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The big test

The most comprehensive
new product test in fleet

The striking and muscular makeover marks out the new Toyota Yaris with the Japanese brand moving to make its fourth generation of supermini carrying that nameplate a more distinctive model.

The Big Test - Toyota Yaris - 2020 - Gallery Image 14

On the road

On the road

The new car is actually shorter than its predecessor, coming down by 5mm, but that combines with a 40mm reduction in height and 50mm increase in width to visually change the proportions into a more squat and sporty looking stance, especially when combined with the bulky front and rear bumpers.

The line-up is a simple one, with the one powertrain being a new version of Toyota’s hybrid system that combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a small electric motor capable of powering the car on its own in short bursts before recharging via either recuperating deceleration energy or the petrol engine.


1. The hybrid powertrain is much-improved in terms of performance and refinement, although it's not always the quietest

2. The cruise control won't engage when the car is set to 'Brake' mode rather than Drive, which means you have to keep flicking between the two rather than leaving it in Brake

3. The Yaris doesn't always feel the most premium of cars, for example the door handles feel flimsy and the doors shut with a cheap-sounding clang 

According to Toyota, the new hybrid system is 22% more efficient overall, despite power being up from 100hp to 114hp, improving the 0-62mph acceleration time by 15%. The company claims the Yaris can run at up to 80mph on battery alone, although in practice it’s tricky to persuade the car to stay in EV mode at much over 30mph. The Yaris will though run on the battery for decent periods in its native environment of urban running.

The new system offers emissions of just 92g/km for the lower two trim levels, rising to 98g/k for the higher trims that go from 16-inch to 17-inch alloy wheels. That means fuel economy figures of up to 68.9mpg, and BiK bands of either 21% or 22% depending on the trim level.

There are five of those trim levels, including a spec-lavished range-topping Launch Edition model sitting nearly £2,000 clear at the top of the range. It kicks off with Icon, and runs through Design and Dynamic to get to the Excel spec that will top the range once the Launch Edition model is no more.

Decent levels of safety kit has long been one of the Yaris’s strong suits, and the new model takes that to a new high with adaptive cruise control, lane trace assist, traffic sign assist and auto high beam all standard on every car, while the Excel trim adds blind spot assist too. All cars also get a standard kit list that includes automatic aircon, a reversing camera (but no parking sensors until you get to the top trim level), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which Toyota is belatedly onto the bandwagon with, and automatic lights and wipers. Stepping up by £1060 to Design brings a digital speedo on a colour display, as well as a touchscreen media system that goes up by an inch to 8.0 inches, nicer alloys, LED headlights and rear lights and rear privacy glass, while another £950 to Dynamic adds larger, 17-inch, wheels, front sport seats, keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control and an uprated audio system. The extra £300 up to Excel gives drives front and rear parking sensors with automatic braking, auto-fold mirrors and blind spot monitoring.

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The Yaris dates back to 1999 across four generations of car, with the first baby five-door hatchback becoming Toyota’s first European Car of the Year winner in 2000 thanks in part to its excellent packaging.

Initially sold with 1.0 and 1.3 petrol engines, before a 1.5 T Sport model was added in 2001 and a diesel a year later, the Yaris replaced the Starlet model and was more successful in sales terms.

The second-generation Yaris followed in late 2005, becoming the first car in its class to hit the top five-star Euro CAP crash test rating, and in 2009 stop-start tech was also added.

The third Yaris was the one that added Toyota’s famous petrol-electric ‘self-charging’ hybrid powertrain, coming into the range in 2012, two years after Yaris number three went on sale in Europe.

The period around 2007 was the Yaris’s best in terms of European sales, hitting more than 250,000 in 2007 before declining to just over 140,000 in the end of the car’s life cycle in 2010. That recovered to over 210,000 in the past two years, the car’s best results in a decade, with the car accounting for more than 22% of Toyota’s European new car sales.

The Big Test - Toyota Yaris - 2020 - In Context - First Generation Toyota Yaris - 1999

What they said

What They Said

“Yaris is our best-selling model in the UK market and has always performed well as a fleet model even though sales have traditionally been retail led.  We expect this to increase further with the introduction of this all-new model which uses our fourth-generation self-charging hybrid technology to provide much greater all-electric driving capability."


"Key areas of increased fleet appeal include class leading CO2 emissions, a higher safety specification and reduced running costs thanks to better fuel economy and lower VED, even though the new model is actually more powerful. This all contributes to one of the highest RV’s in the segment, an impressive 51 per cent (three years/36,000 miles) for fleets.”

Stuart Ferma, general manager fleet, Toyota and Lexus GB

The Big Test - Toyota Yaris - 2020 - Stuart Ferma, General Manager, fleet for Toyota and Lexus GB

Comparatively speaking

The Big Test - Toyota Yaris - 2020 - Comparatively Speaking Chart

Need to know

The Big Test - Toyota Yaris - 2020 - Need to Know Chart


Three things we like...

The Big Test - Toyota Yaris - 2020 - Three Things We Like - 1 - The new Yaris looks great – a big step forward from its predecessor

The new Yaris looks great – a big step forward from its predecessor

The Big Test - Toyota Yaris - 2020 - Three Things We Like - 2 - The shelf above the climate controls is just one useful stowage space

The shelf above the climate controls is just one useful stowage space

The Big Test - Toyota Yaris - 2020 - Three Things We Like - 3 - Apple CarPlay is finally making its welcome way across the Toyota range

Apple CarPlay is finally making its welcome way across the Toyota range

...And one we don't

The Big Test - Toyota Yaris - 2020 - And one thing we don't like - The dash display is a bit small and can’t show as much info at once as other systems

The dash display is a bit small and can’t show as much info at once as other systems



Drive  8/10

The steering is light, but that helps around town, and the powertrain is much slicker than previous hybrid units.

Efficiency  10/10

One of the most efficient non-plug-in cars on sale, and real-world figures seem to easily hit 60mpg on mixed use.

Practicality  7/10

Comparatively small boot, although rear space isn’t too bad given the car’s compact footprint.

Equipment  8/10

The Yaris offers sensible walk-ups in price and spec terms and a decent level of standard equipment. 

Looks  9/10

The big area of improvement over an anonymous predecessor. The regular Yaris now looks like a performance version of the car.

Comfort and refinement 8/10

The Yaris rides bumps very well, and electric running is obviously refined. Although improved, the engine is still vocal under acceleration, as is the case with all petrol-electric hybrids.





Cabin  7/10

There are lots of little stowage slots in the cabin and it all looks great as long as you don’t look too closely at some of the quality of more durable plastics.

Infotainment  7/10

Apple CarPlay is a welcome addition at last, but otherwise it’s  all fairly basic but sensible and functional. The dash display is a bit small and can only show one set of info at once.

Whole life costs  9/10

Great running costs only let down slightly by high SMR.

CCT opinion  9/10

A successful refresh makes the Yaris striking as well as sensible.


Good looks, great emissions figures and a decent level of standard specification are all major plus points, although it doesn’t always feel the most premium of superminis.