The launch of the new Toyota Yaris represents an important event in the history of Toyota Motor Europe. In fact, for the first time, the Product Planning Department, the Research and Development Division based in Brussels and the European Design Centre at Sophia Antipolis near Nice have been working hand in hand to develop a product that goes way beyond Europe's borders.
The work carried out in Belgium and France on the fundamental aspects of the Yaris - external design, interior design and platform - has been fully adopted on some versions of the Vitz produced in Japan. This exemplary exchange of know-how is, for Toyota Motor Europe, the first tangible application of the new thinking advocated by the Global Vision revealed in 2011 by Akio Toyoda.
Following the trend initiated by the new Aygo, the new Yaris features more distinctive stylistic aspects. They strengthen Yaris emotional appeal without sacrificing any of the rational strength of the original car, such as package and durability. Alessandro Massimino, Product Manager in Brussels explains: "Yaris was always extremely strong in its rational dimensions: great packaging, durability, cost of ownershipâ€¦ What we wanted to achieve was to connect the model not only with our customers' brains, but also with their hearts."
The Toyota Yaris front benefits from the development of Toyota's "Keen Look and Under Priority" design concepts enhanced by the cross-shaped structure with the top and bottom parts separated. At the rear, the redesigned bumper incorporating a diffuser, the introduction of a new LED rear light cluster with light guide patterns and the sculpted licence plate garnish give the Yaris a stronger stance on the road.
The interior has undergone some important modifications aimed at improving driving pleasure and onboard comfort. Efforts have focused particularly on the quality of the materials which, both in feel and appearance, have significantly changed compared to the previous model. The equipment and choice of colours have also been broadly diversified.
Lastly, the new Yaris has benefited from major work aimed at significantly improving suspension comfort and sound insulation, as well as efficient handling and driving pleasure.
The Toyota Yaris remains available with a 1.0 and 1.33 petrol powertrain, a 1.4 D-4D and finally the hybrid, which today already makes up for almost 1 out of 3 sales.
More than 84% of the Yaris models produced at Valenciennes in northern France is for export. Not only to 42 countries in Europe, but also to the Unites States, Canada and Puerto Rico. In 2014, 26,000 Yaris models will be set to cross the Atlantic, accounting for 12% of the production.
FROM A GLOBAL VISION TO REGIONALISATION
From the new thinking about Toyota's Global Vision, led by its President Akio Toyoda in 2011, came the certainty that, in order meet the needs and desires of consumers worldwide, more responsibilities and freedom had to be given to the 17 Research and Development Centres around the globe.
This change in attitude to the Group's worldwide strategy led to the creation of specialist hubs in each region of the world. The directors of the Toyota Group have paid particular attention to Europe because this is the region where the car culture is most firmly established and where car manufacturers have world-renowned expertise.
Toyota Europe's role within global Toyota
Since Europe is the cradle of the compact car, Toyota Motor Europe has been given a leading role in defining future A- and B- and C-segment cars
Toyota Motor Europe has also become Toyota's skill centre in the 3 areas that identify the specific nature of the European market: the importance of the diesel engine, the customer expectations for perceived quality and their demands for vehicle dynamics.
This specialisation is achieved through the increased collaboration with European suppliers, the work carried out with leading European universities on advanced research and through the local alliances, such as the agreement signed with BMW for diesel engines.
In the end, the fruits of this better understanding of the European market will be shared worldwide and will help to develop the Toyota product on a global scale.
All of these new responsibilities fall specifically to the Product Planning Department, the Research and Development Centre at Zaventem (near Brussels) and the European Design Development Centre (EDD) based in the south of France, all three of which already have to their credit the restyled versions of the Avensis in 2012, the Verso in 2013, the Verso 1.6 D-4D at the beginning of 2014 and now the new Yaris.
Yaris, the product of regionalisation
The flagship product of Toyota's European range, the Yaris has benefited for its restyling from a particularly large investment (85 million euros). 576,000 hours of R&D have been dedicated to it, more than 1,000 new parts have been designed and Toyota Motor Europe contributed 75% towards its creation, a figure to be compared to the 25% European contribution invested at the model's launch in 2011.
