"This supermini is 100mm larger than the previous Toyota Yaris, resulting in a bigger boot and more interior space."
The latest Toyota Yaris marks a major improvement over the older model that it replaces, but still trails behind some of the more serious contenders in the fiercely contested supermini class. Its exterior looks are in line with the rest of the Toyota range, especially the Toyota Verso MPV and the Toyota Prius hatchback, and it does still look good when compared with rivals such as the Hyundai i20 and Ford Fiesta – although the Fiesta's recent facelift has raised its game somewhat. The Yaris does have a long list of equipment and accessories that come fitted as standard, all housed in a practical body. The list prices are a bit high, but you do get an extensive warranty and the promise of good resale values getting you some of your money back when you sell it in the used car market. There's a range of economical petrol and diesel engines, plus a newer environmentally friendly hybrid that emits a tax-avoiding 79g/km of CO2 and returns an excellent 81mpg in fuel economy. You can get the Yaris in six specifications – the entry-level T2, then the Edition, mid-range TR and SR, then the Trend and T Spirit. So if you want a dependable, comfortable small car that is easy to drive and offers lots of interior practicality, the Toyota Yaris could be the supermini for you.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The Yaris is a fuel-efficient car across the whole range. The entry-level 1.0-litre petrol will manage to return a reasonable 58.9mpg, while the 1.33-litre car paired with the automatic gearbox will return a respectable 55.4mpg. We’d go for the 1.4-litre diesel if you regularly cover a lot miles, as it returns an excellent 72.4mpg under motorway conditions. Emissions of 104g/km mean it's also cheap to tax, too. But there's no denying that if efficiency is high on your priority list and you want to save money in the long run, then the hybrid is your best bet. It combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to return 80.7mpg and emit only 79g/km of CO2, meaning it's road tax exempt. All Yaris models also come in a low insurance group, and the comprehensive five-year warranty and fixed-price servicing will further lower costs and increase customer confidence.
Interior & comfort
You get lots of space inside the new Yaris, with the front offering plenty of leg and headroom, even for taller occupants. You can also seat three adults in the back without too many complaints. All the seats are supportive and the whole car genuinely feels very well made throughout, even though some of the trim feels cheap – it can’t really match the Volkswagen Polo in terms of interior quality. We’d recommend avoiding the noisy petrol engines if you do a lot of travelling on the motorway, and we’d give the CVT automatic gearbox a miss, too, as it really can whine at higher revs. If you want a quieter ride, the economical diesels are your best bet, which offers better low-rev performance. Ride comfort is great, with its light controls and soft suspension making the Yaris very easy - if a little uninvolving – to drive.
Practicality & boot space
It may be lighter than the previous generation, but the new Yaris is actually bigger and more practical on the inside. You get a boot that's 25 per cent bigger than before, offering 286 litres of space, with split-fold rear seats fitted as standard across the whole range. Fold the back seats down flat and you get a decent 768 litres of storage. In the front, the driver and passenger gets lots of leg and headroom, while the back offers enough space to compete with bigger cars like the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf. And unlike many of the Yaris’ other supermini rivals, there's loads of space for three adults in the back thanks to totally flat floor, so the middle seat passenger actually has somewhere comfortable to put their feet on longer journeys. The inside is clearly laid out and feels like it will stand up to most stresses of family life – all the models except for the entry-level T2 come with a touchscreen control system as standard, while there a lots of useful cubbies and storage solutions dotted around the inside.
Reliability & safety
While Toyota itself dropped down four places in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey manufacturers list, from number five in 2012 to number nine, it is still a supremely reliable brand and its top 10 place is testament to the company's impressive build quality. The third-generation Yaris made its debut in the 2013 poll, ranking 35th in the top 100 cars just as the previous model slipped down to 85th – but Yaris owners are generally a satisfied bunch. The range of highly reliable engines has been brought over from the previous model, and a new environmentally friendly hybrid model. It's a safe car, too, coming with seven airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control fitted as standard. It also scored a maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP's stringent crash safety tests thanks to electronic stability control and clever brake assist technology. Toyota also now offers all its cars with a comprehensive five-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Engines, drive & performance
Not including the 1.5-litre hybrid, the Yaris offers three engines to choose from - a 1.0-litre three-cylinder and a 1.33-litre petrol (available as an automatic), as well as an economical 1.4-litre D-4D diesel. The entry-level 1.0-litre is perfectly suited to driving around town but does struggle a bit once up to motorway speeds, and if you make regular longer journeys, then you’ll be better off plumping for the diesel. The hybrid car is exceptionally green, as you’d expect, and while the CVT automatic gearbox tends to whine intrusively when revved hard, it does work well with the engine and emits only 79g/km of CO2. Even though the current Yaris is actually bigger than its predecessor, it's 20kg lighter, which gives it a more agile feel on the road. But you’ll never mistake it for a sports car, and if you really value driver enjoyment you’d be better off looking at the Mazda2 or Ford Fiesta. The steering is light, and although that's great in town and when parking in tight spots, it does feel a bit vague and lifeless when driving at higher speeds, where it struggles with sudden changes in direction and with sudden bumps in the road.
Price, value for money & options
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 Yaris. Plus, 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. 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.