SPYSHOTS: Toyota Yaris in Malaysia – CKD soon?

Here’s something we’re not supposed to see, because the car being transported was covered up. But sometimes it’s difficult to hold everything together in a storm, and wind can cause unintended exposure. Unfortunately for our subject here, photographer Sherman Sim was just behind as he was travelling to paultan.org PACE over the weekend.

My regular motor show teammate is no stranger to ASEAN cars, and immediately realised that it was the Toyota Yaris under the hiked up cover. The long rear lamps that wrapround deep into the side profile is a giveaway, confirmed by the Yaris badge seen clearly in one of the shots.

Currently sold in Thailand and Indonesia, this is the Yaris facelift that was launched in the Land of Smiles in September 2017. There, the Yaris and its sedan sister – the Yaris Ativ – are Thai eco cars with 1.2 litre engines. No such restriction for Indonesia, so the Yaris debut there in February this year with a 1.5 litre engine, the same 2NR unit used by the Perodua Myvi. The Indonesian-spec Yaris slots above the Daihatsu Ayla and Toyota Agya Low Cost Green Car (LCGC) twins, which max out at 1.2L.

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This unit has rather unusual red coloured panels around the lower bumper, which doesn’t go very well with the Citrus Mica Metallic paint. It could well be a TRD Sportivo version of the five-door hatch. Toyota Thailand’s entry level car does not have a TRD Sportivo trim level, but there’s one in Indonesia, which rides on the same 16-inch two-tone rims you see here.

However, the Indo-spec Yaris TRD Sportivo has a different rear bumper, both in design and colour – it’s mainly body-coloured, with a black inside section and a red pinstripe. Ditto the side skirts, which are mainly black here, with red accents. The more subtle Indo-spec TRD Sportivo gets a slim strip of black, with a red tip. A unique “extra sporty” flavour for Malaysia perhaps?

The pre-heavy facelift Yaris made its way into Malaysia in 2014, but only a handful found homes due to its high price of above RM100k. This new one would need to be significantly more competitive, as the current Perodua Myvi has shifted the goalposts in terms of safety and equipment.

Local assembly might help its cause. Back in May 2016, Toyota confirmed plans to build a new factory in Malaysia. The new plant is located in Bukit Raja Industrial Estate, Klang, and will have an initial annual production capacity of 50,000 units a year.

The 670,000 sqm factory is part of Toyota’s plans to reorganise its production system in Malaysia. The current Assembly Services Sdn Bhd (ASSB) factory will be left to focus on the production of commercial vehicles, while the new plant takes on production of passenger cars, including Energy Efficient Vehicles (EEVs).

Then, Toyota said that it expected production at Bukit Raja to start in early 2019, the time when the ASSB plant will cease to roll out passenger vehicles. Coincidentally, the Yaris-ferrying truck you see here was on the NKVE heading towards Klang. What do you think of the Yaris vs the Myvi and Honda Jazz?

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