The Toyota Yaris is the most popular model in the company’s line – up and it’s easy to see why. The latest upgraded car looks fabulous, drives beautifully, features efficient yet punchy engines and is available as a hybrid too.
The goodGreat styling and outstanding economy
The badLots of competition out there
Toyota Yaris (2017) – first drive
The Yaris is Toyota’s best-selling model in Europe and accounts for 25 per cent of sales, but now the Japanese company has really upped the ante and invested £76 million to give the dynamic model a revamp and it looks more tempting than ever.
More than 900 new parts have been introduced, the diesel powertrain has been ditched, along with three-door options, but the upgrades see a new 1.5-litre petrol engine which offers excellent economy and fiery performance capabilities. In addition, new Yaris boasts a more dynamic design, improvements to the hybrid technology and a raft of safety features as standard.
The B-segment car costs from £12,495 for the entry level Active model, there are six trims to choose from with the range-topping Excel priced at £17,495.
Customers can select from a number of highly-efficient engines. There is a three-cylinder 1.0-litre 68bhp petrol unit or the new 1.5-litre 110bhp petrol version – this replaces the former 1.33-litre engine. In addition there is an ultra-popular 1.5-litre 98bhp hybrid option. Manual or automatic transmissions are also available.
The Toyota design team wanted to give the Yaris a more dynamic appearance and this has been achieved thanks to a new-look front and rear with a greater emphasis on horizontal lines to create a lower centre of gravity and wider stance.
The honeycomb grille is more eye-catching, there are fresh headlights complete with a new lighting signature. Then, at the rear there is a redesigned tailgate, bumper and light clusters. There are also striking new alloys plus some fresh colour trims called Nebula Blue and Tokyo Red which takes the total number of paintwork options to 10.
Step inside and you will be greeted by a bright, modern and clutter-free interior with lots of soft-touch materials along with improved upholstery. The instrumentation has been upgraded with clearer read-outs which can be adapted for driver preference. Other new additions include propeller-style air vents, smart blue instrument illumination and an easy-to-use multi-media screen where the likes of the sat nav and connectivity features can be explored.
There is a revised trim line-up too with buyers offered Active, then Icon grades. At this stage the options split in two directions with one way going to Excel via Icon Tech and the other half offering Design and range-topping Bi-tone. In the past, Bi-tone was offered as an option, but Toyota has introduced it as a trim level this time round and it’s certainly the eye-catching head-turner of the line-up.
Engineers have listened to customer feedback and as a result the hybrid models have been refined to offer a quieter and more comfortable ride. Noise levels when the powertrain is pushed hard has been reduced and the introduction of structures such as redesigned engine mounts, new front driveshafts, along with a new sub-silencer on the exhaust system have all played their part in refining the car.
Another area Toyota has examined closely is safety and as a result the company’s Safety Sense systems are now fitted as standard to all models. This package introduces pre-collision with autonomous emergency braking, automatic high beam assist, lane departure alert and, on higher spec models, road sign assist.
We tested a range of Yaris models on the flat roads around Amsterdam and they all lived up to high expectations.
First up was the 1.5-litre petrol model with six-speed manual gearbox in Bi-tone trim. This car was priced at £17,595 and could reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.0 seconds, topped out at 109mph, delivered combined fuel efficiency of 58.9mpg with carbon emissions of 109g/km (on 15-inch wheels).
This first thing to grab your attention is how very dapper the Bi-tone styling looks. It has a very market appearance with its contrasting roof and body colours. The stylish design is carried over into the cabin where the test car featured plenty of smart blue trim and stitching. It helps to give the Yaris a very premium feel.
There is a generous level of on-board technology to be explored and it is all reassuringly simple to use. The engine on the test model delivered all the power you could wish for with ample zip to overtake. The gear shifts proved responsive and the all-round visibility is excellent.
Next up was the 1.0-litre petrol model with five-speed manual transmission in Icon trim costing £14,495. This model could complete the 0-62mph dash in 15.3 seconds, maxed out at 96mph and had combined economy of 65.7mpg with emissions of 99g/km.
Despite the slightly slower performance stats, this car was great fun to drive and would be ideal for anyone who wants to whizz around town. Unfortunately, it’s not available in Bi-tone trim but it still boasts plenty of plus points.