Building on the features that have made the model a success since its launch, particularly the unique character of what it has to offer - the hybrid powertrain which makes up for almost 1 in 3 sales, the multimedia equipment or the rear camera - the Product Planning Department team has worked to strengthen the qualities and character of the Yaris.
An analysis of the press coverage and surveys conducted among buyers - and non-buyers - have provided in-depth insight into what the restyling initiative should bring. Comments unanimously converged on the need to add an emotive and dynamic dimension to a model of which the functional features were already much appreciated.
As the research reconfirmed that the key purchase reason in the European B-segment is appearance, both design and sensory quality need to be just right.
As these results were corroborated by an analysis of market trends, the Product Planning Department team were able to produce a clear brief to EDD designers and R&D engineers. Afterwards, these three entities continued to work in close collaboration, refining their approach at each step of the project.
From the design point of view, the instructions from the Product Planning Department clearly highlighted the need to affirm the character of the Yaris, an initiative that had already been embarked upon with the launch of the Hybrid version in 2012.
For their part, the engineers at the Research and Development Centre at Zaventem produced specifications for necessary technical modifications, after having conducted in-depth investigations on the Yaris 2011 into comfort, performance and sound insulation.
In order to meet these targets, they had to develop a new torsion beam and modify parts of the platform itself in order to achieve the required levels of performance for noise and vibration. Such extensive development was a first for the European R&D Centre, which from then on decided to add an early prototype stage in order to validate the modifications at an earlier timing, while the normal prototype stages allowed final adjustments to be refined and more detailed studies to be conducted on the impact of these modifications on the car's general performance.
Geographical closeness meant, for all of the project stakeholders, product managers, designers and engineers, as well as the representatives of suppliers of parts, that frequent meetings could be held. This much facilitated final adjustments and it sped up the decision making process.
"What makes this project different from other projects that we have done, " says Serkan Karaman, Senior Project Manager at the Zaventem's R&D Centre, "is that the scale of the development content compared to a typical face lift was much larger and we were able to take the lead in Europe for a global vehicle of which the content was adopted for other regions such as Japan and USA. In the past, the project management was mostly done in Japan. They decided the schedule and they assigned specific tasks to the team in Europe. But this time, we were in the driver seat. We had the freedom to decide what to do, when to do it and how to go about it. As a result, the new Yaris really incorporates European know how and European taste. And as far as our operations are concerned, it has added invaluable experience to the team."
YARIS: MADE IN FRANCE BY EUROPEAN ENGINEERS FOR EUROPEAN CUSTOMERS
For Alessandro Massimino, Product Manager in Brussels, the aim was clear: "Current Yaris already meets essential requirements of B-segment buyers: its compactness relative to its roominess, its functional aspects and innovative equipment, particularly its multimedia system and rear camera. Our surveys and the very positive response to the hybrid version convinced us that we now had to move towards a more assertive style and increase the general dynamism of the car, both in terms of design and driving pleasure. Using this as our goal, we have been able to work closely with the Design Centre and the Research and Development Division to create the new Yaris".
Elvio D'Aprile, in charge of the Toyota Yaris design said: "The B-segment is perhaps the most competitive segment in Europe. We had to do something which really stands out from the crowd. So our objectives were to avoid the B-segment stereotypes, to harmonize overall style of all powertrain derivatives and to dare to be different from competition".
Consequently, the highly distinctive exterior of the new Yaris features an even stronger, more dynamic execution of Toyota's bold, Under Priority frontal design language with Keen Look detailing.
The narrow upper- and large, trapezoidal lower grilles which hallmark Toyota's Under Priority design now merge at the logo to form a powerful cross-shaped structure.
The logo is underscored by a chrome trim bar which runs through the length of the upper grille into new, Keen Look headlamp clusters, tying the frontal elements together with a powerful, horizontal emphasis of vehicle width.
The headlamp clusters themselves incorporate new projector lamp technology for both high and low beams, and LED daytime Running Lights (DRL).
