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?
It's a crucial car for Toyota in Europe: the next-generation Yaris. This is by far Toyota’s most successful model in this region (it’s built in France) and it badly needs a refresh to give it a chance against the latest Polo and Fiesta.
To help with this, the new Yaris grows - by 85mm - and gets a 50mm longer wheelbase to boot. The engine line-up includes new versions of Toyota’s proven 1.33 and 1.5-litre petrol motors, and a tweaked 1.4-litre turbodiesel.
What's it like?
We tested the 1.3-litre model with Toyota’s stop-start technology (a cost option) and it’s probably the pick of the range. The system takes just 0.35sec to restart after cutting the engine at idle, making a relatively painless contribution of around 2.3mpg to a combined fuel economy figure of 61.5mpg.
Toyota clearly sees the 1.3 as the sweet spot of the range too. European specs may vary, but in Japan only the 1.3 is offered with VSC and TRC traction control; these aren’t even optional on the other variants.
Inside, the car does feel bigger, but Toyota’s efforts to minimise costs while improving packaging have met with mixed results in trim quality.
On the road the 1.3 feels adequate but not quick; it’s clearly been tuned for fuel economy and CO2 emissions, rather than outright performance. Our test car had a revised version of Toyota’s CVT gearbox, and it pulled smartly from 2000rpm and stayed strong through to the mid-range. European models will get a five-speed manual, incidentally - and a rev-counter, an item missing from the domestic version.
This Yaris gets a stiffer body structure, a more compliant ride and more responsive steering.
Should I buy one?
European specs will be crucial, really - because while the new Yaris does handle better than the old model and looks considerably smarter, it feels like it’s been short-changed on a few interior elements and performance is middling rather than genuinely impressive. It’ll need those missing toys and a few more besides if it’s to stand out in Europe when it arrives here in the autumn.
Toyota Yaris 1.3L
Price: £13,300 (est); Top speed: 105mph; 0-62mph: 9.0sec; Economy: 61.5mpg; (combined); CO2: Under 115g/km; Kerb weight: 1000kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1329cc, petrol; Power: 94hp at 6000rpm; Torque: 89lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox: CVT