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When small Yaris asked for a funny brother
Magic Toyota brought her an Urban Cruiser

New Toyota Urban Cruiser: front, driving shot.

New Urban Cruiser: subcompact with rugged temperament.


08 April 2009.






  Stop & Start

  Petrol engine

  Diesel engine

  Susp. / steering


A few years ago, RAV4 was the small Toyota SUV. Compact as it was, it could fit very well in cities and suburbs.

New Toyota Urban Cruiser: rear, driving shot.

Available as front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Now that the smaller, subcompact SUV and crossover segment is rising with pretenders ranging from those looking more like baby SUVs to others closer to cubic minivans, the world's largest carmaker is introducing to Europe its new, Yaris-based Urban Cruiser (next month, prices to be checked depending on your market), to face first its most direct competitors: the new Kia Soul and Nissan Cube.

Of course, there is also the Daihatsu Materia (Daihatsu is part of the Toyota group), which is also based on the same Yaris platform, along with the other Urban Cruiser brothers, the Toyota Ist (in Japan) and the Scion xD (in the USA).

New Toyota Urban Cruiser: dashboard.

New Toyota Urban Cruiser: front seats and dashboard, side view.

Front seats with thin profile to improve rear passenger legroom.

With this "genealogy" in mind, Urban Cruiser fits neatly in Toyota's European line-up as another variation on the Yaris theme, under the RAV4 which can now claim to be a big brother to a smaller SUV/crossover sibling.

Urban Cruiser joins a rapidly growing tribe of funny, yet practical subcompact, B-segment cars with practical body size in cities, better exploited interior space, limited fuel consumption and emissions, all in a cheaper SUV-look package. It is available with a 1.33-litre Dual VVT-i petrol engine with Stop & Start technology, or a 1.4-litre D-4D diesel engine.

An all-wheel drive option is available with the 1.4-litre D-4D diesel engine, for those who face occasional snow or slippery conditions. It should represent about 30 per cent of Toyota's full-year sales target of 25,000+ Urban Cruiser for Europe.


Behind its looks of a rugged, all-road vehicle, the subcompact urban hatchback offers space for five passengers in a body that is 3930mm long, 1725mm wide and 1525mm tall (1540mm when equipped with AWD), with a relatively long wheelbase of 2460mm (compared to the overall length of course).

To give it tougher traits, underbody components including the front bumper underguard, side rocker panel mouldings and rear bumper underguard are blacked-out. They can be ordered with a body kit that encompasses the entire underbody.

The profile shows prominent wheel arches, broad shoulder surfaces, deep door panels with large, bodywork coloured door mirrors.

Rear combination lamps, with integrated fog lamps, feature red and white outer lenses, with an LED stop lamp in the tailgate trim.

Parallel to its rugged look, the Urban Cruiser has a reasonable drag coefficient of Cd 0.315, thanks to the airflow management, especially over the ‘pagoda’ roof and rear spoiler, as well as the optimisation of the angle of roof sides.


The interior was designed by Toyota’s ED2 European Design Studio, with rather bold dashboard lines meeting on both sides a concave door trim . The speedometer and tachometer are combined in a concentric circle behind a smoked glass plate with a non-reflective coating.

The ‘floating’ centre cluster is finished in metallic silver finish, with the front console and door switch panels. A Gear Shift Indicator recommends optimum gear-shifting for better fuel efficiency and minimum CO2 emissions.

New Toyota Urban Cruiser: speedometer and tachometer combined in a concentric circle

Speedometer and tachometer: combined in a concentric circle.

The short front and rear overhangs (785 mm and 685 mm) enhance interior space, and the boot space capacity of 314 litres may be increased to 749 litres with the rear seats folded down.

The front seats have a thin profile to improve rear passenger leg room.

Two types of rear seats are available, both with a folding mechanism: the front-wheel drive version has a 60:40 split seat with slide, recline and tilt-down functions, while the AWD one has a 60:40 split seat with recline and double-fold functions.

New Toyota Urban Cruiser: boot with rear seats folded down.

Boot space capacity of 314 litres may be increased to 749 litres.

Storage is available in lower and upper glove box compartments, front and rear door pockets, a rear centre bottle holder, a utility box next to the hand brake, a front driver’s side utility box, twin front centre cup holders and a front passenger’s side cup holder located in front of the air vent to cool its liquid content in hot weather.


The Urban Cruiser is available with a 1.33-litre Dual VVT-i petrol engine with Stop & Start technology or a 1.4-litre D-4D diesel engine. Besides the new six-speed manual transmission (with a wide sixth gear ratio of 0.743 with the petrol engine and 0.619 with the diesel one - more details in the specifications page), both engines benefit from the Toyota Optimal Drive technology, which helps optimise performance while reducing fuel consumption and emissions by focusing on the reduction of engine weight and mechanical losses, with the maximisation of combustion efficiency.

  Petrol engine

The 1.33-litre Dual VVT-i engine generates 74kW/101 DIN hp (99 bhp) with maximum torque of 132 Nm at 3800 rpm, a combined fuel consumption of 5.5 litres/100km (equivalent to 51.3 UK mpg, 42.7 US mpg, or 18.18 km / litre) and CO2 emissions of 129g/km.

Toyota Urban Cruiser: A Gear Shift Indicator recommends optimum gear-shifting for better fuel efficiency and minimum CO2 emissions.

A Gear Shift Indicator recommends optimum gear-shifting.

The engine has a small bore (72.5mm) and long stroke (80.5mm), with a high compression ratio of 11.5:1. The Variable Valve Timing-intelligent (Dual VVT-i) system helps boost response levels across the rev range by varying the air-fuel intake and exhaust valve timing to
suit driving conditions. It also improves torque at low and medium engine speeds while reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

The 1.33-litre petrol engine is only available with front-wheel drive.

