Toyota Yaris hatchback
Price £10,995 - £16,695
- Roomy interior
- Fuel-efficient engines
- Dull styling
- Cheap-feeling interior
- Not as fun to drive as rivals
At a glance
"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 competes with cars such as the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. While it doesn’t feel as solidly built as the Polo or as much fun to drive as the Fiesta, the Yaris is a dependable hatchback that comes with either three or five doors.
Running costs is one area where the Yaris excels, as half the range qualifies for free road tax. Toyota also offers the Yaris as a hybrid – a relative rarity in a car of this size – which returns claimed fuel economy of up to 80.7mpg.
For 2014, the model range has been given a light shakeup, so the trim levels are now Active, Icon, Sport and top-of-the-range Excel. All cars come with seven airbags, a tyre-pressure warning system, electric windows, plus electrically heated adjustable door mirrors. At the time of writing, Toyota is also offering a series of deals, with up to £1,000 off or free insurance on selected models.
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MPG, running costs & CO2
Strong economy and low emissions make the Yaris cheap to run
If you're looking for a small car with extremely low running costs, then the Toyota Yaris makes a compelling case for itself. The hybrid model is the most efficient of all – its 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor combine to deliver low CO2 emissions of just 75g/km. That means it’s exempt from both road tax and the London Congestion Charge, and can return fuel economy of up to 80.7mpg.
The 1.4-litre diesel model’s CO2 emissions of 99g/km mean it also qualifies for free road tax, while returning decent fuel economy of 74.3mpg. Only the 1.33-litre petrol model is liable for road tax, although CO2 emissions of 114g/km mean you'll only be paying £30 a year. The slow 1.0-litre petrol can return up to 65.7mpg and also qualifies for free road tax.
There’s no performance-focused Yaris, so insurance is cheap across the line-up – ranging from group 4 for the 1.0-litre petrol to group 11 for the diesel model. Toyota also offers fixed-price service plans that start from just £99.
Engines, drive & performance
The Yaris is not particularly fun to drive and the petrol engines and automatic gearbox are noisy
Thanks to its light controls, the Yaris is easy to drive, but not particularly good fun. The steering lacks feedback and the car doesn’t feel as nimble as a Ford Fiesta or Peugeot 208.
The basic 1.0-litre petrol engine feels underpowered, so while it’s okay in town, a 0-62mph time of 15.3 seconds means it struggles on faster roads. The 1.33-litre petrol does the same sprint in a more respectable 11.7 seconds.
We'd recommend the 1.4-litre diesel, which gets the Yaris from 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds and comes close to matching the hyrbid model's ultra-low running costs.
The Hybrid will be the cheapest to run, but 0-62mph in 11.8 seconds means it's slower than the diesel model, so it's out of its comfort zone on the motorway. It's refined for town driving, but reluctant and noisy when gathering speed, largely due to the CVT gearbox, which quickly becomes wearing on a long journey. The recent Yaris facelift included updated suspension, which improved the ride, but the handling is still too vague.
Interior & comfort
The interior is spacious, but not as high-quality as some rivals'
While the Toyota Yaris’ interior is undoubtedly well built, it doesn’t make as much use of high-quality plastics as the new Volkswagen Polo. All models have a height-adjustable driver’s seat and an adjustable steering wheel, although the latter could do with a wider range of movement.
Toyota hasn’t made the Yaris as much fun to drive as the Ford Fiesta, but it is very comfortable. The soft suspension does a good job of absorbing bumps, while the light steering makes the Yaris easy to manoeuvre around town.
The basic petrol engine’s low power means you have to work it hard to keep up with fast-moving traffic, and it gets noisy when you do. For the same reason, you should avoid the CVT automatic gearbox, as it emits a constant drone under acceleration. Unfortunately, the Yaris Hyrbid is not available with a manual gearbox.
Practicality & boot space
Plenty of space for passengers, plus a reasonably sized boot
The new Yaris has a 286-litre boot, which is marginally bigger than what you get in both the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. The boot opening is big, but it's compromised by a tall load lip that makes it tricky to slide heavy items into the car. All models have split-folding rear seats that drop to increase total boot space to 768 litres.
Passengers won’t be disappointed by the space inside the Yaris and there’s plenty of room up front for tall adults. What’s more surprising is that the back seats are almost as spacious, which means the Yaris can rival models from the class above, such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. Toyota has given the car a flat floor, so the middle passenger in the back has somewhere to put their feet. The Yaris also has plenty of storage areas, but some are so small they seem a bit pointless.
Reliability & safety
The Yaris has an enviable reputation for reliability and safety in the supermini class
Reliability is a Toyota strongpoint and the Yaris performed reasonably well in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, coming 57th out of 150 cars. That represented a 22-place fall from 2013, but the model still scored highly for reliability, in-car technology and low running costs. As a company, Toyota has declined steadily in our manufacturer rankings, finishing fifth in 2012, ninth in 2013, and 17th out of 33 in 2014.
Although the facelifted Yaris has yet to be crash-tested by Euro NCAP, the car on which it's based on achieved the maximum five-star score when it was evaluated in 2011. All models have multiple airbags, electronic stability control and a seatbelt reminder buzzer for the front and back seats.
Price, value for money & options
The Yaris offers decent equipment and practicality for a reasonable price
The entry-level Yaris Active comes with basic equipment including electric windows, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors and a tyre-pressure warning system.
The Yaris Icon has much more kit, including air-conditioning, a Bluetooth phone connection and a reversing camera. Sport models add 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear LED lights, sporty seat fabric and a rear spoiler. Top-of-the-range Excel models are quite pricey, but feature automatic headlights and wipers, part-leather seats, climate control and cruise control.
You can expect the Yaris to retain more value than a Ford Fiesta: the 1.0-litre petrol Active model should hold up to 47% of its original price after three years or 36,000 miles. The 1.33-litre petrol in Excel trim will lose value quickest of all, and is likely to be worth only 39% of its original value after the same period.