Toyota is taking the wraps off the all-new 2020 Yaris that it will sell everywhere besides the U.S., the reveal happening on the 20th anniversary of the compact hatchback’s debut. Accordingly there are some key differences from the Mazda-based version sold here that go well beyond the two-tone body-roof appearance and more distinctive design.
They start with the use of the Toyota New Global Architecture modular platform, which makes its first appearance in a compact car and will feature in all Toyota compact cars sold in developed nations moving forward. It also gets a newly designed 1.5-liter hybrid system and electric four-wheel drive, also a first for a compact car.
Moving the Yaris to the GA-B platform helped reduce the vehicle’s length by 5 millimeters and overall height by 40 mm, but it increased the wheelbase by 50 mm. The platform is also lighter by about 110 pounds, and it’s more rigid, making the car more stable and boosting ride comfort, with less noise and vibration and a lower center of gravity for a more responsive drive.
The new powertrain is a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine running on the Atkinson cycle with variable valve timing, combined with the automaker’s fourth-generation hybrid technology. Toyota is keeping the lid on horsepower and fuel-economy projections for now but says the setup improves fuel economy and lowers CO2 emissions by more than 20%, with a 15% boost in output. It's directly derived from the 2.0- and 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid setups that feature in the new overseas Corolla, RAV4 and Camry models, Toyota says, and it stands in contrast to the 106-horsepower 1.5-liter inline-four that features in the U.S. model.
Toyota also swaps out the nickel-metal hydride battery for a lithium-ion battery pack that enables quicker acceleration, more power and less weight. Also improving fuel efficiency is a newly developed Direct Shift-CVT. Select markets including Japan will also get the option of non-hybrid 1.5- and 1.0-liter three-cylinder combustion engines, the latter only in front-wheel drive and the former available with a six-speed manual.
Where the U.S. version of the new Yaris completes its metamorphosis into a rebadged Mazda2 by adopting that car’s blueprint and platform for the hatchback version as well as the sedan, the global version is its own animal. Toyota calls the design concept “B-Dash!” to highlight a taut appearance of being ready to dash off at a moment’s notice. It has a crossover-like overall side profile and haunches, with sculpted door panels and a similar angry catfish front fascia to the U.S. version. There are black surrounds on the headlights, which are of a slightly different shape and are now LEDs, and black faux intake scoops for the fog lamps are also different.
Toyota Safety Sense is also standard, offering active safety technologies like pre-collision pedestrian and cyclist detection, low-speed acceleration control, lane tracing assist and automatic high beams. It will also see the first use of Toyota’s Advanced Park, a semi-autonomous system in which the car will take over braking, acceleration and steering using cameras and ultrasonic sensors to self-park the car.
The 2020 Yaris goes on sale in Japan in mid-February and in Europe in the second half of 2020.