Underlined by a 'floating' spoiler which further strengthens its dominance of the Under Priority design language, the large, trapezoidal lower grille focuses attention on the bottom of the new Yaris, reinforcing the dynamic potential of its ground-hugging stance and low centre of gravity.
In profile, the new Toyota Yaris benefits from a new door belt moulding, optional, electrically-folding door mirrors and a choice of four new, 15" and 16" alloy wheels.
To the rear, a new bumper design gives the appearance of a broader, lower stance, whilst the integral diffuser strengthens the new Yaris' road presence with a more sporting, self-confident image.
Flanking the sculpted license plate garnish, upgraded rear lamp clusters incorporate a new, LED light graphic which further enhances the vehicle's personality with a unique lighting signature made possible by using light-guide technology.
Unlike the previous generation Yaris, all powertrain derivatives now share the same overall styling, with more subtle cues alone identifying different versions, including the Yaris Hybrid.
Elvio D'Aprile adds: "The fact that this project was entirely managed from Europe helped the final design enormously. On a daily basis, we could discuss with Engineering and Product Planning. Design elements that would normally have been rejected because they were incompatible with some pre-conception about technical specifications, suddenly became negotiable. As a result, we were able to really carry our vision from the first proposals through to the final car."
Pierre Romeo, in charge of the new interior design of the Yaris, said: "The new interior design is the result of three key, customer feedback-informed objectives: firstly, to enhance the feeling of roominess and dynamism in the cabin; secondly, to improve the sensory quality of the environment; and, thirdly, to combine overall visual simplification with improved colour variation and more sophisticated finishes."
Creating a more horizontal feel to the dashboard, the upper instrument panel is now thinner, and the upper surface of the driver's instrument binnacle has been restyled for a slimmer look. In conjunction, the door panel has also been redesigned to combine a more fluid, dynamic appearance with a larger soft-touch area and greater functionality.
The centre console has been raised by 23mm to reduce the length of the gear shift lever by 30mm for improved gear changing ergonomics, and a closed storage area has been added. Now featuring the latest, Toyota Touch 2 multimedia systems, the console touch screen has been increased in size from 6.1" to 7". This visually emphasises one of the Yaris' unique features.
The upper instrument panel finish has been changed from Technical to Animal grain for improved tactility and a less glossy appearance, and is complimented by a thicker ornamentation band.
Improving both its appearance and tactility, the Yaris-trademark, sculpted central dashboard panel features an increase in soft-padding thickness and a surface material change to PVC. The graining differs from grade to grade - Animal, Technical or Geometrical - contributing to the different characters that are now part of the line-up.
The area of soft touch finishes has been increased within the cabin. Throughout, normal chrome trim has been replaced by a satin chrome, giving a more modern, sophisticated appearance.
The new Yaris further benefits from a range of all-new seat trims, with a new fabric pattern and colour for each grade. Grade differentiation is further strengthened by an increased number of interior colour schemes; Red, Tan and Black finishes now complement the existing Grey/Dark Grey interior.
The new Yaris features comprehensive, customer feedback-driven improvements to its ride comfort and handling with a significant reduction in Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH). Serkan Karaman, Senior Project Manager at TME R&D said: "For the first time in the history of the Research and Development Division in Europe, we have taken the initiative and made important changes to the platform with regard to vehicle dynamics that go way beyond the boundaries of a facelift".
Improved Ride Comfort and Handling
The new Toyota Yaris has been designed with a more rigid upper and lower body structure, offering a more direct and linear response to steering inputs, allowing a more comfortable ride whilst maintaining balanced body control.
Frontal rigidity has been increased through the adoption of a new windscreen bonding material and a thicker dashboard bulkhead structure. Both the instrument panel beam and its connections to the dashboard and central tunnel have been stiffened in order to improve steering response.
Central and rear body rigidity have been increased through the use of 36 additional welding spots, redesigned tunnel bracing to add rigidity to the vehicle floor, a redesigned wheelhouse area, and reinforced rear bumper attachment to reduce body roll deformation.
