Toyota’s cheapest car is due to get a major makeover and include the option of hybrid power for the first time in Australia.
Although a hybrid option has been available overseas in this generation, Toyota dealers have been told the next-generation Yaris, due on sale next year, will be available with a choice of petrol or hybrid.
It means the pint-sized Toyota Prius C – at $24,000 currently the brand’s cheapest ticket into a hybrid – will be phased out after eight years on sale.
Prices of the next Yaris are yet to be announced – and Toyota is yet to confirm the arrival of the new model to anyone outside its dealer network – but buyers can expect a cost increase.
The current Yaris five-door hatch, pictured above, is available from $15,990 drive-away for a manual and $17,490 drive-away for an auto.
However, the new Yaris in its most basic guise will likely start close to $20,000 drive-away given every new-generation Toyota released over the past three years has come standard with the company’s full suite of safety tech – including radar cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and speed sign recognition – which has pushed up prices.
For example, the Toyota Corolla hatch used to be available from $23,990 drive-away, but when the new model went on sale last year the starting price jumped to $27,990 drive-away.
The popular Toyota Yaris city car is way overdue for an overhaul.
The current model will be almost nine years old when it gets replaced which, according to dealers, will be in the first half of next year.
Most passenger cars get replaced by completely new models after five or six years.
There have been three types of the current-generation Yaris, introduced in October 2011, September 2014 and March 2017.
The last update in 2017 was when the new model was originally due, but its arrival was pushed back to adopt Toyota’s new global architecture and safety systems.
In addition, development costs of all-new models are massive but the profit margins on city cars such as the Yaris are slim.
Although sales have slowed as the Yaris has aged, it remains among the top three sellers in a competitive class.
More than 230,000 Yaris hatches and sedans have found homes in Australia since 2005.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling