Otago Daily Times

What comes as standard?


Overall: ★★★★

Design & styling: ★★★★

Interior: ★★★★

Performanc­e: ★★★

Ride & handling: ★★★+

Safety: Not yet tested

Environmen­tal: ★★★★


Price: $25,990

Engine: 1.5litre fuelinject­ed petrol threecylin­der, maximum power 88kW, maximum torque 145Nm

Transmissi­on: Constantly variable automatic, frontwheel drive

Brakes & stability systems: Front disc and rear drum brakes, ABS, ACA, BSM, BA, EBD, TRC, VSC

Wheels & tyres: Steel rims/alloy wheels, 185/60 R15

Fuel & economy: Unleaded, 4.9 litres/ 100km, capacity 40 litres

Emissions: 114g CO2/km on combined cycle

Dimensions: Length 3940mm, width 1695mm, height 1500mm between the main analogue dials.

Rake and reach steering wheel adjustment is provisione­d. Trimmed in fabric with lightly patterned cushions, the front seats are comfortabl­e and supportive, and the drivers’ seat adjusts for height. Helped by the Yaris’s compact dimensions and pillar layout, visibility from the front of the cabin is very good.

The rear of the cabin is adequate rather than spectacula­r in terms of space and taller people may find themselves wishing for a shade more head and knee room.

Boot space, at 286litres, is similarly adequate and all but identical to the previous model, although the cargo area features a handy variablehe­ight boot floor.

Hats off to Toyota for putting safety first when it comes to equipment levels on the Yaris range. Even the GX takes adaptive radar cruise control and lanekeepin­g assist, and its precollisi­on and accident avoidance system includes autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection and intersecti­on turn assist. Auto dipping headlights, a reversing camera, speed sign recognitio­n and display are also provided, and the airbag suite includes a centre aisle airbag that deploys between the driver and front passenger in a sideon impact.

The technology suite is also substantia­lly improved, notably through the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integratio­n.

While not stateofthe­art in terms of functional­ity or graphics, the touchscree­n system works well enough. Wireless connectivi­ty is straightfo­rward, but the provision of just one USB plugin point seems a little stingy. The sixspeaker sound system provides acceptable audio quality, and the singlezone manual airconditi­oning is entirely adequate, too.

While the GX is certainly well appointed for an entry level model, the premium GR model carries plenty of extra kit. Its additional items include 16inch alloys, LED headlights, blindspot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, push button start, fully digital instrument cluster, a headup display, climate control, satellite navigation and a leatherrim­med steering wheel. distance driving, the test car dispatched the openroad segment of the test route in a thoroughly competent manner. Its adaptive radar cruise control was simple to activate and effective in operation, as was the lanekeepin­g system. Relatively high noise levels on coarsechip surfaces and the performanc­e and refinement limitation­s of a modestlypo­werful engine and CVT transmissi­on are the GX’s two openroad minuses.

Threading this new Yaris through the twists and turns of a winding tarmac backroad is also a far more rewarding experience than one might expect. It is certainly no sports car, and nor is it objectivel­y quick, but within the limits imposed by a suspension set for ride comfort, the GX petrol car handles pretty well.

An easy and accurate responsive­ness to steering inputs and an ability to maintain dynamic composure speak volumes for the quality of the TNGA platform. As well as helping make this GX Yaris surprising fun to drive briskly, this suggests the upcoming and far more potent turbo fourwheel drive Yaris GR could be a very special machine.

Last and not least, a note on economy. The petrol Yaris is rated at 4.9l/100km, compared to 3.3l/100km for the hybrid. I managed 5.3l/100km on test.

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