1 Nov 2005
By CHRIS HARRIS
TOYOTA’S Yaris replaced the six-year old Echo as the Japanese giant’s light-car contender.
Released in early November 2005, it opened with a 12-strong model range, which comprises three- and five-door hatchbacks.
From March 2006 a four-door Yaris sedan was also added to the fleet.
Although it cost more than the ever-popular Echo, the Yaris added an MP3/CD audio, and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist as standard.
Dual front airbags, air-conditioning, power windows, electric mirrors, remote central locking, power steering and 14-inch wheels are also included.
About the only Echo carryover items are the two twin-cam 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder engines offered in either a revised five-speed manual or a driver-adaptive four-speed automatic gearbox.
The 1.3-litre 2NZ-FE unit is reserved for the YR. It produces 63kW of power at 6000rpm while maximum torque tops out at 121Nm from 4200rpm.
Meanwhile the larger 1.5-litre 1NZ-FE engine musters 80kW at 6000rpm and 141Nm from 4200rpm. It is the sole engine in the YRS and YRX.
Size-wise, Toyota’s goal was to maintain the Echo hatch’s 3750mm overall length for the Yaris but with a cabin that could comfortably accommodate four 192cm adults.
So a significantly larger interior had to be devised – achieved by stretching the wheelbase and shortening the engine bay.
Compared to Echo, more rear-seat room and luggage capacity is a welcome upshot.
Toyota launched a facelifted Yaris in October 2008, bringing minor safety and convenience improvements.
It would take a keen eye to pick the differences, with slightly reshaped headlights, a smaller grille, new tail-light lenses, fresh interior seat trim, and revised bumpers giving the game away.
The headlights now spread light better, the base YR receives telescopic-adjustment steering, and the up-spec YRS and YRS hatch gained illumination for the steering-wheel mounted controls.
In total, the Yaris range extended to 16 models: 12 hatchback and four sedans.
In August 2009 Toyota upgraded its entry-level Yaris hatchback by adding Bluetooth and USB connectivity as standard.