• Toyota will show a finalized Yaris Hybrid in Geneva.
  • The hatchback will share its engine with the Prius C.
  • The Yaris Hybrid's future in North America is uncertain.

Toyota recently released several photos of its upcoming Yaris Hybrid ahead of the compact hatchback's official debut at this year's Geneva Auto Show. Featuring the same hybrid four-cylinder as the recently announced Prius C, the Yaris Hybrid is expected to be one of the most fuel efficient vehicles available when it goes on sale later this year.

On the outside, the Yaris Hybrid features several revisions from the standard Yaris model, including a new front fascia with larger air inlets, aerodynamic 18-inch alloy wheels and, like all Toyota hybrids, blue-tinted exterior emblems. The five-door hatchback also includes upgraded tail lights and headlights with LED bulbs.

Under the hood, the Yaris Hybrid will offer a 1.5-liter hybrid four-cylinder powertrain also featured in the automaker's Prius C, which made its debut in production form at last year's Tokyo Auto Show. Producing just 98 horsepower, the engine prioritizes miserly fuel economy over performance, and may lead the new compact Prius to an impressive 50 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. We'd expect even better mileage from the slightly smaller Yaris Hybrid.

According to Toyota, adding its "Hybrid Synergy Drive" drivetrain to the compact Yaris was no easy feat. The automaker says doing so required moving the hatchback's fuel tank, altering the typical hybrid battery placement and scaling down several of the system's key components. But once these tasks were completed, Toyota was able to create a production-ready Yaris Hybrid with the same interior volume as its gasoline-powered counterpart, meaning consumers don't have to give up space to save fuel.

Although Toyota says the Yaris Hybrid will launch in Europe during the second quarter of 2012, the automaker hasn't confirmed if the hatchback will appear in North America. If it does arrive stateside, it could certainly help boost ailing Yaris sales, which were down more than 18 percent last year compared to 2010.

What it means to you: If Toyota brings the Yaris Hybrid to the States, it might just be the most fuel efficient car on sale.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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