  Stop & Start

The new Stop & Start system (also in the iQ 133) automatically switches off the petrol engine when the vehicle is stopped, if the gearshift is in neutral position and the clutch pedal is released. The engine doesn't stop unless the desired cabin temperature has been reached. The air conditioner can switch then to “ECO-run loading”, allowing the engine to automatically stop. It will automatically restart in the event of low battery charge, or if the vehicle begins to move.

According to Toyota measurements, the system reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in urban driving conditions by up to 4%. It features a permanently engaged starter motor gear mechanism for reduced noise and faster restart.

  Diesel engine

The revised 1.4-litre D-4D intercooled turbodiesel engine is available with either front-wheel drive or AWD. It features common rail, piezo-electric direct injection technology with standard Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF).

Thanks to the high injection pressure of 160 MPa, the piezo-electric injectors can supply larger, more precise volumes of diesel at twice the speed of conventional fuel injectors, with multiple injections per combustion cycle, optimising the combustion process for better performance, lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions.

The diesel unit generates 66kW/90 DIN hp (89bhp) and maximum torque of 205 Nm at 1800-2800 rpm.

Front wheel drive versions return fuel consumption figures of 4.5l/100km (equivalent to 62.8 UK mpg, 52.3 US mpg, or 22.2 km / litre) and CO2 emissions of 118g/km.

The AWD version returns fuel consumption figures of 4.9l/100km (equivalent to 57.6 UK mpg, 48 US mpg, or 20.4 km / litre), and CO2 emissions of 130g/km.


Available with the 1.4-litre D-4D diesel, the Active Torque Control AWD distributes torque from 100:0 (front wheels only) to 50:50 front to rear, depending on driving dynamics and road conditions, thanks to an electronically controlled coupling placed in front of the rear differential.

Urban Cruiser: AWD system view.

Toyota Urban Cruiser: Active Torque Control AWD graphic.

AWD distributes torque from 100:0 to 50:50 front to rear.

Toyota explains that when accelerating or starting off on a low-grip surface, torque is provided to all four wheels for better acceleration with minimal loss of traction. In low speed cornering, torque distribution to the rear wheels is reduced to avoid tight corner braking. When braking, the electronically controlled coupling is disengaged to optimize ABS control. To reduce fuel consumption in normal cruising conditions, the car runs as a front-wheel drive, with the torque apportioned to the rear wheels only when necessary.

Although fully automated, a switch near the hand break allows the driver to lock the Active Torque Control AWD system and improve traction in mud or snow. When locked, the system distributes maximum torque to the rear wheels (50:50 front/rear). When vehicle speed exceeds 40 km/h, “Lock mode” is released and switched to “Auto mode” automatically.

  Suspension / steering

At the front, Urban Cruiser features a compact, L-arm type MacPherson strut suspension system. At the rear, it gets a torsion beam with integral anti-roll bar, for its compact, lightweight design and for its minimal intrusion into the load space.

New Toyota Urban Cruiser: VSC illustration.

VSC detects understeer or oversteer tendencies to restore stability by applying modulated braking to the appropriate wheel.

The Electric Power Steering (EPS) varies its assistance to boost it in urban manoeuvres, or reduce it for optimum weight and feel during high speed driving. It uses electric power only when steering assist is needed.


Urban Cruiser is fitted as standard with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Traction Control (TRC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC). Via sensors monitoring car body rotation, wheel speed and brake pressure, VSC detects understeer or oversteer tendencies to restore stability by applying modulated braking to the appropriate wheel individually.

New Toyota Urban Cruiser: standard seven airbags in all versions.

All Urban Cruiser versions get standard seven airbags.

Brakes have 275 mm ventilated discs at the front, and 259mm (2WD) or 279mm (AWD) discs at the rear.

All Urban Cruiser versions also get standard seven SRS airbags (opposite), including driver and front passenger airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags.

Front and rear seats feature three-point, ELR (Emergency Locking Retractor) seatbelts with a pre-tensioner and force limiter function (to lower occupant chest impact forces).

Urban Cruiser Active Headrests: illustration.

Active front seat headrests reduce whiplash injuries in rear end collisions, by moving automatically forwards and upwards to support the heads of the driver and front passenger.

Active front seat headrests reduce whiplash injuries in rear end collisions, by moving automatically forwards and upwards to support the heads of the driver and front passenger (opposite).

To enhance pedestrian protection, the front incorporates upper and lower leg impact absorbers, and the bonnet features an energy absorbing structure with a crushable cowl at its rear edge. The bonnet hood lock is moved away from the upper surface. Other measures include additional absorbers located where the rear edge of the bonnet meets the upper fender, and the front wiper motor has a collapsible bracket.


Urban Cruiser  is available in Terra (base), Luna and Sol grades. From the Terra entry level, standard equipment includes ABS, EBD, BA, VSC, and TRC, with seven airbags, active front seat headrests, electric front windows, remote central locking, a six speaker radio/CD with MP3 compatibility, tilt and telescopic steering, driver’s seat height adjustment, Electric Power Steering, Optitron instruments (with individual LEDs on every figure and indicator needle, instead of the traditional instrument illumination), a gear shift indicator, a roof spoiler and body coloured door mirrors with turn indicators.

The Luna grade gets 16- inch matt alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, a six speaker radio/CD with aux-in connection and Bluetooth connectivity, front and rear electric windows, a leather steering wheel with audio and telephone switches, and a leather gearshift knob.

Sol grade adds exclusive trim, 16-inch chrome metallic alloy wheels, a full-map satellite
navigation system, push start button and smart entry, automatic air conditioning and an electro chromatic rear view mirror.

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