What the?! Toyota jacks up the price of all-new Yaris

2020 Toyota Yaris. Toyota Yaris ZR with optional black roof.

Hmmm, the micro car market isn’t huge and while an all-new car into the segment is Big News, putting up the price so much could see shoppers ignore it.

The all-new Toyota Yaris has arrived in Australia with prices starting at $22,130 plus on-road costs for the entry-level manual-equipped Yaris Sport. However that’s a staggering increase over the previous entry-level Yaris which sold from $15,390+ORC.

And then there’s the top-spec Yaris ZR Hybrid which is priced from $32,100+ORC, this is just a couple of grand cheaper than the Corolla ZR Hybrid ($34,695+ORC). Even the Yaris ZR (non-hybrid) is priced at $30,100+ORC, and the non-hybrid Corolla ZR lists from $32,695+ORC. Even more eye-watering is the fact the old Yaris ZR sold for $22,670+ORC. Where I’m going with this is that the Yaris ain’t that much cheaper than the bigger Corolla but it’s a whole lot more expensive than the car it replaces. Hmmm. We’ll get to Toyota’s justification shortly.

2020 Toyota Yaris. Toyota Yaris ZR with optional black roof.

Okay, so what’s so new about the new Yaris? Everything. It now rides on the same Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform as the Corolla, C-HR, Camry, and RAV4. And there are new 1.5L three-cylinder engines which boast more power than the old car’s four-pot engine, making 88kW and 145Nm which is 10% and 2.7% more than the old engine.

And the engine in the hybrid variants has seen the Yaris Hybrid models become the most fuel-efficient vehicle Toyota’s ever sold in Australia, boasting a claimed 3.3L/100km. But you’re unlikely to get close to that in the real world. Still, it’s good for grabbing attention. Operating on the Atkinson Cycle, its 67kW/120Nm outputs are supplemented by a 59kW/141Nm electric motor-generator and a compact lithium-ion battery. Combined maximum power output is 85kW.

2020 Toyota Yaris. Toyota Yaris ZR with optional black roof.

But it’s the active safety area that’s also seen a huge step up, with autonomous emergency braking across the range and the Yaris is the only vehicle in its class to offer a front-centre airbag.

Other safety technologies include a pre-collision safety system with autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control3, automatic high beam, and technologies to assist with cornering, staying in the intended lane and detecting speed signs. A reversing camera and a full suite of brake assist and traction-control systems including active cornering assist are also standard. ZR variants gain front and rear parking sensors and a parking support brake system that can warn the driver of objects around the vehicle and even apply the brakes if necessary. It’s an impressive list.

The Yaris looks more dynamic than before too, but it’s on the inside where you’ll notice the biggest changes, with ZR variants boasting a 10-inch infotainment screen and a colour head-up display. The driver sits lower in the new Yaris (15mm lower) and the vehicle boasts a lower centre of gravity thanks to the new chassis, so it should be good to drive. A 270-litre boot incorporates a two-level deck board. The rear seats are 60:40 split fold.

In announcing the new Yaris, Toyota Australia Vice President Sales and Marketing Sean Hanley said, “The all-new Yaris has sharper styling, a dynamic new platform, powerful and efficient new powertrains, an engaging new driving experience and the cutting-edge safety that is otherwise available only in luxury cars,” Mr Hanley said.

“Its capability and features – including quality, safety and connectivity – go beyond anything else offered in this segment and respond directly to the needs and preferences of compact-car buyers.

“Such an advanced level of engineering and specification will deliver long-term value to people buying their first new car, right through to those who are downsizing”.

It will be interesting to see how buyers respond to the new Yaris and whether it sees a cannibalisation of sales from Corolla.

2020 Toyota Yaris. Toyota Yaris ZR with optional black roof.

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.