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Why Toyota says new Yaris will be worth 12-month wait

First look: Toyota Yaris

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Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris

The engine of the new Toyota Yaris

The engine of the new Toyota Yaris

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Toyota Yaris

It won't be in Ireland until this time next year, but a preview of the next generation Toyota Yaris last week in Amsterdam shows a significant upshift in a model crucial to the company in Europe's urban environment.

Two decades and 4m units sold after the launch of the first Yaris in Europe, the new one will have a snappier style, better interior space and a new platform.

It will also come with a new version of Toyota's hybrid system, tailored especially for the model.

The new Yaris is shorter than the current version, but a longer wheelbase offers more room for passengers.

A dropped hip point compensates for a roof-line that has also been lowered. There's a wider track.

The overall new styling is based on the theme of an "athlete on the blocks" or a bull ready to charge.

Lots of rear-end visual energy.

Car designers have an urge to name their ideas, this one they're calling 'Condensed Power'. Inside the première debut cars last week, the style was minimalist, but with quality materials.

There's a large central touchscreen, and a colour head-up display features.

"We wanted to provide a high tech ambience," says Andrea Carlucci, director product planning and marketing management at Toyota Motor Europe (TME).

"We're using innovative materials to provide a rich and sensory feel."

As part of what the company describes as a "more engaging" driving position, there's a better view over a lowered hood line, and a smaller steering wheel. Underneath all this is the first use for the company's small cars of the Toyota New Generation Architecture, labelled GA-B.

Accounting in part for the better people packaging, it will also offer a more agile and fun car to drive, according to Luc Nuyts, manager of European projects B-Segment.

He pointed out areas which provide improved body stiffness, and the overall improvement in torsional rigidity by 35pc puts the new car at the top of the class.

A new rear suspension allows the use of softer springs without affecting good handling.

The much stronger platform weighs in the same as the old one, but overall there's a 20kg trimming of the model's weight.

The new car will come with the latest package of Toyota driver assistance technologies, and a safety specification that includes new centre airbags set in the inside side bolsters of the front seats.

In the drive-train area, the already 60pc penetration of hybrid choice by customers in the current Yaris is expected to climb as far as 80pc, according to Matthew Harrison, executive vice president of TME.

"It comes with our fourth generation of hybrid systems," he says.

"It can operate in EV mode for 80pc of time in a typical urban environment."

The latest hybrid engine is based on a new 1.5-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine, with an improved and smaller hybrid transaxle and the introduction of a lithium-ion battery instead of the current NiH one.

The engine alone is rated at a quite phenomenal 40.3pc thermal efficiency, thanks to some clever stuff in high speed combustion and high compression ratios.

The package is 15pc more powerful than the present Yaris hybrid, and 20pc more efficient, according to TME's hybrid expert Stefan Ramaekers.

It all looks and sounds good so far.

Given Toyota's groundbreaking work with hybrids, achieving sales of more than 14m hybrid powered cars worldwide, we can accept they know their way forward.

But we're going to have to wait a while longer to get a real feel for the future of their European urban contender.

Indo Motoring