First Drive: Toyota Yaris
Compactness, practicality and efficiency – but has Toyota added the missing driver involvement to the Yaris? Martyn Collins finds out.
SECTOR B-Segment PRICE £19,910 – £24,005 FUEL 65.69 – 68.9mpg (WLTP) CO2 92-98 g/km(WLTP)
With 28,785 Yaris models sold in the UK in 2019, Toyota’s B-Segment supermini is also its best-seller in the UK. The story is the same in Europe, with 224,000 sold last year and the Yaris accounting for 22 per cent of Toyota’s new car business.
Like before, the new Yaris will only be offered in five-door hatch form – but Toyota’s most recent styling efforts, means it has its own distinctive look. To do this, it has gone back to where it all began, the “big small” concept that inspired the innovative, first-generation car launched back in 1999.
Best summed up as wider and lower than before, the new Yaris is actually shorter too, making it the most compact model in the B-Segment. The result of using Toyota’s new GA-B platform, despite it being shorter, the wheelbase has been extended by 50mm, equalling an extra 20mm between the driver and passenger in the front for example, and the 286-litre boot.
From the front, the Yaris has the large family grille, big Toyota logo and distinctive headlights which are LED-lit from the Design trim upwards. At the side, it’s hard to miss the short overhangs and muscular wheelarches. New Yaris will be offered with a choice of 16-inch and 17-inch wheels, and even the bigger wheels of our Dynamic grade test car almost looked a bit lost under them. At the back, there are high-set rear light clusters that eat into the rear quarters, a large roof spoiler and faux diffuser housing the reversing and foglights. In our opinion, the overall look is attractive, youthful and assertive.
Inside, the Yaris feels more spacious than before. There’s a double deck-like dashboard, with the low-set digital instruments, although we spent more time looking at the optional 10-inch head-up display. There’s also the ‘Toyota Touch’ multimedia system held in a dashboard-mounted display, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability for the first time. Overall, it feels well made, with a comfortable driving position and adequate legroom in the back. Although, the interior could do with more soft-touch plastics, plus more padding on the steering wheel and door cards.
All Yaris models are well-equipped and fitted with Toyota’s Safety Sense, including Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), such as Lane Trace Assist, Emergency Steering Assist and Intersection Turn Assistance. There are also new centre airbags that prevent the driver and passenger colliding with each other.
Offered with one petrol hybrid engine, a new 114hp, petrol hybrid 1.5-litre, three-cylinder, with up to 68.9mpg and emissions as low as 92g/km. This is not a sporty supermini, but it is smooth and refined unless you press on, when the CVT-only gearbox becomes an issue and the engine harsher. There are also two modes, Power and Eco, although I could only notice a difference with the Eco mode, that seemed to retard the throttle.
Hybrid issues aside, the steering is impressively precise and the handling is tidy. According to Toyota, this is the result of the new Yaris’s stiffer body, lower centre of gravity and improved weight balance. Although the ride on this test car, with the 17-inch wheels and stiffer suspension, is best described as unsettled. Toyota reckon the softer set-up with 16-inch wheels will be more popular in the UK, so we’ll try to get a go in one for comparison.
Although sales of the new Yaris are going to be retail focussed, a Toyota UK spokesperson told us that there is expected to be a 33% fleet mix. Ride issues aside, Toyota are back in the B-Segment hunt and the Yaris is hard to ignore.
More of the refinement, practicality and efficiency that the Yaris is known for, with a welcome dollop of neat design and driver appeal. If you can live with the limitations of the hybrid drivetrain.
Key Fleet Model: Design 1.5 Hybrid
Strengths: Good to drive and cheap to run
Weaknesses: CVT transmission won’t suit all
FW Star Rating: 3/5