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Toyota unveils all-new Yaris supermini - and claims it’s the “world’s safest” compact car

By Paul Connolly

Toyota has revealed its all-new Yaris supermini, complete with a new hybrid powertrain and improved safety systems.

In fact, the Japanese manufacturer claims the latest Yaris has been engineered to be the “world’s safest compact car”.

This is the fourth-generation model of the Yaris, which has been around since 1999, when it replaced the Toyota Starlet.

The new Yaris is the first model to be built on Toyota ‘s new GA-B modular platform for small cars.

Part of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) build system that has overhauled models like the Corolla, C-HR and RAV4, the GA-B allows the manufacturer several advantages.

For example, most superminis have grown larger down the years. But the new Yaris has had its length reduced by 5mm, while at the same time the wheelbase has been lengthen by 50mm.

This is aimed to make the car agile and manoeuvrable in cities, but roomy and comfortable inside.

The height has been reduced by 44mm also, without compromising headroom as the driver and passengers sit lower. However, the car is 50mm wider, which aids cabin space but also give the car a surer profile.

The previous Yaris had a hybrid option, but themodel – due in the UK in the middle of next year – boasts an all-new 1.5-litre hybrid powertrain.

This, says Toyota, is more responsive with a 15 per cent increase in combined power (engine and electric motor) and a 20 per cent increase in fuel efficiency.

The system also uses a new lithium-ion hybrid battery, giving increased output that enables quicker acceleration. As well as being more powerful, the battery is 27 per cent lighter than the old nickel-metal hydride battery.

The new Yaris will also be available in some markets with 1.5 and 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, but Toyota expects hybrids to be responsible for around 80% of sales.

The external design of the new Yaris is bolder, with strong character lines down the side more prominent front and rear wings and sculpted door panels.

There’s a larger grille and the A-pillar has been shifted back, increasing bonnet length. The bonnet is now adorned with LED lights.

But it’s in the cockpit that you’ll spend most of your time, and this has been extensively re-designed, including the addition of goodies usually found in bigger cars.

Information is presented to the driver from three interlinked sources: the central Toyota Touch touchscreen, a TFT multi-information display in the instrument binnacle and a 10-inch colour head-up display that projects key data and warnings into the driver’s field of view.

Better-quality materials have also been introduced, including a soft-touch instrument panel.

The big boast about safety is also of interest, with Toyota saying the new underpinnings have a lower centre of gravity. This will help with cornering and stability.

The chassis also has a better weight balance, both front/rear and left/right, which reduces body roll and improves braking, while improved torsional rigidity contributes to better handling.

Other innovations have improved stability and rigidity, including new front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension and strategic reinforcements in the cowl, rear pillar, tunnel and rear structure.

The manufacturer claims the new Yaris is the first car in its class to feature a centre airbag, part of the new Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) system.

Advanced driver assistance systems fitted as standard include full speed-range intelligent adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist, as featured in the recently launched new Corolla.

You’ll likely have to wait until next year for official details on UK and Ireland trim levels, price and spec. It looks like orders will open circa June 2010, with first deliveries shipping in September.

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