CC Capsule: Toyota Echo – The Yaris Gets Hit With The Ugly Stick

My next CC wants to be an epic, and isn’t going to make it today. So how about a little diversion with this sad little fellow? How did Toyota end up doing this? Especially since the Yaris Mk 1 (which we didn’t get state-side) was a rather fresh little number.

I was in Europe in 1999 when I first saw the non-Echo Yaris, and at the time it managed to stand out quite positively among all the European competition in that crowded category (I’m speaking design-wise). Its wedge shape was effective in helping mask its tall overall stance, which was of course to improve passenger space. That’s always a challenge, to make a tall small car look like it’s not tipping over or such.

But Toyota decided that Americans weren’t ready for little hatches yet (again), and punked us with the trunked Echo, also called the Toyota Platz in Japan. Some designs just don’t lend themselves to be changed like this. What looked sassy, now looked gassy. In the Yaris hatch, the rear wheels are so close to the rear of the car, without any overhang, it doesn’t matter that they look a bit small. In the Echo sedan, they suddenly look like roller-skate wheels.

The Yaris’ B pillar is a very critical part of the overall design, and really integrates it.

On the Echo two-door sedan, Toyota even went to the effort to black out the B pillar. It was a lost cause by then anyway. The Echo was a big disappointment, sales wise, in the US. It was a rare case of folks shunning Toyota’s reliability reputation, simply because the car looked so dorky. And yes, these cars are reliable. I should know, since I drive one, with a different body on a lengthened Yaris platform.

Obviously, Toyota learned its lesson, and the Yaris Mk 2 came with both the hatch as well as the Yaris name. It still hasn’t set the sales stats on fire, but that might be for other reasons.

And the 2012 Yaris drops the still-ungainly sedan altogether. Yeah! I think this is the first one I’ve seen. And TTAC doesn’t have a review of one; hmmm.

What do you all think? Or is it off your radar too?

Now back to my CC; uh oh. I just gave it away. But restrain yourselves; it will be here soon.