Toyota Yaris review (2006-2011)
The Yaris proves you can buy an upmarket, well built supermini without breaking the bank.
Toyota opens the Yaris range with a three cylinder 1.0-litre engine from the Aygo. This struggles on the open road; it's clean and quiet, but is outgunned - the four-cylinder 1.3-litre is better. The 1.4-litre diesel is strong but clattery at times. However, good brakes, a neat gearchange and generally low noise levels make the Yaris a pleasant companion. It's particularly good in town, thanks to its light controls, but at higher speeds it feels more like a city car than a supermini, and is thrown off course more easily than rivals; the ride is firm. While the Yaris is fun to drive, it lacks smoothness.
The Yaris, while all new in 2006 and larger than the model it replaced, remains one of the smallest superminis you can buy. And we're not convinced by the design. With its corporate nose, the second-generation model doesn't have the same cute appeal as the original. The range is inclusive and follows Toyota's usual logic, in three- and five-door bodyshells; that means T2, T3, T Spirit and SR trims, plus various special editions. It competes with rivals including the Nissan Micra, Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2; models such as the Renault Clio III and Vauxhall Corsa are all that bit larger. At the top of the line-up sits a semi-sporty 1.8-litre variant, but this isn’t a Vauxhall Corsa VXR or RenaultSport Clio 197 competitor.
The Yaris has a top-quality cabin. It’s modern, stylish and boast soft-touch plastics plus tactile switchgear. Storage is good, particularly the Yaris’ characteristic twin dashtop cubbies. A split-level floor boosts luggage space in the boot, while the rear seats slide independently in a 60:40 split; the already-large 272-litre capacity can be boosted to 363 litres. In the rear, legroom isn’t vast but headroom is, and the Yaris can realistically carry three. But up front, the driving position is very high, and the seats lack side support. As for prices, certain models have a few equipment omissions but they're still competitive; in addition, most variants get a knee airbag, supporting a five-star Euro NCAP crash test score. What’s more, the quality and finish defy the price tag. It also retains a high proportion of this list price on the used market, while proving both cheap to service and fuel.