TOYOTA wants to rule the automotive cosmos and will stop at nothing to achieve this goal.
In Australia’s light-car segment it is already king even with the most senior car on offer, the six-year old Echo.
So imagine how the competition must feel now that the next-generation model is here, promising every-which-way improvements in a newer and more stylish package?
Now known as the Yaris, it is already off to a great start simply because of its parentage.
But this littlest of Toyotas has some class giants to contend with.
Model release date: November 2005
ARGUABLY the most radical mass-market Toyota passenger car ever, the Echo’s transformation from wallflower Starlet vies with Olivia Newton John’s Sandy in Grease.
Futuristic styling inside and out clothed a cleverly designed and packaged hatchback that succeeded against the best its European rivals had to offer.
In fact so good was the Echo that it took another Japanese carmaker – Honda – to better it with the similarly themed Jazz.
A fast, efficient and unburstable 63kW 1.3-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine powered both three and five-door models, while the Japanese designed Echo sedan – surely the antithesis of what made the Echo funky – featured an 80kW 1.5-litre version.
Sales were initially slow until Toyota dropped the prices, added essentials like power steering, air-con and keyless entry, and cranked up its all-conquering marketing machine.