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.