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All set for Toyota Yaris Cross

Toyota’s all-new Yaris-based crossover emerges ahead of local launch late this year

24 Apr 2020

TOYOTA’S domination of the Australian new-vehicle market is about to strengthen further with the announcement that it will launch an all-new model – the Yaris Cross compact crossover – into a high-volume segment by the end of this year.


Unveiled overnight in a digital media conference after the COVID-19 epidemic scuppered plans for its physical world premiere last month with the cancellation of the Geneva motor show, the Yaris Cross will sit below the C-HR as the new entry point to the Japanese brand’s SUV range at the low-$20,000s mark.


This will place it alongside the class-leading Mazda CX-3 in the light SUV segment, clear of the C-HR which is classified as a small SUV and starts from $29,540 plus on-road costs.


As the name suggests, the Yaris Cross is based on the new-generation Yaris light hatch due soon and uses the same TNGA-B compact car platform.


It rides on a 2560mm wheelbase and measures 4180mm in overall length, 1765mm in width and 1560mm in height.


Naturally enough, this makes the new crossover taller and wider than the forthcoming redesigned hatch, by 90mm and 20mm respectively, while the C-HR is a slightly bigger and roomier proposition with its longer wheelbase (+80mm) and bigger dimensions all round (length: +210mm; width: +30mm; height: +5mm).


Importantly, Toyota Australia has confirmed that Yaris Cross will join the C-HR and RAV4 in offering both petrol and petrol-electric hybrid powertrains.


Both will be based on a new 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, with European figures showing the hybrid will have a combined maximum power output of 85kW and offer CO2 emissions as low as 90 grams per kilometre for the front-wheel-drive version (NEDC cycle) and 100g/km for the AWD-i variant.


The inclusion of all-wheel drive with the hybrid is a unique combination for this category. It is an on-demand system that operates as a front-driver in regular conditions but can send torque to the rear wheels when a loss of traction is detected.


It is a fully electric system, too, which Toyota claims brings advantages with lower weight, more compact dimensions and therefore less fuel consumption and emissions compared to a mechanical AWD unit.


Other major specifications are still to surface, although Toyota has promised that the Yaris Cross will be roomier inside than its supermini sibling, despite sharing the same wheelbase.


The extra length is applied at both the front and rear – +60mm to the front overhang and +180mm at the rear, the latter securing more interior space – while ground clearance is 30mm higher. This should aid entry/egress and will deliver the requisite higher driving position that buyers value with this genre of vehicle.


Toyota claims that this higher ride height and AWD-i availability makes the Yaris Cross “a genuine SUV” as opposed to simply being a high-riding hatchback.


Other practical features of note in the new crossover include a powered tailgate, adjustable deck height in the luggage area – providing the option of either an underfloor compartment or more boot space – as well as ‘flex belt’ system to strap down loose cargo and 40/20/40 split-fold rear seats for longer items.


The cockpit area mimics that of the new-generation Yaris, with the dashboard dominated by a large central touchscreen and the instrument binnacle including a digital display.


A high level of ‘Toyota Safety Sense’ advanced driver-assist safety technology is also anticipated.


The exterior design was a collaboration between Toyota’s French and Japanese design studios and is more along the lines of a scaled-down RAV4 than a spin-off from the much edgier C-HR.


The design general manager at the EDD studio in Nice, Lance Scott, said the team was motivated by the key words ‘robust’ and ‘minimalistic’ to express both compactness and agility, as well as the robustness and strength of an SUV.


He said the image of a diamond was used to help shape the body, which in turn allowed the design team plenty of room to focus heavily on the fenders, with the combination resulting in what he considers to be “an energetic shape which was both strong and sophisticated”.


“When we started this process, we understood that whilst style is the number one purchase reason in the B-SUV segment, customers were also keen to have a high level of practicality. Not easy things to reconcile, especially in a compact package,” Mr Scott said.


“Clearly, we want the car to be immediately perceived as a SUV, so we emphasised a higher ground clearance, a strong horizontal axis giving a great balance and poise, big squared wheelarches, and of course big wheels – up to 18 inches!


“The face was also a very important aspect for us. We wanted to keep the strong DNA of Toyota’s SUV line-up but at the same time give Yaris Cross an identity of its own.”


Australian versions will be built in Japan while Europe will be supplied through the TMMF Onnaing factory, near Valenciennes in France, where Toyota expects to produce more than 150,000 examples of the crossover per year.


As GoAuto has reported, Toyota Australia currently leads the vast majority of the segments in which it competes and even in this most difficult of years has to date recorded impressive sales and/or share improvements in high-volume categories as well as diminishing classes where it often seems to be the only brand bucking the downward trend.


The C-HR and Fortuner are the two SUV models from Brand T that are not standout performers on the sales charts, while RAV4, Prado/Kluger and LandCruiser all rule their categories.


Overall, Toyota currently commands 18.7 per cent of all SUV sales in Australia, and 21.5 per cent of the entire new-vehicle market.

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