Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation (TMPC) recently gave motoring journalists a sneak preview of its newest subcompact passenger car (PC), the Yaris hatchback. With a modern design, compact dimensions and potential for fuel savings, this long-awaited model from Toyota is aimed to strengthen the company's leadership in the passenger car category, together with its Vios and Altis PCs.

Since the launch of its first generation model, the Yaris has been a success story for Toyota all over the world. Named "Car of the Year 2000" in Europe, the first generation (first gen) Yaris was delivered to more than 1.4 million customers in Europe from 1999 to 2005. Also, the first gen Yaris obtained a five-star EuroNCAP rating, according to Toyota Motor Europe.

The next generation Yaris proves to be a bigger success globally. Since its launch in January 2006, the Yaris has already sold over 374,000 units worldwide as of November 2006, with the bulk of sales coming from Europe. In Asia, the Yaris has already been introduced in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan with almost 57,000 sold from January to November 2006.

Compared to Europe, US and other Asian countries, the subcompact hatchback market in the Philippines has been relatively new. However, the segment has shown potential for growth and has gone a long way since the introduction of the Yaris' predecessor (the Echo and Echo Verso) in the late 1990s.

The Yaris' modern look begins with a refreshing front grill design, which is distinctively different from existing Toyota models. The sporty shape of the front multi-reflector headlamp increases illumination, while the windscreen is combined with arching lines to reduce drag while raising viewing pulses.

Like the main attraction of small cars, its compact size makes it apt for city streets. It also shares the same engine as its 1.5L Vios brethren (a 1.5-liter 1NZ-FE 16-valve DOHC VVT-I engine, with output of 107 hp at 6000rpm and 141NMs of torque at 4200rpm), making it a potential fuel miser yet powerful enough to hang with or even outrun passenger cars 100 cc or 300 cc higher. Its passengers will definitely enjoy a smoother ride provided by the front McPherson struts and rear torsion beam suspension. And with a turning radius of 4.7 meters, maneuverability is a breeze.

Get behind the wheel of the Yaris and enter a world where modernity rules without sacrificing comfort and convenience. With a seating capacity that offers more options and completely controllable air-conditioning, the Yaris envelopes passengers in an environment of extreme driving and riding enjoyment. The hoodless optitron meter is centrally-positioned which allows for viewing ease. The interior is fashionably incorporated with subdued black finish, combined with a sporty leather steering wheel and shift knob and fabric seat material. The rear cargo seats slide forward to create more luggage space through a 60-40 split.

Safety-wise, the Yaris features driver and passenger airbags for reduced injuries in head-on collisions, along with three-point ELR seatbelts and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) that prevents wheel lock on slippery roads. Also, front fog lamps and high mount stop lamps provide high-powered lighting at night.

The Yaris is offered in 1.5L two variants - an automatic transmission (P748,000) and manual transmission (P713,000) with the vehicle coming in mysterious black, passionate red, elegant white and chic medium silver.