High-riding, soft-road version of the Yaris hatchback unveiled and will be coming to Singapore – while the normal hatch might not
Brussels, Belgium –
It’s a sign of the times when the ‘main’ model of a car might not go on sale here, but the SUV-styled derivative model is already confirmed.
We’re talking about the fourth-gen Toyota Yaris compact hatchback, and its new brother, which Toyota Europe recently unveiled: the compact crossover named the Yaris Cross.
The model has been designed with overseas (non-Japanese) markets in mind, as Toyota says in its release: “The Yaris Cross has been designed and developed for Europe and is an authentic SUV, with a raised ride height, higher driving position and the option of an intelligent all-wheel drive system (AWD-i).”
Right-hand drive markets such as the UK and Australia will begin sales in 2021. But Singaporean Toyota distributor Borneo Motors says its looking to bring the Yaris Cross in late this year, although the COVID-19 situation has obviously made timelines more fluid. In contrast, the regular Yaris hatchback is ‘still under consideration’.
We’re betting on the Cross to be a strong seller, if only because the sales of compact sedans (like the Toyota Vios) and compact hatchbacks (like the Toyota Yaris) have tailed off in the past years, partially because mainstream consumers have been shifting towards crossovers and SUVs, and also due to high COE prices. However with COVID-19 also depressing COE prices, that could change for better in the short term, although in the long term the COE prices could rise due to reduced supply.
Evidence? We last drove the Yaris, in its third-gen iteration, seven years ago, and have pretty much seen little of it since. And in contrast, another special version of the Yaris is coming here – Borneo Motors will be bringing the 260hp, high-performance GR Yaris compact hot hatch this year.
It’s the craziest Yaris to ever come to Singapore, with a 1.6-litre turbo inline three-cylinder engine, and lots of high performance tweaks including a special chassis, unique suspension with strengthened mounts, all-wheel drive, and six-speed manual gearbox. And it weighs 1,280kg.
But back to the big seller: The Yaris Cross is a little wider, but considerably longer and taller than the hatchback – compare the hatch’s length, width, and height of 3,995mm x 1745mm x 1470mm to the Cross model’s 4,235mm x 1,765 x 1,570mm.
Both share the same wheelbase of 2,560mm, unsurprising since both cars run on the new compact architecture, Toyota GA-B, which is part of the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) platform family, which underpins the Toyota Corolla Altis and Prius.
Toyota says the extra length gives the Cross more room, so we expect four adults to fit onboard and the cargo space to be larger than the hatchback’s 286-litres. Toyota says extra effort was paid to practicality, so it included a powered rear tailgate, a variable-height loading deck, and a flexible belt system to tie down items.
The interior layout appears very similar to the new Yaris, with a semi-active instrument display and a full-colour touchscreen that’s mounted high on the dashboard.
The only confirmed powertrain for the Yaris Cross at the moment is a hybrid variant, Toyota’s latest fourth-gen hybrid system with 1.5-litre inline four-cylinder engine and system peak output of 116hp, with all-wheel drive as an option. Based on the current Yaris Hybrid, we could expect fuel efficiency of sub-5.0L/100km.
It’s likely the car will also adopt the same gasoline engines as the normal Yaris. This includes a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, the hybrid variant we just mentioned, and possibly an upgraded version of the 1.0-litre inline three-cylinder seen on the third-gen Yaris.
Visually the car looks exactly how it should: Contrast fenders, high-mounted headlights, funky colour scheme via two-tone paint, and a coupe-like rear end with strong shoulders, and an implied full-width lightbar. For the full pics, scroll to the gallery at the end of this story.
Toyota Safety Sense, the company’s active safety system which is already found on the current Toyota Corolla Altis, is standard on all Yaris models, so we expect the Cross model to pack it as well.
The car is a compact crossover/SUV, and therefore isn’t as large as the currently popular small SUV crowd which includes the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-30. If you’re thinking a small Toyota crossover already exists, that’s the C-HR, but it’s a HR-V rival and one size up, at 4,360mm long.
Currently the Kia Stonic is the best-seller in the compact crossover segment, but with the Yaris Cross coming in 2021, and the Volkswagen T-Cross, a compact crossover rival also due in Singapore this year, it looks like the compact SUV war is heating up.