Toyota Yaris SX is a reasonably priced, smartly packaged and generally competent all-rounder. And with the addition of a couple of safety options, makes for an ideal first car.
What is it?
Toyota’s smallest car, the Yaris, has come in for a makeover, the all models in the range benefiting from revised styling inside and out, and the option of lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking and automatic high beam headlights on the entry level Ascent and middle of the range SX. The safety gear is standard on the flagship ZR.
What’s it cost?
The revisions haven’t made a difference to the Yaris’ bottom line. The range still starts at $15,290 for the Yaris Ascent 1.3 manual and tops out at $22,470 for the Yaris ZR. An SX model sits in between the two equipment grades. Buyers have a choice between a five-speed manual and a four-speed auto (the auto commands a $1600 premium) in the Ascent and SX models, and the ZR is auto only.
Our test car was a Yaris SX auto with the safety pack ($650) and metallic paint ($450), and is priced from $19,960 plus on road costs.
Standard equipment includes a reversing camera, seven airbags, a 6.1” inch colour touchscreen display, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands free, steering wheel mounted controls and air conditioning.
The Yaris Ascent and SX are virtually identical, except the SX has a fake leather wrapped steering wheel and a couple of chrome bars on the grille. The key differences lie under the bonnet, but more on that later.
If you opt for the flagship Yaris ZR, you get all of the above as well as nav, the safety pack as standard, LED headlights, climate control and alloy wheels.
What’s it go like?
The Yaris SX and ZR are powered by a 1.5 litre four-cylinder engine that produces 80kW @ 6000rpm and 141Nm @ 4400rpm. Ascent models are powered by a 1.3 litre engine. In our test car that 1.5 litre engine was mated to a four-speed automatic. The engine itself is fine. It has more than enough urge, and at cruising speeds its even relatively quiet, and the little Yaris SX even managed to lug around four adults with aplomb.
However, while the engine is an eager little beaver, the four-speed automatic leaves a lot to be desired. It simply feels like it doesn’t have enough cogs, and the engine revs really hard under acceleration, with plenty of noise spilling into the cabin. A slick five or six-speed automatic would be a far better fit. The Mazda2 is available with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic and this is something that will be taken into consideration by shoppers.
Toyota cites a combined fuel consumption figure of 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres. We averaged 7.4 litres over a mixture of city and freeway driving. Again, fuel economy would benefit from a better automatic gearbox.
As a city car, the Yaris shines. The steering is well weighted, quick and makes maneuvering through traffic and carparks a doddle.
The ride is generally acceptable, but can disintegrate over coarse surfaces.
What we like:
- The safety kit. Equipment such as lane departure warning and autonomous braking are features that are going to resonate with parents who are shopping for first time drivers in the family. Autonomous braking in particular could be a life-saving feature and Toyota was smart in fitting the reversing camera. Something that is absent on the base Mazda2 Neo.
- Interior space. You’ll be able fit four adults easily (we did). They’ll be sitting in comfort too, with soft but supportive seats, good head and legroom all round and reasonable shoulder room. You might even be able to seat three across the rear bench. At a pinch. And probably only for very short distances.
- A real sense of quality. All interior surfaces emit a feeling of solidity. The cloth on the seats is soft but feels durable and there a few if any scratchy plastics throughout the cabin. It feels solid on motorways at high speeds. No small car flimsiness of old here.
- Quick steering. Handy when parking.
What we don’t:
- That transmission is outdated and outclassed
- Not enough to visually differentiate the SX from the Ascent
- Ride can become choppy
- Lane departure warning is useful, but can become overzealous, and doesn’t seem to understand lane boundaries all the time.
Sale or no sale?
Yes. The Toyota Yaris SX is very much a head over heart decision. It’s roomy, well made, comfortable and most importantly, very safe. Its driveline lacks polish, but to a lot of people, that probably won’t matter.