Review: Toyota Yaris (Overall score = 3.5/5)

The current Yaris is the third iteration of a car that first went on sale in 2011. As such it’s getting long in the tooth, and to eke things out further Toyota has just announced updates for a car that was last revised in 2014. That will arrive later this spring, presumably priced at the much the same level as the outgoing car. We’re hoping the revised Yaris will address the key issues of our test example, which is behind the class best in several areas. In short the Yaris looks smart and is sure to be reliable, plus it’s well-equipped for the money, but the cabin should feel more upmarket and it needs more zip – which the bigger engine that’s promised should be able to provide.

Yaris Cabin

Cabin (2.5/5)

For the money we’d hoped for a cabin that felt a bit more plush. Some of the materials look cheap although the design is appealing enough and the clarity of the simple dashboard makes things easy to navigate; the console consists just of a touch-screen display and the heater controls. However, there’s evidence of penny pinching as the multi-function steering wheel isn’t illuminated so everything disappears after dark.

There’s also no temperature gauge; in common with many modern cars, instead there’s a warning light to say if the engine is still cold or too hot. It’s relentlessly black too (including the headlining) while the seats look more supportive than they are. There’s plenty of seat adjustment available, but the steering wheel movement could be more generous. Boot and rear seat space are adequate rather than exceptional.

Yaris Console

Driving (3.5/5)

The Yaris may not be fun to drive but it is easy, so it’s perfect for learners. The engine is flexible and thanks to low gearing you can quite happily sit at 30mph in fifth. The 1.33-litre engine lacks low-down torque, but there is a diesel available which offers around 60% more pulling power; uniquely in this segment there’s a hybrid option too. The brakes take some getting used to as they’re over-servoed and it’s easy to give the engine a bit too much throttle with the clutch engaged as the pedal is so light – much like the steering and gearchange for the six-speed gearbox, but there isn’t much that’ll faze your pupils. The good news continues with all-round visibility, high-speed refinement levels and ride quality that are all pretty decent – it’s just a shame that the car feels very ordinary to drive rather than enjoyable.

Yaris rear seats

Costs (3.5/5)

The cheapest Yaris is the 1.0 Active three-door at £11,970 while our five-door 1.33 Design test car came in at a shade under £16,000. Mid-range Icon or Design models are reasonably well equipped; 1.4-litre diesel editions of these cost £16,370 and £17,100 respectively while the hybrid adds a premium of £500 or so over the diesel.

The Icon represents the best value as it features alloy wheels, air-con, touch-screen multi-media and a reversing camera; Design features bigger alloys that will get kerbed more easily. The group 8 insurance is very competitive while the five-year warranty is among the best in the industry. Class-leading reliability keeps downtime and hassle to a minimum and Toyotas tend to hold their value well so you won’t lose your shirt on a Yaris.