Finally, it was the turn of the improved hybrid Yaris and with Toyota aiming to increase its hybrid mix considerably, this car is of paramount importance to the company. The model, once again in Bi-tone trim, was priced at £19,845 and could reach from 0-62mph in 11.8 seconds with a maximum speed of 103mph. Combined fuel economy is 85.6mpg with emissions of 75g/km (on 15-inch wheels).
The car features a CVT automatic transmission and although it wasn’t tested on any steep climbs, there was ample power and acceleration at all times. And the company’s improvements in refining the noise and vibration levels was noticeable too as even when pushed hard, the vehicle remained nicely composed.
Comfort levels are high and there is ample space for a couple of adults in the rear if the front seats aren’t pushed back too far. The boot has a storage capacity of 286 litres, which can be increased further with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
All in all, the latest Yaris is still the great car that has made it such a firm favourite across Europe – it has simply got even better. It is on sale in showrooms now and, as is the Toyota way, all vehicles come with a five year/100,000-mile warranty as standard.
Much to the delight of thrill seekers out there, the Yaris range will be extended later this year when a blisteringly quick high performance model is introduced. The Yaris GRMN is inspired and influenced by Toyota’s return to the World Rally Championship this year. It will be unique in the hot hatch segment and will be powered by a 1.8-litre 205bhp engine with the suspension, brakes, chassis and steering all performance tuned. It will be a car for the elite few but will crank up the Yaris’ street cred no end.
Toyota Yaris (2014)
With its sharp design, feature-rich equipment levels and excellent economy, the Toyota Yaris has been an instant hit since its launch back in 1999.
And the fact that global sales top the three million mark is testament to the fact that it’s a car we just can’t get enough of.
It’s now in its third generation and has just undergone a major mid-term revamp with lots of attention given to customer feedback. As a result it boasts a snappier and more dynamic design, a new richly-equipped trim line-up, the introduction of an ultra-efficient 1.0-litre three-cylinder powertrain (first seen earlier this year in the Toyota Aygo), improved ride and handling and better insulation to reduce road, engine and wind noise.
New 2014 Yaris is priced from £10,995 to £17,695, it is available in three or five door versions, with a choice of four richly-equipped trim levels – Active, Icon, a new Sport grade and finally the range-topping Excel.
There is a wide selection of powertrains too with 1.0-litre and 1.3-litre petrol engines, a 1.4-litre diesel option and the most economical of the line-up – a 1.5-litre petrol hybrid version.
One model that is sure to capture the attention of many Yaris fans and newcomers to the brand is the new 1.0-litre petrol engine because this three-cylinder powertrain is the first in a family of 14 ultra-efficient engines being introduced by Toyota in the coming year.
From the front end, the two trapezoidal grilles now merge at the point of the Toyota emblem to form a powerful cross shape, although it’s a lot more subtle than on the new Aygo.
In addition, there are new headlamp clusters and LED daytime running lights are an option on the Icon grade and standard on higher trim levels.
Approach the car from the rear and you will notice a newly-shaped bumper which helps to deliver a wider and more sporty stance and the lamp clusters feature a new LED graphic (again an option on Icon and standard on higher grades).
And it’s difficult not to be impressed with the vast array of improvements within the cabin too.
It is notably modern in its layout with plenty of modifications to the upper instrument panel, door panels, centre console and seat trims. Customer feedback suggested there was too much use of plastic within the cabin and that issue has been addressed with a marked improvement to the quality of materials introduced throughout the car.
In addition there are techno treats galore to be explored. Even the entry level Active model boasts a six-speaker sound system, seven airbags, power front windows and tyre pressure monitoring. Move up to Icon – which is expected to account for 62 per cent of sales – and you will see the introduction of 15-inch alloys, a Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system, rearview camera, air conditioning, projector headlights, electrically-adjusted and heated door mirrors, fog lamps, Bluetooth connectivity and leather trim.
Step up to the all-new Sport spec level and there will be 16-inch alloys, a rear spoiler, LED daytime running lights, DAB radio, plus the option of a free Piri Piri red pack to add a splash of colour to the cabin.
And the range-topping Excel introduces cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlights and climate control.
There is a choice of 10 exterior colours plus a wide range of additional packs that can add features such as a panoramic roof, rear privacy glass, aluminium scuff plates and the Toyota Touch 2 with GO sat nav system.
I had the opportunity to test out several new Yaris models in and around Dusseldorf in Germany and it would seem there is a model to suit all tastes, budgets and requirements.
