SAFE CITY BET

The Yaris won’t thrill but it will be eco­nom­i­cal

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - IAIN CURRY

Cheap to own and run, en­vi­able re­li­a­bil­ity and not half bad to drive ... it’s lit­tle won­der the Toy­ota Yaris has a loyal fol­low­ing among first car buy­ers, re­tirees and those just after a bar­gain run­about. The Yaris in Toy­ota show­rooms has been with us since 2012, with sig­nif­i­cant up­dates over the years, mean­ing that from about $8000 buy­ers can hop in a pre-loved ex­am­ple that doesn’t look far re­moved from a new one

There are hun­dreds in the clas­si­fieds. All use a four-cylin­der petrol engine and most have an au­to­matic gear­box, al­though there are plenty of man­u­als around.

Five-door hatches are over­whelm­ingly the pre­ferred body style but there were three-door hatches up un­til 2014, plus less at­trac­tive four­door sedans.

What­ever body style you favour, the Yaris is a small car, so not re­ally prac­ti­cal for fam­i­lies. Rear seat and boot space aren’t bad for the light car class, stor­age space is im­pres­sive but these city Toy­otas make most sense for sin­gle­tons or cou­ples not need­ing to carry adults in the back or much cargo.

Don’t ex­pect much in the way of engine per­for­mance or in­tu­itive­ness from the rather an­tique auto gear­box.

That said, the Yaris han­dles well enough, is com­fort­able and a pleas­ing dod­dle to ma­noeu­vre through town.

At the end of 2011, the en­try-level Yaris YR hatch was just $15,000 as a three-door or $700 more the five-door, on par with the pre­de­ces­sor, and used a lazy 63kW 1.3-litre engine.

In­cluded were seven airbags, Blue­tooth, USB and MP3 in­put, steer­ing wheel au­dio con­trols, multi-info dis­play, air­con­di­tion­ing, power win­dows and mir­rors. You were stuck with far-from-flash 14-inch steel wheels.

Next grade was the YRS with zestier 80kW 1.5-litre engine, 15-inch steel wheels, cruise con­trol and 6.1-inch touch­screen au­dio.

The YRX was the lux­ury ver­sion (five-door and auto only), with 15-inch al­loys, auto lights, front fog lights, cli­mate con­trol and sat­nav.

Sports fans could go the ZR, which was a three-door man­ual with sports bumpers, grille and head­lamps, rear spoiler, side skirts and sports seats. It used the same 80kW engine.

Sedans had de­cent 475L boot ca­pac­ity and came in YRS and YRX grades, ba­si­cally mir­ror­ing the hatch’s specs, al­though strangely cruise con­trol was not avail­able.

In April 2014 the hatch­back, now ex­clu­sively a five-door, was facelifted and given a bet­ter sus­pen­sion tune and sound dead­en­ing. All mod­els now had the 6.1-inch touch­screen plus re­vers­ing cam­era and cruise con­trol.

To con­fuse things, grade names changed to As­cent for the 1.3-litre base model, and SX and ZR for the 1.5-litres. The range-top­ping ZR added LED head­lamps and Toy­otaLink smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Faith­ful to Toy­ota’s rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity, this gen­er­a­tion of Yaris is hold­ing up well with no ma­jor com­mon faults.

Rel­a­tively cheap ser­vic­ing should bring huge peace of mind to the bud­get con­scious but be aware ser­vice in­ter­vals are six months or 10,000km. En­sure pre­vi­ous own­ers have ad­hered rigidly to the sched­ule.

Favour a Yaris that’s been in pri­vate hands its whole life. Many were used as rental or fleet cars and arguably won’t have been as well cared for as one with its own garage or car­port.

Given its pop­u­lar­ity with the very young and very old — two groups prone to bin­gles – check over any used Yaris for dings and dents and avoid any that have been in an ac­ci­dent.

Some own­ers com­plain of cabin plas­tics age­ing badly and suf­fer­ing dam­age eas­ily, so check for rat­tles and any bits hang­ing off.

There are rare in­stances of engine and gear­box trou­ble so en­sure there are no nasty noises from the engine bay or jerk­i­ness or hes­i­ta­tion from the gear­box. Stalling when com­ing to a halt is a prime rea­son to re­ject.

If you drive over lots of hills favour the 1.5-

litre as the 1.3 is gut­less. Re­set the fuel econ­omy me­ter be­fore your test drive — some own­ers re­port fuel use a lot higher than Toy­ota’s quotes.

Don’t dis­count the man­ual gear­box. It’s a bit more re­ward­ing to drive un­less you spend your life in traf­fic, and will lower fuel bills.

Toy­ota has a three-year/100,000km war­ranty so favour any ex­am­ples with cov­er­age re­main­ing. A mi­nor re­call for a power win­dow mas­ter switch was is­sued in Novem­ber 2015 but the big­gest is­sue has been the gi­ant Takata airbag re­call.

The Yaris had the prob­lem airbags, so en­sure any you con­sider has had the re­quired fix — check the VIN at re­calls.toy­ota.com.au or is­myairbagsafe.com.au.

IAIN SAYS

A safe city car bet, the Yaris won’t thrill but should prove re­li­able and eco­nom­i­cal.

With so many on the used mar­ket don’t set­tle for less than a per­fect ser­vice record and favour higher grades with the stronger engine and touch­screen. Bet­ter yet tar­get a post-April 2014 facelifted ver­sion — but don’t pay too much. A new Yaris with full war­ranty can be had from $16,000 drive-away.

OWNER SAYS

ROSIE CRAIG: I have a 2015 Yaris YRS hatch au­to­matic which gen­er­ally I just drive by my­self, rarely with pas­sen­gers. I fill it with sport­ing equip­ment, my swag, lug­gage and the like, and it does lots of mo­tor­way driv­ing on week­ends. It uses more fuel on the free­way than I was ex­pect­ing — but I did have a Toy­ota Prius be­fore. It runs re­ally nicely but when I have any pas­sen­gers, heavy lug­gage or go up­hill on mo­tor­ways then I feel the lag. It’s a re­ally nice car but it could use a big­ger engine.

PAULA BLAS: My 2015 As­cent hatch with 1.3litre and auto per­forms very well. I’ve never had a prob­lem. it’s good to drive on nar­row roads and the re­verse cam­era is very use­ful. The best thing is its fuel econ­omy and it has fea­tures I need like Blue­tooth. The boot is small and it’s not pow­er­ful enough for steep hills.

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