In the flesh the Yaris looks refreshed and youthful as the Japanese auto giant tries to breathe new life into what many feel was a mundane car.
With a distinctly European face, this feisty looker’s large trapezoidal grilles are complemented by a large Toyota emblem housed in the centre of the striking new face.
Sharp lines and standard daytime running lights (LED for the hybrid) emphasise a dominating physique.
At the rear, a new bumper with an integral faux diffuser makes an appearance and the car will now run on 15-inch alloy wheels across the range.
The petrol and hybrid versions have also been revised for the Yaris as they will now share the same overall styling, with subtle cues differentiating each powertrain. Admittedly, the grille and bumpers are the most visually enhanced external changes, while moving inside, the Yaris now enjoys an altered dashboard, which follows the European design principles of striking lines.
The door panels have also been reworked for a more fluid look, while occupants will appreciate the inclusion of an updated version of Toyota’s affordable touchscreen multimedia system. The system now boasts a better resolution seven-inch screen, while creature comforts like Bluetooth for hands-free phone calls, sending and receipt of text messages and a rear-view camera (hybrid only); climate control profile also makes an appearance.
Toyota has done a good job at improving the look and feel of the interior as the plastics have been enhanced as well as utilising new seat trim, making the cabin a comfortable place to be.
In terms of drive quality, the Yaris hasn’t changed much. It still delivers a solid ride, soaking up the bumps well and the build quality is impressive.
Power to the people
The powertrain line-up remains unchanged, with three engine choices doing duty: Two petrol, and for the greenies in us, a hybrid engine. The smallest of the lot is the reworked one-litre three-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. While this motor wasn’t available at launch, it has undergone noteworthy changes to improve its performance. Boasting 51kW and 95Nm of torque, it might feel slightly flat at Joburg’s altitude, but it does return fuel consumption figures of around 5.0 litres/100km and 117g of CO2 emissions, excluding it from the pesky emissions tax.
The powertrain, which impressed at launch, was the 1.3-litre dual VVT-i petrol, which is available as a six-speed manual or a multidrive S continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Pegged with a top speed of 175 km/h and doing the 0-100km/h shuffle in 11.7 seconds, this 73kW and 125Nm motor shows good fuel figures of 5.6 litres/100km.
The pick of the bunch is certainly the hybrid engine, with a torquey and responsive nature. This green city car benefits from decreased CO2 emissions cut from 88 to 82g/km and a correlating fuel efficiency rating of 3.6 litres/100km.
Renowned for its near-silent running, comfort and easy handling, especially around town where the hybrid system allows the car to be driven for certain distances in electric mode, or with limited use of the petrol engine. The auto CVT-based transmission adds to the all-round smooth, quiet and comfortable driving experience.
The Yaris hybrid is powered by a four-cylinder Atkinson cycle 1 497cc engine that is 50mm shorter than the 1.8-litre unit used by Prius and Auris hybrid; it is also 17kg lighter.
Overall, the reworked Yaris range has done a good job to make it a relevant vehicle with aggressive styling touches to introduce the “extreme Yaris” look and improved build quality means it’s a solid everyday drive. Toyota is also following the trend of loading its cars with standard spec and niceties making it more desirable.
But it’s always going to be difficult to shake the dull image the Yaris was bestowed with initially. However, association with the Redbull X-fighters is a step in the right direction.
Petrol models come standard with a three-year/45 000km service plan. For the hybrid version, it’s a standard four-year/60 000km service plan. The hybrid has an additional eight-year /195 000km warranty on the battery in addition to the standard Toyota warranty of three years /100 000km.
|1.3 Multidrive S||R206 500|