Yoshihiko Kanamori was also chief engineer for the current Lexus GS

Yoshihiko Kanamori was also chief engineer for the current Lexus GS

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Such is the extent of the update, Toyota believes the mid-life changes for the Vitz/Yaris constitute it being more than just a facelift. The project's chief engineer Yoshihiko Kanamori explains.

The updated '2014' Yaris features a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, which sees emissions drop to 99g/km from the former 110. The 1.33 VVT-i petrol and 1.4 D-4D diesel engines have also been modified to reduce NVH levels, while the CO2 average for the Hybrid drops by 4g/km to 75g/km. This is the first vehicle project in which Toyota’s European-based product planning, design and R&D departments have worked together as a regional hub, in line with Toyota’s Global Vision.

It's unusual to see Toyota Motor Europe (TME) announcing a locally built model just weeks after its equivalent is launched in Japan.

Yes, the Vitz was launched in Japan a couple of weeks ago. It is important to note that the development  of this Yaris, which was mainly driven by Europe, was also adopted for the highest grade of the Vitz in Japan.

Are you also the chief engineer for the next generation Vitz/Yaris? And is the project code 865A?

I am the chief engineer of the next generation as well. But we consider this car that was just launched to be more than just a facelift. Both in terms of platform and in terms of interior design and execution, the change was far greater than for a regular facelift. We believe that with these changes, together with the availability of the Hybrid powertrain, Yaris has what it takes to remain competitive for several years coming, so don’t expect the next generation to be just around the corner.

Regarding the project code, I’m afraid I cannot comment – those are confidential.

Will the next Vitz/Yaris use TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) or is this only for larger models?

I can’t give any information on a next generation Vitz/Yaris yet. However, as far as TNGA is concerned, it will not be limited to large vehicles only.

Could you ever see a day when TME sells diesel hybrids?

In Japan, we combine diesel and Hybrid on the Dyna delivery truck (and its Hino equivalent). So technically, we can. However, that is a vehicle with a very specific usage pattern. For passenger cars, we believe that petrol/hybrid is a better combination, in terms of refinement, cost, and environment.

Volkswagen has just announced a PHEV version of the next Passat. Would TME want to match this with the next Avensis using Prius tech?

The Prius is our environmental flagship, and it is a D-segment car. Additionally, we are planning to launch an E-segment fuel cell sedan in the coming 12 months.

TME started selling a Verso powered by a BMW 1.6-litre diesel earlier this year. Will there be a BMW diesel in the next Yaris?

We can’t disclose any details yet on the future Yaris.

The life cycle of TME models is getting longer (e.g. first Avensis was replaced after five years but the current car is now six). Why?

We believe that it is sometimes beneficial to the customer to carry out a major mid-life update. Of course, this requires both manpower and investment, which has an impact on the release date of the next generation.

When will the next Avensis be launched? Will its platform be TNGA and will it have a BMW diesel?

I’m afraid that I can’t comment on future projects.

The revised, 2014 Toyota Yaris model range will be rolled out across European markets during the summer.