The process involved in designing the all-new Yaris Cross compact SUV brought together a wide team drawn from Toyota studios in Europe and Japan. In order to give us a greater understanding of the ideas and inspiration that guided this collaborative process, we had a chat with Lance Scott, general manager of design at the Toyota ED2 studio in the South of France.
What were the priorities in designing the Yaris Cross?
Lance: “When we started, we understood that while style is the number one purchase reason in the B-SUV segment, customers are also keen to have a high level of practicality. These are not easy things to reconcile, especially in a compact package.”
Where did you begin the design process?
Lance: “From the very start of the design concept we had European customers in mind, but we needed to understand more about them. So we interviewed real customers to learn about their lifestyle, what they liked, what their daily activities were and how they enjoyed themselves.
“After an enjoyable and enlightening process, we came back enthusiastic to design a car that would mirror their personality and deliver a vibrant combination of sophistication and energy.”
How was this channelled into a clear design direction?
Lance: “As a team, we came up with the key words Robust and Minimalistic, which we felt expressed both compactness and agility, as well as the robustness and strength of an SUV.
“When we started to sketch ideas for the exterior, the image of a diamond consistently came to mind. Subsequently we coined the phrase Nimble Diamond to express the hard, strong and premium image of the gemstone, combined with the agile and fun-to-drive personality we felt the car needed to convey.”
How were these facets created in the design mock-up?
Lance: “From the top, or plan view, we ‘cut’or ‘shaved’ the body to give us a diamond shape, which in turn gave us the space to emphasis the wings. The diamond body shape combined with the four bold wings gave us an energetic shape that was also strong and sophisticated.
“Clearly, we wanted the car to be perceived immediately as an SUV, so we emphasised a higher ground clearance; a strong horizontal axis, giving great balance and poise; big, squared-off wheel arches; and, of course, big wheels, up to 18 inches in diameter.
“The face was another very important aspect for us. We wanted to keep the strong DNA of Toyota’s SUV line-up, but at the same time give Yaris Cross its own identity.
“At the rear, we again focused on a good stance, with wide wings showing how the car looks planted on its wheels. Combining the horizontal tail lights and rear screen clearly shows the shared family identity with the Yaris hatchback, yet the wider and more squared tailgate hints at the greater flexibility of the luggage space for day-to-day use.”
Was there any special reasoning behind the distinctive launch colour?
Lance: “For the exterior colour, we started thinking about something that would express an active and high-quality image that our target customers would really appreciate.
“Looking at future colour trends, we can see a growing tendency for gold and other precious metals, but we wanted to offer something a bit more natural and urban. Adding a subtle hint of green to the gold direction, and de-saturating the colour to emphasise the metal-like appearance, gave us this fresh, urban yet active appeal, highlighting the surface form of the exterior. The result is a colour we call Brass Gold.”
Thank you for your time, Lance. We look forward to seeing Yaris Cross in person soon.
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