CC Capsule: WiLL Vi – The JDM Scion Precursor

Toyota Will s

Paulvaranasi found one of the odder cars of the dawn of the 21st century, on the island of Malta no less. The WiLL Vi was built by Toyota, between January 2000 and Dec. 2001, as part of the WiLL brand marketing experiment that was targeted at a young Japanses demographic and included a  number of companies selling various products, from Asahi WiLL beer, WiLL candies, Panasonic WiLL appliances, and even WiLL resorts. The experiment was not really a success, although it did raise the awareness of young consumers to some of these consumer goods. Or was it the other way around?

Toyota launched a similar undertaking in the US, which ended up being called Scion. But for a brief period of time, there was actually a WiLL website aimed at young Americans to gauge their interest in this particular vehicle. I remember visiting it; not that I was of the right demographic. But I was intrigued at the idea of Toyota selling this car in the US.

Toyota WiLL rq 2

The WiLL Vi was based on the Vitz/Yaris NBC platform, as represented by the white Yaris conveniently parked in front of it. That platform also spawned the Toyota bB, which became Scion’s first model in the US (xB).  It reflected the era in Japan when retro design was the hot thing, and Nissan’s “Pike Cars” (Figaro, Pao, S Cargo) were hot). Toyota had found themselves clearly behind Nissan in this whole wave, and the WiLL project was their response.

Toyota Will fq

Needless to say, its stylistic inspiration was undoubtedly the Citroen Ami 6, that evergreen ugly-cool-mobile. I happen to like the results of this Japanese retro-wave, including the WiLL Vi, for providing some refreshing variety to the sea of blob-mobiles. Too bad they didn’t come to the US; who knows, I might be driving one of these instead of an xB.