WITH a legacy of 300,000 units since 1999, the new Yaris arrives facing even more competition in the b-segment. JAMES BATCHELOR has driven it.
WHAT IS IT?
This is the third-generation of Toyota’s b-segment supermini – a car that first debuted in showrooms back in 1999 – and it has grown up. In comes more distinguished looks with some big car equipment, but out goes the speedo in a tunnel on top of the dash. Cleverly though, the new Yaris is only 100mm longer than the outgoing version and inherits the old models’ feelings of space.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?
UK buyers will have a choice of three engines – a 68bhp 1.0-litre petrol and a 1.33-litre petrol – available in manual and CVT – that develops 98bhp, and an 89bhp 1.4-litre diesel. We could only try the 1.33-litre unit at launch and it feels relatively zesty and is capable of 55.4mpg with the Multidrive S CVT ‘box, while emitting 118g/km of CO2. A hybrid version arrives next year.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?
Four trims: T2, TR, the mildly sporty SR, and T Spirit. Prices start at £11,170 for the T2 three-door 1.0-litre manual, and rise to £15,385 for the T-Spirit five-door 1.33-litre with Multidrive S. The best seller is expected to be the £13,260 TR with the 1.33-litre unit which has 15-inch alloys and air con. Toyota Touch and Go – a multimedia package – as standard on TR, SR and T-Spirt for the first six months on sale – then as an option.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
We could only try the 1.33-litre engine and feelings are mixed. With the six-speed manual it’s easy and relaxing to pilot but unmemorable, while the CVT version is thrashy and uncomfortable. The ride is a little unsettled over uneven roads, but the steering is adequately direct and the brakes are sharp. It’s a car that presents few surprises – and for most customers, that’s exactly what they require.
WHAT DO THE PRESS SAY?
Autoblog UK agreed the Yaris lacked Fiesta-like drive but felt ‘it is a big improvement over the outgoing car’, while The Independent said ‘the spark of individuality has deserted it… next to the iQ the Yaris seems a bit half-hearted’. Honest John admired the new car’s generous interior space, but felt the looks are ‘rather generic’ and the design ‘not especially distinctive’.
WHAT DO WE THINK OF IT?
There’s no doubting where the new Yaris has got its looks from – note the Y-shape grille and steeply raked belt line from previous versions. The new car handles better and is a more complete offering in the specification department, but a bit of its predecessors’ sparkle has been lost in this third version. However, while we might regret that, many buyers won’t notice.