStunning Starlet O’ Hara, in modern-day 3D is mara good

Stunning Starlet O’ Hara, in modern-day 3D is mara good

A modern-day car whose name could rhyme with a movie heroine from yesteryear, and even mimic in terms of character traits, the pretty fly Starlet could become a cult car like Scarlet O’Hara, from the popular novel and movie, 'Gone With The Wind', who though a rebel, was determined and loyal at least to those she felt deserved her loyalty, writes Prashirwin Naidu.

Writer: Prashirwin Naidu

The Toyota Starlet is a steal in 3D. It’s a modern-day car whose name could rhyme with a classic from yesteryear. I’m talking about someone great, yet few among us would know the name Scarlet O’Hara. She was a character in the novel and movie ‘Gone With the Wind‘. An updated version of the successful 2020 entry-level hatchback, the Toyota Starlet arrived in the blazing heat.

There is no connection with a 19th-century movie character your grandparents may talk fondly off. But let’s leave the classic for our golden years.

Yes, popcorn lovers, the pretty fly Starlet could become a cult car like the movie for those mature enough to remember it. On price, it’s relatively cheap and well suited to the pockets of those yearning for comfort at a fair price. In terms of look and feel, it ticks the boxes for customers wanting something a little simple without costing an arm or a toenail without cute.

The price starts from R226 200 for the entry-level version, the Toyota Starlet 1.5 Xi. But if you’re like my adorable uncle Buddy who in his heyday would say, “go big or go home”, you must get the top-of-the-range Toyota Starlet 1.5 XR auto. For the extra skin exe, expect to fork out around R313 300.

City Slicker: A decent runabout, great on fuel and zippy performer.

Arriving at home on test was the manual variant of the Starlet 1.5 XR, which was under 20 grand cheaper. Power was no issue. It was zippy. Overtaking was a breeze. Starlet offers a calm and gentle experience.  The car was not overbearing. It had the perfect balance between gentleness and sportiness. The clutch is light like a feather. Changing gears is as easy as making tea.

This car is perfect for any individual; be it the up-and-going city goers, families or the single bachelor life. Japanese carmaker Toyota enjoys a solid reputation for producing reliable vehicles, ensuring they’re affordable without compromising on quality.

Boot space is average, giving you about 314 litres of capacity. This new model has shed a few litres as the previous generation was 345 litres. The reduction was to give passengers more legroom in the front and rear seats.

Popcorn lovers: Starlet is a classic in 3D.

Among the more noticeable rivals against this will undoubtedly be its identical twin, the Suzuki Baleno. There are only minor tweaks and changes to the exterior and little to nothing on the inside. These cars are like two peas in a pod. However, the infotainment system does differ. The starlets have a little more modern with the 7-inch colour touchscreen. The Baleno lacks refinement but fear not; it’s only cosmetic. The Polo Vivo 1.6 Highline is also a contender. It may be more expensive for people in contrast to the lower-spec models. However, many South Africans love their Polos despite the high-risk theft conundrum. At least you know that if you park your Starlet or Baleno on the street, it will still be there in the morning.

My final thoughts take me back to December 2020, when my dad (Edwin Naidu) had the previous version of the Starlet for a month. My mom and I drove to Durban to visit my late aunty Mallie and aunt Vanessa. We holidayed in Margate/Uvongo, where I had a terrible bout of food poisoning as we learned that we should not have drunk the water. It was not pleasant, but the Starlet sailed us home safely and most importantly, we were comfortable.

I know not of Scarlet O’Hara, but the Toyota Starlet is mara good!


Aspiring scribe Prashirwin Naidu is a writer focusing on cars and the arts.

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