The Toyota Vitz is a line of three- and five-door hatchback subcompact cars produced since 1999 by the Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota. Now in its third generation, the name “Toyota Vitz” has been used consistently in Japan, with most international markets receiving the same vehicle under the Toyota Yaris name, or formerly as the Toyota Echo in some markets for the first generation. The Toyota Vitz is available in Japan from Toyota’s Netz Store line of dealerships
The first generation XP10 series Toyota Vitz was designed by Sotiris Kovos at Toyota’s ED2 studio in Europe. It was first unveiled at the 1998 Paris Motor Show. Production began in late 1998, with a Japanese on-sale date of January 1999; European sales commenced two months later as the “Toyota Yaris”. When introduced to Australasia in October 1999, the “Toyota Echo” name was used, as was the case in Canada when released there in 2003 for the 2004 model year. The “Echo” and “Yaris” names were also given to the export version of the related Japanese market Toyota Platz sedan, also available as a coupe in North America. Often sold alongside the hatchback and marketed as a single line of vehicles, exterior panels common between the Vitz and Platz were restricted to the front doors. However, as Vitz and Platz were designed using the same platform, the mechanicals are largely identical and both share a common dashboard module. There was also a “Yaris Verso” or “Echo Verso” variant sold in some export markets from late 1999, based on the Japanese “Toyota Fun Cargo”. The Verso MPV utilizes the same running gear as the Vitz, but features a more spacious interior.
Toyota redesigned the Vitz in early 2005, going on sale in Japan that February. The Toyota Belta sedan, shares underpinnings with the Vitz. However, while the Vitz was designed at Toyota’s European ED2 design studios, the Belta was designed at their Japanese design studios. While the outgoing Vitz hatchback and Platz sedan look and feel virtually alike, the redesigned Vitz and Belta are more subtly related. The two cars share a frame and the drivetrain components however the sheet metal is different.
The third generation Toyota Vitz was introduced in December 2010 featuring a sportier stance, a redesigned front and a roomier interior. The new model uses a single windshield wiper instead of a pair of wipers and has its meter cluster positioned back in front of the driver and behind the wheel compared to its previous models. In European countries, the Yaris is also offered in 6-speed manual transmission for the 1.33L engine, or a CVT transmission often marketed as “7-speed MultiDrive” or “MultiDrive S”. The 7-speed refers to the possibility to select a predefined gear ratio among 7 available, emulating a 7-speed sequential gearbox, with steering wheel levers.