The rear suspension has been redesigned to incorporate a new, stiffer torsion beam combined with softer coil springs and a new long polyurethane bound stopper. This improves ride comfort whilst maintaining good body roll control, and also enhances the front/rear grip balance of the vehicle, to reduce understeer tendencies.
The front suspension also features softer coil springs for greater ride comfort. Simultaneously, the introduction of rebound springs within the shock absorbers increases front anti-roll stiffness, improving handling and reducing body roll during cornering.
In addition, new front and rear shock absorber valve technology reduces the transmission of vibrations from the road surface and further improves the new Yaris' ride quality without compromising its handling agility.
Finally, new control logic to the electric power steering system takes advantage of these bodyshell stiffness and suspension enhancements to offer customers significantly improved steering feel, responsiveness and accuracy for a more engaging driving experience.
Reduced Noise Vibration and Harshness (NVH)
Complementing the reduction in unwanted vibration through increased body stiffness and suspension re-tuning, the new Yaris also benefits from a marked reduction in interior noise levels.
Based on customer feedback, Toyota engineers identified three noise-reduction priorities. Firstly, the reduction of high frequency noise from the engine and the road surface. Secondly, the reduction of low frequency noise from the engine. And, thirdly, the reduction of wind noise during high speed driving.
To minimise the penetration of high frequency noise through the dashboard bulkhead and vehicle floor, the dashboard silencer has been completely re-engineered, the instrument panel and console box sound absorption material has been upgraded, and a noise-optimised carpet was introduced.
The dashboard silencer surface area has been maximised by reducing the size of all feed-through apertures, and its thickness increased and material composition optimised for better sound insulation. A similar principle has been applied to the instrument panel and console box cavities, which now incorporate double the quantity of sound-absorbing material.
These measures improve cabin sound performance both during acceleration and whilst driving at a constant speed.
Low frequency engine booming has been minimised by the adoption of a newly-designed engine torque rod (for 1.4 diesel models), and the redesign and relocation of the exhaust system hangers.
The intrusion of wind noise at high speed has been reduced by the adoption of a new, spoiler-shaped cowl louvre which reduces turbulence air at the base of the windscreen, a new door weather strip design which improves sealing, most notably around the door mirror area, and double the quantity of sound absorption material in the door cavity.
In combination, these measures will significantly reduce noise within the cabin, improving occupant comfort under all driving conditions.
The Toyota Yaris range offers 4 powertrains, two petrol, one diesel and one hybrid. The latter, which already accounts for a third of this model's sales, was adapted to comply with the Euro 6 Standard and has benefited from adjustments that have now made its C02 emissions even lower, 75 g/km as opposed to 79. Extremely economical (less than 3.3l/100) and clean (virtually zero nitrous oxide and particulate emissions), this powertrain offers unique qualities within the B-segment. The hybrid Yaris stands out for its silent running, comfort and easy handling, particularly in urban areas where the hybrid system allows the car to run solely in electric mode or with a limited - and therefore silent - use of the combustion engine. The automatic transmission ensures a smooth drive without any jerkiness, giving a comfortable and reassuring driving experience, both for the driver and his passengers.
The 1.33 petrol and 1.4 diesel engines have benefited from secondary modifications aimed at reducing noise and vibration: firstly, by fitting a torque rod and secondly, by providing better insulation for the exhaust system.
As for the 3-cylinder 1.0 petrol engine, it has undergone a major revamp with a view to improving its performance, reducing its emissions and its noise and vibration levels. In compliance with the Euro 6 Standard, it achieves a level of thermal efficiency - the part of the energy contained in the fuel, which is converted into mechanical energy - of over 37%, which is an excellent result among mass-produced petrol engines that on average have a thermal efficiency of between 30 and 35%. The CO2 emissions of the 1.0 version have thus been reduced from 110 to 99 g/km and achieve 95 g/km with the Stop & Start system.
To achieve this, engineers have sought above all to optimise the weight/power ratio. From this aspect, the combination of the cylinder and the exhaust manifold head has reduced weight and improved compactness.
