THE COMEBACK KID? – TOYOTA YARIS
New Toyota Yaris
ACCUSTOMED TO BEING THE TOP SELLER IN VIRTUALLY EVERY MODEL RANGE IT PRODUCES, TOYOTA SA MUST FIND IT PARTICULARLY FRUSTRATING THAT ITS B SEGMENT YARIS CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE AGAINST ITS RIVALS – VOLKSWAGEN’S POLO AND HYUNDAI’S GRAND I10 – WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO SALES. HOWEVER, THEY ARE HOPING THAT THIS MAY CHANGE WITH THE RECENT LAUNCH OF THE LATEST YARIS, NOW WITH A 1.5 LITRE MOTOR WHICH DELIVERS 12 % MORE POWER THAN THE PREVIOUS 1.3 LITRE, AND IS ALSO CLAIMED TO OFFER 12 % BETTER FUEL ECONOMY. NEW DESIGN
The new Yaris, from most angles, is an attractive car. The rear carries some Peugeot 3008 characteristics, and the front is suitably impressive and slightly menacing, but I was troubled by the excessive frontal overhang in an era when most manufacturers are now placing all four wheels right on the corners. It’s also noteworthy that new Yaris is some 165 mm longer than the outgoing model.
The vehicle has a wide and stable stance and a low centre of gravity – all based on an excellent chassis which plays a major role in the car’s responsive handling and stability under high-speed cornering.
The designers have gone to great lengths to present theYaris as an all-new vehicle as opposed to a mere face-lifted one. In size, it almost matches the Corolla – something that will appeal to first-time buyers who will feel happy that they’re getting a vehicle which looks more expensive than its price tag suggests.
The seats, in a combination of durable cloth and leather, are firm and hold the driver and front passenger in place under hard cornering.The six-speed manual gearbox and the pleasantly light clutch action are Toyota trademarks. Unfortunately, the steering wheel – well-shaped and the correct thickness – is only adjustable for reach.
Smartphone users will applaud the seamless link-up with Android and Apple CarPlay, and an easy-to-operate sound system activated by a user-friendly touchscreen. However, the Bluetooth pickup mounted on the steering wheel boss resembles an old-fashioned afterthought.The USB port takes care of charging needs as well as serving as a linkup with the sound system and Google Maps. Legroom, thanks to the 165 mm increase in length, is generous, and the 351-litre luggage compartment is more than adequate.
All models have front and rear fog lamps, air conditioning, 15” alloy wheels, front and rear power windows, and remote central locking.
The entry-level Pulse offers vehicle stability control,ABS brakes (discs in front and drums at the rear), and driver, passenger and
The new Yaris has a multi-talented personality in that it’s perfectly at home in city traffic, with enough power and luxury to serve as a long-distance tourer.
side airbags, while Pulse Plus adds curtain and driver knee airbags, as well as projector headlamps and cruise control.
The vehicle itself has a significantly strengthened body for additional passenger protection in the event of a crash.
In a sense, the new Yaris has a multitalented personality in that it’s perfectly at home in city traffic, with enough power and luxury to serve as a long-distance tourer. It’s directionally stable, unlike previous generation Corollas, but it’s a rather high-revving engine with an indicated 120 km/h highway cruising speed taking up some 4,000 r/min.
The launch drive through the Tugela Valley from Pietermaritzburg to Zimbali on the coast proved that the fairly direct electric power-steering enabled theYaris to become a pothole dodger of note.
It’s a quiet vehicle with minimal wind intrusion, and the fairly willing 1.5 litre engine (82 kW and 136 Nm) is claimed to have a top speed of 175 km/h.
Prices start at R199,000 for the entrylevel 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, which we did not drive. The 1.5-litre Pulse with a sixspeed manual transmission is R228,700, and the CVT automatic version comes in at R241,400.The range tops out at R249,600 for the Pulse Plus CVT, and apparently there’s also a hybrid heading our way.
Despite the sound Toyota reputation, a three-year/100,000 warranty, and a three-year/45,000 km service plan, the Yaris will have a tough fight on its hand with the recent launch of the Volkswagen Polo and VW Vivo, as well as the recently launched Hyundai i10. Built in Thailand, it’s a reasonable value-for-money kind of vehicle, but plays in a market segment where the opposition is tough and frequently offers better value for money.