It’s already half here. The Toyota Yaris sedan, formerly the Scion iA, is the rebadged twin of the subcompact Mazda launched in Montreal in 2015. You’ll note that Mazda does not sell a second-generation 2 in North America, making that launch a relatively pointless endeavor for the automaker.
Now that Toyota has gone ahead and killed off the Toyota Yaris hatch (the Yaris that’s actually a Toyota), a space has opened up. Chances are good that the little hatch we didn’t get in 2015 will finally arrive in 2020, bearing another brand’s logo.
This speculation comes by way of Car and Driver, which secured word from Toyota spokesperson Nancy Hubbell that the mystery model arriving for the 2020 model year will indeed be a hatchback. Given Toyota’s subcompact partnership with Mazda, a rebadged 2 seems likely.
As we told you last week, the Toyota Yaris hatch (officially, “Liftback”) was not a strong performer in any sense of the word. Its four-speed automatic was one of the last on the market, and its sales amounted to a narrow sliver of the Yaris’ overall 2018 volume — 27,209 vehicles. The hatch’s sell-down helped drag Yaris volume down 38.7 percent last year, though the sedan model only fell 29.3 percent. Hardly a glowing result.
Like its first-generation predecessor, the Mazda 2 — and vehicles developed from it — are not as dreary to drive as the Yaris hatch. A new 2-based Yaris hatch would likely carry over the powertrain seen in the sedan, meaning a 1.5-liter four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic or manual, and boast similar front end styling. Why bother adding a new vehicle in a shrinking segment? Well, for starters, Toyota is keen on remaining a full-line brand, and the steady collapse of the subcompact segment actually offers an opportunity.
Ford’s Fiesta disappears this year, with Chevrolet’s Sonic likely to follow (it’s already dead in Canada). As automakers abandon the subcompact car segment, Toyota has an opportunity to collect remaining buyers. Once the Fiesta and Sonic fade from the scene, a subcompact buyer’s remaining choices amount to Yaris, Fit, Accent, Rio, and Versa — the latter of which is no one’s idea of a good time.
If Toyota truly plans to fulfill a promise Mazda made four years ago, we’ll know by April. The automaker expects to offer up details at the New York Auto Show.
[Images: Mazda, Toyota]