The new European specification Yaris has a lighter and stronger new platform architecture. Picture: SUPPLIED
The new European specification Yaris has a lighter and stronger new platform architecture. Picture: SUPPLIED

Toyota’s strategy for the recently unveiled fourth-generation Yaris is to use its in-house New Global Architecture (TNGA) for one flavour of the car for certain markets while capitalising on one of its many technical partnerships, Mazda this time, to cobble out a version for different markets, the US included.

Internally codenamed GA-B, the new Yaris’s chassis and body shell benefit from a lightweight but strengthened construction which has transformed both new Corolla hatch and RAV4 to resounding levels of improvement in drive, comfort and agility. The Yaris features a quicker steering rack, enhanced MacPherson struts with reduced friction, and a stiffer torsion beam than before to infuse it with a more refined driving quality.

Unlike everything else these days, the Yaris details reveal that it has shrunk in dimensions rather than blow up in girth. At 3,940mm, it’s shorter than the current version which comes in at 4,145mm in length. According to the company, clever packaging has gifted the new car with a 50mm longer wheelbase and thus it’s roomier inside than the outgoing model. It’s also lower and wider than its predecessor.

Some of the items to be had inside include full-colour head-up display,  a large central touch display screen supplemented by a TFT information display between the two instrument dials,  and centre airbags mounted on the inner edges of the front seats as standard. Connectivity includes the latest and greatest customer demands, such as CarPlay and Android Auto readiness as standard.

ACCORDING TO THE COMPANY, CLEVER PACKAGING HAS GIFTED THE NEW CAR WITH A 50MM LONGER WHEELBASE

Engines will be a trio of three-cylinder engines: a naturally aspired 1.0l, a 1.5l and a hybrid 1.5l. The latter motor has a newer, 20kg lighter lithium-ion battery pack instead of the old nickel hydride. According to information from the company, efficiency figures are still to be finalised but Toyota hints at a 20% improvement over the current model.

More importantly, Toyota says it expects the new lithium-ion battery to be capable of providing more electric range from its 59kW electric motor, and completing 80% of urban journeys on electric power alone. Transmission choices will be a six-speed manual gearbox or a CVT while a five-speed manual is expected to join with the arrival of an entry-level motor sometime in 2020.

The Madza2 based, US spec Yaris will get a 1.5l four-cylinder engine with 79kW and a six-speed automatic transmission.

A Yaris GRMN and GR Sport are also hinted at but Toyota says it will take a different approach with these hot models.

“With the GRMN we tried to establish more of a link to the rallying," says Toyota Europe executive vice-president Matt Harrison. "It was an interesting exercise. We learnt a lot. And it showed clear demand from a different group of influencers — not traditional Yaris customers."

We could see a more potent WRC "homologation special" for the first time. Senior Manager for Gazoo Racing, Shigeki Tomoyama said. 

"The strategy is that there will be GR products that are dynamically different — tuned, with more power. And GR Sport versions that link to it but which are easier and cheaper to run as everyday cars," concluded Harrison.

Toyota Motors SA spokesperson Riaan Esterhuysen says no final decision has been reached on the local introduction of the new Yaris, be it the Euro or US version. Sales of the existing Asia-sourced SA Yaris continue until feasibility studies have been concluded.