Yaris now blends desirability and fun with efficiency
TOYOTA'S new Yaris is the latest small car to carry a nameplate that's come to represent value-for-money, no-frills motoring through three previous generations.
This new fourth-gen version aims to do the same, but with the added bonus of more interior technology and an even greater emphasis on efficiency.
Being a Toyota, that means a hybrid powertrain remains. And because this Yaris sits on a new platform, it is more spacious and practical than before.
It also gives the Yaris a lower centre of gravity, which benefits its cornering ability.
There's a big boost in safety, too, but what will catch your attention first is just how smart the Yaris looks. Where the last version was on the dull side, this new model brings some visual excitement.
It’s also a car that has won widespread acclaim from the motoring press, including being awarded the European Car of the Year title for 2021.
The Yaris uses a mild-hybrid setup which combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor.
It's not a plug-in hybrid, so generates charge through regenerative braking - thus Toyota's 'self-charging hybrid' tagline.
However, Toyota claims excellent efficiency figures with up to 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions of between 92g/km and 98g/km, ensuring that it should be a very cheap car to run.
Its performance figures aren't too bad, either. While 0-60mph in 9.5 seconds might not sound the quickest, it's more than quick enough for all situations while the added zip that the electric assistance gives means that the Yaris feels a fair degree quicker than its numbers might suggest. It'll also top out at 109mph.
Setting off, the Yaris is a hybrid-typical. It's quiet and runs on EV power alone for far longer than you might expect from a conventional hybrid.
Gain a little speed and the engine chimes in with little fuss - it's hard to notice it waking up, in fact - while there's little wind noise to interrupt an otherwise quiet and serene cabin experience.
The steering is a triumph; well-weighted and accurate, it manages to make the Yaris feel genuinely nimble at slower speeds yet stable and composed at higher ones.
The steering is a triumph; well-weighted and accurate, it manages to make the Yaris feel genuinely nimble at slower speeds yet stable and composed at higher ones
The suspension certainly feels on the firm side, and though this does mean the ride can feel unsettled over broken surfaces, it gives the Yaris a healthy dose of confidence-inspiring body control through the bends.
Toyota has done a fine job of making the Yaris look genuinely striking, without resulting in it looking over the top. It's a great looking car in the metal, in fact, with a lot of exciting angles and design touches helping to keep each part of the vehicle looking exciting.
Inside, the cabin represents a great example of how to make a well-built and well-finished interior, without going too overboard.
The materials are good quality - with some harsher plastics used in places - but the general fit and finish is excellent, with no squeaks or rattles to be found. The seating position is good too, with plenty of adjustability.
It's compact in the back - remember, this isn't a large car - while the boot space is adequate despite not offering quite as much as the previous-generation Yaris. There's still 286 litres to play with - which you can extend by folding down the rear seats - but this falls some way under the amount of luggage room offered by rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta.
There's a wealth of standard equipment, with entry-level cars - which start from £19,910 - gaining features such as 16-inch alloy wheels and automatic air conditioning.
Dynamic specification adds 17-inch alloys and a premium audio system too. The seven-inch infotainment screen which comes as standard is bumped up to eight inches too, and though it's not the most attractive of systems, it's simple and easy to operate.
When it comes to the exterior, Dynamic cars also benefit from attractive LED running lights as well as full LED headlights and indicators.
All of this does boost the price up to over £21,000 which, though a fair degree more than the entry cost, does represent good value for money considering the high level of standard equipment which accompanies the car.
The Yaris is well-known for its ability to offer low-cost motoring. It's good news, therefore, that this latest car can deliver the same positives.
However, it's further enhanced by an involving driving experience and head-turning styling.
Though practicality levels may be down ever so slightly, the Yaris remains a truly attractive proposition in the small car segment.