Toyota Yaris SR

We drive the three-door sporty version of the new Yaris supermini

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Toyota's Yaris SR is at its sportiest when it is standing still. It looks good, both inside and out, while space, build quality and a generous five-year warranty are all plus points. However, it can’t really cut it as even a warm hatch – it’s simply too slow and dull to drive compared to rivals.

This SR model is the closest we’re likely to get to a sporty Toyota Yaris. It targets hot-looking warm hatches such as the Ford Fiesta Zetec S. The question is, does it have the performance to back that challenge up?

The SR adds some subtle updates to the Yaris’ neat, yet hardly head-turning, looks. Changes include 10mm lower suspension, 16-inch alloys, a roof-mounted rear spoiler, black grille and foglamps.

Inside there’s a set of red-stitched leather and cloth sports seats, plus a leather handbrake cover and steering wheel. SRs also get a touchscreen and six-speaker stereo, while our test car had the optional £650 Touch and Go pack, which adds Bluetooth, USB and a reversing camera. On the downside, the switchgear feels cheap and the handles used to recline the front seats are especially nasty.

The seats look good, but are too firm and flat, while the driving position is too high, despite a greater range of adjustment than was available in the old Yaris.

The leather steering wheel (which incorporates phone and audio controls) feels good, yet the new electric steering system is lifeless. It’s very light, which is great for parking, but it lacks feel – as do the pedals and gearshift action.

The 98bhp 1.3-litre engine has to be revved hard to get the best out of it. With a 0-62mph time of 11.7 seconds, the Yaris is hardly warm, but it’s not too coarse when pushed. The pay-off is claimed 51.4mpg economy and 129g/km CO2 emissions.

It’s no Fiesta Zetec S rival in corners, either. There’s a lot of body roll and not much grip, especially in the wet, while the ride is choppy on poor roads.

The cabin is roomy enough, though, but the 286-litre boot (or 710 litres with the back seats folded) can’t match the Fiesta’s.

The SR may have a five-star Euro NCAP rating, stability control and seven airbags, but it’s neither as practical nor as much fun as rivals.

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