Since its launch in 1999, the Yaris has become the benchmark against which all other superminis are measured. It’s a small car with big ideas, and British buyers loved the third-generation Yaris just as much as that first model 15 years ago. So much so, in fact, that this year, the Yaris joined the UK’s top-10 selling cars for the first time, while sales of the innovative Yaris hybrid have more than doubled.
So you would think that the Yaris is the last car Toyota would want to change. But you don’t keep that kind of loyalty by resting on your laurels. To ensure the Yaris continues to stay ahead of its rivals – and ahead of your expectations – Toyota has given its city car a comprehensive makeover. More than half a million man-hours and more than £85m were invested in the revamp, but it was Yaris drivers who decided how it was spent. Toyota listened closely to customers’ views on the car, and zeroed-in on what owners want more of. All the rational qualities of the Yaris remain: low running costs, faultless engineering and a spacious cabin for such a compact car. But Toyota’s designers and engineers have also delivered an even more striking design, a more premium cabin, greater driving pleasure and more choice.
Fresh new design
The new Yaris is the first Toyota to be conceived, designed and engineered in Europe, and to be sold around the world. That European influence shows most in the car’s exterior design. Elvio d‘Aprile from Toyota’s ED2 design studio in France was put in charge of the new-look Yaris, which draws inspiration from the all new AYGO for its more assertive new face. “The new Yaris dares to be different from the competition,” says Elvio, and considering the striking, graphic ‘X’ at the front and the completely redesigned projector headlamps, it’s not hard to believe. New LED daytime-running lights, standard on the Sport and Excel grades, and an option on the Icon, also create a distinctive new visual signature for the Yaris. A new ‘floating spoiler’ gives it a wider, lower, sportier look, despite the model being as compact as ever. At the back, there are LEDs in the new rear lamps of the Sport and Excel grades (also optional on the Icon), creating another eye-catching graphic. Just like the spoiler at the front, a newly designed rear bumper gives a more dynamic look, and 15-and 16-inch wheels complete the car’s new image.
Toyota designer Pierre Romeo was given the task of enhancing the already spacious and practical Yaris cabin. He and his team had three key aims: to increase the sense of roominess and dynamism; to improve the quality of everything owners touch in the car; and to simplify the cabin while adding more choice. One look inside tells you they’ve succeeded. The dashboard has a slimmer appearance and the centre console has been raised, reducing the length of the gear lever and creating more space. The interior fabric colours and patterns are now linked to the grade of Yaris you opt for, while the bright highlights in the cabin have been given a premium satin finish. Around the cabin, the finishes are softer, smoother, thicker and better-padded. And the part of the car you touch the most – the steering wheel – is now trimmed in high-grade leather as standard on the Icon, Sport and Excel grades. The new Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system, with its bigger 7-inch screen and rear parking camera (to name a few of its features) is now also standard across the Yaris range (except Active grade), with DAB radio standard on the Sport and Excel. All these design and technological touches add to the car’s premium feel.
This isn’t just a facelift. Under the skin of the new Yaris more than a thousand new parts deliver the changes drivers asked for. Toyota’s engineers have even modified the car’s basic structure, stiffening it and bringing a whole host
of benefits. Because the redesigned suspension gets more rigid, consistent foundations, it can use softer springs, allowing it to be tuned more precisely. That means you’ll enjoy an even smoother ride and better handling, coupled with more precise, responsive steering.
Toyota’s engineers have worked through the whole structure of the car, finding areas where they can make it harder for noise and vibration to get into the cabin. And they’ve approached this task with typical Toyota thoroughness. Of course, they looked at the exhaust system, the door and window seals, and the suspension. But in a bid to cut wind noise, they’ve even designed quieter window wipers. The result is a small car with a distinctly big-car level of refinement – one that makes city driving less stressful with both its compact exterior and its oasis-like interior.
The new Yaris comes with the same engine choice as before – two petrol, a diesel and a hybrid – but they’ve been improved, too. The three cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine and the 1.4-litre diesel now emit less than 100g/km of CO2 – an impressive result for conventional engines. And the hugely popular hybrid, which is unique in its class and chosen by almost a quarter of all Yaris customers, has seen its astonishing green credentials improved still further. Drivers who choose the new Yaris Icon petrol version can now expect to travel up to 85.6 miles on one gallon of petrol. It might have big-car refinement, but the new Yaris certainly doesn’t have a big-car appetite.
Yaris owners told Toyota that they loved their cars, but wanted even more choice, so they could really make their cars their own. So now there’s much more differentiation between each grade of Yaris, with the seat fabric, instrument panel, headlights, grille and wheel design all changing with each trim level. In addition to the impressive standard kit list, there are some seriously premium options available, including Skyview Panoramic Roof, full-map navigation with connected services, keyless entry and push-button start.