The amusingly-named Gazoo Racing arm of Toyota flaunted a few forward-looking wares at this week’s Tokyo Auto Salon, including a GRMN Yaris and the GR GT3 Concept plus its take on the new bZ4X all-electric vehicle. While the latter is part of the company’s trek toward carbon neutrality, the other machines underscore the importance of having corporate leadership that’s actually interested in cars.
While the Toyota Prius was an inarguable success on the North American market, its smaller sibling really only had a few good years before sales figures started trending in the wrong direction. The Prius C attempted to court urbanites (the C stands for city) by offering the same hybrid concept in a smaller package. Unfortunately, Toyota only managed to move around 13,000 between the United States and Canada in 2017 before its discontinuation the following year — leaving us with the standard Prius and the tongue-twisting Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid.
But the C has since been revised in its native Japan, where it’s called the Aqua, resulting in a slightly roomier automobile with a new high-output bipolar nickel-hydrogen battery that’s supposed to deliver improved responsiveness and range. Considering the escalation of Western fuel prices, we’re wondering if it’s time for the Prius C to make a comeback in our neck of the woods or if it’s better left to cruise around the tight streets of Tokyo where its success is all but assured as the Aqua.
Just when Toyota’s Yaris finally adorned the name of a fun car, the brand kills it.
It was once the Scion iA, but a couple years ago, Toyota bestowed it with the Yaris moniker after retiring the Scion brand. Once attached to underwhelming subcompacts, the name was now slapped on the side of a more-fun small car.
It’s not shocking that the brand killed the Mazda 2-based Yaris sedan. The culprits? Slow sales and new regulations.
Slow sales is a big story in the subcompact class, and in 2019 the Yaris was down 5,000 units from the year before. Coronavirus may have ushered the Yaris out the door, too, since Toyota planned to limit North American production to adjust to the difficulties posed by the pandemic.
Bad news to share — especially for those of you enamored with cheap, entry-level passenger cars. The Toyota Yaris sedan and hatchback will vanish after the 2020 model year.
Reworked versions of the Mazda 2, the guppy-faced Yarises greeted North American buyers in two phases after the “real” Yaris bowed out, first as a sedan and later as a hatchback. Get one while you can.
You won’t like it when it’s angry. Actually, you might, as the Toyota Yaris Cross small crossover seems to have not a mean bone in its body.
Boasting just three cylinders underhood whether in gas-only or hybrid guise, the Yaris Cross is what happens when enthusiasm for subcompact hatchbacks starts to wane, but the automaker doesn’t want to spoil what it already has going for it in that segment.
Toyota has expressed interest in delivering a compact crossover sized smaller than the existing C-HR before, going so far as to offer a few teasers to whet the collective appetite. Another bait image was posted this week, accompanying promises that the automaker will debut the model at the 2020 Geneva Auto Show next month.
While the model could go head-to-head with a handful of rides here in North America, it’s a product aimed primarily at the European market. Based on the TNGA-B platform, the mystery Toyota is supposed to undercut the C-HR in scale and price. Here, that would make it a likely rival for the Nissan Kicks or Ford EcoSport. Both models have seen modest sales growth through their first full year on sale, but there’s not a lot of heat in the segment as a whole.
Toyota will only ship the new crossover as far West as it thinks is profitable.
It’s been a minute since the fish-mouthed Yaris sedan has been seen in the Ace of Base arena. Closely related to the not-for-us Mazda 2, the littlest Toyota does its best to quash the bad old days of entry-level econoboxes.
Just make sure to park the thing front-in at every parking space, please.
Toyota has teased the upcoming GR Yaris Prototype, scheduled to debut at the Rally Australia on November 17th. Based on the TNGA Yaris, we’re unlikely to see it stateside. However, Toyota expanding its Gazoo Racing lineup is still good news. The bigger it gets, the more likely we are to finally get one here.
Dubbed the GR-4, the vehicle appears to be a homologation car, allowing Toyota to run in the 2020 World Rally Championship. That WRC connection also means all-wheel drive and an amped-up powertrain are practically guaranteed.
With the debut relatively near, Toyota isn’t interested in giving away many details. But we can clearly see from the teaser image that the GR-4 has some seriously flared wheel arches — at least in the rear — and a lowered roofline. It’s going to be a very different animal from any Yaris previously encountered.
Badge-engineering is nothing new under the sun, especially for those of us who lived through Detroit’s offerings in the 1980s. Here in the 21st century, all hands are getting in on the action, with Toyotas appearing as Subarus and Nissans appearing as Chevys. This time around, the Big T is continuing to forge a relationship with Mazda, applying its Yaris nameplate to a small Hiroshima hatchback.
They’ve done more than just slap a badge on the thing, of course. Like the Yaris sedan, Toyota has grafted a tribute to the whisker fish to the 2’s nose during a fit of reconstructive surgery.
At the instant noodle end of the Toyota showroom, cars come in three flavors: Good, Better, and Mildly Spicy (L, LE, SE). Within these trims, few options are offered, unlike domestic truck manufacturers who very nearly allow their customers to order their rigs a la carte. Of course, there’s a lot more profit in trucks, so they’re worth the trouble.
The littlest Toyota, which definitely wins an award for Most Entertaining Windshield Wiper, is now packed to the gunwales compared to the cheap seats hawked by the manufacturer in past years.
Last week, my Ace of Base selection was met with loud derision from certain corners of the web. My intent was to prove how it’s possible for one to get into a comfortable, well-equipped, diesel-powered Canyon pickup without springing for an SLT or Denali trim. Nevertheless, my efforts were met with a chorus of WHY DON’T YOU JUST DO AN ACE OF BASE ON A ROLLS-ROYCE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE.
Well then, without further delay…
I woke up yesterday to see that my friend W. Christian “Mental” Ward had taken advantage of me while I was drunk.
My first thought was to make a porn movie in which I played myself, kind of like that nice young lady who recently graduated from Columbia did. (They call her “Mattress Girl”, by the way.) But then I realized that Mental’s violations had been limited to using the column title “No Fixed Abode” for his own opinions. So I calmed down. But then I wondered: what if I just let people use the title for columns of which I particularly approved, either drunk or sober? Eventually I wouldn’t even need to approve them myself. I could use an algorithm, or a Millennial. Perhaps, after fifty or seventy-five years of this, the phrase “no fixed abode” would become brandless, like “kleenex” or “band-aid.”
I can imagine some kid in the year 2210 waxing nostalgic about his steam-powered Kamakiri biosphere-mobile (the first person to get the reference wins the Internet) and saying to his friends, “Man, I’m going to hook up the ‘trodes and bang out a nofixedabode about the time I saw my Daddy mowing the lawn and I was like, ‘Come on Daddy, get in, let’s go!'” At that point, the original reason for the column title, to say nothing of its decidedly nonfamous originator, would be long lost to history.
Which brings us, of course, to the Prius.
Toyota’s line of engine/body mashups continues, this time with their upcoming Mazda2-based subcompact powered by Mazda’s SkyActiv engine family.
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