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IF YOU were sked to name the cars vy­ing for the ti­tle of best su­per­mini, it would be a rea­son­able wa­ger that the Toy­ota Yaris wouldn’t be amongst your top three. If, on the other hand, you had to name a small car that would be trou­ble­free, cheap to run and easy to use, it would be right up there.

The thing is, those cri­te­ria are ex­actly what many su­per­mini buy­ers are look­ing for.

They don’t care if the car can’t take the Esses at Don­ing­ton flat with­out laps­ing into un­der­steer. It’s an ir­rel­e­vance for most but car mag­a­zines still put a huge pri­or­ity on han­dling and award their ‘best of’ ti­tles pre­dom­i­nantly on which cars are most fun to drive at the limit.

The Yaris has al­ways been a su­per­mini that works well in the real world and this third gen­er­a­tion car is no ex­cep­tion.

It has long lacked a bit of flair though, and Toy­ota has be­lat­edly re­alised this, en­dow­ing the lat­est model with a lot more styling in­put, as well as en­gi­neer­ing im­prove­ments. Toy­ota has worked to im­prove the driv­ing dy­nam­ics of this car in re­cent times and the re­sult is that if you haven’t tried a Yaris for a bit, you might be sur­prised by just how well this one han­dles.

Though the ride is bet­ter than it used to be, it still gets un­set­tled over rougher sur­faces. And though the steer­ing is a touch more feel­some than long-time Yaris users might be used to, it’s still very light and bet­ter suited to me­trop­o­lis rather than mo­tor­way use.

Which is one of the main rea­sons why this car re­mains one of those you’d buy pri­mar­ily to shoot to the shops and take on the odd mo­tor­way trip to the mother-in-law, rather than to speed around Sil­ver­stone.

That’s why there are no hard core hot hatch ver­sions, no per­for­mance fire­works and lit­tle for the en­thu­si­ast to get too ex­cited about when it comes to pin-sharp re­sponse at the wheel.

The Yaris takes its styling in­flu­ence from the se­cond gen­er­a­tion Aygo city­car, with the X-shaped frontal graphic giv­ing it a far sharper look.

It’s th­ese days a more as­sertive-look­ing de­sign and Euro­peans like that. The headlights fea­ture pro­jec­tor tech­nol­ogy for high and low beams and the clus­ters in­cor­po­rate LED day­time run­ning lights.

In pro­file, this im­proved Yaris dis­plays a smart door belt mould­ing, door mir­rors with an op­tional fold­ing func­tion and classy 15 and 16-inch al­loy wheel de­signs. A rear bumper and dif­fuser as­sem­bly give the back end a more self-con­fi­dent look, gar­nished with a neat set of LED light clus­ters. The orig­i­nal ver­sion of this MK3 model Toy­ota Yaris was one of those cars that grew on you but it didn’t have the force of per­son­al­ity to im­press you with sheer show­room wow fac­tor.

The lat­est model ups its game use­fully in that re­gard.

Is that enough to pro­pel it into the top bracket of su­per­mi­nis? In truth, it was al­ready there, but went largely un­recog­nised by the pop­u­lar press.

Th­ese lat­est changes prob­a­bly won’t im­press those who pore over 0-62mph times or wax lyri­cal about han­dling ad­justa­bil­ity. But what the Yaris lacks at the ragged edge on a Welsh moun­tain road, it more than makes up for in ev­ery­day use.

Put down the car mag­a­zines, ask your­self what you re­ally need a su­per­mini for and then see if the Yaris doesn’t tick ev­ery sin­gle box.

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