First up was the all-new 1.0-litre petrol model in Icon trim which is priced from £13,345. According to official figures, it can sprint from 0-62mph in 15.3 seconds and tops out at 96mph. It delivers combined fuel efficiency of 65.7mpg and carbon emissions of 99g/km.
Although the three-cylinder engine sounded a little raspy when pushed particularly hard, it was very capable and coped with any challenge put in its path. City centre traffic was a breeze but it also impressed on the faster autobahns too.
The five-speed manual transmission was smooth and responsive, although on more than one occasion I looked in vain for a sixth gear. That aside though, the ride was impressive even over rougher surfaces and the road-holding was excellent.
The bright and spacious interior is stylish in its layout with a clutter-free, feature-rich design and a special mention has to be made of the highly-efficient sat nav system which is a real must for city centre driving.
As promised, there is a noticeable improvement to the quality of materials introduced throughout the cabin especially the soft-touch dashboard and door panels.
When it comes to roominess, there is ample space for four adults to travel in comfort and the boot can hold 286 litres of luggage. The 60:40 split-folding seats mean the capacity can be increased to 768 litres if required.
Next up was the 1.5-litre petrol hybrid model in Icon trim with a fully automatic transmission. This car is priced from £16,195 and can reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.8 seconds before topping out at 103mph. It has combined fuel efficiency of 85.6mpg with carbon emissions of 75g/km.
With hybrid sales ever-increasing this could be the perfect pick of the Yaris family for anyone who enjoys the simple life. That’s because it’s an absolute pleasure to drive and certainly takes any strain out of the chore of day-to-day motoring.
There is a significant contrast between the, at times, rather noisy 1.0-litre model and the silence of driving in electric-only mode, but once again when pushed on the faster country lanes, the hybrid is up to the challenge with bundles of power on tap.
Finally, the 1.3 petrol model in Icon with six-speed manual transmission. Costing £14,095 and with a 0-62mph time of 11.7 seconds and top speed of 109mph, this car can deliver 57.6mpg on a combined run with carbon emissions of 114g/km.
This model possesses a sharper edge for more responsive driving. Again it handles beautifully and that sixth gear is a welcome bonus. It has the extra turn of pace compared to the 1.0-litre model, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s all a matter of taste and requirements.
Although, I missed out on driving the diesel version of the Yaris, it is only expected to gain about 10 per cent of annual sales.
All in all, Toyota has taken a highly respected and hugely popular model and brought it bang up to date with modern day demands be they technology, economy, fashion or performance.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid
Toyota’s Yaris has always been big on style and appeal and now there is a hybrid model to complete the comprehensive range.
The company has combined the agility of the Yaris hatchback with all the driving efficiency of Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive and this latest model is being seen as the flagship for Toyota’s best-selling car in Europe.
Featuring exceptionally low carbon emissions along with excellent fuel efficiency, the Yaris Hybrid combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a compact electric motor and battery pack. These elements work in tandem to make the car so economical.
Buyers can choose from three models – all five-door and all with automatic transmissions. Toyota believes the mid-range T4 will be the most attractive to buyers and why not as it can produce 80.7mpg according to the company’s estimations and boasts emission figures as low as 79g/km, which makes it exempt from road tax and London’s congestion charges.
The Yaris Hybrid has a more aerodynamic styling thanks to an improved exterior design and with prices starting from as low as £14,995 Toyota is hoping to capture the attention of a younger audience as well as the army of Yaris fans already hooked on the car.
And when you add in Toyota’s impressive 5-year/100,000 miles warranty the Yaris Hybrid certainly seems to be an attractive option in the ever-growing B-segment.
Eye catching features include LED daytime running lights, the hybrid blue Toyota badging, a stronger front end and eight colours to choose from including a stunning pearlescent white model.
Once inside, there is plenty of top-notch technical wizardry to grab your attention.
The design is snazzy with quality materials and a smart two-tone ice-grey and black dashboard.
The entry level T3 model features dual zone air con, electric front windows, a six-speaker audio system, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and seven airbags.
Splash out on the T4 and you can expect to see the introduction of 15-inch alloys, rear privacy glass, rear LED lamps, front fog lights, Bluetooth, a USB port, rear-view camera, body-coloured door mirrors and door handles, and leather steering wheel trim.
And finally, the T Spirit adds 16-inch alloys, rear electric windows, cruise control, smart start system, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlights, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a ventilated glove box, leather handbrake trim, part-leather upholstery, front footwell illumination and a rear spoiler.
