Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Devon test drives a Toyota Yaris

2015 Toyota Yaris (NCP130R) Ascent 5-door hatchback (2015-07-14) 01.jpg

The Toyota Yaris pins itself against cars like the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and Nissan Versa Note; it’s not hard deciding between them. It’s all a mere matter of taste. With the Toyota however you get the legendary build quality as well as decent fuel economy. But is it really worth considering when all its rivals seem to have passed it by?

Performance: The sole engine available for the Yaris is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder which produces 106hp. You can choose between a five-speed manual gearbox and a four-speed automatic. Sadly the manual gearbox which we prefer the most is only available on the 3-door L and 5-door SE trim. Most will have to deal with an antiquated four-speed automatic which seems to sap what little power the engine produces. Fuel economy is pretty good with both though.

On the road: The Yaris is very comfortable and smooth around town. Steering is light and makes life easy for maneuvering through tight spaces. On faster paced roads however the Yaris just doesn’t feel as composed as the Fiesta. Steering doesn’t really weigh up so it can often feel twitchy. Ride comfort is jittery on anything but the smoothest of surfaces. The top of the range SE with sports suspension doesn’t improve things at all in terms of ride comfort. Handling however is vastly improved. You won’t really hear much of a racket from the tiny four-cylinder. The manual gearbox is much better than the automatic which makes the car even more sluggish than it already feels. Road noise won’t be an issue. Wind noise will be a welcomed companion on the highway.

Behind the wheel: Most drivers will get comfortable behind the wheel of the Yaris. There’s plenty of adjustment for the driver’s seat and steering wheel. Taller drivers will have a harder time getting comfortable due to the limited adjustment of the steering wheel. The dashboard has a sensible logical design. It’s not particularly attractive. The touch screen infotainment system eliminates buttons on the dash but is overly complicated to use and can become hard to read in bright sunlight. There’s plenty of space for passengers in the front and rear seat. Rear headroom is a little on the tight side. Legroom is impressively roomy and the boot space is about average with its competitors.

Equipment: 3-door/5-doorL trim gets HD radio, power door locks and nine airbags and air-con. LE trim gets cruise control, remote keyless entry and split folding rear seat. You’ll have to step up to the top of the range SE to get unique body-kit, sports tuned suspension with 16 inch alloy wheels.

Buying & owning: The Yaris costs similar to its keen rivals. Running cost should be slightly better thanks to decent fuel economy. Resale value should be about average for class too.

Quality: Toyota’s reliability record is still strong standing so you’ll have few worries. Most of the interior is dressed in unattractive hard plastics which pushes itself even further behind its rivals. The Yaris comes well equipped for safety. Stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes as well as electronic brake force distribution come standard. Nine airbags with advanced front driver and front passenger side airbags and knee airbags are also standard.

The Toyota Yaris is one of those vehicles you either love or hate. It’s not as classy as the Fiesta and isn’t as fun to drive either. But if a dependable no nonsense vehicle is what you are after the Yaris fits the bill perfectly. However, its rivals can do the same thing but with more fun and for similar cash too.

Devon’s Pick: The SE trim seems to be the only trim that really does make sense in our eyes. For a few extra more than the LE trim you get a sporty body-kit, 16 inch alloy wheels and a sports tuned suspension which drastically improves handling. If the sporty trim doesn’t really appeal to you the LE is the next best thing. You get keyless entry and cruise control.

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