First DriveFacelifted Toyota Yaris offers improved style inside and out, but lacks the dynamic substance to make a real impact
First DriveSharp new suit and multimedia cleverness can't hide cheap cabin and, in 1.33, dull powertrain. Handles and rides nicely, though
What is it?
This is the new, updated Toyota Yaris. Improvements include stop-start technology, a six-speed gearbox and a tweaked version of the 1.3-litre engine, which has been upped from 85bhp to 100bhp. Torque is also up from 89 to 98lb ft, while economy and emissions are now 55.4mpg and 120g/km.
What’s it like?
The Toyota Yaris has always been a good car: practical, well equipped, comfortable, reliable and affordable to run. This generation of Yaris has also always suffered from a total lack of flair. This facelift does nothing to change that.
The Yaris does make a convincing case for itself in other ways due to class-leading economy and emissions and a decent list price, and it is not an unpleasant car to drive.
Thanks to the engine upgrade and new gearbox the Yaris is now more flexible and responsive. With the extra urge readily available and the engine willing to be worked through the new standard six-speed gearbox the Yaris can be reasonably involving.
Turn-in is precise and the steering is light and linear, which makes it very capable at normal urban driving, although there is none of the precision or encouragement you get from some other superminis.
A well-judged, pliant ride quality also makes the Yaris one of the more comfortable cars around town and other manufacturers could learn something from the impressively rattle-free engine start that the Yaris benefits from when automatic stop-start kicks in.
Where the Toyota really fails to impress is inside. Spacious though it is, the cabin is dominated by a bland fascia with centrally mounted dials that fail to break up the expanse of cheap-feeling plastics, and seats that don’t offer a broad enough range of adjustment and are too firm. There is none of the style, interest or high-end quality that is fast becoming the norm in this class.
Should I buy one?
If your priorities are running costs and reliability, and very little else, then yes. The Toyota Yaris is still a sensible and risk-free option, and it is perfectly decent to drive. For many that is enough.
But it is not as comfortable, nor as enjoyable or even as spacious as others that are available at similar cost. It has roughly the same appeal as a home-made cardigan at Paris fashion week. Practical and cheap it may be, but for many the lure of Armani will be too strong.