The Toyota Yaris has been a big sales success for Toyota in the UK, with more than 300,000 running around on UK roads since it launched back in 1999. But have the changes wrought by Toyota on this new Yaris made the Yaris more appealing, or has it just got bigger?
Toyota are making big claims for the new Yaris, with a promise of much more space, thanks to the Yaris growing by 100mm, sharper handling and dynamics and a big jump in interior quality. And they’ve certainly delivered, at least on the promise of more room.
For what is still a small car, the new Yaris is astonishingly commodious. There’s space for five – and the unlucky one in the middle at the back even has room for their feet – and you can get a 6′ driver with a 6′ passenger behind. Try that in most small cars – or even in many family sized cars.
Luggage space is decent too, with the boot of the Yaris - which was tiny in the old model – increasing by 25 per cent. It’s still not huge, but it will now swallow 262 litres of luggage, which means you should be able to go shopping without putting the back seats down or filling the back seats with shopping bags.
But despite the promise of a much better interior, we’re not so sure. Many of the finishes – even in this better than bog standard Yaris SR – seem cheap, and although likely to be hard wearing they don’t feel remotely upmarket. That said, the cabin layout and equipment levels are very decent.
The view from the driver’s seat is very focused, with a big touchscreen system dominating the view in the middle. It provides a reversing camera and has a half-decent sound system and Bluetooth, and in our SR it came with Toyota’s Touch and Go which provides full map navigation, live traffic information, safety camera warnings and Point of Interest search. Far from shoddy on a small car.
Equipment levels on this SR include 16″ alloys, AirCon, part leather upholstery, privacy glass, VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), BA (Brake Assist) and sports suspension. And it’s the sports suspension where it seems to go a bit Pete Tong.
Toyota say they’ve concentrated on improving the Yaris’s agility, and there’s no disputing they’ve scored a direct hit on that front by bringing in the new Yaris at 20kg lighter than the old model, despite a decent increase in size, thanks to aluminium in the suspension, thinner seats and making the body a chunk stiffer. But it all seems to no avail.
We’d expected the new Yaris to provide a sporty yet cosseting ride, be nimble and agile and give some decent feedback. But it didn’t. The suspension is distinctly crashy-bashy – even on decent roads – and it was surprisingly chucked off-line by even modest kinks and bumps in the road.
As for agility, we found the Yaris quite easily upset by quick changes of direction. Instead of being a chuckable little go-kart when you decide to have fun, the Yaris became a bit of a handful. Push it hard – which with the torque not really arriving until quite late – you need to, and the Yaris on a country road is uncomfortable and noisy.
That wouldn’t be so bad if you had decent feedback. But the suspension doesn’t really tell you what’s going on, and the steering – although light – gives you no idea of what’s going on either. That said, we applaud a decent turning circle – perfect for manoeuvring round narrow streets.
But it’s not all bad news, far from it. Around town the new Yaris is nicely hushed and easy to drive, although the gearbox is a bit notchy and the A-Pillars create a bit of a blind spot. But the cabin is light and airy, thanks to a nice big greenhouse, and the Yaris makes a very decent runaround in town.
The changes Toyota has made to the exterior are a big improvement too. The big new headlights provide a confident face for the Yaris, and the new family grill is much more impressive than the old model. Some decent looking alloys make the SR look purposeful, and stuff like the privacy glass and darkened headlights make the new Yaris look more upmarket than the old model.
The 1.33 litre petrol engine is a decent enough lump too. Powerful enough to keep up with traffic in town, it can zip to 62mph in 11.7 seconds, which although not startling is perfectly adequate. Emissions are OK too at 127g/km and economy of 51.4mpg (although we got 45.8mpg) is more than competitive.
On balance, the new Yaris is better than the old. It can zip along quite well, looks much more upmarket (certainly the exterior), has much more room for passengers and luggage and is well bolted together. Maybe those looking for a sporty-looking little car, but who don’t really want to hustle, will find the new Yaris’s strengths more than outweigh its weaknesses in the driving department.
But for us, although we see the appeal in the Yaris, it falls behind the competition in the areas that really matter.
Toyota Yaris SR 5 Door 1.33 Quick Tech Specs
- Engine: 1329cc – 98bhp
- Performance: 0-60mph 11.7 seconds / Top Speed 109mph
- Economy: 51.4 mpg - Official / 45.8 mpg - Test
- Emissions: 127g/km
- Price: £13,835 / Price as tested £14,258
- Full Toyota Yaris SR 5 Door 1.33
Toyota Yaris SR 5 Door 1.33 Review Photo Gallery
(45 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)