Since the first-generation Toyota Yaris went on sale in Australia nearly 20 years ago (originally badged as the Echo), the model has consistently been a best-seller in the light car segment.
Now several generations on, the car in its 2017 version has been comprehensively updated.
Quality, design and space have all been improved, the Yaris has a new face, and new features that reinforce the most important aspect in this segment – value for money.
On the Inside
There have been a number of changes with the instrument cluster – repositioned right in front of the driver – employs large, clearly-marked analogue dials.
The heating and ventilation controls have been relocated higher up the dashboard to improve visibility and bring them closer to the driver’s reach, and the dash and door plastics now feature an attractive, heavily-grained texture.
The front seat frames are redesigned to give more upper body support, and a 50mm stretch in wheelbase increases rear occupant knee room by 35mm.
These changes see the Toyota Yaris’ roof height has been dropped some 20mm, but it has compromised neither front nor rear headroom.
A 100mm increase in overall length also gives the new Yaris a 20mm longer boot area, expanding cargo capacity to 286 litres.
On the Road
My only complaint is that the drive train still needs some improving.
There is a choice of two engines, a 1.3 litre on the basic Ascent or a 1.5 litre on all the other variants.
It’s noisy when worked hard though, which was somewhat surprising given the extra sound deadening that’s been applied to the updated Yaris.
The electric power steering system was calibrated specifically for the Australian market by Toyota, and feels direct and the Yaris exhibits very keen turn-in response.
Its Macpherson strut and torsion beam suspension layout mirrors that of most other light hatchbacks currently on the market.
Forward visibility isn’t quite so good at shallow intersections however, due to the raked A-pillars.
Yes, Toyota hasn’t exactly been adventurous with the new Yaris’ mechanical package, but the improvements in interior layout, quality and size make it a much better car.
Electric windows, mirrors, central remote locking, well designed seats, reasonable leg and head room, sound and climate control systems add to the overall ambiance of the car.
Coupled with the impressive specification lists, the updated Toyota Yaris is a tough act to beat – especially considering the minimal price movements across the range.
Facts and Figures: 2017 Toyota Yaris
- Engine: 1.3 litre petrol producing 63kW/121Nm and 1.5 litre petrol producing 80kW/141Nm
- Transmission: Four-speed automatic or five-speed manual
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: 3yrs/100,000km
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $15,290