The History Of Toyota VITZ

This article is about the Yaris/ Echo hatchback, for the Yaris/ Echo sedan see the Toyota Belta/ Toyota Platz

The Toyota Yaris (sold in different markets as the Toyota Vitz and Toyota Echo) is a line of subcompact cars first launched by Toyota in 1999, designed by Sotiris Kovos. The Yaris is a 3 and 5 door hatchback automobile.

In Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the Vitz is sold as the Yaris Liftback (or simply Yaris). Up to 2005, the Vitz was known as the Echo Hatchback in Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, with the Toyota Platz sedan being known as the Echo; the first generation Vitz was never sold in the US. Since 2006, the Vitz and Belta are marketed in US/ Canada as the Yaris Hatchback and Yaris, respectively.

The Toyota Belta sedan, which replaced the Toyota Platz, shares underpinnings with the Vitz. However, while the Vitz was designed at Toyota's European design studios, the Belta was designed at Toyota's Japanese design studios – two completely different design projects for similar cars marketed toward different demographics. While the outgoing Vitz and Platz models look and feel virtually alike (the only things the cars don't share is the front clip, lights, rear doors, and bodies from behind the B-pillar), the new Vitz and Belta are much more subtly related. Sharing a similar but different dashboard, they do not employ the same components. The cars share only a frame and the drivetrain options. The sheet metal is completely different.


The Toyota Yaris went on sale in Europe early in 1999. After the launch of the European Yaris hatchback in February 1999, a slightly modified version went on sale in Canada for the 2004 model year as the Echo hatchback, but not in the United States, where the Toyota Echo sedan and coupe were the lone models. The Toyota Yaris was voted European Car of the Year in 2000, defeating the innovative Fiat Multipla by a narrow margin.

Instead of conventional instruments, the Yaris and Echo hatchbacks utilized digital instruments which were mounted in a "pod" in the center of the dashboard. The Canadian Echo hatchback (and the Yaris T Sport) had a conventional speedometer but it was still mounted in the center of the dashboard.

The European Yaris was initially available with petrol-powered 4-cylinder 1.0L or 1.3L engines with Toyota's VVT-i technology, with the warm hatch 1.5L T Sport following in 2001. After the 2003 facelift, a 1.4L D4-D diesel engine offering 75hp (56kW) was also included in the lineup. This diesel engine is also licensed to BMW for use in their MINI One D model. The use of sophisticated engine management systems was said to give the equivalent of 1.4 litre performance from a 1.0 litre engine while maintaining low fuel consumption and emissions.

On most European markets, the Yaris was a stronger seller than the Starlet that it replaced.


The Japanese Vitz RS (European Yaris T-Sport) was introduced in 2001 and was powered by a 1.5L (108 hp) engine, shared with the Echo, Vios, as well as the Scion xA. The 1.5L T Sport was marketed as 'more fun to drive' than the base models because of a sportier suspension and extra power compared to the 1.3L (90 hp) model. Later, the Vitz RS was modified by TRD (Toyota Racing Developments), and was fitted with a turbo-charger. A limited run was produced with a power output of around 120kW (163PS; 161bhp) and a 0-100km/ h (0-62mph) time of just 7 seconds. Note that there is also a 1.3L JDM Vitz RS with the 2nz-fe engine which shares brakes, bodykit, headlights,suspension and interior with the 1.5L vitz RS

North America

The Echo sold in very high volumes in Canada, where smaller cars are much more popular than in the US. Sales were so high that Toyota introduced the 3 and 5-door hatchback models to the Canadian Toyota lineup for the 2004 model year. They were sold as the 'Echo hatchback' and look almost identical to the European Yaris, but with minor changes like larger bumpers, to meet Canadian safety requirements.


The Echo was also very popular in Australia. First introduced in late 1999 to replace the aging Starlet, the Echo was available as a 3 or 5 door hatchback, fitted only with the 1.3l VVT-i engine. An Echo Sportivo variant, fitted with the 1.5l VVT-i engine, was made available for a limited time in Australia. The Sportivo was very similar to the European Yaris T-Sport.

