Toyota Yaris Design Bi-Tone 2016 review
Range refresh to Toyota's perennial Yaris hatchback includes new trim and two-colour paintjob, but what's it like behind the wheel?
Updates for the Toyota Yaris range add visual appeal, but don't change the fact that the supermini class is packed with great cars like the Ford Fiesta and Skoda Fabia. The Yaris will be cheap to run, reliable and practical, but similarly-priced rivals offer all of that and more.
The Toyota Yaris range has been updated this year with new optional equipment and a fresh Design trim level. There's also an bi-colour paint option (£795), which adds contrasting black trim to the roof, pillars and upper grille.
This option pack also includes a two-tone grey interior and black headlining, while the car in these pictures also boasted a new touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. That central screen also facilitates a reversing camera, and our car was also fitted with sat-nav (£650) and a Toyota's Safety Sense pack with pre-collision alert and automatic high beam headlights. The Design trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, LED lights and a boot spoiler.
The supermini still looks good and the interior feels well built – if a little plain in the grey and black tones on our car. The touchscreen display is clear and is easy to use, even if it does seem to face slightly away from the driver. Even on the larger 16-inch wheels the ride is smooth, but we found it hard to settle into the driver's seat and the adjustment is fiddly.
It's spacious inside, there’s plenty of room in the back thanks to the high roofline. The 286-litre boot is decent, too, if a little smaller than that of a Skoda Fabia.
However, on the move the 1.3-litre naturally aspirated engine feels gutless – despite having nearly 100bhp. This is especially true on the motorway. The Yaris isn't a heavy car, so at low speed the engine provides enough zip, but leave town and it really starts to feel out of its depth. A Ford Fiesta with the excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine costs similar and feels far peppier.
The Yaris can't beat the Fiesta for handling either, and lacks any sense of fun that some of its rivals have in spades. It feels composed and the steering is quick, but the Yaris’s handling clearly isn't part of the appeal of the car.
The supermini segment offers a huge amount of choice. The Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2 cater for keen drivers, while the Fiat 500 and SEAT Ibiza suit style-conscious fashionistas. The Yaris is there for those after something reliable, sensible and cheap to run – but the Skoda Fabia is still a stand-out choice for pragmatic buyers.