The Toyota Yaris iA: A Mazda in Toyota Clothing

The Toyota Yaris iA: A Mazda in Toyota Clothing

The Toyota Yaris iA, sold for just two model years (2017 and 2018), occupies a peculiar space in Toyota's lineup. It offered a sedan option to the traditional hatchback Yaris, but with a twist: it wasn't actually a Toyota underneath. Let's delve into the little-known Yaris iA, its surprising origins, and what it offered drivers.

A Yaris By Name, A Mazda At Heart

While the badge said "Toyota," the Yaris iA was a rebranded Mazda 2. This collaboration stemmed from a production-sharing agreement between the two automakers. It allowed Toyota to offer a sedan variant to the Yaris hatchback without the high costs of in-house development, while Mazda gained access to Toyota's extensive dealership network.

This shared platform resulted in a Yaris that felt more mature and sporty than its hatchback sibling. The exterior design leaned towards Mazda's signature sleek look, with a wider stance and a more tapered roofline. The interior, too, reflected Mazda's focus on driver engagement, with a cockpit-oriented layout and higher-quality materials compared to the standard Yaris.

Engine and Performance: A Fun Little Runabout

Under the hood, the Yaris iA sported a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine putting out 106 horsepower. While not a powerhouse, it provided enough pep for city driving and highway cruising. The secret weapon, however, was the transmission. Buyers could choose between a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic or a delightful six-speed manual. The manual, in particular, offered a more engaging driving experience, allowing enthusiasts to get the most out of the car's relatively light weight and sharp handling.

Speaking of handling, the Yaris iA surprised many with its agility. Mazda's engineering prowess shone through, delivering a car that felt composed and confident around corners. The suspension offered a good balance between comfort and handling, making the Yaris iA a joy to zip around town in.

Features and Technology

For a subcompact car, the Yaris iA offered a decent spread of features. Standard equipment included a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity, a six-speaker sound system, and a rearview camera. Higher trims added features like push-button start, heated seats, and automatic climate control.

One notable safety feature, even on the base model, was low-speed automated emergency braking. This system could detect an imminent collision at low speeds and automatically apply the brakes to help prevent an accident. While not a comprehensive suite of driver-assistance features, it was a welcome addition in a car of this class.

Fuel Economy: A Big Plus for a City Car

The Yaris iA excelled in fuel economy, a major selling point for a car likely intended for city driving. With the automatic transmission, it achieved an EPA-estimated 30 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. The manual transmission nudged those numbers slightly higher, to 31 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. These figures made the Yaris iA a wallet-friendly option, especially in a time of rising gas prices.

A Short-Lived Experiment

Despite its attractive qualities, the Yaris iA didn't find a large audience. Some potential buyers were likely confused by the Mazda underpinnings, while others may have found the base Yaris hatchback sufficient for their needs. Whatever the reason, Toyota ended the Yaris iA experiment after just two model years. In 2019, the car was essentially reintroduced as the Toyota Yaris Sedan, this time with a genuine Toyota platform underneath.

The Yaris iA: A Footnote in Toyota's History

The Toyota Yaris iA may be a footnote in Toyota's history, but it remains an interesting experiment in badge engineering. It offered a sportier and more mature option for Yaris buyers, even if its Mazda roots weren't readily apparent. For those seeking a used, fuel-efficient, and fun-to-drive subcompact car, the Yaris iA is a hidden gem worth considering, albeit with slightly limited availability due to its short production run.

comments powered by Disqus