Yaris Verso

An interesting addition to the Yaris range came in late 1999 with the Yaris Verso, or Echo Verso in some markets, a small MPV which used the same running gear as the conventional hatchback, but was designed to have an even more practical interior. In Japan, the model bore the name of 'Funcargo'. The model was replaced by the Ractis in 2004.

Toyota redesigned the Vitz in early 2005, immediately going on sale in Japan. The European, Australian, Canadian, Mexican, and Puerto Rican markets saw the second generation Vitz near the end of 2005. In the Australian and North American markets, the car was sold as the "Yaris" for the first time. The production 2007 Toyota Yaris for the US market was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006. The new Yaris is built in Japan, France, and Thailand.

The previous 4-cylinder 1.0 VVT-i engine was replaced by the 3-cylinder engine also found in the Toyota Aygo and Daihatsu Sirion. The 1.3 liter engine was revised to offer slightly more power, and the 1.4 D-4D got a 15PS (11kW) boost to 90PS (66kW), the former engine allowing it to achieve exceptional fuel economy. The Yaris became the first car in its class to offer nine airbags.[citation needed]

It has continued to prove popular in Europe, particularly in Britain, where it competes with models such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, and Renault Clio.[citation needed]

North America

The Canadian Yaris hatchback is available in 3 and 5-door models, running on the Toyota NZ engine, a 1.5L 4-cylinder VVT-i engine rated 106hp (79kW) and 103ft·lbf (140N·m) torque. The 2006 Yaris with the 1.5 liter engine can achieve fuel economy ratings of 40miles per US gallon (5.9L/ 100km; 48mpg-imp) during highway driving and 34mpg-US (6.9L/ 100km; 41mpg-imp) during city driving. 3-door CE and 5-door LE versions come with 14-inch wheels, while RS models are equipped with 15-inch alloys with standard anti-lock braking system (ABS) and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD). In addition, 2008 RS models include new front and back skirts.

The US Yaris is similar to the Canadian variant, and is the successor to the previous North American Toyota Echo. In the US, the 3-door Vitz shares the Yaris name with the Toyota Belta sedan. The 3-door model is called the 'Yaris Liftback', while the 5-door model will be sold starting with the 2009 model year in the United States and competes with the similarly equipped Scion xD. The US Yaris comes standard with the 1.5 liter VVT-i engine producing 106 hp and 103 lb·ft and five speed manual transmission, the four speed automatic ECT being optional. Fuel economy is rated at 29 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission. While front airbags are standard, as mandated by the law, ABS and side airbags are available only as an option.

In Canada, the CE, LE, and RS packages are replaced by the more modular convenience, power, and all-weather guard packages.

For the 2009 year, the Yaris 5-door liftbacks join the lineup of the existing 4-door sedans and 3-door liftbacks because of the increased demand for fuel efficient subcompact cars. In addition to the new 5-door liftback, all 2009 Yaris models come standard with Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS,) front seat-mounted side airbags and front and rear curtain side airbags. For 2009, Toyota also added cruise control as an option on liftback models, and has added a few more color choices than the previous model.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Crash Test Ratings

Frontal Driver:

Frontal Passenger:

Side Impact:



The Yaris is also available in Malaysia, powered by the 1NZ-FE engine with 4-cylinder DOHC with VVT-i. It comes in 2 trim levels: 1.5G and 1.5S, both with 4-speed automatic transmission with Super ECT and Gate Shifter, featuring an output of 80 kW at 6000 rpm, and a torque of 141 Nm at 4200 rpm.

The 1.5S variant comes with 15” solid disc brake for the front wheels, front and rear bumper spoilers, side skirt and rear spoiler, amber Optitron meter, a black center cluster, with a steering wheel, gearshift and knob in leather.


The Toyota Yaris SR was launched in 2007. It was first seen at the Geneva Motor Show and is powered by the new 130bhp (97kW; 132PS) 1.8 2ZR-FE DOHCL dual VVT-i I4 petrol engine, which can reach 100km/ h (62mph) in under 10 seconds. The SR features 17inch alloy wheels, a mesh grille at the front, a redesigned bumper at the rear, deep side skirts and a tail spoiler. It also features redesigned headlights and taillights. As in the previous T-Sport, there are extra rear lights on the bumper. Essentially, it's a JDM Vitz RS fitted with a 2ZR-FE engine.

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