Toyota has been lying low, off late. Come Auto Expo 2018 it will have a new product of immense mass interest. The model in the spotlight is the Yaris sedan that will debut at the motor show, with a launch planned for the latter part of 2018. A natural rival to the likes of the Honda City, Hyundai Verna and Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, the Yaris will be a more premium offering than Toyota’s own Etios sedan.
The Yaris sedan is already available abroad in many Asian markets, though we have learned the Indian model will be closest to the Singapore-spec car, sold with the ‘Vios’ moniker in that market. Going by specifications of the international model, the Yaris’ 4,425mm length and 2,550mm wheelbase will make it shorter than its key rivals in both measurements – if only marginally so. The Yaris’ design is fairly conventional with a well-defined three-box silhouette. However, Toyota has made an effort to jazz up the look with some adventurous styling details, especially at the front. The Yaris’ swept-back headlamps will link the car to the larger Corolla, itself; more stylized in its latest avatar than ever before. Meanwhile, the bonnet ‘V’ that flows down to bisect the grille will be a defining styling element. A large air dam on the bumper and well-defined fog lamp enclosures are other details likely to be retained for the India car. Styling elsewhere is relatively restrained; with a pronounced shoulder line and wide tail-lamps being some of the other notable highlights.
The Yaris cabin will not break the mold in any way but photos do point to a well-thought-out space. The dashboard is neatly styled and comes with its touchscreen positioned high up, which would aid usability. A chunky steering wheel, chrome-ringed dials and silver accents through the interior are other items of note on the inside. While the cabin treatment and colors for the India car are not yet known, you can expect Toyota to opt for a premium-looking dual-tone color theme. Interestingly, Toyota claims best-in-class cabin width in markets abroad. This could give the Yaris a small but crucial advantage in India too.
Toyota will launch the Yaris in India with a 107hp and 1.5-litre petrol engine. There will be no diesel engine, at least to begin with, as Toyota does not have a small capacity diesel engine that can meet BS-VI norms that come into effect in 2020. What is a possibility, however, is a hybrid version of the 1.5-litre petrol that could join the line-up in the future. Toyota is big in hybrids and would like to leverage its experience in the area of maximizing efficiency and minimizing emissions. The Yaris sedan will be offered with a five-speed manual as standard and there will also be the option of a 7-step CVT. The Yaris will be conventional in its suspension setup with front MacPherson struts and a rear torsion beam arrangement.
Toyota has much ground to cover in the mid-size sedan space in India and is likely to price the Yaris competitively to give it firm footing amidst well-entrenched rivals. Expect prices to range from Rs 8.5-11 lakh (estimated, ex-showroom). A reasonable price tag and Toyota’s golden reputation for service and reliability could just make the Yaris a rather sensible option for mid-size sedan buyers.