Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Residential - Chris Ri­ley

TOY­OTA has culled and up­dated its Yaris line-up, ditch­ing the three-door ver­sion and re­duc­ing the num­ber of grades from four to three.

It has also made some sheet­metal changes to the hatch, graft­ing Corolla’s pointy nose to the front in a bid to make the car funkier and more ap­peal­ing.

With a stiffer body and re­tuned sus­pen­sion, the company claims it's now more en­joy­able to drive too; but power re­mains the same and there have been no other me­chan­i­cal changes.

Yaris is cur­rently the num­ber three car in its seg­ment be­hind the Hyundai i20 and Mazda2 in that or­der, with the Suzuki Swift bring­ing up the rear.

That doesn’t fac­tor in the Kia Rio, which is a bet­ter buy with a six-speed auto and more pow­er­ful di­rect-in­jec­tion en­gine; not to men­tion the brand new Mazda2.

Yaris is still priced from $15,690 for the en­try-level As­cent, with the midrange SX at $17,790 and the top-of-therange ZR at $22,690.

The first two come with steel wheels and wheel cov­ers, while the ZR scores 15inch al­loys.

As­cent has been up­graded from 14 to 15-inch wheels, with a rev­ers­ing cam­era, cruise con­trol and 6.1-inch touch screen, and rep­re­sents $2000 in in­creased value.

For $400 more, SX gets about $1000 worth of new fea­tures in­clud­ing fog lights, rear and side pri­vacy glass plus new wheel cov­ers.

For $1300 more, ZR adds new auto-lev­el­ling LED lights, rear spoiler and dif­fuser, side skirts and Toy­ota Link-con­nected mo­bil­ity.

There’s some bright new colours and the cabin has been up­graded to make it feel roomier and more stylish.

A grain fin­ish on the dash and around the in­stru­ment panel com­bined with brighter or­na­men­ta­tion for the air vents and door switches pro­mote a more up­mar­ket look.

The glove­box cover has been redesigned for a more in­te­grated ap­pear­ance with the rest of the dash­board, while mak­ing bet­ter use of the avail­able space.

The steer­ing wheel is now reach ad­justable, the haz­ard lights flash au­to­mat­i­cally dur­ing emer­gency brak­ing, phone con­trols have been added to the wheel and the audio sys­tem now boasts six speak­ers in­stead of four.

Cruise con­trol is now also stan­dard.

ZR audio adds voice recog­ni­tion in ad­di­tion to Blue­tooth phone con­nec­tiv­ity and audio stream­ing, with satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, cli­mate air, sports front seats, pre­mium three-spoke steer­ing wheel and newly de­signed seat cov­ers.

There are two en­gines in the mix, a 1.3 and a 1.5; both of them four-cylin­der petrol en­gines.

The 1.3 which pow­ers the As­cent pro­duces 63kW and 121Nm, while the 1.5litre unit in the SX and ZR de­liv­ers 80kW and 142Nm.

There’s a five-speed man­ual or four­speed au­to­matic from which to choose, while the ZR in­cludes the price of the auto and is not avail­able with a man­ual.

Fuel econ­omy for the 1.3 is 5.7, the 1.5 auto 6.3 litres/100km.

It gets five stars for safety, with seven airbags in­clud­ing a driver’s knee bag, plus trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol, along with anti-lock brakes with brake as­sist and elec­tronic brake-force dis­tri­bu­tion.

A rear-view cam­era is now stan­dard across the range too.

The spec­i­fi­ca­tions are a bit of a worry. A four-speed auto? With multi-point in­jec­tion? It doesn’t even get one-touch blink­ers? Cars were equipped this way 20 years ago. When is Toy­ota go­ing to re­alise the mod­ern con­sumer is more savvy than this.

The pow­er­train is off the pace and it shows in both the car’s per­for­mance and econ­omy.

Our test ve­hi­cle was the top-of- the­line 1.5-litre ZR auto.

It cer­tainly looks smart and sassy, but didn’t sweep us off our feet.

The paint job is im­pec­ca­ble, fit and fin­ish is first-rate and it is rea­son­ably com­fort­able for a small car, but you’ve got to flog it to ex­tract any sort of per­for­mance.

Punch the ac­cel­er­a­tor, the en­gine roars and the trans­mis­sion tries hard, then sud­denly it finds third gear and it’s all over.

Re­gard­less, the car does feel nice and tight, sits well on the road and cor­ners flat.

And in a plus, the nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem in­cludes speed cam­era warn­ings.

We were get­ting 7.0 litres/100km after about 300km, which re­al­is­ti­cally isn’t that good for a car this size.

Ver­dict: Looks good. Goes pretty well but the econ­omy is not there and the com­pe­ti­tion is bet­ter value for money. 3 stars

The new Yaris has a new face, but not much else.

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