ZEN AND THE ART OF BUILDING EXCEPTIONAL CARS
Few will forget the impact that the Toyota Yaris made when it first entered the market in 2005. Its introduction followed the extremely popular Toyota Tazz and it immediately established itself as the most modern offering in the B-segment.
Following Toyota’s call to prospective owners to “Move on, move up”, more than 10 000 people opted for this modern new city vehicle in the first four months after introduction. That made it at that time the quickest uptake of any model yet in South Africa’s history. To date 111,162 units have been sold.
With such significant sales volumes, the Yaris remains one of the most popular and most successful B-segment vehicles by Toyota in South Africa, despite the increased competition from new B and sub-B segment competitors.
It is not only the competition in the B and sub-B segments that have increased. The market for more affordable vehicles and the number of vehicles in these segments have grown significantly and now constitute close to 50% of the total vehicle market.
This growth in the entry level market has strengthened the business case for the introduction of a more affordable B-segment vehicle that will continue to offer the quality and durability that the Yaris is known for, but at a lower price point.
Welcome to the Yaris Zen
The new entrant, to be called the Yaris Zen, will add to and expand the market reach of the popular Yaris. The vehicle is the product of an extensive programme to better understand buyers’ preferences and requirements in this highly competitive segment. As such the vehicle represents a significant change in product offering.
Research has shown that the average buyer in the B and sub-B segment – for value focussed vehicles – remains highly sensitive to the vehicle’s total cost of ownership. This implies the cost of purchasing, combined with the cost of operating, servicing and repairing the vehicle. Taking heed of this market research, all Yaris Zen models will be sold with a 4 year or 60 000 km service plan and 3 year / 100 000 km warranty as standard.
Toyota has also significantly added to the Yaris product range with the introduction of the Yaris Zen. The new range of Yaris models will now be known as Zen1 and Zen3, with the number bearing resemblance to the 1 litre or 1.3 litre capacity of the engine. The name flows from the popular Asian sub-culture that is relevant in the target market and emphasises the peace of mind of owning a Toyota.
The name change also links to a significant rationalisation of the product line, which now offers 10 Yaris Zen models and one remaining model from the traditional Yaris line-up. Of this range, six models will be hatchback versions and the remaining models will be available in the sedan body shape.
“Apart from the new range introduction and the impressive value offering, we believe that the new Yaris Zen and accompanying retail sales campaign will return the Yaris to its original target market, namely the “29ers” or people of all genders and races in their twenties,” says Glenn Crompton, Vice President of Product and Demand Planning at Toyota South Africa Motors.
With an entry level price of only R126 300, the Yaris Zen’s price is surely the first aspect of the new vehicle that attracts attention. The low price flows from the rationalisation of the product range.
Says Andrew Kirby, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Toyota South Africa Motors: “Despite the affordable price and consolidated range, the Yaris Zen will not compromise on its traditional strengths, namely build quality, safety and durability.”
Toyota South Africa will introduce the Yaris Zen without any changes to the design infrastructure that has ensured the Euro NCAP five star safety rating. This includes a driver and passenger air bags on all models and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assistance (BAS). Also included in all models is Toyota’s patented Minimal Intrusion Cabin Safety system (MICS) that disperses the force from a side or partially head-on collision to protect passengers, whiplash injury lessening headrests (WIL) and anchorage points for children’s seats inside the cabin.
Other safety features include side reinforcement in the doors, a collapsible steering column and retractable pedals in case of an accident and liquid filled engine mountings at strategic places to both ensure vehicle safety and reduce noise, vibrations and harshness inside the cabin.
European design with a fresh twist
The Yaris Zen retains the unique Euro-centric features of the Yaris. Styled in conjunction with Toyota Motor Corporation’s European design studio (ED2), the Yaris has stood the test of time since its first introduction in 2005.
A new design element will distinguish the Yaris Zen from the standard Yaris. The new Yaris Zen will be available will a comprehensive range of unique tattoos for both the hatch and sedan versions, with buyers being able to choose the various design elements to suit their lifestyle. This new design element follows market research into the need for individualisation in the target market.
