What's good? Nice to look at. Economical enough.
I've never met a Toyota Yaris driver who LOVES their car. From my experience, it's a car that's done everything a car should 'passably' without ever breaking the mould or doing anything exceptional. This year, Toyota has updated the Yaris to make it more modern and more appealing, so I've got behind the wheel to see if this updated version does anything that's going to make women want to buy one.
The Toyota Yaris is a good looking car, and especially so in Sport trim. In icon trim, you get 15-inch alloy wheels, but other than that there's little to separate this car from a low-spec Active model. This isn't a criticism though, because even the lowest model looks nice with a boxy shape and open front grille.
One thing that is for sure is that this car turns heads. It looks much different to a Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208 in a good way, and the burgundy paint my test model came in looked fantastic.
The Toyota Yaris is for now only available with a 1.33-litre petrol engine, which I've found to be perfectly acceptable for town driving, but strained and lethargic at low and high speed. First, let's focus on the good - the engine in this car is nippy and responsive, and this is aided by the sharp steering. But, the engine doesn't seem to perform wonderfully anywhere and it is a very noisy unit, too.
My biggest gripe with the way the Yaris drives is that it's 'jiggly'. By that, I mean it feels unsettled on anything other than the smoothest of roads and it doesn't help that the suspension is overwhelmed easily by speed bumps and potholes. Thankfully, road noise and wind noise is low, but this ride is something that Toyota really needs to address if they want people to buy this instead of a Fiesta.
Overall, the driving experience the Yaris offers will be fine for people who want a practical car that takes them to the shops. It isn't going to win any awards though for the way it drives.
The Toyota Yaris used to be a dreary place to sit, but the new version is much better. On Sport models, you get bright red trim which makes the Yaris the most welcoming car in the class. Things of note include the new leather steering wheel, the new leather gear knob, and the new soft-touch plastics which help to lift the Yaris from cheap hatchback to premium-feeling hatchback.
What the Toyota is great at is practicability. This car is very spacious and the seats across the range are supportive and comfortable. The Yaris has a 286-litre boot that can be extended, while there's split/fold seats for easy access. Overall, the Yaris's interior is a nice place to sit, but it isn't spectacular.
The Toyota Yaris 1.3 VVT-i icon has an official claimed 55.4 mpg combined fuel rating with a CO2 figure of 114 g/km, which translates to £30 annual car tax. This is pretty poor in this class, and especially so considering the size of the engine. There is a 1.0-litre petrol and 1.0-litre diesel engine on the way, though, the latter promising superb economy and solid residuals.
The Toyota Yaris 1.3 VVT-i icon sits in insurance group 10.
Trim and equipment
The Toyota Yaris is available in a number of trims; Active, Icon, and Sport. Icon is the second to top trim and standard equipment includes climate control, cruise control, heated windows all round, heated electric mirrors, reversing camera, alloy wheels, front fog lights, and Bluetooth. Satellite navigation was a £650 optional extra on the previous version, while leather seats were a £900 optional extra, but for this version Toyota's Touch 2 infotainment system comes as standard, which is welcome, although navigation is still £650 extra (why, Toyota, why?).
Entry-level Active cars come with electric front windows and an audio system with USB and auxiliary connections. Sport versions get 16-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, DAB, and privacy glass.
The problem with the Toyota Yaris is simple - it's outdated, and a facelift doesn't save it. Compared to rivals, it's inefficient, poorly equipped, and rides hard. While performance is willing from this 1.33-litre engine, it doesn't perform well at low revs and the car feels strained on the motorway, despite the six-speed gearbox.
In my opinion, this car is worth a miss. A five-door Ford Fiesta or five-door Peugeot 208 suits family life better with a wider range of engines and better in-car technology as standard across all trim levels. If you have your heart set on a Yaris and must have one, I recommend you buy a second hand one.