New Toyota Yaris
Toyota has shown off the new Yaris, a critical model as it tries to convince more and more buyers to go for hybrid cars.
The current Yaris is still a big seller for Toyota in Ireland, even as its replacement is being unveiled. In fact, the Yaris is the ninth best-selling car overall in Ireland so far this year, with 2,510 already finding homes in 2019. That means the new model has big shoes to fill.
It's going to start by using a new chassis, based on the Toyota New Generation Architecture (TNGA) platform that we've already sampled underneath the Corolla, RAV4, Prius and Camry. This is the 'GA-B' platform, and the new Yaris will be the first car to use it. It's 5mm shorter than the outgoing model, but has a wheelbase that's a full 50mm longer, so cabin space is actually increased.
The new Yaris is also 40mm lower than the old car, but headroom, says Toyota, is unaffected as the driving position is also a little lower. Toyota also says that the height of the front panel has been reduced, so visibility out is improved, in spite of the lower seat. Finally, in dimensional terms, the new Yaris is 50mm wider than before.
In terms of styling, it's very much an evolution of the current car, but with a longer, more prominent bonnet and a distinct C-pillar arrangement at the back, where the bodywork seems to extend out behind the pillar and into the C-HR-style lights.
The cabin takes clear cues from the current RAV4 and Corolla, with a broad, very horizontal dashboard, a large touchscreen jutting up in the middle and a mixture of analogue and digital instruments in front of the driver. There's also the option of a ten-inch head-up display.
Thanks to the flexibility of the new platform, Toyota is already making great claims for the new Yaris' dynamic repertoire, saying that the Yaris' "stability inspires confidence, while its response to the driver's inputs is natural and precise, leading to a heightened sense of agility."
The driving position, as well as being lower down, is set around 60mm further back than that of the outgoing car, and the centre of gravity is some 15mm lower down. The new Yaris will have to be sharp to drive - Toyota chairperson and noted car nut Akio Toyoda claimed at the car's launch that he uses a Yaris as his daily wheels...
Probably the most significant aspect of the new Yaris is its new hybrid engine. A 1.5-litre unit, and based on the same 'Dynamic Force' 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre engines used in the Corolla and RAV4, this one is actually a three-cylinder engine, which, with variable valve timing, runs on the fuel-saving Atkinson combustion cycle.
Toyota claims that the new engine has been optimised to reduce internal friction, and that it has a balancer shaft to improve refinement. It also claims that the engine has "the world's fastest combustion speed", which is said to help improve low-down torque and efficiency.
This is also the first Toyota hybrid, other than the Prius Plug-in, to adopt a lithium-ion battery. Lighter by 27 per cent than the old Yaris Hybrid's nickel battery, this new electrical component helps the new Yaris to achieve a claimed 20 per cent improvement in fuel economy and emissions, alongside a 15 per cent improvement in power. As well as the hybrid model, conventional 1.5 and 1.0-litre petrol versions will also be offered.
Since it was launched in 1998, the Yaris has sold four million units in Europe, some 500,000 of which have been hybrids. Toyota's keeping production of the car in Europe, at the factory at Valenciennes in France, where it has just invested an extra €300 million in new facilities.
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