A warm supermini you wouldn't clock at the lights, but that's fun-to-drive all the same

What’s new?

Meet the Toyota Yaris SR, the final addition to the Yaris range, and the range-topper. It's driven by a 1.8-litre, 131bhp engine but, unlike the range-topping Renault Clio 197 or Corsa VXR, it’s not a full-on, powered-up Yaris. It’s a warm hatch.

Toyota describes the car as ‘mature and sophisticated,’ and in keeping with all that, the SR has a discreet bodykit, mesh grilles and a minimal roof spoiler that you need to look for. The 17in alloys barely register on your radar, despite their size.

It has a warm engine, unique to this car, with some average on-paper figures (for its size) that don’t encourage enthusiasm. It has a warm interior – the standard digital instruments are replaced by good old-fashioned dials, with amber backlighting instead of green. The suspension is lowered by 8mm, probably less than the length of your thumbnail. We’re talking detail here.

What’s it like?

Surprisingly engaging. This Yaris doesn’t look like it’s going to drive any differently from a normal one, but it does. It’s very capable, with a modified steering rack that provides just enough information to let you judge what’s about to happen and just enough grip to put up with putting the boot in. It can be driven quickly on tricky roads without making you feel sick, and the gearing’s well-matched to the engine so, despite the average performance figures, it doesn’t feel slow.

But it’s also quiet and refined with a nicely absorbent ride, and despite the 17in wheels, doesn’t crash about over potholes.

Should I buy one?

Yes, if you want a peppy and nicely-balanced hatch that doesn’t attract too much (actually, it doesn’t attract any) attention. All the usual practical Yaris stuff is still there – fold-flat floor, good safety kit (and it gets knee airbags) – with an added dose of driveability. It’s not cheap, but it is well-specced, and, we think, pretty well judged too.

Dan Stevens

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