Car group tests

Toyota Yaris vs Volkswagen Polo

Can the new Toyota Yaris scale the heights of the supermini class? We find out as it squares up to the VW Polo

It hasn’t been long since we held our last supermini battle, but we already have another new contender to put under the microscope. This time, it’s the turn of the recently facelifted Toyota Yaris to show what it can do. 

In the past, the Japanese supermini has been a dependable but rather uninspiring choice in the class, so Toyota has given it a bit of a boost with fresher looks, an expanded model range and a revised interior with more technology on offer. For this test, we’ve lined it up against the winner of our last comparison, the Volkswagen Polo. We were impressed by the VW’s all-round ability previously, and it’ll pose a strong challenge for the Yaris. 

We’re testing petrol versions of both cars here – the 1.33-litre Yaris in new Sport trim, and the Polo with 1.2-litre turbo power in SE specification.

Has Toyota done enough to take the fight to the Polo, or will the Yaris come up short?

Toyota Yaris review

VW Polo review

Click on the links above to read each in-depth review, then read on for our road test verdict.

Head-to-head

Design

Both cars have been facelifted this year, but you’ll barely notice the difference between a 2014 VW Polo and its 2013 counterpart. 

In comparison, the Yaris has been given a significant overhaul. The front end has headlights similar to those on the Verso MPV, while the ‘X’ theme seen on the new Aygo has also been incorporated in the front end. Go for a Sport model, and you also get distinctive 16-inch machined black alloys.

Options

You can spec up the Yaris with sat-nav (£650), panoramic glass (£550), metallic paint (£495), leather (£900) and a couple of option packs. The Polo has pricier extras, but offers adaptive cruise control. This £500 kit includes steering wheel controls and customisable cruising distance.

Engines

Toyota has stuck with a naturally aspirated engine, while VW has taken the turbo route for its motor. The Yaris has more power, but you have to rev it to make the most of it, which will harm economy. The Toyota is hobbled by higher emissions, too, and so is a pricier company car choice.

Verdict

1st: Volkswagen Polo

There's no stopping the updated VW Polo. Its combination of punchy performance, smooth and refined cruising ability, high-quality interior and practicality means it’s going to be a tough act to beat in the supermini class. Not only is it a great all-rounder that’s just as capable on the motorway as it is around town, it comes at a decent price, while low running costs mean it won’t be expensive to run, either.

2nd: Toyota Yaris

The new Toyota Yaris has made a positive step forward with its looks and infotainment system, but it’s not quite done enough to take the spoils ahead of the Polo. This Sport model has some attractive extras to make it appeal to a younger audience and it’s a decent urban runabout, too. However, the Yaris doesn’t feel as at home on the motorway, while the higher price and steeper running costs count against it.

Toyota Yaris vs VW Polo: key specs

 Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI (90) SEToyota Yaris 1.33 VVT-i Sport
On the road price/total as tested£14,360/£15,665£14,995/£16,690
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£7,065/49.2%£6,463/43.1%
Depreciation£7,295£8,532
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£396/£793£478/£956
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,697/£2,828£1,668/£2,780
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£292/B/£2010/£251/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£288 (2yrs)£125/£195/£125
   
Length/wheelbase3,972/2,470mm3,950/2,510mm
Height/width1,453/1,780mm1,510/1,695mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,197cc4cyl in-line/1,329cc
Peak power/revs89/4,800 bhp/rpm99/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs160/1,400 Nm/rpm125/4,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission5-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel45 litres/space saver42 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down)280/1,371 litres286/768 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,107/421/1,000kg1,040/450/880kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.6 metres/N/A10.0 metres/0.29Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr5yrs (100,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable miles/22310k miles (1yr)/181
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.19th/31st17th/6th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars90/86/41/589/81/60/5
   
0-60/30-70mph9.9/10.2 secs10.6/10.3 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th5.0/7.2 secs5.4/8.0 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th10.9 secs/N/A12.1/17.1 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph114mph/2,600rpm109mph/2,900rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph51.4/36.9/9.4m50.6/36.9/9.8m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph62/40/58/64dB55/41/59/68dB
Auto Express econ. (mpg/mpl)/range40.7/9.0/403 miles41.4/9.1/382 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined47.1/70.6/60.1mpg43.5/65.7/55.4mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.4/15.5/13.2mpl9.6/14.5/12.2mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket160/107g/km/14%158/119g/km/16%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraFour/yes/£295/£240Seven/yes/£700*/yes
Auto box/stability/adaptive cruise ctrl£1,375/yes/£500£1,000/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seats£380/no/£360No/£900/no
Met paint/panoramic glass/keyless go£540/£855/no£495/£550/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£700/yes/yes/yes£650/yes/yes/yes

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