Toyota has poured £68m (around Rs. 672.5 crore) and 5,76,000 hours of development into its Yaris hatchback in order to help it compete in the increasingly competitive and style-conscious compact car market. Over 1,000 new parts have made their way into the 2014 Yaris, with the chief changes comprising a heavily restyled interior, more modern and distinctive exterior styling and a host of ride and refinement tweaks.
Alessandro Massimino, Toyota’s European product manager, said: "The Yaris was always extremely strong in its rational dimensions. What we wanted to achieve was to connect the model not only with our customers’ brains, but also with their hearts."
Externally, the main changes comprise the adoption of a more distinctive cross-shaped front-end styling. The rear has also received some attention, in the form of a redesigned bumper with an integral diffuser, LED light clusters and a reshaped registration plate surround.
The Toyota's interior has had a significant revamp, consisting of a redesigned dash and door panels that grant it a sleeker look, higher-quality materials and a larger display for the integrated 'Touch 2' multimedia system.
Minor tweaks like satin chrome trim where there would have previously been plain chrome further serve to give the cabin a more upmarket look, while refinement upgrades including a wind deflector integrated in the cowl and more silencing materials to quell road and engine noise.
Toyota has looked to tap into the increasingly popularity of customisation too, consequently offering the new Yaris with a wider range of trim levels that grant buyers access to varying colour schemes, trim materials and wheels.
Under the skin, the Yaris benefits from a new torsion-beam rear end and a modified platform. Toyota has added additional spot welds, a thicker bulkhead, new windscreen bonding material and structurally modified the tunnel, wheel tubs and rear bumper structure to stiffen the chassis.
The car's suspension has seen some upgrades too, including new springs and retuned dampers, while the electronic power steering has been recalibrated to deliver more feedback.
Efforts to bolster the Yaris's on-road engagement further include the likes of raising the interior's centre console, allowing for a 30mm reduction in length of the gear lever, reputedly improving the feel of the car's gear shift.
Engine options remain as before, comprising a 1.0- and 1.33-litre petrol, a 1.4-litre diesel and the range-topping hybrid. Claimed reductions in noise and vibration are touted for all.
Despite being one of the more costly options, the hybrid still accounts around 31 percent of the Yaris's sales.
Standard equipment for the new Yaris includes air-con and Toyota's Touch 2 multimedia system, while options include LED daytime-running lights, a rear parking camera, auto-folding door mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and leather seats.
The new Toyota Yaris will go on sale later this year. Official pricing is yet to be announced.