The Yaris Hybrid is a good looking car and although it appears fairly compact from the outside, there is plenty of room for four adults to travel in comfort with ample leg, head and elbow space in the rear seats.
The boot can easily accommodate a couple of small cases or the weekly supermarket shopping and the capacity can be quickly and easily increased further thanks to 60:40 split-folding rear seats.
All-round visibility is good and you soon get used to the noticeable silence when you start the car and pull away.
All the readouts and controls are ideally positioned for driver usability and the blue needles on the speedo dials are another smart touch.
Acceleration proved nice and smooth and the car’s manoeuvrability was excellent – the rear-view camera makes anyone look like a total pro when parking in tight spaces.
Although our lengthy test drive was through the very flat Amsterdam region with no hills in sight, the Yaris Hybrid produces a joint output of 98bhp which should prove ample pulling power in more testing conditions.
There is a choice of different driving modes with an electric vehicle option.
According to Toyota, recent tests showed that zero emissions driving with the petrol engine completely switched off, accounts for 66% of the average commuter’s journey, so there is certainly money to be saved with this model.
All in all, the Yaris Hybrid is a great car. Admittedly, it’s not the cheapest in the segment, but the long-term savings easily outweigh the initial price tag.
Toyota Yaris 1.3 petrol (five-door)
When it was first introduced back in 1999 the Toyota Yaris was billed as the car that was compact on the outside, but spacious on the inside and now as the third generation model hits the showrooms it has a bolder, more dynamic look but thankfully still holds true to its original principals.
It’s longer and lower giving the car’s overall appearance a sharper more sporty look and that’s not all for the Yaris is now lighter, therefore making it more fuel efficient and better value all-round.
Aerodynamics has been a key factor to the design changes with a sharper theme which includes a protruding centre section in the bonnet housing a large air intake – this gives the car a ground-hugging appearance.
In addition, there are stronger lines and numerous under-body components that help airflow efficiency.
Smart alloys, a single front windscreen wiper, along with tinted windows and a massive sunroof on top-of-the-range models complete the exterior design changes.
But those techies at Toyota have given the cabin a whole new look with careful consideration to every feature.
Simple factors such as how the doors close have been examined and that function now takes less effort to operate and improved insulation makes for a quieter, more refined driving experience.
There are four trim levels to choose from – T2, TR, SR and T Spirit and there’s a choice of engines and three or five door versions too – all come with the company’s 5 year/100,000 mile warranty. Toyota believes the five-door, 1.3 petrol-driven, mid-range TR model will prove most popular and this is available with manual or automatic transmission.
The automatic is fitted with Toyota’s latest continuously variable transmission (CVT) Multidrive S. This offers the driver a choice of driving with the gears being selected automatically or manually via steering wheel mounted shift paddles. In and around town, with plenty of stop/start driving, the automatic mode was very effective, smooth and responsive and even on faster roads it was most impressive. Although I did find if I needed a little bit of rapid acceleration the paddle shift option was preferable.
All-round visibility was excellent and road-holding impressive – even in wetter conditions. Cabin noise was quiet and the suspension dealt adequately with the pothole-laden roads.
There is an Eco Driving indicator to highlight when you are driving responsibly and a gear shift reminder for when you’re not!
There’s ample room for back seat passengers who are now treated to extra knee space and the boot is also generously-sized.
With a top speed of 109mph, the automatic model can reach from 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds.
It boasts combined fuel economy of 55.4mpg and carbon emissions of 118g/km. The test model was priced at £14,680 which included £420 for metallic paint.
The list of quality features is extensive and includes air con, a radio/CD with six speakers, a rear-view camera, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6.1-inch colour touch screen and the option of Toyota’s Touch & Go system which allows the owner to personalise the vehicle with all their modern devices.
The six-speed manual model also handles extremely well – in fact, I preferred the instant acceleration as and when required and this model is cheaper than its automatic counterpart, priced at £13,930 which includes £670 optional extras.
Although fuel consumption is a little heavier (52.3mpg combined), I found the manual model was that little bit more responsive and sharper.
The T Spirit specification adds some more snazzy features and Toyota hopes this model will attract some younger buyers.
Safety specifications are extremely comprehensive with seven airbags as standard along with anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, vehicle stability control, traction control and plenty more besides.
All in all, the new-look Yaris has held true to its roots, but now offers even better value, handling and looks.