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Future models - Toyota - Yaris

Toyota’s revamped Yaris here in March

Paris in a Yaris: Slight styling changes will make their way to the updated Yaris city car range, but motoring enthusiasts around the world are waiting with bated breath for more information about a rally-bred, range-topping hot hatch version.

Updated Yaris coming, Toyota says no to hybrid but considering hot hatch version

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Toyota logo13 Jan 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

TOYOTA this week revealed its facelifted Yaris ahead of its debut in high-performing, rally-inspired, three-door hot-hatch form at the Geneva motor show in March, around the same time that standard five-door variants are expected to go on sale in Australia.

While Australian version details are still to come, the new Yaris range – called the Vitz in Toyota’s home country of Japan – will sport new-look LED headlights and a restyled front bumper, as well as new lower grille and fog light cover designs.

The rear end redesign sees the inclusion of a sculpted rear bumper and updated LED tail-lights, in addition to new-look wheels, to give the facelifted Yaris a more aggressive, lower and wider look overall.

Interior and mechanical tweaks are expected to remain minimal, with the entry-level Yaris Ascent powered by a 63kW/121Nm 1.3-litre atmo four-cylinder, while mid-tier and top-spec SX and ZR versions make do with a 80kW/141Nm 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-pot.

In Japanese markets, Toyota also offers its new Yaris range with a standard Safety Sense package, with technologies including hill-start assist and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

However, for Australian-spec Yaris vehicles, it is understood the car-making giant will only include the safety pack on top-spec ZR grades, with the rest of the lower grades able to option Safety Sense at a presently undisclosed cost – similar to Toyota’s recent introduction of new safety technologies across its Corolla hatch and sedan range.

Japan will also get a hybrid option with the revamped Yaris range, but Toyota Australia has confirmed this version will not arrive in local showrooms as it features the same powertrain and similar dimensions to the already on sale Prius C.

Another new variant which could be introduced is a range-topping, WRC-inspired hot hatch to take on the likes of the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTI and Renault Clio RS.

While Toyota has yet to give its headline-stealing Yaris a name, it has said it will reveal more details about the upcoming model at the Geneva motor show in March, and promises around 157kW of power – out-muscling its Ford and Volkswagen rivals.

Just two images have been revealed, showing-off a white three-door Yaris with eye-catching red and black decals, a sports bodykit, prominent roof-mounted spoiler, blacked-out side view mirrors and wheels, and centre-exit exhaust.

However, with Toyota Australia ditching its three-door Yaris bodystyle in 2014 and the micro hot hatch segment occupying a small percentage niche in the country, the hardcore Yaris may be off the table for local buyers.

There is a precedent though, set by Ford bringing its three-door only Fiesta ST to market in 2013, while the rest of its compact hatch range remains an exclusively five-door affair.

Although pricing has yet to be confirmed, the new Yaris line-up is not expected to deviate greatly from its current sticker price, which starts at $15,290 before on-roads for the Yaris Ascent manual hatch and tops out at $21,920 for the ZR automatic five-door.

Last year, Toyota sold 12,158 Yaris micro cars, a noticeable 15.9 per cent drop over its sales tally in 2015. This placed the Yaris third in the ultra-price sensitive light car market behind the Hyundai Accent (18,703) and Mazda2 (13,639).

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