2016 Toyota ViRA
It’s common knowledge that Toyotas are among the most reliable cars in the world. They’re also quite affordable across the range, and some of them are sportier than you might think. On the other hand, the Japanese company is still struggling to attract a younger audience in its showrooms, and the recently updated Camry and Avalon didn’t quite do it. However, Toyota is willing to try just about anything in today’s competitive market, and its brand-new concept for the 2016 Tokyo Auto Show proves just that.
Dubbed ViRA, this sleek and sporty looking compact crossover is, according to Toyota, a mash-up between the Vitz subcompact (known as the Yaris in the U.S.) and the RAV4. Even the name suggests that, as the company took the Vi out of the Vitz and the RA out of the RAV4 and came up with ViRA. Not exactly inspirational for a car name, but we’ve seen concepts with weirder names.
Toyota didn’t have much to say about this new show piece, and there’s no word as to what might lurk under the long hood or whether or not it will spawn a production model. Details should be unveiled as the ViRA makes its official debut at the Tokyo Auto Show next week, so make sure you stick around for the full rundown. Meanwhile, have a look at our speculative review below.
Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota ViRA.
Although Toyota says that the ViRA is a crossbreed between the Yaris and the RAV4, the concept has nothing in common with the two. The only similarities are the Yaris-like compact size and the crossoverish ground clearance, but other than that, the ViRA is unlike anything else Toyota has built so far. The front end is downright aggressive, and even though the headlamps and grille arrangement reminds me of the Zenvo ST-1, the chrome inserts underneath the headlamps, the arched hood, and the beefy wheel arches give it a unique appearance.
The ViRA exudes sportiness when seen from the sides as well. The roofline is low and sleek, there’s no B-pillar, and the standard chrome surround of the lower windows has been replaced by an aluminum piece that becomes a C-pillar toward the back and them moves upward into the roof. The concept also has a split glass roof with a body-colored panel in the middle. The rear fenders are quite muscular and integrate slim, horizontal taillights and vertical gills.
The tailgate is raked at a very aggressive angle, giving the hatch a shooting brake-like appearance. The glass section flows downward between the taillights, creating a feature that reminds me of the Volvo C30. Unlike the front bumper, the rear apron is rather simple by design. Rounding off the concept are a set of massive, split-spoke wheels, a metallic blue paint job and matching brake calipers.
Toyota has yet to release photos of the ViRA’s interior, but judging by how the exterior looks, the cabin should be rather futuristic for a brand like Toyota. Expect it to feature a wrap-around dashboard with a big touchscreen in the middle, numerous body-colored inserts, a clutter-free center stack and console, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and a pair of bolstered front seats. If current trends in the crossover market are any indication, the ViRA should boast a number of premium features such as leather-wrapped seats and steering wheel, Alcantara inserts, and real wood trim. Given that the ViRA doesn’t have conventional side mirrors, an additional screen should display images from the cameras mounted on each door.
The drivetrain is still a mystery as of this writing, but knowing Toyota, the ViRA should carry either a hybrid drivetrain built around a small-displacement gasoline engine or an all-electric configuration. The latter seems more likely since the concept car doesn’t have visible exhaust pipes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t sport a conventional powerplant under the hood.
Coming from Toyota, the ViRA is definitely an interesting concept. Sure, we know nothing about its interior and drivetrain, but the exterior design is both fancy and sporty for a vehicle coming from this Japanese brand. A production version isn’t likely at this point, but the ViRA could signal Toyota’s future design language, preview an upcoming small crossover, or even preview a new drivetrain. We will find out more at the 2016 Toyota Motor Show and we’ll update this review as soon as we get a hold of the official info.