A low-powered 68bhp, three-cylinder 1.0 VVTi petrol props up the range in smooth and sonorous fashion, but the 98bhp 1.33 VVTi installed in our test car, has been replaced with a new 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine producing 110bhp and 100lb ft of torque , while a hybrid version with 99bhp completes the range.
Kicking off proceedings is the 1.0-litre three-pot. The pleasantly thrummy unit serves up 68bhp - and a torque figure to match - but its leisurely 15.3sec 0-62 sprint means it is left wanting when leaving the safety of slow urban traffic.
Downsized petrol engines are a natural accomplice to the supermini breed, and it’s no surprise that Toyota’s familiar 1.33-litre engine slots into the new Yaris neatly enough. The compact four-pot forgoes the current vogue for forced induction with its long-established Dual VVT-i variable valve timing system, now with minor internal revisions to boost fuel economy.
This engine can sometimes feel breathless and flimsy at very low revs – indicative of efforts made to keep the Yaris as parsimonious as possible around town – but with a maximum 92lb ft of torque available at 4000rpm and the full 98bhp at 6000rpm, it does eventually pull with some vigour, making conservative overtaking a realistic prospect.
Toyota suggests 11.7sec for the 0-62mph sprint. We all but matched that with a two-way average of 11.5sec to 60mph, which makes the car more than competitive with the equivalent Fiesta and Polo. The Yaris’s performance feels better when revving through its six gear ratios than lugging in them; dropping out of the torque-rich mid-range on an incline results in a prompt loss of momentum that can be remedied only by swift downshifts on the flimsy-feeling manual gearbox. To put it in context, the new 1.5-litre engine is capable of knocking off 0-62mph nearly a second quicker than its predecessor, and is 1.2sec quicker between 50 and 75mph clocking in a time of 17.6sec.
Nevertheless, the motor is content to cruise without much fuss. Drivers partial to an instantaneous response from their right foot will invariably find themselves in a lower gear than is strictly necessary, but that’s no different from any of the European alternatives. Equally, the engine is quite vocal at higher revs, but the 70dB we registered at 70mph is par for the course in this class.
After the Auris, the Yaris is the second regular model to receive the hybrid treatment. But unlike the Auris, and the hybrid-only Prius, the Yaris Hybrid has a 1.5-litre petrol engine rather than the more common 1.8.
Unlike its key rival, the Honda Jazz Hybrid, the Yaris can run on electricity alone for short periods. With battery and engine working in unison, a 0-62mph time of 11.8sec is possible, albeit with a great deal of noise thanks to the CVT transmission. This is not a powertrain that you'll gain much pleasure from pedalling quickly despite that decent performance.