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The Toyota Voltz Was the Toyota Version of a Pontiac Version of a Toyota

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2017

In terms of automotive strangeness, the Toyota Voltz is nowhere near the top of the pile. It's just a normal hatchback, with four doors, a 4-cylinder engine and fairly simple styling. Really, there isn't much about this car that would make someone give it a second glance on the road.

Unless you know its story. Then, it's one of the strangest modern Toyota products in existence.

So here's the story. In the early 2000s, Toyota and Pontiac decided they would work together on a car. Toyota provided the chassis, the engine, the transmission and all the switchgear, and Pontiac... well, I'm not sure what Pontiac did, really. I hope Pontiac paid Toyota a lot of money in this deal. Otherwise, this whole situation was pretty lopsided.

Anyway, the Toyota version of the car these two automakers produced was called the Matrix. The Toyota Matrix was essentially a Corolla wagon, and it was a fairly popular car throughout the early 2000s, offering fuel-efficient engines, all-wheel drive and even a sporty high-performance version called the Matrix XRS that used the (Toyota-made) powertrain from the Lotus Elise.

And Pontiac made a version of the Matrix called the Pontiac Vibe. As I mentioned, it had a Toyota engine, transmission and switchgear, and it was really just a Toyota Matrix with a different body -- and of course, a different dealership network.

Now here's where things get weird.

For some reason, Toyota decided that they didn't want to sell the Matrix in their home market of Japan. Instead, they wanted to sell the Vibe, and they wanted to call it the Toyota Voltz. So, Toyota built the Matrix. Then, Pontiac modified it in order to make the Vibe. And then, Toyota modified that in order to make the Voltz. So what you're looking at here is a Toyota version (Voltz) of a Pontiac version (Vibe) of a Toyota (Matrix). The entire thing makes absolutely no sense.

I took this picture in the tiny town of Marsaxlokk on the small Mediterranean island of Malta, which is absolutely loaded with former Japanese-market vehicles -- since it's one of the few places in Europe that drives on the left side of the road, using right-hand-drive cars. As I stood there, snapping pictures and freaking out over the fact that I was actually seeing this bizarre Toyota-Pontiac-Toyota that I always wondered about, the older men pictured in back probably thought I was insane. I have no regrets.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Toyota Voltz Was the Toyota Version of a Pontiac Version of a Toyota - Autotrader