Toyota will launch a Yaris-based small SUV for Europe, featuring all-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain, later this year and new images show a chassis mule undergoing cold weather testing.
The prototype wears a bodyshell that's heavily based on the outgoing Yaris but it's clear to see that it will sit much higher than that model and feature a bespoke headlight design.
The Japanese firm says the as yet unnamed new model blends the firm's “extensive small car experience with its strong SUV heritage”.
The model was first announced at a company showcase event in January, before the maker released a darkened image of the SUV's rear styling in the run-up to a planned unveiling at the Geneva motor show. Following Geneva's cancellation, the new small SUV is now expected to be launched at a dedicated event later this year.
It will use the same TNGA-B platform and 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain as the new Yaris supermini.
Despite sharing many parts with the Yaris, the SUV is an entirely new design, Toyota has said. Toyota Europe vice-president Matthew Harrison promised that the car won't be "just a Yaris with body cladding and raised suspension". Instead, it will be "an entirely new and distinctive B-SUV model" with a "compact, dynamic design and a personality of its own”.
Sitting directly below the C-HR, it will be longer, wider and taller than the Yaris, with a longer wheelbase, and offer an 'intelligent' four-wheel drive system and proper off-road suspension, according to Toyota representatives.
Toyota hopes the model will help capitalise on the ongoing popularity of compact high-riding models and predicts it will make up almost 30% of its European sales volume, along with the Yaris, by 2025. It will face stiff competition from the all-new Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Ford Puma.
Toyota said the name of the SUV, volume plans and the timing of its introduction will be announced at a future date. It will be built alongside the Yaris at Toyota's plant in Onnaing, France.