Official (hi res) images: New 2011 Toyota Echo/Yaris/Vitz

New Toyota Echo/Yaris/Vitz
Toyota has revealed its third generation Echo – the Yaris as it is called in Europe or Vitz as is known in the domestic Japanese market where the compact hatchback is planned to go on sale in early 2011.

Flaunting edgier exterior styling than its  predecessor, with distinctive exposed headlamps, larger bumpers and tauter surfacing treatment – all reminiscent of the larger Prius, Toyota says it has placed less emphasis on woman buyers with the design of the new car. Instead, the new Echo has been styled to appeal to a broader market, in particular younger car buyers who have traditionally shunned the small Toyota.

In a bid to improve packaging the new five door supermini has grown by 3.9 inches (100mm) with a length of 152 inches (3885mm) in hatchback form – some 2.0 inche (50mm) of that coming from a longer 98.8 inch (2510mm) wheelbase. Width remains the same at 66.7 inches (1695mm) but height has dropped by 1.2 inches (30mm) on versions running standard suspension settings to 59.1 inches (1500mm). Inside, there’s a completely new interior boasting higher grade materials and an added 1.4 inches (35mm) of rear seat legroom.

When it goes on sale in Japan buyers will get the choice of three four-cylinder gasoline engines: a 68bhp 1.0-litre, 93bhp 1.3-litre and 107bhp 1.5-litre – the latter of which is also set to underpin sales of a new sedan version of the Echo planned to reach North America in late 2011.

 Also expected to appear in Europe is a 100bhp version of the 1.3-litre engine together with a 147bhp 1.8 in a sporty TS model and a 90bhp 1.4-litre diesel – all likely to come with automatic stop start for improved fuel economy.

Also under development is a hybrid version of the Echo, although at this early stage it remains unclear whether Toyota intends offering the gasoline-electric version of its new small hatchback/sedan outside of Japan.

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