- One of the safest cars in its class
- Spacious cabin and boot
- Distinctive looks
- Petrol-electric hybrid smoothness
- Steering still feels vague
- Entry-level petrol engine lacks power
- CVT gearbox makes engine noisy
This is the third generation of the Toyota Yaris and the Japanese company believes it is so good that it will take sales from the class-leading Ford Fiesta. That’s a bold claim.
Previously the Yaris has majored in bulletproof reliability, a spacious well-built cabin, a strong range of economical engines and low running costs. Add to this sharper styling, with a bold new nose design introduced in summer 2014, and some of the best residuals in the class and it should do well.
Toyota added the Hybrid version in mid-2012 to give the Yaris lower emissions and the opportunity of electric-only running for short periods in town. This means the Yaris is the only supermini on sale with the choice of petrol, diesel or hybrid power.
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. Only the Suzuki Swift can match that tally.
The Yaris also comes with Toyota’s Vehicle Stability Control ESP to keep it on the right track even in slippery condition. 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.
In the summer of 2015, Toyota added the Toyota Safety Sense package as an option for Yaris models which includes the latest advanced safety systems like automatic high beam headlights, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and a collision prevention system.
The hybrid powertrain was also made available across the range too, having previously only been available in Icon and Excel trims.
Unexciting to drive
While the 2011 Yaris is 20kg lighter than the car it replaced and it’s undeniable more agile, it’s still far from the most entertaining or involving car to drive in the supermini class.
The lighter weight over its predecessor makes it more agile and the electrically assisted power steering is light for parking and town driving, the Yaris misses the feel and interaction found in rivals like the Skoda Fabia.
As part of the 2014 facelift the steering was improved and while it’s better than before, the Ford Fiesta still leads the way in this regard.
It also doesn’t have the same handling finesse as these models even though Toyota has widened the car by 15mm over the last model to make it more sure-footed through bends. Add in a ride that is often too firm over bumpy British roads, something eased considerably with suspension revisions in 2014, and the Yaris is functional rather than fun to drive.
Ushered in during summer 2014, the Yaris’ front end in particular was refreshed, with a much bolder nose design with a larger lower grille. Three different headlight types were offered, some with LED technology, while the back end was also tweaked, again with LED units available.
Inside the vast majority of the plastics were improved, with a greater degree of soft-touch materials and greater colour variation depending on the trim level.
As well as the modifications to the steering and suspension, the 1.0-litre petrol engine was new and the hybrid powertrain was made more efficient, lowering CO2 emissions to 75g/km.
Another small facelift will be introduced for the 2016 model year which includes new colours and a new Bi-Tone exterior finish that combines metallic black wrap-around paintwork for the roof, front pillars, door mirrors and bonnet. There’s also three exclusive colour schemes for the interior.
Other big news is the addition of a new Style trim to the range, including hybrid versions which will feature a black honeycomb front grille with chrome detailing, front fog lights and an all-black upholstery design.
To find out more, read the full Parkers Toyota Yaris review.