With the new 1.5-litre engine comes new engine mounts and retuned dampers, so there are genuine differences to report here, even if the long list of revisions has not been applied to the 1.5 model. Why not? Because customers of the old 1.33 and entry-level 1.0 apparently had no complaints. Instead, it was Hybrid customers (who account for around 33% of Yaris buyers in the UK) who wanted a better experience.
Be that as it may, this 1.5 is 0.8sec quicker from zero to 62mph than the 1.33 it replaces. Meanwhile, its commendable 38.5% thermal efficiency, ability to swap between Otto and Atkinson cycles (the 'E' in VVT-iE standing for electronic variable valve timing) and water-cooled exhaust manifold - a first for Toyota - all help to make it 12% more frugal than the old engine. Unfortunately, though, it still feels dated and relatively pedestrian next to turbocharged rivals units.
There's a competitive 110bhp available, but it's firmly at the top of the 1.5's rev range, so bursts of acceleration require a downchange and patience. Even at middling revs, there's a fair amount of boom in the cabin, which means it isn't a particularly pleasant experience pushing the engine hard. Even so, once you're committed, there's just enough performance to confidently carry out motorway slip-road sprints and well-planned B-road overtaking.
On our millpond-smooth Dutch test route, it was difficult to assess ride quality in any real depth, but on the few-and-far-between patches of rough tarmac we came across, our 16in-wheeled Yaris displayed a similar set of characteristics to the old model. Bump absorption is largely quiet and the worst of sharp-edged obstructions are kept from the cabin, but the Yaris's body is too readily unsettled, especially when travelling at higher speeds.
The Yaris remains largely uninspiring to thread down a B-road, too, with steering that feels oddly weighted and devoid of communication, and a body that doesn't feel particularly comfortable with sudden changes of direction. The steering is, at least, fairly precise, and grip levels are decent, but the Yaris feels very much a car offering function before fun.
Inside, the Yaris feels better than ever before in terms of quality, with more soft-touch plastics, piano black and chrome accents and solid-feeling switches and air vents. It's certainly a more upmarket cabin than the current Fiesta offers, although a Fabia manages to achieve a classier ambience again. It's a shame, then, that the driver's seat feels set too high, the wheel doesn't adjust far enough and the pedal and gearlever weightings feel inconsistent in comparison with rivals'.
Toyota's Touch 2 infotainment system lets the side down further, sporting dated graphics, confusing menus and on-screen buttons that are too small and take too long to respond. That it lacks more advanced smartphone integration such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also disappointing.