Toyota will launch a Yaris-based small SUV for Europe as it moves to capitalise on the ongoing popularity of compact high-riding models.
The as-yet-unnamed model, set to be unveiled in close-to-production form at the Geneva motor show, was announced at a company showcase event, where Toyota revealed it would use the same TNGA-B platform as the all-new Yaris that was revealed late last year.
However, Toyota's European 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”.
Toyota said the name of the SUV, volume plans and the timing of its introduction will be announced at a future date but confirmed that it will use the same 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid powertrain as its new supermini. No mention was made of the 1.0-litre petrol engine found lower down in the Yaris line-up, suggesting the SUV could be launched as a hybrid only.
Sitting directly below the C-HR, it will be longer, wider and taller than the Yaris, with a longer wheelbase, and offer 'intelligent' four-wheel drive system and proper off-road suspension, according to Toyota representatives.
The SUV will be built alongside the Yaris at Toyota's plant in Onnaing, France.