The Toyota Yaris line in the U.S. has been really weird, what with the hatchback coming from Toyota, and the sedan coming from Mazda a rebadged Mazda2. For 2020, the Toyota Yaris line is still weird, but at least its consistent as the hatchback is also a rebadged Mazda2. And as far as styling is concerned, that's all there is to say. The front bumper is the the same angry catfish face as the Yaris sedan, and everything rearward comes from the Mazda2 that's available overseas and in Puerto Rico. The interior is the same as the Mazda2, and very similar to the Mazda CX-3. The switch to the Mazda platform has added 0.3 cubic-feet to the cargo space over the old Toyota version.
Under the hood is the familiar 1.5-liter inline-four making 106 horsepower. Disappointingly, the only transmission available will be a six-speed automatic, whereas the current sedan is available with a six-speed manual transmission. But having six speeds is a massive improvement over the outgoing Yaris's ancient four-speed automatic. Fuel economy hasn't been announced, but expect it to get close to the Toyota Yaris sedan's 32 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. This will be another improvement over the old Yaris hatch's 30 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway.
Thanks to the long global reach of The General's tentacles, Americans looking for economy cars at GM dealerships during the middle 1980s could buy Suzukis (the Chevrolet Sprint), Opels (the Chevrolet Chevette), Daewoos (the Pontiac LeMans), and Isuzus (the Chevrolet Spectrum). Just as Mitsubishi sold Mirages in the United States while Chrysler continued to sell the Mirage's Colt sibling, Isuzu moved in with the new front-wheel-drive I-Mark to compete with its Spectrum twin. These cars weren't big sellers and they didn't last very long on the road, but I managed to find this '86 in a Denver, Colorado, self-service wrecking yard.
The I-Mark was known as the Gemini in its Japanese homeland and in Europe; the front-wheel-drive second-generation Gemini debuted in 1985.
The Nissan Versa Note hatchback might be playing its swan song as we speak. A recent report from CarsDirect, citing the automaker's 2019 order guide, pegs it as discontinued after the 2019 model year, with production set to end in April this year.
Meanwhile, the Versa sedan looks safe for at least another one or two model years. The Versa Note is one step above the sedan in price, starting at $16,535, including the destination fee. Nissan prices the sedan at $13,245. Both these cars are aimed at folks looking to buy a new car for the cheapest amount possible. Compared to the previous six years, Versa sales dropped substantially in 2018. Nissan doesn't report Versa sedan and Versa Note sales separately, so we don't know the split, but 2018 saw 75,809 Versas find new homes. This was the worst full year of sales ever, signaling some amount of dissatisfaction with the small car — Nissan has sold more than or just about 100,000 Versas every year since 2010.
The 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback plays somewhat against type by being interesting to look at and not a complete snore to drive (characterizations that now also can be applied to the new Corolla sedan). After all, the latest Corolla hatch and upper trim versions of the sedan use a larger, 2.0-liter engine, boast an available six-speed stick with rev-matching, add a fixed first gear to their CVT, and swap the previous torsion beam rear suspension for a multilink setup. But one still gets the sense that there's unrealized potential here. Now Toyota is exploring that potential with the just-announced GR Sport version.
This sportified Corolla Hatchback wears GR Sport-specific lower body styling, a black mesh grille, and a rear diffuser. Additionally, there are special 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, fog lights, and rear privacy glass. The exclusive Dynamic Grey paint is two-toned with a black upper body. Inside, there are more aggressively bolstered bucket seats in cloth and leather or full leather, with contrast stitching. It's too bad the sporty upgrades don't extend to the mechanicals, but we will say the car looks pretty good.
Honda just announced this week that it will be closing its Civic hatchback factory in Swindon in the U.K. Besides meaning the potential loss of 3,500 jobs, the plant closure left us wondering what the future is for the Honda Civic hatchback, particularly the Type R, both of which are produced there for global markets including our own. But Honda has provided us a statement that reveals the hatchback and Type R appear to be safe, where production may be moved to, and when we may be seeing a totally new Civic.
According to Honda, the company is looking at bringing hatchback production to North America. Part of the reason for this is that the hatch is quite popular. Honda says that almost 20 percent of North American Civic sales are of the hatchback, and that's more than the company expected. And it does seem logical to bring production closer to where the cars are being sold. The Type R in particular would make sense since its engine is already build in Ohio.
Less than a week ago we got the news that Toyota killed the 2019 Yaris Liftback in the U.S., instead choosing to sell the remaining inventory from 2018. There should be plenty of stock left, too: Car and Driver reports that Toyota sold 1,940 of the tiny hatches last year. The automaker said it would have an announcement about the Yaris at this year's New York Auto Show in April, telling Automobile, "We're working on something new for MY2020." C/D thinks it already knows what's coming, writing, "We assume ... that the new Yaris hatchback ... will be a rebadged Mazda2, like the current Yaris sedan that Mazda builds for Toyota in Mexico."
Toyota and Mazda formed a development- and technology-sharing partnership in 2015. As part of the collaboration, we got the Scion iA in 2016, based on the Mazda2 sedan. That four-door became the Toyota Yaris iA when the Scion brand got put in the ground, and then became just the Yaris for 2019. In spite of Americans' well-publicized aversion to sedans, the trunked Yaris sold 25,269 units last year. Meanwhile, the Yaris hatch, built at a Toyota factory in France, has carried on basically untouched since 2013 — with a four-speed automatic, even — helping to explain its slow take-rate.
Over the past few years, Honda has revealed a couple of sleek EV concepts with retro-inspired designs. First up at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show was the Urban EV hatchback that resembled a mix of a Honda N600 and a first-gen Volkswagen Golf. That followed a month later by the Sports EV coupe at the Tokyo Motor Show. Today, Honda announced it was bringing a new EV prototype to the Geneva Motor Show. Based on the single image, it looks like it's the production version of the Urban EV.
Honda already confirmed that the car would go into production, though it's unclear (and unlikely) if it will make it to America. We've already seen spy photos from production version testing in Europe. Based on the photos, it looks like the production car will add a set of rear doors. It's far more practical, but we do love the Urban EV's three-door style.