New Yaris generates good first impressions, but leaves question marks with its packaging

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.

Peter Lyon

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

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J400uk 21 January 2011

Re: Toyota Yaris 1.3L

Oh and Autocars figures look wrong to me, dont think it would do 0-60 in 9secs, probably be about 11, and the top speed would be about 115mph not 105.

J400uk 21 January 2011

Re: Toyota Yaris 1.3L

What a hateful little car, just like Nissan have done with the new Micra, Toyota have managed to make it look worse than the previous model. The current Yaris was pretty much top of it's class when it launched, this on the other hand will go straight to the bottom. The interior in particular looks cheap and rubbish, have we gone back to the 90s when cars only had a speedo and no rev counter?

Flash Harry 20 January 2011

Re: Toyota Yaris 1.3L

This Yaris is much like the latest Focus in moving further away from what made it a great car in the first place.The original Yaris was more compact and efficient than rivals but is now just another bloated and bland conformist.Japanese cars should look like they come from Asia not Europe,thats a large part of their appeal in the first place