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Toyota Yaris review (2014)

What is it?
Heavily revised version of Toyota’s best-selling supermini.

Key features:
Bolder exterior style, uprated interior, powertrain and ride improvements.

Our view:
A major improvement, with much more style than its predecessor.

An update for the Toyota Yaris is well overdue – the car is the biggest-selling model in the Toyota range and renowned for its combination of reliability and practicality, but in recent times increasing numbers of buyers have turned to newer, more visually appeaing versions of its major rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 208.

So Toyota has invested a great deal of resource, not in producing a new Yaris, but heavily revising the existing one. The changes retain its core qualities while addressing the criticisms, with the differences immediately noticeable in the exterior styling.

It’s a treatment already seen when the Yaris Hybrid was last revised – now that car falls into line with its siblings, all now sharing the same exterior with its more expressive grille and fog lights.

The look is much bolder than the previous car, with its signature the strong X motif on the front end that Toyota has already applied to other models such as the Aygo city car. And the brand hopes that this distinctive presence will widen the appeal of the Yaris, attracting a younger clientele.

Inside the car, which still comes in both three and five-door varieties, the revamp has been just as extensive, focusing on increaisng quality. The fussy dash layout has made way for a much cleaner design, dominated by the screen of Toyota’s Touch infotainment system. Materials have been upgraded, though some cheap-looking plastics remain. What hasn’t changed is the space – always a major Yaris plus point.

There are four engine options – a 1.0-litre petrol unit which is also employed in the Aygo, the exisiting 1.3-litre petrol which has been improved, a 1.4 diesel and the hybrid, of 1.5 litres.

The diesel will appeal to those looking for the efficiency combined with the most power, but it is not as refined as its petrol sisters or some rivals. Of the two petrol units the larger one is preferable for any mileage outside urban environments, as the smaller unit runs out of pace at higher speeds.

Toyota expects a major increase in sales for the hybrid– one of the few that under new London congestion charge rules is still exempt from payment. It is by far the most frugal and clean and can travel short distances on electric power alone, but at higher speeds its CVT transmission makes for noisy progress.

The Yaris has also previously attracted previous criticism for its ride and handling. Toyota’s answer is a rework to the suspension that sees a softer front end and a stiffer rear, and some improvements to body rigidity.

These measures improve matters, and the car is more assured in its ride quality, but particularly at speed it still cannot match rivals such as the Fiesta. However in its more natural urban environment of slow speed and tight manoeuvres it comes into its own.

The new Yaris is a major improvement on its predecessor and will continue to sell in large numbers for Toyota, particularly on its long-renowned reliability. It certainly offers more style, but whether this matches the appeal of its rivals and will attract the extra and younger buyers that Toyota desires remains open to question.

Toyota Yaris – key specifications

Model Tested: Toyota Yaris
On Sale: August 2014
Range price: £10,995-£17,695
Insurance group: 4E-11E
Engines: 1.0, 1.3 petrol. 1.4 diesel, 1.5 hybrid
Power (bhp): 69, 101, 90, 77
Torque (lb/ft): 69, 92, 149, 82
0-62mph (sec): 15.3, 11.7, 10.8, 11.8
Top speed (mph): 96, 109, 109, 103
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): 65.7, 57.6, 72.4, 85.6
CO2 emissions (g/km): 99, 114, 99, 75
Key rivals: Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Peugeot 208
Test Date: July 2014

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.
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