Update: Added official statement from Toyota.
There could be a new Toyota Yaris hatchback coming, though in this case, new might not be entirely accurate. A recent report from Car and Driver says the automaker might deliver an all-new model for 2020, but it could actually be a rebranded Mazda2 hatchback.
Should this be the case, it’s not exactly new ground for Toyota. The automaker already has a Mazda partnership in place with the Yaris sedan, which started out as the Scion iA in North America. When Scion was phased out in 2015 it was renamed the Yaris iA, then simply became the Yaris sedan for the current model year. Beneath the Toyota badges and body panels, however, the sedan is actually a Mazda2 built in Mexico. As such, it would certainly make sense for Toyota to follow suit with the hatchback variant.
We contacted Toyota for some clarification on the subject and received this statement from a spokesperson:
“We will not be offering a MY2019 Yaris liftback for sale in the U.S. but will continue to offer the MY2019 Yaris sedan, which is built in Mexico in a partnership with Mazda. We’re working on something new for MY2020 and look forward to seeing you at the New York Auto Show for more details.”
Gallery: 2019 Toyota Yaris Sedan
Presently, the Yaris hatch is a completely different vehicle from the sedan. It’s built in France and is a Toyota product from the ground up, with bones dating back to 2013. That’s not necessarily ancient history, but the hatchback is most decidedly ready for a major update. Dwindling sales in recent years reflect the platform’s age and uninspiring nature, so if the tiny liftback is to survive, it will have to evolve.
As for the Mazda2, the small hatchback is nearly as old as the Yaris with the current model dating to 2014. It's been well-received, however, and an expanded partnership could be a strategic move for Toyota. By letting other automakers handle development for niche segments such as small hatches and sports cars, Toyota can focus more on crossovers and SUVs.
Toyota confirmed the Yaris hatchback was nixed for the 2019 model year just a few days ago, with the promise of a major announcement for the entire Yaris lineup coming this spring at the New York Auto Show. At the very least, we should have confirmation of this rumor by then.
Source: Car and Driver