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AutoRAI 1999: the new cars

Toyota & Volvo

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Toyota_Yaris.jpg (48298 bytes)The new Toyota Yaris is one of the first nice looking small cars to come out of Japan in my opinion. Greek Sotiris Kovos and Toyota's European Office of Creation in Brussels are responsible for the styling and they've done a good job. The interior of the car also looks very special with it's central placed digital dashboard and round flowing design.
The Yaris replaces the old and boring Starlet. It fully complies with the Euro-NCAP safety regulations, which is special for such a little car. The car will be produced in Japan till 2001 and the production will be transferred to the new plant in Valenciennes in France.

Toyota_Yaris_s.jpg (32312 bytes)The Yaris looks its best in the two door lay-out but a four door version is also available. I think the backseats are only suited for Japanese and small European children, so why the two extra doors? According to Toyota it offers more interior space than a Mercedes A-class. I didn't measure it, but if that's true Toyota must have distributed the interior space in an other way than Mercedes because it looks more cramped behind the front seats.
The car has a length of 3.61 m, a width of 1.66 m and a height of 1.50 m. It weighs 820 kg. It has a 998 cc four cylinder engine with variable valve timing that produces 68 hp @ 6000 rpm. Top speed is 156 kph and acceleration from 0 to 100 kph is done in about 12 seconds. Amazing what they can do with small engines these days! An 1.3 litre engine will become available in the future.

Volvo_S80.jpg (32911 bytes)Well, how about this new top of the line Volvo S80? Your cup of tea or not? It's not mine... I don't know, it's modern, original and inspired by the successful and good-looking S40 but still it doesn't work for me. Certainly not in dark colors. I'd never thought I'd say this, but I like the classic boxy S70 better. The design is based on the ECC concept car, with styling elements of Volvo's past mixed in. Not a very good cocktail, apparently.
The car is available with five and six cylinder engines, ranging from 2435 to 2922 cc displacement and 140 to 272 hp. Top of the range is the sporty S80 T6 with a 2.8 litre twin-turbo engine, producing 272 hp @ 5400 rpm. Top speed is 250 kph and 0 to 100 kph acceleration is performed in 7.2 seconds. Not bad for a car weighing 1.6 metric tons!

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