Toyota Yaris review
The Toyota Yaris is spacious and reliable, but lacks the sparkle of the Ford Fiesta
The sensible Toyota Yaris may lack the cool image of the Peugeot 208 and Ford Fiesta, but its reputation for reliability, low running costs and decent practicality means it deserves serious consideration.
As with the Ford and Peugeot, Toyota offers the Yaris in a choice of three and five-door bodystyles, plus a line-up of frugal petrol and diesel engines. We’re testing the hi-tech Hybrid, which is fitted with a fully automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
The Toyota Yaris is available in four main specification levels to choose from. Entry-level Active, mid-spec Icon and Icon Plus and top-of-the-range Trend. Mid-spec and above get alloy wheels, air-con and a 6.1-inch touchscreen sat-nav.
The engine range in the Toyota Yaris includes two petrols, one diesel, and an ultra-efficient hybrid model, which returns 81mpg and emits just 79g/km of CO2 making it tax free. Toyota also offers the Yaris Hybrid with a CVT automatic gearbox.
Our choice: Yaris 1.33 VVT-i TR 5dr
You’d struggle to call the Yaris stylish, but Toyota has tried to be bolder with this third- generation model, and Hybrid models stand out further thanks to their aerodynamically styled front grille and bumpers, plus the distinctive blue-backed Toyota badging.
While the entry-level Active version of the Toyota Yaris gets snazzy LED daytime running lights and door mirrors with integrated indicators, it does without the alloy wheels, front foglights and body-coloured door handles of the flagship Trend model pictured.
Inside the Toyota Yaris, the low-key theme continues and function definitely takes precedence over form -there are neat touches, such as a pair of circular air vents and dials that get distinctive blue needles, but the rest of the interior looks drab. Being a Toyota, the build quality of the Yaris is second to none but the materials feel a little cheap, especially the hard and shiny plastics on the dashboard and door trims.
The Toyota Yaris is also a mixed bag when it comes to standard equipment. Entry-level Active models benefit from dual-zone climate control, electric windows and a multifunction steering wheel, but you’ll have to trade up to the Icon plus model that costs almost £17,000 if you want a leather-trimmed wheel, Bluetooth or cruise control.
The Toyota Yaris isn't bad to drive, but while there's good grip and composure, the steering has little feedback and doesn't feel as nimble as a Peugeot 208 or Ford Fiesta.
At the base of the Toyota Yaris engine range there's a 69bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine. This is great for driving around the town but can get a little noisy at motorway speeds.
Toyota offers the Yaris with a 99bhp 1.33-litre petrol engine which manages 51.0mpg and reaches 0-60mph in 11.7 seconds. Meanwhile, buyers doing more miles might want to consider the 1.4-litre D-4D diesel, which goes from 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds and has a top speed of 109mph.
In terms of the CVT automatic version of the Toyota Yaris, when it's combined with the hybrid engine, it has an advatnage over some of its rivals around town. However, while the Yaris is king of the urban jungle, it feels all at sea on the open road.
When you hit the throttle to accelerate, the gearbox holds the revs uncomfortably high in an effort to maxmise the engine’s pulling power - at anything other than a sedate cruise, the Yaris feels thrashy and underpowered.
Despite a number of recent well publicised recalls of several UK Toyota models, the manufacturer's reputation for strong reliability remains intact. There’s certainly no reason to fear the Yaris Hybrid’s hi-tech mechanicals will let you down, as the brand now has over 15 years’ worth of experience of perfecting its petrol-electric powertrains.
The Toyota Yaris received the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, receiving 89 per cent for adult occupant protection and 86 per cent for safety assist.
There are seven airbags as standard, as well as stability control, brake assist and traction control. The Toyota Yaris dropped 22 places to finish 57th out of 150 cars in our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but it's still impressive.
The Yaris comes with the manufacturer's five-year, 100,000 mile warranty, while the engines have all been tried and tested so there should be no worries there.
This is where the Yaris excels as Toyota gives it a boot that's 25 per cent bigger than the previous-generation car, meaning you get 286 litres of boot space. That's quite spacious, and definitely edges the Volkswagen Polo. With the rear seats folded flat, this increases to 768 litres.
In regular Yaris models there's plenty of rear leg and headroom, and three adults can easily ft in the back. Meanwhile, storage spots and cubbies are plentiful.
On Hybrid models, Toyota hasn't compromised on space either thanks to clever packaging stores the battery pack which sees it encroach into the footwell, leaving an awkwardly shaped bulge for occupants to place their feet around.
The great thing about the Toyota Yaris is that all engines in the range are very efficient. We'd definitely opt for the hybrid; it features an electric motor paired with a 1.5-litre petrol engine, meaning it manages 81mpg and emits jet 79g/km of CO2.
The economical 1.4-litre diesel manages 72.4mpg and emits a tax free 99g/km of CO2. Elsewhere, the entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine returns a respectable 58.9 mpg, while the more powerful 1.33-litre petrol achieves 55.4mpg.
Residual values are strong, and there are plenty of models for sale on the UK used car market. Meanwhile, fixed-price servicing and a low insurance group rating should help to keep costs down.