Toyota Yaris review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

The Toyota Yaris gets more sophisticated in this updated fourth generation form - and features a superior self-charging hybrid engine. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

This improved version of Toyota's fourth generation Yaris supermini gets a digitalised interior and stronger safety standards. As before though, it's biggest draw is its frugal segment-leading 1.5-litre self-charging Hybrid engine, which is now also available in an uprated 129bhp form. What was already a class act has just become genuinely hard to overlook.

Background

If you were asked to name the cars vying for the title of best supermini, it would be a reasonable wager that the Toyota Yaris wouldn't be amongst your top three. If, on the other hand, you had to name a small car that would be trouble-free, cheap to run and easy to use, it would be right up there. The thing is, those criteria are exactly what many supermini buyers are looking for. They don't care if the car can't take the Esses at Donington flat without lapsing into understeer. It's an irrelevance for most but car magazines still put a huge priority on handling and award their 'best of' titles predominantly on which cars are most fun to drive at the limit.

The Yaris has always been a supermini that works well in the real world and this fourth generation 'XP210'-series design, first introduced back in 2020, is no exception. It gained a bit more flair - and now also gains a smarter, more digitalised cabin as part of this mid-term update, along with a perkier 129bhp version of the existing 1.5-litre self-charging Hybrid engine.

Driving Experience

As before, the only engine on offer in the mainstream range is a 1.5-litre self-charging full-Hybrid petrol unit, but you can at least now get it with a choice of output. The original version of this MK4 model featured this powerplant in 114hp form - and that continues with lower-order variants. Pricier Yaris models though, get this enginer in a perkier 129bhp state of tune, with torque increased by 30% from 141Nm to 185Nm. That improves the 0-62mph sprint time from the base version's 9.7s to 9.2s. All Yaris models continue with the same e-CVT auto gearbox. And the Hybrid engine continues with its pleasing preference for reverting to battery power in urban driving whenever possible. As a result, the company expects that over 80% of urban journeys in this car will be able to be completed under electric power alone.

As before, there are three provided driving modes. You won't be bothering much with the electric-only 'EV' option because, due to the tiny 0.76kWh size of the powertrain's lithium-ion battery, it's only good for around 4 miles. Most of the time, you'll be content to leave the car in 'Eco', despite the fact that throttle response and climate control performance will be a touch restricted. For out of town use, there's the option of selecting 'Power' if you want to buffet your fuel figures but motivate a little more petrol engine involvement to get where you're going a little faster.

But going faster isn't really what driving a Yaris is all about. Unless the version in question happens to be the uber-powerful flagship hot hatch GR Yaris variant. This shopping rocket derivative gets its own 257bhp 1.6-litre three cylinder turbo engine and 6-speed 'iMT' manual gearbox mated to the compact 'AWD-i' 4x4 system that also features as an option on the SUV version of this Toyota supermini, the Yaris Cross.

Design and Build

Few changes were needed to the muscular 'condensed agile' visual look of the original version of this MK4 Yaris - and apart from a few revised alloy wheel designs and an extra paint colour option, Toyota hasn't made any. As before, overall height and length are compact - the car measures in at 3,940mm: most supermini rivals are over 4 metres long. But the wheelbase and front and rear tracks are generous, giving a planted look. Pronounced blisters feature over the wheel arches, plus there's complex surfacing over the rear doors. As usual, of more importance is the stuff you can't see - namely the stiff, sophisticated 'GA-B' platform this car sits upon.

You'll notice more differences inside, where the cabin's been redesigned for more of a 'digital experience'. This takes in both a customisable driver's instrument display and a faster and more powerful multimedia system with added functionality. The combimeter instrument display will be either 7.0 or 12.3-inches depending on trim and is customisable with up to four selerctable layout options: 'Smart', 'Casual', 'Sporty' and 'Tough'.

As for the cabin's central infotainment monitor (which now comes with wireless 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto'), well that now comes either in a base 9.0-inch guise, or, if you stretch to the pricier 'Toyota Smart Connect' multimedia system, is 10.5-inches in size. That ritzier set-up provides cloud-based navigation, with an 'always connected' system ensuring journey planning benefits from up-to-the-moment information on routes, traffic and delays. This display also now incorporates an intuitive "Hey Toyota" voice recognition system. For example, simply state “Hey Toyota, I'm cold” and the system will automatically raise the climate control temperature.

Otherwise, things are much as before. The driver's seat positions you a little lower than you might expect and there are plenty of soft-touch materials around the interior. The rear part of the cabin isn't especially spacious - it's really only ideal for kids. The boot area isn't that big either, rated at 286-litres, though if that's an issue, your dealer will point you to the slightly larger Yaris Cross SUV model.

Market and Model

Expect pricing to be much as before, which means you'll be looking at prices starting from around £22,000. There's a choice of 'Icon', 'Design', 'GR Sport' and 'Excel' trim levels. Plus a 'Premiere Edition' version to showcase this updated design's extra features. These include Toyota's new 'smart digital key', which will allow you (and up to five other users) to unlock and start the car via a smartphone app.

Most models will get features like dual-zone air conditioning, rear privacy glass, push-button start, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control and auto-folding mirrors. Plus leather steering wheel trim, air conditioning and a smartphone-mirroring-compatible multimedia system.

As before, safety remains a design priority: Toyota says that this fourth generation Yaris was designed to be the world's safest compact car. That's been enhanced with new radar and camera scanning systems that can scan further and wider than before. The brand has also recalibrated its 'Lane keep assist' system for a more 'neutral' feeling; and has added an extra 'Overtake Prevention Support' feature to stop unintentional undertaking manouevres. As before, standard advanced driver assistance systems include full speed-range intelligent adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist. In addition to these systems, the new Yaris has been developed to provide the best possible occupant protection, in line with the stricter testing standards now applied. For example, to provide protection in the event of a side impact, the Yaris was the first car in its segment to be fitted with a centre airbag.

Cost of Ownership

The Yaris' residual values have always held up better than a Fiesta and a lot better than a Corsa and have stacked up even more competitively with this fourth generation model with its redesigned Hybrid engine. For the 114bhp base version, Toyota quotes a CO2 figure as low as 99g/km. And a WLTP combined cycle fuel reading of up to 68.9mpg. For the 129bhp model, those readings take a slight hit, the CO2 figure falling to 116g/km.

The Yaris is covered by a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty and buyers also get five years of pan-European roadside breakdown assistance, a three year paint warranty and twelve years of anti-perforation cover. And extended warranty can be bought at extra price as part of a package that includes free MOTs and extended roadside assistance cover. There's a dedicated 'MyT' app that allows you to book a service online using your 'phone. And Toyota has a 'Fixed Price Servicing' plan, so you'll know in advance exactly how much any work will cost before you check into a dealer.

Summary

The Toyota Yaris always used to be one of those cars that grew on you - it didn't have the force of personality to impress you with sheer showroom wow factor. But tis MK4 model upped its game quite markedly in that regard - and is more appealing still in this updated form. Don't for one moment think that Toyota has given into superficiality, favouring style over substance. This is fundamentally better product, with a smarter interior and a perkier Hybrid engine option. Electrified technology makes a lot of sense for a supermini buyer and this car still leads its field in that regard.

None of this will impress the enthusiast magazines or interest those who pore over 0-62mph times or wax lyrical about handling adjustability. But what the Yaris lacks at the ragged edge on a Welsh mountain road, it more than makes up for in everyday use. Put down the car magazines, ask yourself what you really need a supermini for and then see if this Yaris doesn't tick every single box.

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