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Toyota Yaris Review

Find out more about the Toyota Yaris in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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5
Out of 10
Average Price £7,828
Review

The Toyota Yaris is a supermini first introduced in 1999 to replace the aging Starlet model. Like many of its rivals at the time, it offered no frills motoring that was ideal for inner city motorists, while its impressive driving dynamics helped it win European Car of the Year leading to impressive sales figures.

 

However, as many manufacturers turned towards the premium end of the segment, the Toyota Yaris has remained true to its affordable roots.

 

Over the years it’s shed its soft, inoffensive styling in an attempt to lure younger buyers to the model, as the Yaris grew a reputation for appealing to older drivers largely due to its impressive reliability. However, it’s kept its focus on being an affordable runaround with a range of economical engines, low insurance and less expensive tax groups.

Latest model

 

The third generation of Yaris was introduced in 2011, undergoing a facelift in 2014 when it received Toyota’s distinctive ‘X’ face.

 

The idea was to make up the ground on more polished rivals in the shape of the Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2, which offered more modern styling and refined interiors than the Japanese hatchback.

 

Engine options are fairly limited but offer a good range of choice. There’s one diesel, two petrols and, rarely for this segment, there’s also a hybrid option. There are two transmission choices in the form of a six-speed manual and a CVT automatic.

 

Value for money

The interior has bold styling with a chunky, sweeping dashboard design. However, the materials used are on the cheap and cheerful side.

 

In the middle of it all sits a seven-inch touchscreen system incorporating Toyota’s Touch 2 multimedia system, which is standard on all but the most basic trims. It responds quickly to inputs and has logical menu layouts making it easy to use, while the optional extra satellite navigation system is a useful addition.

 

Optional equipment available depending on trim includes an adjustable tablet holder (£75), aluminium scuff plates (£105) and a semi-autonomous safety features package (£400).

 

The entry level model for the Yaris is the three-door Active trim with the uninspiring 68bhp 1.0-litre petrol unit, which starts at £11,970. For less than £11,000, it is possible to pick up a pre-facelift 2013 model with an economical 1.5-litre hybrid engine and touchscreen infotainment system.

 

Looks and image

 

The Toyota Yaris has long sold well against more premium rivals, but in recent generations driver enjoyment has taken a back seat to efficiency.

 

That’s great for drivers who purely want to save money, but those who want to enjoy their time behind the wheel might be better off going for an older model. Those on a lower budget will be pleased to know that the first generation Yaris, built between 1999 and 2005, was considered one of the best to drive in its class and can now be had for under £1,000 – even low mileage versions can be had for a little over £2,000.

 

It’s been three years since the Yaris last underwent an update, meaning there are plenty of used options available in the latest shape. Higher trims and engines can all be had for under £10,000 for buyers willing to look to nearly-new cars.

Space and practicality

As a supermini, the Toyota Yaris has to tread the line between being spacious enough to be practical without giving up its usefully diminutive dimensions. As many of its rivals have swelled along with the introduction of more safety equipment and technology, the Yaris has managed to keep things fairly compact.

 

Impressively, this isn’t at the detriment of cabin space, as it is one of the most spacious in the segment. Taller passengers will find the front seats fine, but should only be confined to the rear seats for shorter journeys.

 

There are also plenty of cubby holes, with a central space for loose change and a couple of shelves above the door handles for smaller items. Rear passengers aren’t quite so well catered for, with no seat pockets, one shared cup holder and only small spaces in the doors.

 

Engines

 

There are just four engine options available in the form of one diesel, one hybrid and two petrols.

 

The diesel is a 1.4-litre unit making 89bhp and returning an impressive 72mpg on the combined cycle. CO2 emissions are rated at 91g/km. Those looking for an automatic need to look elsewhere though, as it’s not available with that transmission.

 

The hybrid uses a petrol engine mated to an electric motor. The result is a power output of 99bhp, CO2 emissions of 75g/km and economy rated at 78mpg on the combined cycle.

 

On to the two petrol engines, and the entry level 68bhp 1.0-litre unit emits 99g/km of CO2 and registers 66mpg on the combined cycle. However, it’s only available with a five-speed manual gearbox, so those who do a lot of motorway driving might find the official economy figures tough to hit.

