Otago Daily Times

What’s new?


From Starlet to Echo to Yaris, small Toyota hatchbacks have carved out an important niche in the New Zealand motoring scene over the past 40 years. Never as prominent as the larger Corolla, but still selling in good numbers, and serving as everything from grandma’s shopping basket to first cars, budget rentals and even (back in Starlet days) a perennial classwinne­r on the national rally scene.

Launched a couple of months ago, the latest Yaris pushes forward on the same broad front: the standard petrol and hybrid models certainly fit the shopping basket, first time buyer and rental car bill; while at the other end of the Yaris spectrum, the GR is a 192kW fourwheel drive turbocharg­ed machine inspired by a proven winner on the World Rally Championsh­ip scene.

While the GR is a Yaris like none seen here before, and the Yaris Cross (a highriding crossover version) will take the model into new and likely highdemand territory, the rest of the latest lineup represents a collective fresh take on a familiar Yaris theme.

This, the fourth generation, is the first vehicle to utilise the most recent iteration of the Toyota New Global Architectu­re (TNGA), a set of related modular car platforms that first appeared for larger models from Toyota and Lexus in 2015.

There’s familiarit­y in the mainstay models’ choice between smallcapac­ity petrol and hybrid drivetrain­s, albeit with new motors on the scene. The new entrylevel petrol engine is an inline threecylin­der unit, running in the fueleffici­ent Atkinson Cycle combustion mode, and delivering peak outputs of 88kW and 145Nm. The hybrid musters similar outputs — 85kW and 141Nm — by combining a retuned version of the same petrol engine with a dual motor transaxle.

This test covers the petrol 1.5litre, sampled in entrylevel $25,990 GX guise. The same GX specificat­ion is offered with the hybrid powertrain for $27,990, while pricing for the premium GR starts at $29,990 for the petrol version.

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