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?
The average Toyota Yaris buyer is aged 60 and probably female. Toyota wants to change that with this third-generation Yaris, so the trick is to snare the youth without alienating the old. An optional 'Touch and Go' multimedia system plays right into the brave new world of social media and permanent connectedness.
Whether your grandmother will embrace this is touch-and-go in itself, but having Google Local Search in your sat-nav and being able to text via the touchscreen's iPad-like Qwerty keyboard could be useful. All you need is a suitable mobile phone to connect Touch and Go to the airwaves.
This package, a £500 upgrade of the touch-screen Toyota Touch Bluetooth system (plus reversing camera) found on all new Yarises except the base model, and to be included as standard for a short time after launch, is the key bit of cleverness in an otherwise unremarkable new car. The next tech-fest arrives next summer with the Yaris Hybrid, which will cost a hefty £2500 more than the standard 1.33-litre car on which it is based but will reward you with a likely 85g/km CO2 score.
What’s it like?
The quality and fit of its body panels is exemplary but the cost accountants have sliced away at the interior, which is full of large, hard, cheap plastic mouldings whose shiny, waxy finish does the unusual non-leathergrain surface treatment no favours.
Any object stashed in the various dashboard ledges will be on the floor in seconds. There's decent space in here, though, thanks to slimmer seatbacks and tailgate, and this Yaris has shed 20kg relative to the last one.
Engines are a 1.0-litre three-cylinder with 68bhp, the 98bhp 1.3 with six-speed manual or CVT transmission (a £1K option which will be standard in the Hybrid), and a 1.4-litre turbodiesel with a six-speed shift and 89bhp. Much as before, then; the main driving difference between this Yaris and the last one is that it rides more quietly over bumps, feels more solid and steers with greater delicacy.
The electric power steering is free of the rubberiness and stodge that spoils some EPAS systems, and is the gateway to a keen, agile demeanour. A slightly sporting SR version with a 10mm ride-height drop should enhance this. Other models are T2, TR and T-Spirit, the last of these five-door only.
The most engaging version is also the slowest, but the 1.0's smooth, deep, three-cylinder hum, its crisp throttle and gearchange and its light nose make it fun to drive.
Should I buy one?
The 1.33 is livelier and has a particularly quiet idle, but the gearchange is clunkier and the throttle response mushy. It will be the biggest seller, and the engine is well matched to the optional CVT. And the diesel? Punchy but gruff, £1500 dearer than the 1.33 and a car which Toyota GB wants to marginalise. With the Hybrid imminent, you can see why.
Toyota Yaris TR 1.33 5-door manual
Price: £13,260; Top speed: 109mph; 0-62mph: 11.7sec; Economy: 52.3mpg (combined); CO2: 123g/km; Kerb weight: 1045kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1329cc, petrol; Power: 98bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 93lb ft at 3600rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual