Toyota Motor Corp. is putting its focus once again on design and driving dynamics. Marking the start of this change is the new Auris hatchback, which is styled to have an angular "keen” appearance. The Auris hatchback, which is a Corolla offshoot, has an edgier look and offers better handling, due partly to a lower center of gravity, a stiffer body, more responsive steering and a double-wishbone rear suspension.
There are online reports that the Europe-Japan nameplate may be the successor to the Matrix in the U.S. The Matrix is aging and is based on the old-generation MC platform that was used on three generations of U.S.-spec Corollas.
In comparison, the second-generation Auris that had its launch last month in Japan is built on a new-generation MC platform that is used by the Corolla version available in Europe and China.
When asked if this will lead into a next-generation Matrix, Toyota chief engineer Hiroya Fujita replied “No.” Fujita had overseen the design of the Matrix and the Japan-spec Corolla, which uses a platform that’s different from the Matrix/European Corolla and the U.S. Corolla.
Fujita was recently at a test drive for the Auris at a location near Mount Fuji. He denied that this car would be offered in the U.S. as the next Matrix. The reason he gave is that the demand for hatchbacks in the U.S. is too low.
He refused to say what the Matrix replacement is. This may mean that the Matrix line will be discontinued. However, this doesn’t instantly mean that the Auris won't be available in the U.S. When the Corolla sedan is revived in 2013, it’s possible that its styling features and maybe even its platform will reappear.