Compact Ractis ticks all the boxes
Japanese marques often launch cars in Hong Kong before any other foreign city. This is because Hong Kong drives on the left, as the Japanese do, and the marques can easily ship us cars off their main production lines. Hong Kong gives the marques' global export strategists their first foreign media, customer and dealer feedback about their new models.
For Toyota the news is good. Hong Kong seemed to like its five-seater Ractis runabout when the 'New Wave Japan Hatchback' was presented in Kowloon Bay. Hong Kong's car lovers seem to have forgiven the model's name 'Ractis'. It is an acronym formed from the phrase 'Runner with ACTIvity and Space', or, in simple language, busy little cars with lots of room.
Such models have a staunch following here. The 1.3-litre Echo Verso was a popular mum-mobile and one of the most dog-friendly rides in town with a tall roof, slobber-friendly surfaces and an easy rear hatch. The Yaris was also a popular school-run special and proved that you no longer needed two litres for errands up The Peak.
The 1,497cc Ractis seems a practical, pet-friendly five-seater. Toyota has kept it a compact 3.995 metres long, 1.695m wide and 1.685m high on 16-inch wheels. Available for HK$178,800, the model has a fashionable grille, bumper and headlight designs, power-adjustable door mirrors with trafficator and LED brake lamps. The moonroof with a powered shade is 'the largest of its kind on any car in its class', Toyota says, citing the spaciousness of the cabin. There is lots of storage in a host of cubby holes, along with rear seats that fold flat.
The entertainment system includes a seven-inch touch-panel monitor and a six-speaker electronic tuning radio/CD player system. The lipless rear hatch opens to a deckboard that can accommodate a couple of poodles or 'three pieces of luggage at the same time' which the marque says is 'incomparable to any car in its class'.
The Ractis' 107-horsepower engine is fitted with VVT-i and a seven-speed Super CVT-i transmission with +/- mode that is designed to reduce shift jolt and ease petrol consumption. The model consumes 4.8 litres per 100 km, and is eligible for the government's Tax Incentives Scheme for environment-friendly petrol private cars.
The model's safety electronics include anti-lock braking and brake assist systems, electronic brakeforce distribution, dual front airbags, Isofix child-seat fittings, a parking sensor, anti-theft alarm and immobiliser. A Verso edition is available for HK$188,800, and www.thetruthaboutcars.com says 'the Ractis is the first car in Japan that can be bought wheelchair-ready ex factory'. Such a concept might prove popular in greying Hong Kong.