The third-generation Toyota Yaris has been around for five years, six if we’re taking into account the Vitz-badged model launched at home in Japan back in mid-2010. With life cycles getting shorter and shorter these days, it’s no wonder testing of a replacement has already commenced. There’s not much to say about the car because it essentially an early mule carrying a camouflaged body of the current Yaris in the three-door body style likely to soldier on alongside the more practical five-door model.

With today’s cars getting bigger and bigger than their predecessors, chances are the new Yaris will also grow in size to provide a roomier cabin. Two of its main rivals, the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta, have been spotted testing in next-gen guise ahead of a 2017 launch and both of them exhibited a visible increase in footprint, especially the Polo.

2016 Toyota Yaris (UK-spec)
2016 Toyota Yaris (UK-spec)

We’re expecting a jump in size for the Yaris as well beyond the current model’s dimensions: 3,885mm length, 1,695mm width, and 1,510mm height. Toyota will decide to implement part of the stretch into the wheelbase (now at 2,510 mm) to enable more legroom for passengers sitting in the back. The larger body should pay dividends in terms of cargo capacity, currently standing at 286 liters with the rear seats up and 768 liters once folded.

More safety equipment and extra technology will make the next Yaris a more compelling offer in the heavily disputed supermini segment. A spicy version derived from the 2017 Yaris WRC program has been mooted, but it probably won’t arrive from day one as Toyota will likely wait at least a year before coming out with the crown jewel of the range. Reports say the hot hatch will have as much as 180 horsepower coming from either a turbocharged 1.5-liter taken or from a hybrid setup.

Meanwhile, the standard fourth-gen Yaris should see the light of day towards the end of 2017 or early 2018. It might debut as a JDM-spec Vitz first, with the Euro- and U.S.-flavored versions arriving shortly thereafter with very little design changes, but quite possibly with different powertrains. Until then, expect more revealing spy shots in the months to come with production-bodied prototypes.

Photos: Automedia

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Gallery: 2018 Toyota Yaris spy photos

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