 

There’s also a 1.33-litre petrol, which makes a much more satisfying 98bhp and is available with a choice of gearboxes. Mated to a six-speed manual it achieves 58mpg while the CVT automatic manages 55mpg – both gearboxes come with CO2 emissions of 114g/km.

 

Running costs

 

Toyota’s commitment to building hybrid powertrains means that its models often come with excellent running costs.

 

If keeping running costs low is key, the hybrid is the way forward. It offers fuel economy that’s almost as good as the diesel, but thanks to petrol costing less at the pumps and lower road tax for the hybrid, long-term costs should be less for the majority of owners – inner-city drivers will benefit most by going hybrid.

 

Toyota’s hybrids do rather suck the fun out of driving, though. Keen drivers looking for a slightly perkier drive would be better suited to the 1.33-litre petrol with the manual gearbox.

 

Things to look out for

 

If a reliable supermini is key, look no further than the Yaris. Toyota has built its reputation on reliability and that’s evident throughout its supermini.

 

Owner surveys show the Yaris to be one of the most reliable cars on the market, though post facelift models have seen a few minor issues seep through. Risk-averse buyers who don’t consider buying brand new essential would be best to look to 2012 – 2013 models.

 

Owner’s club forums are awash with tales of older Yaris models reaching 100,000 miles with little more than oil and tyres changes, so when buying just look out for generic issues like odd noises or leaking fluids.

 

Rivals

 

The Toyota Yaris sits in a busy sector of the market. Top dog is the Ford Fiesta and after receiving a refresh in 2017 it’s sure to surge ahead in sales once more – its main issues relate to uneconomical engines and build quality problems, but it’s brilliant to drive.

 

The Mini five-door hatchback is a premium rival and as such is considerably more expensive – upwards of £3,000 more for comparative specifications.

 

The Volkswagen Polo is a great alternative at a similar price to the Toyota, but comes with less equipment and is much duller.

 

Depreciation warning

 

While the plucky Toyota doesn’t hold its value quite as well as more premium rivals like the Mini and Volkswagen, its value holds better than you might expect. Excellent reliability and a decent range of economical engines – the hybrid in particular is attractive in this segment as it’s so rare to find one – make it attractive to used buyers as well as new.

Which Yaris to Pick

Trims Explained

The Toyota Yaris is available in four trims.

Active

The entry level model is Active, which starts at £11,970 for the three-door model and £12,570 for the five-door.

It comes with basic exterior styling touches such as 15-inch steel wheels and black door mirrors, while inside there’s a basic radio and CD player with a grey dashboard – dual-zone air conditioning is a nice luxury for a basic model, though.

Icon

One step up is the Icon, which starts at £13,390 in three-door and £13,990 in five-door guise. Additional equipment includes 15-inch alloy wheels, projector headlights and front fog lights. The interior benefits from Toyota’s Touch 2 multimedia system, which has a built-in reversing camera.

Navigation is optional on all Touch 2-equipped cars.

Design

Design trim is available from £15,470 and is focused on bringing improved styling without adding too much equipment to keep the cost more affordable.

Upgrades over the Icon trim include 16-inch machined black alloy wheels, gloss black ‘honeycomb’ grille and LED daytime running lights and rear lights.

Excel

The Excel model sits at the top of the range, coming with unique 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, and a leather gearknob.

What to look out for

  1. If running costs are key, hybrid models are a great option
  2. Keen drivers might be left disappointed by the experience
  3. Least expensive versions feel cheap
  4. Entry-level petrol is pretty gutless, but other engines are impressive
  5. Loads of leg and headroom for front passengers, rear fairly spacious too
  6. Comes with a decent-sized boot for segment
  7. Hard to beat in the reliability stakes
  8. 2011 - 2014 cars benefit from most of the styling and engine choices of new cars, but cost less
  9. Avoid CVT automatic gearbox unless low fuel costs are of paramount importance
  10. Early-2000s cars are crazy cheap now, but still have Toyota’s renowned reliability

Review Rating

"This is the third-generation Toyota Yaris, a small hatchback appealing enough to regularly enjoy fourth spot in the sales chart behind the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo.... Read More"