Toyota Echo/Platz | Hemmings Motor News

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Toyota Echo hatchback

In 1999, Toyota was convinced this was what all the kids want. Then they up Scion

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think that Toyota want to inject a bit of fun into a car to be someone’s first ride—something and reliable. It would make a contrast to the Tercel, which was dowdy, and anonymous-looking. Alas, the (sold here in the States as the was a slow, dowdy, funny-looking The world-heralded, European Car of the Year-lauded version didn’t make it to the as our market is thought to be traditionally the opposite of a good chunk of the that Toyota sells to. So, as a two- or four-door sedan, the knock-kneed Echo sedan Toyota reliability in the shape of a hat. Probably the wisest about its appearance in the States was the change: Platz sounds like a piece of uncooked falling onto your floor.

Yet Toyota’s front-drive CP platform, the last Tercel of the ’90s, some of the company’s success here and (particularly) abroad. The Ist xA) and bB (Scion xB), the latter of helped to spearhead a style in Japan. The corrugated, briefly-fashionable VI. The utilitarian Probox and Succeed transport modules. And, of the Echo/Yaris/Vitz hatchback (same different names in different which went on to garner Car of the Year honors—only the second car ever to do so. How can a single platform both unqualified successes and showroom stinkers, all in one go?


The ECOTY winner was a fun, roomy B-class three- and hatchback that sold in and Europe starting in 1999. in both Japan and France, the Vitz RS/Euro-spec Yaris (called Sportivo in Australia) the Scion xA/xB’s 1.5-liter in a tight chassis, and offered tweaks to boot. Later offered the same diesel used in European-spec Mini models, as well as a TRD turbocharged of the 1.5-liter. Europe ate it up. Japan it to its breast. Australia offered it a can of and asked it to stay a spell. America went crazy for it.

And then there was the Platz.

more baffling is that was one of the results of Toyota’s Project an effort to introduce young into a brand that had to seem stodgy. The Echo, the Celica and the MR2 Spyder were meant to be a separate sub-brand and the kids into the showrooms. initial sales quickly although at least with the and the Spyder, the products were and performance oriented. But the Echo? The wanted this? The lessons from Project Genesis led to the creation of Scion.

Toyota Echo hatchback

The American numbers are revealing. In its debut sales were strong: 50,000 Echos sold in the Still, the sales fall was and dramatic; by 2004, the Echo manage a tenth of that Model year ’05 was the when a paltry 1,282 shifted. It wasn’t a bad car, but it was a car—an entry-level tool. are plenty of those on the roads, of which came in cheaper an Echo (see: half of auto lineup) but those rise above their and offer a little more the stuff of legend.

That said, a proper Yaris did make it to North Canadians, bless their embraced the Echo sedan, and rewarded with the hatchback of the Yaris (called Echo in the North) in 2003, modified to Canadian safety standards. It reasonably well, and surely Toyota’s hopes that North America deserved a after all.

In absolute fairness, we suspect the Scion twins (both mind), which share and chassis with the Echo, the sedan’s market share—and a good deal of their own in the Still, it’s amazing a new body and some youth-aimed muscle will do for a car.

An 2006 Yaris was made worldwide, and is working hard to the U.S.-spec Echo a distant even for the six grandmothers who bought Platz apparently went at home either; its replacement, to shake off the yawner rep the Platz had become synonymous with, is Belta in other Asian

This article originally in the April, 2008 issue of Sports Exotic Car.

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