Meanwhile in America, the fourth-generation Mazda2 sedan has lived a proxy life under Toyota’s regional brand, Scion. Known there as at the iA, the tie-up means that Mazda USA’s line-up starts with the 3 hatch. While this has not changed, Toyota has decided to fly the small car under its own official banner and with a far more familiar name: Yaris.
The ‘new’ Toyota Yaris sedan will be introduced to the North American market later this year, with minor tweaks to its look over its time as the Scion iA. This is tapped off with a revised fascia that includes a new bumper, headlamps and glossy black exterior accents, but the exercise ends as soon it begins. However, despite the lack of a comprehensive refresh, the design is still distinctive enough to give it some distance from the Mazda2 sedan.
The range, once it’s launched, will be spread across three variants: the starting Yaris L, mid-pack Yaris LE, and lastly the Yaris XLE with all the bells and whistles. On the mechanical front there really isn’t much input from Toyota, instead keeping the Hiroshima running gear intact and indeed untouched.
Under the bonnet sits a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated SkyActiv-G petrol four-cylinder that churns out 79kW and 139Nm and paired to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic that’s sure to be the same SkyActiv-Drive torque converter. Naturally, fuel economy numbers are pretty much identical to its Mazda twin with a claimed 6.7-litres sipped over 100km (according to EPA estimates).
Importantly, Toyota has included active safety features in every Yaris sedan which includes Low-Speed Pre-Collision, this can apply the brakes should it detect imminent contact with an object or pedestrian at city driving speeds. Also standard are tyre pressure monitors and an array of six airbags.
Inside, the Mazda connection becomes even more prevalent. It’s the same dashboard, instrument layout, touch points, and seats as the 2, but with some nearly indistinguishable details to subtly steer you away from a deja vu rabbit hole - things a big Toyota logo on the steering wheel and blue contrast stitching.
Another area where the colour blue plays a prominent masking role is with the infotainment system. But this doesn’t detract from the core competency and polish of the MZD Connect interface, which retains identical operation and graphical assets.
Clearly Toyota sees their North American-specific Scion iA an as an important product in their larger product selection for the region, deserving of the Yaris name and sold with zero pretences as a Toyota in showrooms. Objectively, the 2019 Yaris sedan offers a very tempting proposition for small car buyers, wrapped in what is objectively the more eye pleasing exterior design of Mazda origin.
It’s likely that Toyota will be debuting an all-new Yaris of their own design for global sale to replace XP150 hatch we’ve become accustomed to since 2013, and take its design chops much further in the process as observed with the all-new Corolla and RAV4. That’s the car we’ll need to wait for, just like the rest of the world. But unlike this USA-spec Yaris sedan and the market it’s entering, we already have the Mazda2.