Mike Stevens | Mar 13, 2014

Toyota’s next light hatch, to be built at Mazda’s Mexican plant alongside the new 2, will have a direct-injected SkyActiv Mazda engine under the bonnet.

The deal, announced in 2012, had initially confirmed that Toyota would utilise a Mazda platform for its next-generation light car, but powertrain details had not been revealed.

Now, according to US industry paper Automotive News, Toyota will use Mazda’s small SkyActiv petrol engine in the new model, likely to be the next Yaris.

Details are still to come, but it is likely that the engine of choice will be the 62kW 1.3 litre petrol unit offered with the current Mazda2 in Japan.

The recent Mazda Hazumi concept is driven by the company’s new 1.5 litre diesel SkyActiv engine, although it is not believed that Toyota is seeking to hook this unit into the Yaris.

As for the rest of the new Toyota model, the CEO of Mazda’s Mexican operations, Keishi Egawa, reportedly confirmed this week that Toyota has invested heavily in ensuring its car’s styling is very different to the new Mazda2.

“Stamping, dies, that is theirs,” along with “some of the interior design work,” he said.

The plant, at Salamanca in Mexico, will allocate around 50,000 spots in its 230,000 annual unit capacity to the new Toyota model, with production expected to begin between April 2015 and March 2016.

But if the new model is indeed the new Yaris, it will mean a relatively short lifecycle for the current model, which first hit markets in 2011.

It is possible however that the new model is destined not for global markets, but instead for specific markets only - along with the US, where the current Yaris has struggled to win buyer interest.

In Australia, the Yaris remains a popular seller, trailing segment leader the Mazda2 (2426 sales year-to-date) with 2057 sales for the year so far. (Although the Hyundai i20 outperformed the Yaris in February, 1165 to 954.)

As for the Mazda2, it is believed production of the long-overdue new hatch will begin in the second half of this year.

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