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Updated Yaris moves much more upmarket

06:01 09 October 2014

mid-life update is big news

mid-life update is big news

PA

It’s only a small car, but a £70m mid-life update is big news. The Yaris has gone all European, says Matt Kimberley of the Press Association.

What’s new?

While this is ‘just’ a mid-life update, the pace of development in the supermini class is fast and Toyota had to bring major updates or the Yaris would have been left behind. The dashboard and interior are as all new as you’ll ever find on an updated model, and feels a whole lot more European than ever.

The seat fabrics, alloy wheel designs and even the media interface unit are new. The Toyota Touch 2 – thankfully no longer called Touch & Go – is a faster-responding unit with sat-nav compatibility, and it can cleverly interact with smart phones to increase functionality both ways.

Toyota Yaris 1.0 VVT-i five - door

Price: £13,345 (range from £10,995)

Engine: 1.0-litre, 68bhp, three-cylinder petrol

Transmission: Five-speed manual driving the front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 15 seconds; top speed 99mph

MPG: 68mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 99g/km

Looks and image

The exterior styling has been sharpened up, taking design cues from the smaller Aygo. It’s not as extreme at the front as the Aygo city car, but it’s better for it. It finds a good balance between sharp and classy. The small wheels on most models tend to shrink inside the wheel arches but at least the car’s profile is still sleek and stylish.

Toyota’s image is well back on course to rebuild the pride and reputation that it had built up before its infamous run of recalls a few years ago. Its reliability is still proving pretty unbeatable.

Space and practicality

The boot isn’t the biggest in the class but it is quite broad so you can get decent-sized baggage in there. There are five cupholders of different sizes, for maximum versatility, including one especially wide one between the front seats. Passengers won’t complain not even rear ones. The steering wheel has poor reach adjustment so most drivers will pull their seat further forward than normal, leaving lots of space behind.

Behind the wheel

Aside from the badly-judged driving position, the Yaris scores lots of points for its driving demeanour. A stiffer body, softer suspension and stronger anti-roll bars mean bumps are more confidently absorbed, while body roll is better controlled. It’s a more mature drive than before.

Of all the engines on offer, the 1.4-litre diesel option feels the strongest, but it’s not well suited to short journeys because it takes longer to warm up and its diesel particulate filter can clog as a result. The 1.0-litre petrol is a charming, affordable option for town driving, while the 1.5-litre petrol/electric hybrid is a pricey but wonderfully-refined range-topper that does a good job of minimising urban fuel usage. The 1.33-litre petrol is a good all-round compromise.

All-in-all, though, thanks to the huge refit, the interior is a vastly improved place. It feels much more European and much more upmarket.

Value for money

The likely big-selling trim grade is Icon which has everything you really want and need, including the Touch 2 media interface, and comes at a very attractive price – especially with the smallest petrol engine. At the top of the range, dangerously close to £18,000, the asking prices are just too steep for a car of this size.

Who would buy one?

At the bottom end of the range it’ll be younger drivers whose parents have bought the car, or perhaps parents of young children who want something safe, reliable and affordable to run the kids around in. The more expensive trim grades and hybrids will be bought by people down-sizing from bigger cars, where luxury kit is taken for granted.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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