Toyota Yaris hatchback
Price £11,495 - £18,195
- Economical engines
- Spacious interior
- Good reliability
- Bland looks
- Cheap-feeling cabin
- Not much fun to drive
At a glance
“The Toyota Yaris is a sensible, practical and reliable hatchback that’s cheap to run, while the Hybrid model offers even greater efficiency.”
When it was introduced in 1999, the Toyota Yaris quickly established itself as a dependable, practical and easy-to-drive hatchback with good build quality. The latest Yaris continues those themes, offering a spacious interior, long warranty and a good reputation for reliability. Rivals like the Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia mean the Yaris sits in a crowded market, but it has a lot to recommend it all the same.
While the Ford Fiesta is more fun to drive, the Skoda Fabia more practical and the VW Polo more desirable, the Yaris’ combination of good interior space, excellent economy and strong safety credentials mean it's well worth considering. To call the Yaris a good all-rounder may seem like damning it with faint praise, but the breadth of abilities it offers is actually quite impressive, as is Toyota's five-year warranty. It's just a shame the Yaris is a little dull to drive.
This will certainly be a cheap car to run. The Hybrid model (which we've reviewed separately) attracts a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax rate of just 11%, while none of the engines costs more than £30 a year in road tax. Fuel economy is impressive for all models, ranging from 57.6mpg for the 1.33-litre petrol to 84.6mpg for the Yaris Hybrid.
If you do more miles than most, the 1.4-litre diesel engine is a better bet than the Hybrid. Its fuel economy of 80.7mpg means you could (theoretically) cover more than 700 miles between fill-ups, but choosing the diesel means you can avoid the noisy CVT automatic gearbox Toyota fits to the Hybrid.
Despite this impressive economy, the Yaris makes more sense with a petrol engine, partly because the diesel and Hybrid models are quite expensive to buy. The entry-level 68bhp 1.0-litre engine is underpowered and best avoided, but the 98bhp 1.33-litre ensures the Yaris is nippy around town and easy enough to live with on the motorway – although the diesel remains a better bet if you do a lot of long-distance driving. You do notice the lack of a small turbocharged petrol engine: a Fiesta with Ford's 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine will be both cheaper to run and faster.
Inside, the Yaris’ spacious and light interior impresses, with plenty of space in the front and back. It's a little dull, though, and the Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia offer a more pleasing design and better-quality dashboard plastics. On a more positive note, the Yaris’ 286-litre boot (which rises to 768 litres with the rear seats dropped) is among the best in class. The five-door model obviously adds some extra practicality to the three-door version, and the £600 or so Toyota charges for the extra doors seems reasonable.
Toyota offers the Yaris in four trim levels, starting with Active and rising through Icon, Design and Excel (which is only available with the Hybrid). The entry-level Active model features electric front windows, 60:40 split-folding rear seats, a USB socket and a multifunction steering wheel. We recommend the Icon, though, as this adds Bluetooth phone connectivity, DAB radio, some nicer interior materials, air-conditioning and Toyota's Touch 2 infotainment system.
Whichever trim level or engine you choose, the Toyota Yaris should be a reliable and safe car. In our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, the Yaris came 26th (out of 200 cars) for reliability, while seven airbags, stability control and traction control helped it secure the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash safety tests.
Low running costs feature throughout the Toyota Yaris range, but the hybrid model is also exempt from the London Congestion Charge
It’s easy to drive, but the Toyota Yaris can’t entertain like a Ford Fiesta can
All Toyota Yaris models could do with being a little quieter, but the Hybrid is the noisiest of them all
The Toyota Yaris comes with a choice of three or five doors and has passenger space to rival cars from the class above
The Yaris has an enviable reputation for reliability and safety in the supermini class