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Future models - Toyota - Yaris

New Yaris gets localised

Australian technical centre tunes Yaris for local tastes ahead of October launch

Toyota logo8 Aug 2011

By DAVID HASSALL

TOYOTA Australia claims its technical centre in Melbourne has contributed to the development of the next-generation Yaris, the local launch of which has been delayed until late this year.

After months of speculation, Toyota Australia also announced last week that the Yaris will be launched in Australia in October, only one month later than originally planned before it was delayed by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March.

It can hardly come soon enough for the embattled market leader, which has seen Yaris sales drop 30.3 per cent this year, falling well behind the segment-leading Hyundai Getz and Mazda2, and with the Ford Fiesta and Suzuki Swift getting closer by the month.

By the time the Yaris arrives, the light-car segment will be even hotter following the local launches of the new Hyundai Accent (next week), Kia Rio (September) and Holden Barina (October), along with the introduction of the Skoda Fabia in September.

Next year, Nissan will expand its light-car range with launch of the Micra-based Sunny sedan while Mitsubishi will welcome a new Colt range.

8 center imageThe third-generation Yaris was launched in Japan just before Christmas last year, has been previewed in the US this week and will go on sale in Britain next month. European production commenced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing France’s plant at Valenciennes on July 14.

To coincide with the impending launch in Europe, Toyota released a video describing some of the initiatives introduced to improve quality (see link above) at the factory and with suppliers.

The company claims its engineers were sent to Japan for up to 18 months to work on development of the new car, with the aim of identifying and tackling potential quality issues at an early stage. This work is said to have begun three years before the start of production, 18 months earlier than for any previous Yaris.

Australian-market Yaris models are built in Japan.

The localisation program conducted by the Toyota Technical Centre in Clayton was designed to ensure that the new light car meets the expectations of local buyers, especially in the areas of handling and steering.

Toyota Australia said in a statement that the local input to the steering calibration delivers the type of feedback and directness appreciated in this market.

“Input by local Toyota engineers has ensured the chassis and steering for the next-generation Yaris hatch will suit Australian conditions and driver expectations,” said Toyota.

“The local engineers also confirmed the overall chassis package for Australia, which provides sharp handling – similar to that preferred by European drivers.” Among the engineering changes applied to Yaris around the world is electric steering with a tight turning circle of 9.4 metres and added power assistance at parking speeds, designed to make the car even more suited to city driving.

Toyota also claims that body rigidity has been improved to reduce twisting as well as excess suspension movements, particularly at the rear, resulting in better grip, sharper steering response and improved cornering.

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