As the Toyota Yaris struggles for market relevance, the company’s younger brand, Scion, has introduced a new four- and five-door sedan as competition for the beleaguered Yaris. This could mark the death knell for the subcompact from Toyota as the new entries offer better styling, better marketing, and a more compelling overall appeal.
Having not driven the Scion iA or iM on the road, of course, we cannot speculate on their handling and drive dynamics, but it’s doubtful that they are worse than the Yaris, which hosts only non-description as its hallmark.
Toyota has struggled with the Yaris, making little impact on the entry-level subcompact market on the whole. Most of the competition in this field is superior to the Yaris in nearly every way, with the Honda Fit offering a more dynamic ride and more roominess, and the best-selling Nissan Versa offering a lower price point and reputation for versatility. Kia, Ford, and others all have better-selling offerings as well and even Toyota’s own Scion has the xB, which also does well in its market. Despite a refresh for 2015, which consisted mainly of a few exterior styling upgrades and improvements to the interior fit and finish, the Yaris has failed to impress buyers enough to take any significant market share.
Yet the new Scion offerings, the iA and iM, have only just been introduced and are already building marketing momentum and interest from buyers as they move towards the showroom this fall. Clearly aimed towards a young, entry-level, but sophisticated buyer, the Scion twins are likely to do well in their first year.
This turns us to the Toyota Yaris and requires that we question its existence. No doubt some of the brass at Toyota may be doing the same thing. Obviously, Toyota won’t say outright what their plans are, giving us a non-committal “We do not comment on..” response when queried. The writing does seem clear for the Yaris, however, which will have to step up or retire.
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