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Toyota Yaris VVTi 1.3 T3

The Yaris is the tallest of our test quintet, yet has the shortest wheelbase, ensuring great manoeuvrability

Toyota Yaris
  • Best residuals, most frugal, sliding bench, excellent stowage, modern dash, superb around town
  • Ride can’t match Clio’s, most body roll, sudden brake action, short boot, noisy at M-way speeds

Bosses at Toyota responded to the growth of the supermini-MPV class – dominated by the Honda Jazz and Renault Modus – by marketing the latest Yaris somewhere between this and the conventional supermini sector. It’s the tallest of our test quintet, yet has the shortest wheelbase, and these tight dimensions ensure it’s a fine city runabout.

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Cleverly, designers have managed to retain a hint of the original’s look while bringing the Yaris shape up to date. Toyota’s family grille serves up an imposing nose, yet despite the curvy rear, the car doesn’t look as stylish as the 207 or Clio.

Build quality is up to the standard you’d expect of a Toyota, though. And while some cabin materials don’t feel or look as expensive as those in the Corsa, the design is modern and well thought out. A metal-effect centre stack and large rotary climate dials dominate the dash, while the central digital speedo is carried over from the old car.

The driving position is higher than in some riv­als, but it’s comfortable – although the range of wheel adjustment isn’t as wide as in the Corsa or 207, and the seats don’t offer sufficient side support. However, when it comes to stowage, the Toy­ota is unbeatable; you get drinks-holders at both ends of the dash, plus bins behind the console and a double glovebox. There’s even a hidden cubby in front of the steering wheel. Plus, as in the Corsa, the Yaris has a split boot floor, although the 272-litre capacity is 13 litres behind the Vauxhall’s.

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The luggage space increases to 363 litres if you slide the rear bench into its forward position, although doing so obviously hampers passenger room. What’s more, the Yaris trails the Corsa for headroom, and only when the seat is pushed back is rear legroom on a par with the Clio’s.

Yet this is unlikely to deter buyers with young families, while the set-up scores on flexibility, too, as the rear chairs split 60/40 and slide individually. Light controls ensure the Toyota is easy to drive in town, but it isn’t as much fun as rivals. The damping doesn’t cope especially well with rough surfaces, and at speed it’s not as settled as the Clio. It also suffers the most body roll, and although the light steering is a benefit in town, on A-roads it takes the edge off cornering feedback.

The brakes feel responsive, but didn’t impress in our 60-0mph test, with the 39-metre stopping distance bettered by all but the 207.

Under the bonnet is a 1.3-litre engine delivering 86bhp and 121Nm of torque; outputs which put the Yaris 12bhp down on the Clio and 12Nm short of the 207. Performance off the line is adequate enough, with 0-60mph dispatched in 12 seconds exactly – helped no doubt by the slick action of the five-speed gearbox and the fact the Toyota is the lightest car here. But the engine has to be worked hard, and the torque deficit showed up during our in-gear assessments; only the Fiesta is slower to react when overtaking. The Yaris is noisier at speed than the Clio or Corsa, too.

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The £10,310 price seems good value, but the Toyota doesn’t get alloy wheels and can’t be spec­ified with stability control. It has the same group three insurance rating as the Vauxhall, while the nine airbags included helped it achieve its five-star Euro NCAP crash test result.

As with any Toyota, a strong reliability record and excellent dealer reputation come as standard. But is the Yaris capable of taking class honours?

Details

Price: £10,310Model tested: Toyota Yaris VVTi 1.3 T3Chart position: 4WHY: Buyers opting for the Yaris can choose from 1.0 and 1.3 petrol engines or a 1.4-litre diesel. Prices range from £7,995 to £13,280, with Ion, T2, T3 and T Spirit trim levels available. We test the three-door 1.3 VVTi T3, which weighs in at £10,310 – although the car in our pictures is a five-door variant.

Economy

With a claimed 47.1mpg, the Yaris has the closest official economy to the Corsa. We did 38.1mpg; the 42-litre tank gives a 352-mile range.

Residuals

Toyota residuals are generally strong, and the Yaris is the best performer here. It is predicted to retain 46.9 per cent of its value over three years.

Servicing

Not only is the Yaris the cheapest to service, its dealers came fourth in Driver Power. Yet 10,000-mile gaps mean more regular trips to the garage.

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