Toyota Yaris vs rivals

Can the new Toyota Yaris rekindle the model’s glory days? To find out, we pitch it against key rivals from Ford, Mazda and Suzuki

Ford Fiesta vs Toyota Yaris vs Mazda2 vs Suzuki Swift

The supermini grand prix is a closely fought contest, with contenders jockeying for position at the front of the pack.

The latest arrival aiming to overtake the class leaders is the Toyota Yaris, and this car is charged with reviving past glories. When the original launched in 1999 it caused a stir, thanks to its cute looks, spacious cabin and eye-catching interior. A less exciting replacement followed in 2005, but sales peaked in 2007 and the Yaris has languished among the midfield runners ever since.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Toyota Yaris

 

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Toyota bosses expect a big improvement from the all-new car, which is available in three and five-door bodystyles, in four trim options and with three engines. Here, we test the mid-range TR, powered by the established 1.33-litre petrol engine.

It needs to see off some seriously accomplished rivals, including two models from fellow Japanese firms. The Mazda 2 has been revised since its last appearance on these pages, and the 1.3-litre Tamura undercuts all of its rivals on price.

Then there’s the Suzuki Swift. It won its last Auto Express road test, and the 1.2-litre SZ4 promises lots of kit to go with its sparkling dynamics and attractive prices.

The car they all have to beat is the Ford Fiesta, and our class champ is at its best in 1.25-litre form. Here, we test it in new Centura trim, which makes it the most expensive choice. Is it worth the extra?

Verdict

We wanted to know if Toyota had done enough to take the Yaris back to the sharp end of the supermini sector. The answer is a resounding no.

The all-new model is bigger and better equipped than the car it replaces, but it still isn’t up to the standard of class leaders. Although the Toyota Touch multimedia interface is sure to attract younger buyers, they’ll be sorely disappointed by the car’s unyielding low-speed ride comfort, poor-quality interior plastics and uninspiring design. To make matters worse, the Yaris isn’t cheap – so it finishes fourth.

Our other three contenders are more closely matched. The Mazda is great to drive and keenly priced, the Suzuki is comfortable, dynamic and has an upmarket cabin, while the Ford is brilliant but costly.

Ultimately, we couldn’t ignore the Fiesta’s talents. Special edition Centura trim doesn’t show the car in its best light, but if you don’t care for its extra kit, lesser models are better value. The Suzuki takes runners-up spot, hampered by its smaller rear cabin and cramped boot. That leaves the stylish Mazda in third.

1. Ford Fiesta

Few modern cars are as polished as the Fiesta. In addition to its superb dynamics, this test reveals it to be one of the most spacious and practical superminis around.

2. Suzuki Swift

Refined, comfortable and fun to drive, the Swift is only let down by its cramped boot and limited interior space. Low prices and emissions make it great value.

3. Mazda 2

It shows how competitive the supermini sector is when a car as likeable and talented as the Mazda finishes third. The 2 is great to drive, solidly built and affordable.

4. Toyota Yaris 

Not the big improvement we were hoping for. There’s lots of space and kit inside, and performance is strong, but the bland design and firm ride blunt the Yaris’s appeal.

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