By Andrew Ganz
Tuesday, Feb 22nd, 2011 @ 6:23 pm
 
With its lifespan nearly up, the European-market Toyota Yaris has been reborn - as the nearly identical Daihatsu Charade.

A series of unexpected events has prolonged Daihatsu's life in Europe, a market the Toyota-controlled automaker says it plans to exit in 2013. Its sales have dropped in half over the last couple of years and the company announced last year that it could no longer profitably offer Japanese-made vehicles in Europe. Still, the company says it has buyers to satisfy, so it will offer Thailand-assembled last-generation Yarises masquerading as Charades as it orchestrates its departure from the market.

Toyota owns 51 percent of the company, making the Yaris-to-Charade transition an easy one. Just one bodystyle, a five door hatchback, will be on offer. A 1.3-liter gasoline engine putting out 99 horsepower will be mated to either a six-speed manual or an automatic transmission. Fuel economy will be about 45 mpg in mixed driving and the Charade emits a reasonable 120 g/km of CO2.

Two trim levels will be on offer and both should certainly undercut the outgoing Yaris. Toyota, meanwhile, is expected to unveil the European-trim third-generation Yaris at the Geneva Motor Show next week.