First generation (1999–2005)
The Yaris went on sale in Europe early in 1999. After the freshening of the European Yaris hatchback in February 2003, a slightly modified version went on sale in Canada for the 2004 model year as the Echo hatchback, but not in the United States, where the Toyota Echo sedan was the lone model. The Yaris was voted European Car of the Year in 2000.
Instead of conventional instruments, the Yaris and Echo hatchbacks utilized digital instruments which were mounted in the center of the dashboard. The Canadian Echo hatchback (and the Yaris T Sport) had a conventional speedometer but it was still mounted in the center of the dashboard.
The European Yaris was initially available with two gasoline–powered 4-cylinder 1.0l and 1.3l engines with Toyota's VVT-i technology, with the "warm hatch" 1.5l T Sport following in 2001. After the 2003 facelift, a 1.4l D4-D diesel engine offering 75hp was also included in the lineup. This diesel engine is also licensed to BMW for use in their MINI One D model.
The Japanese Vitz RS (European Yaris T-Sport) was introduced in 2001, powered by a 1.5l engine, shared with the Echo, Vios, as well as the Scion xA. The 1.5l T Sport was marketed as more fun to drive than the base models because of a sportier suspension and extra power compared to the 1.3l model.
An interesting addition to the Yaris range came in 2000 with the Yaris Verso, a small MPV which used the same running gear as the conventional hatchback, but was designed to have an even more practical interior. In Japan, the model bore the name of Fun Cargo. The model was replaced by the Ractis in 2004.
The running gear was shared with the Toyota bB and Ist, sold in the United States as the Scion xA and xB, and with the Japan-only Toyota Will Vi. The same CP platform is the base for the Japanese-only Probox and Succeed wagons.
The Echo sold in very high volumes in Canada, where smaller cars are much more popular than in the US. Sales were so high that Toyota introduced the 3 and 5-door hatchback models to the Canadian Toyota lineup for the 2004 model year. They were sold as the Echo hatchback and look almost identical to the European Yaris, but with such changes as larger bumpers to meet Canadian safety requirements.
The Echo was also very popular in Australia. First introduced in late 1999 to replace the aging Starlet, the Echo was available as a 3 or 5 door hatchback, fitted only with the 1.3l VVT-i engine. An Echo Sportivo variant, fitted with the 1.5l VVT-i engine, was made available for a limited time in Australia. The Sportivo was very similar to the European Yaris T-Sport.
The Yaris was manufactured in Japan(early models and t-sport) and France.
Second generation (2005–)
Toyota redesigned the Vitz in early 2005, immediately going on sale in Japan, while the Fun Cargo was replaced by the Ractis in October 2005.
The European, Australasian, Canadian, and Mexican markets saw the second generation Vitz near the end of 2005. In the Australian and North American markets, the car was sold as the "Yaris" for the first time. The production North American 2007 Toyota Yaris was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January 2006.
The 4-cylinder 1.0 VVT-i engine was replaced by the 3-cylinder engine, also found in the Toyota Aygo and Daihatsu Sirion. The 1.3 L was revised to offer slightly more power, and the 1.4 D-4D got a 15 PS boost to 90 PS (66 kW). The Yaris became the first car in its sector to offer nine airbags.
The Canadian Yaris hatchback is available in 3 and 5-door models, running on a 1.5 L 4 cylinder VVT-i engine rated 106 hp and 103 ft·lbf torque. 3-door CE and 5-door LE versions come with 14-inch wheels, while RS models are equipped with 15-inch alloys with standard anti-lock braking system and electronic brake force distribution (EBD).
The American Yaris is similar to the Canadian variant. The 3-door model is called the Yaris Liftback, while the 5-door model is not sold in the United States, presumably to avoid internal competition with Scion's xA and xB. The CE, LE, and RS packages in the Canadian hatchback are replaced by the more modular convenience, power, and all-weather guard packages.
The Mexican Yaris is the same to the US/Canadian version. they're available in Core, Premium, and RS packages.
The Toyota Yaris T Sport will be launched in 2007. Seen originally at the Geneva motor show and powered by the new 130bhp 1.8-litre dual VVT-i petrol engine, that is good for 100kmph in under 10 seconds. The T-Sport features 17 inch alloy wheels. a mesh grille at the front, a redesigned bumper at the rear and deep side skirts and a tail spoiler. It also features redesigned headlights and taillights, As in the previous T-sport, there are extra rear lights on the bumper.
The 2007 Yaris can achieve fuel economy ratings of 40 miles per gallon during highway driving and 34 MPG during city driving.
The New Yaris is designed in France and built in both Japan and France.