First Drive

First Drive: Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris 1.5 VVTi 111 Bi-Tone
The story: It’s mid-life update time for Toyota’s Yaris supermini, and Toyota has gone further than some with a facelift, including a notable redesign, spec upgrades, a new engine and a new trim level.
Key rival:Nissan Micra
On sale:Now

As mid-life revisions go, this is a reasonably hefty piece of work from Toyota. More than the regular headlight and bumper tweak – although it does get those – the to-do list for the Japanese brand also included a new engine, new trim level, improved refinement, ride and handling, an upgraded interior and a new tailgate.

It’s also worth noting that the diesel engine and three-door versions have been dispensed with. 

The 111hp 1.5-litre petrol engine tested here is a new introduction, replacing the long-standing 98hp 1.3 and improving emissions by 7g/km while also cutting the 0-62mph sprint by 0.8 seconds to 11.0sec. 

Toyota Yaris 2017 - side viewOur car’s trim level is also a new addition. Sort of. Bi-Tone was previously an option on the Design level, but is now a speccable trim in its own right, bringing a black roof to contrast one of three exterior colours, and continuing the theme inside with the dashboard, door panels and upholstery all taking the same colour treatment as the exterior. It’s fairly pricey, at £1,750 more than the Design trim, but really lifts what is an otherwise pretty anonymous car, and also brings added kit including electric rear windows and LED front and rear lights.

Toyota says it has worked to improve engine noise under acceleration, a previous Yaris weakness, which is a bonus because the 1.5-litre petrol engine needs a bit of encouragement to inject any sense of urgency. The gearchange has a nice feel to it though, and the interior looks good with the two-tone adornments, although it isn’t festooned with the highest quality.  

The 286-litre boot is in line with the class average (it’s just four litres shy of the new Ford Fiesta’s), and feels a useful size and shape. Rear space is a bit cramped, though, which isn’t surprising because the Yaris is a little shorter than most rivals. 

From a running costs perspective, KeeResources predicts a 26.3% residual value for the Toyota Yaris, which is around the Fiesta but adrift of Nissan’s new Micra, and despite the improvement, petrol emissions are still a way off most rivals – 112g/km for the Yaris against 99g/km for a 100hp petrol Fiesta.


Paul Barker

The verdict

Updated, smarter new looks and decent upgrades breathe new life into Toyota’s supermini, but plenty of competent and more efficient competitors mean the Yaris has a tough job ahead of it.