In 1999, the first production unit of the Toyota’s subcompact vehicle named Toyota Platz was launched in Japan. It remained in production until 2005 when it was replaced by the Toyota Belta. Toyota Platz was referred to as XP10 series by Toyota Motor Corporation. In some of the export markets, it was marketed as “Toyota Echo” or “Toyota Yaris”. Both these names were also used for export version of Toyota Vitz hatchback.
The term “Platz” is derived from a German word for “square”. In the Japanese market, the Platz was offered with inline-four engines and available as a 4-door sedan. However, a coupe version of Platz was also offered in North American market under the name “Echo”.
The Echo was launched as 2000 model year in North America in 1999. It was offered both in coupe and sedan versions. The running gear of Echo was shared with the ist and Toyota bB, marketed in American Markets as the Scion xA and Scion xB respectively and with Toyota Will Vi in Japan. Toyota’s Probox and later wagons also based on this platform.
The Echo was in fact a part of Toyota Project Genesis that aimed to target the younger customers to the marque in the America. Total of 50,000 units of Echo were sold in United States out of which half of them were sold in 2003 only. Being a subcompact car, Echo was more popular in Canada where people prefer smaller cars. It was for this fact, Echo was offered in 3-door and 5-door versions in Canada, similar to the European Toyota Vitz. Both these version were offered for sale in 2004 as a replacement of Toyota Echo coupe. 2002 model year was the last model of Toyota Echo coupe sold in Canada before the introduction of Echo hatchback. However, the Toyota Echo coupe still be sold in the American market until it was completely discontinued in 2005. Being a predecessor to the present North American “Yaris”, it shares many of its features with the current model like odd (and somewhat controversial) center placement of the speedometer and gauges, manual windows and locks, A/C, and a six speaker audio system with a CD and/or a cassette player.
The major reason why Echo gained so much popularity was its remarkable fuel economy, for instance, its fuel economy stands with EPA estimates of 41 mpg Hwy and 34 mpg City.
In several different regions of Southeast Asia, excluding Hong Kong and Japan, a modified version of Toyota Platz (having different body panels), Toyota Vios is sold.
According to the 2010 edition of Monash University’s Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR), the XP10 shows a “poor” level, i.e. two out of five stars, of passenger safety protection. This means that in an incidence of accident, passengers are in extreme danger.