The new small Toyota SUV will sit below the C-HR in the Japanese brand’s range and our exclusive images preview how it could look
Toyota is preparing a new small SUV that will give the company a rival for the likes of the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur – and it’s likely to arrive in British dealerships within the next 18 months, Auto Express can exclusively reveal.
The as-yet-unnamed model is designed to sit below the C-HR, despite the fact that the futuristic crossover is already slightly smaller than the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008. Toyota believes that having a car closer to the 4.0-metre length of most superminis will appeal to customers put off by the C-HR’s higher price.
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Speaking to Auto Express, Toyota’s European Executive Vice-President Matt Harrison admitted the company was already considering expanding its SUV line-up at the smaller end of its range. “SUV segments in general are all continuing to grow,” he told us. “C-HR is playing in the very top end of what could almost be a sort of coupé-crossover C-segment SUV. It doesn’t really compete with other products like Qashqai or more practical offerings.
“If you look at the level of conquest we have with that car, it’s incredible, even from premium brands. But the way that area of the market is continuing to grow and sub-divide, there would definitely be opportunities for additional products. I don’t think for a minute that we’ve got it all covered with C-HR.”
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He added: “The traditional supermini hatch [like the Ford Fiesta and Toyota’s Yaris] is probably the most robust of the segments. It’s holding up better than saloons and larger hatchbacks against crossovers – partly because of affordability, I think. But the B-SUV segment is also growing, pulling customers down from the C-segment. So we’re looking, we’re evaluating, and we see an increasing number of players doing that. There may be opportunities in future. The platform is flexible enough to support something like that, for sure.”
Indeed, the new small SUV has already received the green light from Toyota HQ in Japan and it’s certain that it will be based heavily on the technical underpinnings of the latest-generation Yaris, which made its debut back in October. That means that it will be the second car to use the TNGA-B architecture, mixing MacPherson struts at the front with a torsion beam at the rear.
Our exclusive images show how the new baby SUV could look when it arrives. Expect the new model to be only a few millimetres longer than the Yaris, nudging it just over the four-metre mark, and around 40mm taller to give the higher seating position that customers in this market are after.
Toyota may also choose to extend the Yaris’s wheelbase slightly, giving the SUV a little more rear legroom to counter the likes of the Captur and in particular the Citroen C3 Aircross and Skoda Kamiq.
The TNGA-B underpinnings mean that the new model will feature electrification at the heart of its range; indeed, given the slightly higher price positioning over the Yaris, Toyota may choose to avoid the supermini’s entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine and make its new offering’s line-up entirely hybrid.
That would mean using the same 1.5-litre petrol-based hybrid powertrain as the Yaris, with a total system output of around 115bhp and the ability to complete up to 80 per cent of urban journeys on electric power alone, thanks to a lithium-ion battery pack.
A more conventional 1.5-litre offering, including a manual gearbox alongside Toyota’s familiar CVT auto, could also be made available according to market demand. But despite the fact that the vehicle can be offered with more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension and four-wheel drive – as with the Yaris, it may well get that option in Japan – European examples of the new arrival will be front-wheel drive only, regardless of engine choice.
Inside, expect the baby SUV to get the same infotainment set-up as upper-end Yaris models, with a 10-inch head-up display and a large central touchscreen incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Auto Express understands that Toyota will reveal the new small SUV in the second half of 2020. UK sales are unlikely to start until spring 2021 at the earliest.
What do you think of our exclusive images? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…