A good boil, resolutely city dimensions, a sliding bench and a digital instrumentation in central position … This description makes you think of the first Renault Twingo, released in 1993? You are right. But it also corresponds, line by line, to the Toyota Yaris first name. Appeared in 1999, the Japanese girl was certainly inspired by her French rival. To accuse him of plagiarism pure and hard would however be abusive. With its more pronounced hood and heart-shaped grille, it has its own personality and can easily forget his pale predecessor, the Starlet.
A minivan derivative and a sports version
In 2001, another event will help him find his place in France. It will begin to be assembled in a brand new factory located in the north of France, next to Valenciennes. But the success will also come from a wide range, with three or five-door bodies, a small minivan called Verso, gasoline and diesel, not to mention a (sporty) version sporting the label Toyota Sport and animated by a 1.5. Some markets, like Switzerland or Japan, will even have a turbo variant of 150 hp! But overall, it is still pragmatism that prevails: despite the craze of the time for small cabriolets, the concept of discoverable presented at the Geneva Motor Show 2000 will never be marketed.
A second generation wiser
The second generation, launched in 2005, does not pay more in fantasy. On the contrary: with her lines inspired by the big sister Auris, she appears rather wiser than her elder. A statement that also applies to the TS, whose temperament becomes more placid despite a power of 133 hp. But this Toyota is still progressing in comfort and livability, with dimensions revised upward. A renewal of versatility that does not prevent him from staying urban before anything else: its suspensions still too dry, its too narrow interior and any materials do not allow it to compete with the Renault Clio or Peugeot 207.
Sliding bench, central instrumentation, rounded lines and grille reminiscent of a heart … inside and out, the Yaris 2 kept a family look with its predecessor. Marketed in 2011, the third version prefers to make a clean sweep of the past. It sacrifices modularity, puts its counters in front of the driver and adopts sharper lines. Aggressiveness that will be further strengthened during the 2014 facelift, focused primarily on the facies, while a second facelift very visible in 2017 will bring him new tail lights, in two parts.
In spite of these more demonstrative exteriors, this Yaris 3 counts above all on a very rational argument to seduce: an unprecedented hybrid version, appeared in 2012. An offer long remained without real competition, especially as the Honda Jazz has quickly abandoned this technology in Europe. At the end of their career, the little Toyota, now close to the 4 m long bar, will still offer two recreations: a commitment in rally, which will earn him a title at the constructors in 2018 and one among the drivers with Ott Tänak in 2019, as well as a radical version GRMN, animated by an original 1.8 to 212 hp compressor.
The fourth draft approach
This third generation thus closes its long existence in beauty, and still has a few months before it. Its replacement, which only exists in a five-door version while waiting for a future SUV derivative, will only enter concessions in mid-2020. With a brand new base, a cabin much more high-tech and a hybrid motorization more muscular, it seems well left to remain the most popular Japanese on the French market, especially as its manufacture remains assured in Valenciennes. Only the American version has followed a very different path, since it is now a Mazda 2 recarrossée.