The automotive world buzzed recently with the launch of the new ASEAN Toyota Yaris Cross.
This new model, diverging from its European counterpart, is constructed on the Daihatsu New Global Architecture platform, setting it apart from the Toyota New Global Architecture model, which is prevalent in Europe and Japan. This divergence presents a unique proposition and raises questions about the future strategy of Toyota Motor Philippines.
Delving into the differences between these two models, the ASEAN Yaris Cross, dimensionally, slots between the Raize and the Corolla Cross.
Measuring 4,310mm long and 1,615mm tall, it is slightly smaller than the Corolla Cross, but closer in size to the Honda HR-V. This size difference is a nod to the intended customer segment, which leans towards a compact, yet versatile vehicle. It has reworked parts but mostly shares the Avanza/Veloz platform.
In terms of design, the ASEAN Yaris Cross takes a different visual approach compared to its European sibling.
The ASEAN model flaunts slimmer headlights, a distinct bumper, higher door sills, and an entirely different rear-end treatment, carving out a unique identity in the Yaris line-up.
The divergence in design aesthetics is driven by the change in the underlying chassis, with the European and ASEAN models sharing little to no sheet metal. It’s quite a looker and looks like a smaller, sharper Corolla Cross.
The ASEAN Yaris Cross is not just a pretty face, however; it’s designed for tougher terrains and harsher conditions.
Toyota emphasizes that this model was developed with a focus on enhanced ride comfort, a feature demonstrated by videos of the car tackling dirt roads and broken pavements.
Under the hood, the ASEAN Yaris Cross offers two engine options: a 1.5-liter 2NR-VE engine generating 105hp and 138Nm of torque and a hybrid variant pairing the same engine with an electric motor, the power output of which was not disclosed at the time of writing.
In contrast, the TNGA-based Yaris Cross comes with either a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid powertrain or a regular 1.5-liter naturally-aspirated petrol engine, paired with Toyota’s Direct Shift CVT. Interestingly, this model offers both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, a feature not found in the ASEAN version.
This raises a pertinent question: Should Toyota Motor Philippines introduce the ASEAN Yaris Cross to the local market? There’s an argument to be made for both sides.
On the one hand, the ASEAN Yaris Cross, designed for rougher conditions, seems well-suited to the varied and challenging road conditions in the Philippines. Its size also makes it a strong contender in the popular compact crossover segment. The hybrid version powered by the 1.5-liter 2NR-VEX Atkinson Cycle engine could also provide TMPI with good inroads into a more affordable hybrid option.
However, the fact that the TNGA-based Yaris is primarily targeted at developed countries might suggest that the ASEAN version could be perceived as a lesser model. Moreover, with the Corolla Cross already occupying a similar market niche, introducing the ASEAN Yaris Cross might risk cannibalizing sales.
Ultimately, the decision lies with Toyota Motor Philippines.
The ASEAN Yaris Cross represents a compelling proposition, but its introduction to the local market must be carefully weighed against the potential impact on the existing product portfolio and brand perception.