Toyota Yaris hatchback
Toyota Yaris hatchback
Price £10,995 - £17,695
- 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 fun to drive as the Fiesta, the Yaris is a dependable hatchback that comes with either three or five doors.
Cheap running costs are one area the Yaris excels in and 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 – and it can theoretically return fuel economy of up to 80.7mpg.
For 2014 the model range has been given a light shakeup so that trim levels now include 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 and adjustable door mirrors. At the time of writing, the company 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 cheap running costs then the Toyota Yaris makes a compelling case for itself. The hybrid model is cheapest of all and its 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor combine to deliver low emissions of just 75g/km. That means it’s exempt from paying road tax and can return fuel economy of up to 85.6mpg. The hybrid model’s low emissions mean that it is also exempt from paying London’s congestion charge.
The 1.4-litre diesel model’s emissions of 99g/km mean that it is free from paying road tax, while fuel economy of 74.3mpg is also strong. Only the 1.33-litre petrol model needs to pay any road tax at all, although emissions of 114g/km mean that road tax is just £30 per year. The slow 1.0-litre petrol can return up to 65.7mpg and also qualifies for free road tax.
There’s no performance orientated Yaris so insurance is cheap across the line-up – ranging from group 4 in the 1.0-litre petrol to group 11 for the diesel model. Toyota also offers fixed price services that start from just £99.
Interior & comfort
The interior is spacious but not as high quality as some rivals
While the Toyota Yaris’s interior is undoubtedly well built it doesn’t use high-quality plastics as extensively as the new Volkswagen Polo. All models come with a height adjustable driver’s seat and an adjustable steering wheel, although the latter could do with a wider range of adjustment.
Toyota hasn’t bothered trying to make the Yaris as fun to drive as the Ford Fiesta, but that means it is extremely 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 can get noisy as a result. For the same reason we would avoid the CVT automatic gearbox, which emits a constant drone under acceleration. Sadly, the Yaris Hyrbid cannot be chosen with a manual gearbox.
Practicality & boot space
Plenty of space for passengers plus a reasonable sized boot
The new Yaris has a 286-litre boot, meaning it has marginally more load-lugging capacity than both the Ford Fiesta and the Volkswagen Polo. The boot opening is big, but compromised by a tall load lip that makes it tricky to slide heavy items into the car. All models come with split-folding rear seats that drop to increase total boot space to 768 litres.
Passengers won’t be disappointed by the space offered by the Yaris and there’s plenty of room up front for tall adults. What’s more surprising is the room in the back, which means the Yaris can rival models from the class above including the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. Toyota has given the car a flat floor so that the middle passenger has somewhere to put their feet.
Toyota has made sure the car also has plenty of storage areas, but some are so small they seem a bit pointless.
Reliability & safety
The Yaris has a reputation for reliability and safety that other superminis can only envy
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 car still scored highly for reliability, in car tech, and its low running costs. As a company, Toyota has seen a steady decline in our manufacturers’ ranking 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 it is based on achieved the full five stars when it was evaluated in 2011. All models come with multiple airbags, electronic stability control, and a seatbelt reminder that covers the front and back seats.
Engines, drive & performance
The Yaris is not particularly fun to drive and the petrol engines and automatic gearbox are noisy
The Yaris is easy to drive, rather than being particularly fun, thanks to its light controls. The steering lacks feedback and the car doesn’t feel as nimble as a Ford Fiesta or a Peugeot 208.
The basic 1.0-litre petrol engine lacks power so, while it’s okay in town, 0-60mph in 15.3 seconds makes it feel slow on faster roads. The 1.33-litre petrol does the same in a more respectable 11.7 seconds.
The engine we would recommend is the 1.4-litre diesel, which gets the Yaris from 0-60mph in 10.8 seconds. It gets close to matching the cheap running costs of the hybrid model.
The Hybrid will be cheapest to run, but 0-60mph in 11.8 seconds means that it is slower than the diesel model and it's quickly out of its comfort zone when you leave town. It's refined for town driving but gathering any sort of speed is difficult and noisy, largely due to the CVT gearbox which quickly gets wearing on a long journey. The suspension was updated as part of the Hybrid's recent facelift, which improved the ride, but the handling is still too vague.
Price, value for money & options
The Yaris offers decent equipment levels and practicality for a reasonable price
The entry-level Yaris Active comes with low levels of equipment including electric windows, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, and a tyre pressure warning system.
Go for the Yaris Icon and you get much more equipment including air conditioning, a Bluetooth phone connection, and a reversing camera. Sport models add 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear LEDs, sporty seat fabric, and a rear spoiler. Top-of-the-range Excel models are quite pricy, but come with automatic headlights and wipers, part leather seats, climate control, and cruise control.
You can expect the Yaris to hold its value better than a Ford Fiesta and the 1.0-litre petrol Active should hold up to 47 per cent of its original price after three years/36,000 miles. The 1.33-litre petrol in Excel trim will lose its value quickest of all and is likely to be worth only 39 per cent of its original value after the same period.