Besides the tattoos, owners can expect no compromise on the unique style that the Yaris has become known for. This includes colour coded bumpers throughout the range, a centrally mounted information console for the sedan (analogue) and hatch (3D digital), more than 18 litres of internal oddment storage, thanks to the centrally mounted information display that enabled the designers to add various storage spaces.
A wide range of colours will be available throughout the range, including popular colours such as Evening Sky metallic, Seaside Pearl metallic, Quicksilver metallic and Ice White.
More power from less capacity
The Yaris Zen will continue to offer the range of two well known and proven all aluminium petrol engines. Both engines are equipped with electronic multi point fuel injection and both offer exceptional fuel consumption which averages less than 6 litres / 100 km for the range. Both engines also offer exceptionally low CO2 emissions.
The entry level Yaris Zen1 will be equipped with the well known 998cc three cylinder engine. This engine is a regular recipient of class awards in the World Engine of the Year Awards and is one of the lightest and most frugal internal combustion engines in the world.
The Zen1’s engine is fitted with four valves per cylinder, dual overhead camshafts and Toyota’s proven intelligent variable valve timing (VVT-i) system. Power from this engine is comparable to various competing 1.3 litre engines, with a torque figure of 93 Nm @ 3 600 rpm and power output of 51 kW @ 6 000 rpm.
Next in line is the highly popular 1.3 litre engine. This four cylinder engine also has four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts and VVT-i and is rated at 63 kW @ 6 000 rpm and 121 Nm @ 4 400 rpm.
The Zen1 and various Zen3 models are equipped with a five speed manual gearbox. Two Zen3 Plus models, one in each body shape, will be offered with Toyota’s smooth shifting four speed automatic gearbox.
Both the Zen sedan and Zen hatchback are fitted with a McPherson strut system in front and a torsion beam and coil spring system at the back. All models, except for top of the range versions, are equipped with 14” steel wheels.
With its impressive sales history in South Africa, few can claim not to know the interior of the Yaris. This modern cabin with seating designed to accommodate four 1.8 m long adults in comfort has remained unchanged with the introduction of the Yaris Zen, although there are variations in specification levels between the Yaris and Yaris Zen.
All versions of the Yaris Zen is equipped two airbags, a full compliment of five point seat belts, electric power steering that is tilt adjustable (reach adjustment is included in higher specification models) and ABS brakes with EBD and BAS. Hatchback models further offer range wide folding rear seats with a 60:40 split and Toyota’s “Easy Flat” operation.
Zen3 models boast electric windows and power mirrors, while Plus models list Bluetooth cell phone preparation, an audio socket and a greater number of speakers for the audio system as standard.
The Yaris Zen is set to bring Toyota quality to the B and sub-B segment. All models in the Yaris Zen range are offered with a 4 year / 60 000 km service plan.
The Yaris remains one of the highest scoring vehicles in the overall quality reports often trumping much larger luxury vehicles in the “Faults per 100 vehicle” measurement. In the 2009 Synovate report on perceived vehicle quality, the Yaris dominated its respective segments with the lowest number of faults per 100 vehicles.
The new Yaris Zen is set to continue in the footsteps of the Yaris, offering best in class quality and durability, a low cost of ownership and well proven resale value.
Yaris range to continue
Toyota South Africa Motors will, in line with customer feedback and market structure, continue with a rationalised Yaris model range to complement the Yaris Zen range. One hatchback model, badged as the Toyota Yaris T3 Plus, will be available.
The Yaris T3 Plus will also benefit from the increased value offering that is available on the Yaris Zen range. As such the model will boast with a full complement of airbags, increasing from a driver and passenger airbag to include knee, curtain and side airbags as well.
Visually the Yaris T3 Plus will also be fitted with larger 185/60 profile tyres on 15” alloy wheels and will now come standard with front fog lights.