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First Drive

First Drive: Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris Dynamic
The story: Toyota has hit some form with recent new models including the Corolla and C-HR, but can its smart-looking hybrid supermini continue the trend?
Key rival:Ford Fiesta
On sale:Now

Engineers and designers at Toyota have clearly put in some overtime on the new Yaris.

First and foremost, the new supermini looks brilliant. The car is fractionally shorter and wider than before with pronounced rear wheel-arches and an aggressive front-end look – all without looking too fussy.

Under the short bonnet is just a single power option; a 116hp 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with a hybrid system that drives the front wheels. It’s essentially the same system that’s in the latest Corolla, which means it generates electricity under braking and can power the car in full electric mode for short periods as well as helping improve efficiency when the petrol engine is being used.

First Drive- August 2020-Toyota Yaris-Image 4A CO2 figure of 92g/km on the WLTP cycle means the car qualifies for the 22% benefit-in-kind tax band. The official fuel figure is 65.7mpg, which, for a petrol car, is good. What’s impressive is that figure is achievable in the real world. Without any eco-driving effort we recorded just under 64mpg over mixed routes.

Doubly impressive is the way the Yaris drives.

In the Dynamic trim we tested, the Yaris comes with 17-inch alloys and stiffer suspension than the lower trim levels (Icon and Design) which sit on 16s. However, the ride is well set-up for UK roads with enough compliance to make everyday driving comfortable. The suspension doesn’t bang when you go potholes, either.

If you want to push on, as the sporty look would suggest the car should be capable of, the Yaris doesn’t disappoint and there is fun to be had. However, the softer suspension and slightly numb steering stop it being a full-on sporty hatch.

The other area of marked improvement is the way the automatic gearbox behaves. In the Corolla, which uses the same system, the auto’ box is a frustration. In the Yaris this isn’t the case because it responds far more as expected based on the input from the accelerator pedal.

The refinement levels of the engine also mean motorway work isn’t a problem and while there’s some wind noise at these speeds it’s far from being an issue.

Inside the new Yaris, the level of standard equipment is what impresses most.

First Drive- August 2020-Toyota Yaris-Image 1Standard kit on all trim levels includes clever cruise control which will bring the car to a full stop and then restart the car, lane keeping, reversing camera, auto headlights, auto wipers, climate control, Bluetooth, USB connection and a central touch-screen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

The layout of the dashboard is simple and clean, but it retains enough buttons to make the latest Toyota user-friendly.

Rear seat legroom is fine for taller adults thanks to room for your feet under the front seats, although headroom is limited for anyone approaching six-feet tall.

In the boot there’s 286 litres of space which is around average for the sector, however, the Yaris has a standard, and useful, false floor to help divide the space.

Overall, Toyota has done a great job of nailing excellence in the middle-ground of superminis. The new Yaris is neither too sporty nor too soft to drive, the equipment list is superb and the efficiency is brilliant.

tristan young

The verdict

Other superminis may beat the Yaris in specific areas, but overall the newest Toyota is bit of a winner.