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Tokyo Show: New Toyota Yaris goes hybrid

Hybrid drive, more safety tech headline new Toyota Yaris ahead of mid-2020 Oz launch

17 Oct 2019

TOYOTA Australia’s commitment to hybrid drivetrains will extend to the Yaris light car when the sportier-looking, all-new fourth-generation model launches here mid-way through next year.


Unveiled in Japan ahead of its public debut at the Tokyo motor show next week, the new Yaris will also feature new safety and driver assist-functions including a centre airbag that protects front-seat occupants from colliding in a side impact, along with a system that can help detect and avoid collisions with oncoming traffic and pedestrians at intersections.


These systems – both firsts for Toyota – are confirmed to be included as standard across the Yaris range in Australia, as well as autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control that can work at all speeds, and lane-keep assist.


Bucking the trend for successive vehicle generations to grow in size, the new Yaris is 40mm lower and 5mm shorter than its predecessor, while the wheelbase is 50mm longer than before.


Despite the shrinkage, Toyota says improved packaging and lower seat heights have maintained headroom in the revised Yaris, while forward visibility for the driver has been improved due to a lower instrument cowl, above which a new 10-inch head-up display will be available on higher-spec variants.


At the same time, the 15mm-lower centre of gravity, 30 per cent stiffer body construction and redesigned suspension promise greater agility and improvements to ride comfort as well as reduced noise and vibration.


The Yaris adopts a similarly simple dashboard layout to the larger Corolla, with a large tablet-style central touchscreen flanked by shortcut buttons and digital air-conditioning controls below.


Compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring is mentioned in the Japanese press release and expected to be included on Australia-bound models. Interior shots of the new Yaris also show a digital dash display as well as storage shelves above the glove box and below the central touchscreen.


Replacing the 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre four-cylinder engines of the current Yaris line-up is a new three-cylinder 1.5-litre unit. This powerplant, rejigged to run on the Atkinson cycle, also forms the basis of hybrid variants that boost both power and efficiency with the addition of an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack.


Performance and efficiency figures for the new Yaris are yet to be published, although the new hybrid drivetrain is claimed to be 40 per cent thermally efficient – a milestone originally set by Toyota Prius in 2015.


Toyota says the new 1.5-litre engine deploys “high-speed combustion technology to achieve low fuel consumption and high output”.


On both drivetrains, a continuously variable automatic transmission sends drive to the front wheels, with reduced rev-flare typical of this transmission type under step-off acceleration provided by the inclusion of a mechanical launch gear.


Yaris hybrids sold in some overseas markets will also be offered with an electric rear motor to provide all-wheel drive as well as a 1.5kW domestic-style power outlet socket that enables the vehicle battery to run appliances away from home or provide emergency energy backup during blackouts. A 1.0-litre engine will also be available elsewhere.


Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley said the new Yaris promised “responsive new drivetrains with the lowest possible running costs and class-leading safety while being agile and easy to park in the city as well as comfortable on longer journeys”.


Asked what the hybridisation of all mainstream Toyota models means for the Prius nameplate long-term, Toyota Australia senior public affairs specialist for passenger vehicles James Wang told GoAuto the Prius brand “continues to play an important role in Toyota’s mission to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions by 90 percent in comparison with 2010 levels, by 2050”.


“In addition to being incredibly fuel efficient, Prius offers additional choice and differentiation in Toyota’s hybrid electric range for customers who want something different.”


Mr Wang also said the Yaris-sized Prius C hybrid “will continue to be sold in the Australian market”.


Year-to-date, the Yaris is Australia’s third most-popular light car with 7053 recorded sales after the Hyundai Accent (8970 sold) and Mazda2 (7200) in a segment down 13.3 per cent following an 8.8 per cent decline in 2018.


The new model will be showcased in Tokyo alongside the futuristic egg-shaped, Corolla-sized LQ electric car concept that has Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities and will be tested in public next year. The LQ is said to provide a personalised mobility experience for occupants based on their emotional state and level of alertness.

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