Toyota Yaris hatchback
Price: £10,895 - £17,495
- Roomy interior
- Fuel efficient engines
- Dull styling
- Cheap-feeling interior
- Not as fun to drive as rivals
"This Toyota Yaris supermini is 100mm larger than the previous version, resulting in a bigger boot and more interior space."
The Toyota Yaris is a supermini that offers practicality, dependability and value for money. It's a rival to the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Renault Clio and Hyundai i20 – although its looks are arguably a little more bland than those models. Yet the Yaris wasn’t designed to be a fashion accessory, it's a comfortable and efficient way of getting from A to B and features a range of economical engines as well as a hybrid model that returns 81mpg and emits just 79g/km CO2, making it exempt from road tax.
All models come with a generous five-year warranty, and even entry level models are well equipped. The Yaris is also spacious and practical, boasts an impressive reliability record and strong resale values. In short, it's a car that appeals to the head rather than the heart, but while it won’t get your pulse racing, it won’t let you down, either.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Strong economy and low emissions make the Yaris cheap to run
All engines in the Yaris line-up are efficient, but the version that offers the best economy is the hybrid. This features an electric motor paired with a 1.5-litre petrol engine and will do 81mpg while emitting just 79g/km CO2, making it one of the most efficient cars in the UK.
The 1.4-litre diesel is also very economical. It will do 72.4mpg and used to emit 104g/km CO2, however, thanks to tweaks to the engine introduced by Toyota at the end of 2013 its emission figure has dropped to 99g/km, making it exempt from road tax. The bottom-of-the-range 1.0-litre petrol engine returns a respectable 58.9mpg. While the more powerful 1.33-litre petrol unit does 55.4mpg.
The comprehensive five-year warranty should ensure there are no expensive repair bills during the initial ownership period. And fixed-price servicing and a low insurance group rating will help to keep bills down.
Interior & comfort
The interior is spacious but not as high quality as some rivals
The Toyota Yaris has plenty of space for a small car, so occupants aren’t going to complain about head and legroom. It's also well put together. But the trim doesn’t feel as high quality as on many rivals, as it features quite a lot of cheap-feeling plastic. As a result, the interior quality is nowhere near a match for the Volkswagen Polo.
The suspension has been set up for comfort, rather than handling, which means it will glide smoothly over rough roads and is relaxing to drive on the motorway. The steering wheel is light, too, which makes the Yaris a breeze to drive around town. The petrol engines are a bit noisy, so these are best avoided if you do a lot of motorway driving, while the CVT automatic gearbox is loud under high revs, so it's best to stick with the manual gearbox and the smoother diesel engines.
Practicality & boot space
Plenty of space for passengers plus a reasonable sized boot
The Toyota Yaris might be a supermini, but its designers have used the space available well. There is plenty of leg and headroom for the driver and front passenger, while space in the back is on a par with cars from the class above, like the Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. The floor is completely flat, which means an adult can sit in middle seat and still have somewhere to put their feet. So the Yaris can comfortably carry three adults on the rear seats even on longer journeys.
The boot is 25 per cent bigger than on the previous generation Yaris, offering 286 litres of space. That's spacious for a car this size, and bigger than the boot found on the Volkswagen Polo. It also has split-fold rear seats fitted as standard on every model in the range, adding to its versatility. Fold the rear seats flat and storage capacity increased to a very useful 768 litres.
The inside is well laid out and most models come with a touch-screen media system as standard. There are plenty of useful little cubbyholes in the cabin for storage, which add to the car's overall practicality.
Reliability & safety
The Yaris has a reputation for reliability and safety that other superminis can only envy
Toyota scored the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, and – despite some recent recall scandals – Toyota has one of the best reputations for reliability in the business. It also has an extensive and highly-rated dealer network, so you’ll always be in close proximity to a specialist should anything go wrong.
As a brand, Toyota suffered a bit of a slip in the most recent Driver Power satisfaction survey rankings. It fell from number five in 2012 to number nine in 2013 – but a top 10 finish is still deeply impressive. The Yaris did well, too, finishing 35th in the top 100 cars chart.
All the engines have been carried over from the previous model, so they are tried and tested. while Toyota's extensive experience with hybrid technology should ensure the reliability of the eco version. If anything does go wrong, the car is covered by a comprehensive five-year/100,000 mile warranty.
Engines, drive & performance
The Yaris is not particularly fun to drive and the petrol engines and automatic gearbox are noisy
The Yaris has not been designed for sporty performance, but it drives just fine. It's relatively light and the steering is responsive, so it's easy to manoeuvre. If you want something that will get your pulse racing, you’re better off looking at the Ford Fiesta or Mazda2, but the Yaris will be perfectly adequate for those who don’t care how well their car corners.
There's a choice of three engines and a hybrid model available with the Yaris. There's a 69bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine, a 99bhp 1.33-litre petrol, and an economical 89bhp 1.4-litre D-4D diesel engine. The smaller petrol engine is really only good for town driving, as it starts to get noisy when you get it up to motorway speeds, and on longer journeys that will soon get tiresome. And while the bigger petrol unit offers more power, you have to put your foot down to get the most out of it, which means it can get a little loud, too.
Higher-mileage drivers will be better off with the diesel engine, which is a lot smoother and offers plenty of power. For those that can afford the higher list price, the hybrid model performs well and offers outstanding economy and CO2 emissions.
Price, value for money & options
The Yaris offers decent equipment levels and practicality for a reasonable price
You’ll pay as much for a Yaris as you would for a VW Polo or Ford Fiesta, but, frankly, you won’t get anywhere near as good quality an interior or as much driving enjoyment out of the Toyota. What's more, rivals such as the Kia Rio and Hyundai i20 are priced lower and offer superior value for money with similar levels of equipment and accessories.
All Yaris models except the base-level T2 come with air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and a reversing camera fitted as standard, as well as alloy wheels and a touchscreen entertainment system, too. Sat-nav is an added extra but is reasonably priced, while sporty SR cars add on a roof spoiler and firmer sports suspension. Top-of-the-range T Spirit models are certainly pricey but do come with a panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights and dual-zone climate control – so if you can stretch to the list price, you'll be sure to get a lot of kit for your cash. Resale value is typically strong, with plenty of models for sale on the UK used car market so you should get a good price when you do come to sell.
What the others say
Progress is smooth and hushed at city speeds but, as peak torque arrives at 4,000rpm, the engine note becomes more strained once you reach the motorway. The manual gearbox could be more precise too, and while the optional Multidrive S automatic is smoother, it can get noisy unless you change gears yourself using the steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Previously the Yaris has majored in bulletproof reliability, a spacious well-built cabin, a strong range of economical engines and low running costs.
"The Toyota Yaris is a decent bet if you want lots of space and luxury kit for an affordable price, but there are numerous other superminis out there that'll make your motoring classier and more fun."
Last updated: 5 Mar 2014