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