Safest B-segment contender lands in India
Toyota’s new mid-size sedan packs in safety and features from a segment above. Does that mean it can hit above its own segment?
Seven airbags are offered across the range on the new Yaris. Not just as an option but as standard. That’s a game-changer. And Toyota needs to make that kind of statement, considering they’re late to the B segment party. This generation Yaris sedan is sold in other South Asian markets, as the Yaris Ativ or the Vios and gets a 5-star ASEAN NCAP rating. It goes back to as far as five years prior, though it was facelifted last year.
That facelift brought with it wonderfully expressive headlights, with halogen projector elements. The new Toyota family face utilises Toyota’s Under Priority Catamaran design philosophy, which literally means the lower grille overpowers the upper and is vaguely shaped like the hull of a catamaran. A row of LED daytime running lights sit at the top of that “hull.” A simple profile reveals a slightly top heavy look, with the 15-inch wheels and spindly 185/60 Goodyears not really helping matters. The rear tail lights get classy LED brow lines and fins
SEVEN AIRBAGS AS STANDARD IS A REAL GAMECHANGER IN THE SEGMENT. TOYOTA’S MAKING A STRONG STATEMENT HERE
that are said to help with aerodynamics, improving stability at speed. We quite like that the leading edge of the boot pinches into a spoiler.
The Yaris is based on Toyota’s B platform and dimensions reveal it’s smaller than the competition except in width. Specifically, it’s 15mm shorter than the Honda City and Hyundai Verna. The cabin is spacious though and feels it, helped by the large glass area and light upholstery. The dash is covered in hard plastic (not scratchy though), with molded stitching coming close to fooling you into believing it’s leather. An 8-inch touchscreen with DVD player is provided on the VX trim, which has Apple integration only, apart from Bluetooth, HDMI connectivity and USB port for charging. There’s a thoughtful slim cut out for your phone right next to the handbrake, two cup holders in the central tunnel, space for bottles
BOASTS OF SEGMENT-FIRSTS, LIKE INSULATED GLASS, POWERED DRIVER’S SEAT, ROOF MOUNTED REAR AC VENT AND MORE
in the doors and a cooled glovebox. There’s two 12V charging points for the rear and one up front, though more USB charging points would’ve been welcome. Fitting three adults on the rear bench will be a cinch thanks to the flat floor, though the driver’s centre arm rest robs a bit of legroom for the middle passenger. The angle of recline is comfortable but that also moves your head closer to the slope of the roof. If you’re over 5’10”, like me, you’ll probably find your head brushing up against the headliner, though legroom and under thigh support is generous enough to slump down the seat a little to avoid that. Boot space at 478 litres can be extended, via a 60:40 split of the seats.
Coming to talking points, the Yaris does get a bunch of segment-firsts. Like sound deadening and UV-reducing glass, fourwheel disc brakes, a roof mounted rear AC vent, front and rear parking sensors, 8-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat and gesture control infotainment, apart from a CVT option right from the base variant. A lot of the other features are available from the mid-level V trim to the top-level VX trim. Interestingly, even with all the safety equipment and CVT transmission, the curb weight of the top end Yaris VX is 1,135kg, with the base manual coming in 45-odd kilos lighter. The low weight and skinny tyres have no
POWERTRAIN IMPRESSES WITH LINEAR DELIVERY AND SMOOTH SHIFTS BETWEEN EACH PRESET OF THE TRANSMISSION. THERE IS, HOWEVER, RUBBER BANDING WHEN YOU GO PAST 50 PER CENT THROTTLE
doubt helped the Yaris achieve pretty impressive ARAI fuel efficiency figures of 17.8kmpl for the CVT and 17.1kmpl for the manual.
That’s impressive since under the hood is a 1.5-litre petrol engine, the same one that was once offered on the Liva TRD model which has since been discontinued. It has been retuned for this application, outputting 107bhp and 140Nm torque. Our test car came with a 7-speed preset CVT transmission with paddleshifters, though a 6-speed manual is also available. On the CVT, getting away from a standstill is smooth and under regular city driving conditions, the powertrain impresses with a linear delivery of power and smooth shifts between each preset of the transmission. There is however pronounced rubber banding when you go past, say, 50 per cent throttle to make an overtake. It’s manageable above speeds of 80kmph but below that, the car takes a bit of time to speed up,
especially in the first three CVT presets. Downshifts are smooth and you can select a preset that puts you right at the top of the rev range if you wanted. You wouldn’t need to though, considering the mid range is adequate. At 100kmph, the engine is ticking over at just under 2,000rpm and NVH levels are very, very impressive.
There’s a bit of weight that’s tuned into the steering even at low speeds, helping the car feel heavier than it is and in turn boosting confidence when speeds increase. Ride quality is impressive too, with a controlled pliancy to the way the Yaris tackles sharp joints, undulations and broken sections of tarmac. Body roll is similarly controlled on lane changes and the Yaris has a way of making you forget what speeds you’re doing.
We are told ground clearance has been improved for India with a bit of lift from the suspension and we are glad it doesn’t manifest in flaky road manners. With disc brakes all around on the VX model we drove, bite from the initial travel of the pedal is strong but not overpowering so as to make modulation tough.
1. Comprehensive instrumentation is easy-to-read. 2. 8-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat a segment-first. 3. Excellent placement of phone/wallet storage, makes reaching for it at a stop perfectly natural. 4. Roof-mounted AC is a recirculator but clever fins ensure cool air can be directed to passenger’s faces. 5. Headroom might be an issue for passengers taller than the average Indian height
1. The 2NR FE engine is refined and smooth, at low to mid engine speeds. Paired to the 7-speed CVT, it shows it doesn’t like being hustled though. 2. Deep 476-litre boot impressively managed the luggage and equipment of five people