In order to reduce consumption while still maintaining performance, the compression ratio has been increased to 11.5:1, the intake ports and pistons have been redesigned to increase the tumble effect (vertical swirl in the combustion chamber) and piston cooling has been increased to delay knocking. Recirculation of the exhaust gas has been increased to promote combustion speed and reduce pumping losses, while the EGR valve now operates in conjunction with the VVT-i distribution system, the latter having also been adapted to suit the engine's new characteristics.
Lastly, the level of the friction has been reduced by altering the valve actuator materials, the treatment of the surface of the pistons, the drive of the timing chain and the shape of the oil sump to ensure that the engine gets up to temperature quicker.
YARIS SUCCESS BOOSTED BY HYBRID TECHNOLOGY
Europe is the world's fastest growing hybrid market. Sales increased by 34% in 2013, with the region accounting for 12% of total global hybrid sales.
Over the same period, European sales of Toyota hybrids have risen by some 43%, and 1 in 5 of all Toyota passenger vehicles sold is now a hybrid.
With the universal recognition of hybrid technology as a mainstream powertrain resulting in increasingly strong residual values, the Yaris Hybrid is now afforded equal consideration to petrol and diesel alternatives by potential B-segment customers.
Prior to its launch two years ago, it was inconceivable that a B-segment model with a hybrid powertrain could achieve sales of almost 50,000 units per annum. But the Yaris Hybrid sold 49,774 units in 2013 -making a total of 74,507 sales since its launch in 2012- and is on track to top the 100,000 mark after just two years on the market.
This year, to date, the Yaris Hybrid has accounted for 31% of total Yaris sales in Western Europe. It is the best-selling alternative powertrain in the B-segment, and the second-best-selling car in the entire European alternative powertrain market (EV, Hybrid, PHV and FCV) just behind the Toyota Auris Hybrid.
Despite the fact that over two thirds of Europeans live in cities (a figure due to increase a further 10% by 2050), 74% of them still travel by car, with the resultant congestion and pollution constituting an ever growing issue.
The Yaris Hybrid's combination of compact, agility-enhancing dimensions and the most efficient powertrain in the B-segment represents the ideal antidote to the stress and frustration of urban driving.
Toyota's hybrid powertrain offers customers a uniquely smooth, quiet and entirely intuitive driving experience. It delivers strong, seamless acceleration from a standstill and, under electric motor power alone, near-silent running with zero CO2, NOx and particulate emissions.
Through these attributes, all Toyota hybrids not only generate significantly stronger brand loyalty than petrol or diesel powertrains, but also consistently instil greater loyalty to hybrid powertrains themselves than any other manufacturer.
Moreover, the company's hybrid technology plays a dominant part in attracting new customers to the brand, with 6 out of 10 Toyota hybrid customers representing a conquest sale.
With rival hybrids only now entering diverse market segments, Toyota's early investment in this technology has enabled it to sustain a clear lead in alternative powertrain technology. And it anticipates that, by 2020, 15% of all passenger vehicles will be equipped with a hybrid powertrain.
The new Toyota Yaris is growing its appeal thanks to a line-up that features outspoken and clearly differentiated grades, to match the widened customer base of the B-segment.
This differentiation will be reinforced through grade-specific interior colour schemes, and varying treatments to numerous exterior and interior elements, including the lower grille, alloy wheels, seats, centre console, instrument panel, and steering wheel inserts.
For instance, diverse treatments of the lower grille (unpainted, metallic back or piano black) and the grille surround inserts (chrome, satin chrome or piano black) will identify the different model grades. The Yaris Hybrid will feature a piano black grille with satin chrome surround, reflecting its high-tech credentials.
High equipment levels feature throughout the grade structure, with a leather steering wheel, air-conditioning and the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system fitted as standard from Active grade.
A comprehensive options list includes projector headlamps with LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL), a range of 15" and 16" alloy wheels, a rear parking monitor, auto-folding door mirrors, cruise control, dual zone air-conditioning, rear electric windows, rain and light sensors, wireless door lock and start button, AlcantaraÂ® or leather seats and rear privacy glass.