The Toy­ota Yaris is a small car with big ideas, writes Gra­ham Smith

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars -

SPI­RALLING petrol prices mostly fu­elled the de­mand for af­ford­able, well-built small cars that were eco­nom­i­cal and prac­ti­cal, and Toy­ota re­sponded with the Yaris.

The Yaris took over from the Echo as the starter model in the Toy­ota range, but it rep­re­sented a huge step for­ward in the small-car class.

Model watch

THE Echo was pop­u­lar and of­fered the usual Toy­ota qual­i­ties of build qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity, but it was still a bare-bones small car built for peo­ple who couldn’t af­ford any­thing big­ger.

The Yaris was big­ger than the Echo and brought with it a new level of re­fine­ment for those who chose to drive small.

The Yaris range also of­fered plenty of choice — three-door and five-door hatch styles, a four-door sedan, and three lev­els of equip­ment.

With a curvy, sculp­tured shape, the Yaris pre­sented a fresh, vi­brant face to the small-car world when it was launched in 2005, and it has re­mained that way six years later.

De­spite its small size, the Yaris of­fered a sur­pris­ing amount of room and com­fort, thanks to some clever pack­ag­ing and ef­fi­cient use of space.

A high, up­right seat­ing po­si­tion cre­ated a roomy cabin with gen­er­ous head­room and am­ple knee room, even in the rear.

Not only was the cabin roomy for four— it was a squeeze for five— but it was also quite prac­ti­cal. The rear seat could slide and fold to lib­er­ate a de­cent amount of space to carry bulkier items in the rear.

Stor­age through­out the cabin was also gen­er­ous. Twenty-five stor­age com­part­ments could swal­low all man­ner of smaller items.

The range-starter YR was pow­ered by a 1.3-litre dou­ble over­head camshaft four-cylin­der en­gine that gave 63kW at 6000 revs and 121Nm at 4400 revs. The other mod­els had a 1.5-litre dou­ble over­head cam en­gine that de­liv­ered 80kW at 6000 revs and 141Nm at 4200 revs.

There was also a choice of a fivespeed man­ual gear­box and a four­speed auto and drive was through the front wheels.

On the road the 1.3-litre en­gine, al­though ad­e­quate for the task, lost some of its edge when con­nected to the auto. With more punch, the 1.5-litre got the job done more com­fort­ably with ei­ther gear­box and was more pleas­ant to drive as a re­sult. Equip­ment lev­els were quite good. Even the base model had air, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, CD sound, and power win­dows, mir­rors and steer­ing.

On the lot

FOR a YR range-starter pay $8500-$13,500, for a YRS pay $9500$ 15,000, and for a YRX pay $10,500-$17,000.

De­cep­tive: the fresh, vi­brant Toy­ota Yaris has a sur­pris­ing amount of room con­sid­er­ing its small size.

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