TOYOTA YARIS ASCENT
At $17,990 drive-away, the Yaris Ascent is one of the best buys in the city-car class. That price takes it about $2000 below its full RRP, although it has been in discount mode for the better part of a year. Standard fare includes cruise control, rear-view camera, audio touchscreen, steering wheel audio controls and auto up driver’s power window. Service costs ($840 over three years) are the lowest in the business. Metallic paint adds $450.
The garish grille may not appeal to everyone but for a small car the Yaris is big inside. There’s enough room for four to travel in comfort and reasonable space for luggage or shopping. The rims are the same size as the Holden (15 inches in diameter) but they’re steel wheels with plastic covers — they’ll be cheaper to replace if you scratch them.
The 1.3-litre four-cylinder has served the Yaris well. It’s fairly economical (5.7L/100km) despite being matched to an outdated four-speed auto. However, the engine and transmission get the job done and work smoothly — if a little more noisily than the latest combinations.
Seven airbags and five-star safety rating. A rearview camera also takes the guesswork out of reverse parking. The Bluetooth works really well and phone calls can be answered or cancelled at the press of a button on the steering wheel.
The Yaris isn’t going to win a Formula One grand prix but it drives better than most people realise. It feels sure-footed on the road — wet or dry — and the steering and brakes are sharp and precise for such a small car. The image may be boring but the car certainly isn’t.