Toyota claims to have improved visibility by setting the instrument panel lower and pulling the A-pillars further back relative to the driver. We feel the overall efficacy of these measures is marginal where the view forward is concerned, but the new Yaris certainly does feel spacious and mature from within – at least for front-seat occupants, who are now set 21mm lower than before.
The driver also benefits from adjustment for reach as well as rake in the steering column, so it is easy to find a comfortable and supportive position. The leather-trimmed steering wheel is particularly nice to hold, too, and wouldn’t even feel out of place in, say, the GR Supra.
In design terms, Toyota has partly reinstated the playful atmosphere the Yaris was once known for – the ‘binocular’ dial arrangement within the instrument binnacle and curvaceous dashboard moulding are two obvious examples – but it has also injected some class into the cabin. It isn’t difficult to find hard plastics (not least on the cheap-feeling door handles) but interesting new fabrics, softer plastics and rubberised surfaces have been deployed among the various surfaces and storage cubbies.
The general curvature of the dashboard and door panels is also pleasing and is a departure from more staid European rivals – the recently rejuvenated French brands notwithstanding. Broadly speaking, perceived quality has also improved, in line with the new generation of Toyota’s larger hatchback, the Corolla.
Although the Volkswagen Polo and Mini are unlikely to feel too threatened by this, the new Yaris will do enough to draw envious glances from those who have signed on the dotted line for Ford’s Fiesta.
But despite all this, and the exterior growth spurt, the Yaris is less impressive in terms of back-seat and luggage space. The Polo and Renault Clio do notably better in both areas, and in objective terms the new Yaris actually has a marginally less roomy boot than its predecessor. Toyota does at least fit a variable-height boot floor, which is useful on those occasions when maximum capaciousness isn’t required and the size of the loading lip can be reduced.
Toyota Yaris infotainment and sat-nav
Perhaps the most important thing you need to know about the infotainment system in the new Yaris is that both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration come as standard. And, frankly, owners are likely to rely on those applications heavily, not only because there exists no navigation provision with the basic system but also because Toyota’s system of menus can be awkward to use, with small graphics and some latency. Certainly, alternatives such as the systems fitted in the Mini and Volkswagen Polo are considerably slicker.