Smooth hybrid system is unique but won’t suit everyone
- Only full hybrid in this class
- Spacious cabin and boot
- Striking design, particularly in Bi-Tone finish
- High levels of equipment
- Engines noisy at high revs
- Inadequate steering reach adjustment
- Multimedia screen glare
- Top-end versions are pricey
Key elements of the Yaris’s charm are its spaciousness, reliability, and the ease-of-use and urban efficiency of the petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. The Toyota is unique in this segment in offering such a system.
Facelifted Yaris has kerb appeal
With two significant facelifts within six years of its launch in Britain, the Yaris must run Cher close in terms of physical makeovers.
While the 2014 revisions were most noticeable at the front, the 2017 modifications are particularly obvious at the rear, where horizontal tail lamps are bisected by the hatch.
In total, Toyota boasts of some 900 fresh elements for the Yaris, although without them being highlighted in high-viz yellow, you’d be hard-pressed to spot them.
Nips and tucks to the front are less conspicuous but are nevertheless present, while the interior’s been titivated with some new colour schemes and an improved multimedia system.
It’s also worth noting what ceased to be available post-2017’s facelift: gone are the diesel-engined variants along with the three-door bodystyle. Sensibly Toyota’s consolidating its efforts on the petrol- and hybrid-engined five-doors that sell better.
Excellent Yaris safety systems
The Toyota Yaris is one of the safest cars in its class thanks to every model coming with driver, passenger, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags to give a total of seven.
Toyota’s Electronic Stability Control system also keeps it on the right track even in slippery conditions. Anti-lock brakes work in conjunction with emergency brake assist to apply full pressure on the brakes in critical conditions, while brakeforce distribution makes sure the stopping power is sent to where it can best be used to slow the Yaris as quickly and effectively as possible.
Optional from 2015 and standard from the 2017 facelift is Toyota Safety Sense package, bundling together automatic high-beam headlights, traffic sign recognition, lane-departure warning and a collision prevention system with autonomous emergency braking.
Petrol-powered Yaris has urban-centric performance
With a model range clearly biased towards sense and sensibility rather than fun, we'll have to wait for the arrival of the Gazoo Racing-inspired Yaris GRMN, armed with a 208hp supercharged 1.8-litre engine, to see how the Toyota fares as genuine hot hatch material.
In the meantime, with no D-4D diesels in the line-up following the 2017 revisions, it’s a choice of petrol or hybrid, all geared-up for efficiency in urban environs rather than driving spirit on more open roads.
With 69hp, the three-cylinder 1.0-litre VVT-i is the slowest of the trio with a leisurely 0-62mph time of 15.3 seconds.
Making a better fist of things is the 1.5-litre VVT-i, replacing the smaller 1.33-litre unit from 2017. That said, its 111hp and 136Nm of torque still can’t get the Toyota to dip under the 10-second 0-62mph threshold.
Most interesting – but only serving those who drive primarily in towns well – is the 1.5-litre VVT-i Hybrid, paired with the CVT automatic gearbox that’s optional on the petrol-only 1.5. Efficiency is king here, so spec the Yaris with smaller wheels for the official claims of 85.6mg and CO2 emissions of just 75g/km.
Toyota Yaris hatchback model history
- July 2011 – Third-generation Yaris three- and five-door hatchbacks launched, with first deliveries in September. Four trim levels – T2, TR, SR and T Spirit – are available with a limited range of 1.0- and 1.33-litre VVT-i petrol engines and the 1.4-litre D-4D diesel.
- April 2012 – Petrol-electric hybrid powertrain launched in T3, T4 and T Spirit trim levels.
- August 2012 – Two limited availability versions of the Yaris are launched. Edition is based on T2 with the addition of 15-inch alloy wheels, front foglights, rear privacy glass, blacked-out rear roof pillars and a leather gearknob. Trend uses SR as its basis, but adds 16-inch alloys, blacked-out rear pillars and a chrome-tipped exhaust pipe.
- January 2013 – Trend specification introduced at the top of the Yaris range, exclusively available with the 1.33-litre petrol engine. Key highlights include 16-inch alloy wheels, LED tail lights, a roof spoiler and blacked out pillars to give the roof a ‘floating’ effect.
- December 2013 – Range revisions see the trim structure altered to Active, Icon, Icon Plus and Trend, while tweaks to the 1.4-litre D-4D diesel engine see CO2 emissions drop to 99g/km.
- July 2014 – Heavily revised styling for the Yaris range, with a dramatically different front section mimicking the Aygo, tweaked rear lights and improved interior quality. New trim structure of Active, Icon, Sport and Excel. Engines continue as before with 1.0- and 1.33-litre VVT-i petrols, the 1.4 D-4D diesel and 1.5-litre VVT-i petrol-electric hybrid (only in Icon and Excel specifications).
- August 2015 – Hybrid versions of the Yaris are now available in Active and Sport specifications.
- December 2015 – Revised range structure with the arrival of the Design specification, replacing Sport in the hierarchy. A bi-colour option with a black roof is optionally available. Trim revisions also see DAB radio, cruise control, rear privacy glass and 15-inch alloy wheels on Icon models, with the Excel trim gaining automatic lights and wipers, 16-inch alloy wheels, electric rear windows and a chilled glovebox as standard.
- July 2016 – Limited availability Orange Edition launched with 16-inch alloy wheels, Skyview panoramic roof, LED rear lights and Orange Twist metallic paint. Engine choices are the 1.33-litre petrol, the 1.4 D-4D diesel and the 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid.
- March 2017 – Further facelift of the Yaris range, with a subtle evolution of the nose and a heavily revised tail with lights that extend into the tailgate. New trim level structure of Active, Icon, Icon Tech, Design, Design Bi-Tone and Excel. New 1.5-litre VVT-i petrol engine replaces the previous 1.33-litre unit. Smaller 1.0-litre VVT-i and 1.5-litre hybrid continue, but the D-4D diesels and all three-door models are discontinued.
Find out if the frequently fettled small hatch is the one for you by reading Parkers’ full Toyota Yaris hatchback review.
What owners say about this car
Nice looking small car but it returns nothing that was stated the car would perform. First fuel economy you be... Read owner review
owned since new needed 2 door latches, gear struggled to go in revers are rear lights keep failing shame for... Read owner review
My Yaris is a 1.3 Icon with a sat nav fitted. I bought it from main dealer. It had only... Read owner review