The 2021 Toyota Yaris will be the cheapest car on sale in Australia with a centre airbag between the two front seats – and the option of hybrid power – as advanced safety trickles down to one of the most affordable models on the market.
At the moment, the only new car on sale in Australia with a centre airbag is the $200,000 Audi A8 limousine, although others will soon follow.
In addition to a centre airbag designed to protect front seat occupants from coming into contact with each other during a crash, the new generation Toyota Yaris will come with an advanced autonomous emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians and cyclists – and stop the car from turning in front of oncoming traffic.
An on-board camera can ‘read’ speed limit signs and help guide the car within clearly marked lanes by applying gentle pressure on the steering wheel.
As with the current model, all new examples of the Toyota Yaris will have a rear view camera, but top models equipped with front and rear sensors will also trigger the brakes if they spot a pedestrian or another car at slow speeds.
The 1.3- and 1.5-litre four-cylinder engines have been replaced by a sole 1.5-litre three-cylinder which promises more power (88kW, a 10 per cent increase) and better economy (4.9L/100km, a 15 per cent improvement).
The Toyota Yaris has been available with the option of hybrid power overseas, but petrol-electric versions will be offered with the new line-up. It has a claimed combined power output of 85kW and a fuel rating average of just 3.3L/100km according to laboratory tests.
The only downside to all these advancements: the price is expected to rise markedly.
The current Toyota Yaris started from $17,490 drive-away for the better part of the last three years; the new model is likely to cost close to or in excess of $20,000 drive-away as a starting point. Top of the range models are expected to eclipse $30,000 drive-away, Toyota Corolla money.
A media statement from Toyota Australia said the 2021 Yaris will “leapfrog competitors in the light-car market, setting a new benchmark with segment firsts and the introduction of in-demand premium features”.
Due in showrooms in August, the new Toyota Yaris will be offered in Ascent Sport, SX and ZR grades – the latter two available with the option of hybrid power.
The Toyota Yaris Ascent Sport, available with manual or automatic CVT transmissions, is fitted with 15-inch wheels, LED daytime running lamps, 60/40 split-fold rear seats and a USB port for charging and linking to smartphone services (all grades come with a 7-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto).
The middle-of-the-range Toyota Yaris SX adds satellite navigation, keyless entry, push-button start, 15-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and tail-lights, piano-black and satin interior finishes, leather-accented steering wheel and digital instruments.
The top-of-the-line Toyota Yaris ZR comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, head-up display, blind-spot monitor, intelligent front and rear parking sensors, sports seats and pedals, piano black trim, red inserts, and – on the petrol variant – paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.
Pricing for the 2021 Toyota Yaris and Yaris Hybrid will be announced closer the model’s showroom arrival in August.
The hot hatch version – the Toyota GR Yaris all-wheel-drive – is expected to follow later in the year.