At the Auto China 2012, Toyota unveiled three concept cars, two of them are our current interest - the Toyota Dear Qin Concept sedan and hatchback. The name sounds very odd in English but it makes sense if you speak Chinese. After all, this is China, the land where all car brands are translated into their phonetic equivalents or literal meanings (but sometimes neither) in Chinese.
Toyota is not known as Toyota in China, but as 'Feng Tian,' (丰田) meaning bountiful field (as in rice field), which is the meaning Toyota's name in Japanese.
Toyota's press release explains the Qin in Dear Qin (亲) means "dear or intimate and represents the wish for these models to become cherished by many." But that doesn't quite explain it.
The word Qin here is typically used in a family context, not just any intimate relationships. There is no one single translation for it in English. The nature of the Chinese language meant some words have a much deeper philosophical meaning behind it, depending on how you want to read it.
With the Chinese lessons out of the way, CBT wants to stress that Toyota did not officially say the Dear Qin Concept has anything to do with the Vios or Yaris. The following information is gathered from a Chinese speaking Japanese manager (who does not want to be quoted) from Toyota Motor Co. who was present at Auto China 2012. Put the information together and its not difficult to come to a conclusion.
Toyota says this the Dear Qin Concept is a 'global-strategic concept' model. When asked to elaborate more on what that meant, he explains that the production version of the Dear Qin Concept will be a core model for Toyota, and will be sold in major developing markets of Asia.
We already know that the Toyota Vios is a core model for Malaysia so that is the first clue.
Toyota did not reveal the dimensions of the Dear Qin hatchback but the sedan measures 4,430 mm long, 1,725 mm wide, 1,475 mm high and a wheelbase of 2,550 mm. It is 130 mm longer than the current Vios and 35 mm longer than the current Honda City. When suggested that the dimensions are very similar to a Vios, he agreed it is a Vios sized car but says the exact dimensions are not yet finalized.
When asked about powertrain, he did not give any specific engine capacity but says it will be a small capacity engine. This is understandable as globally, the Vios comes in a variety of powertrain options so it is too early to give any confirmation on engine capacity as it differs from market to market.
In China, the Vios is powered by either a 1.3-litre VVT-i engine or a 1.6-litre Dual VVT-i engine. In the ASEAN region including Malaysia, the Vios is powered by a 1.5-litre VVT-i engine.
Regarding production plans, he says both models will go into production in 2013, starting with China, and then followed by other countries at later stages. CBT reckons it will be around 2014 before the model reaches our local market, right about time to retire the Vios. The current Vios was launched in Malaysia in October 2007.
He further added that the sedan model will be produced by FAW Toyota while the hatchback will be produced by Guangqi Toyota. This is another clue.
Currently, FAW Toyota sells the Vios while Guangqi Toyota sells the Yaris.
If you are wondering isn't the new generation Yaris already launched in Europe, this is because starting from this generation, the Yaris model line will be split into two. The European market model has a cost base that is too high for developing markets.
It was the main reason why the Yaris was never competitive in developing markets of Asia. In China, the Yaris is a slow seller compared to a similarly priced Honda Jazz or VW Polo (base model is a 1.4-litre non-TSI normally aspirated engine).
Of course, this is a a very early stage concept car so there is little that we can tell on how the actual production car will look like.