Here's the new Toyota Yaris 1.8 SR. These letters do not appear to stand for Street Racer, or even Seriously Rapid. No, sadly here it’s more a case of Slightly Roary. No raciness for Toyota.
The SR amounts to not much more than another trim level for the Yaris range and Toyota never had any intention of turning it into a Clio 197 rival. Think of it more in terms of a warm hatch at best and you’ll be closer to the mark. You get an all-new 1.8-litre petrol engine, with 131bhp and 128lb ft. These are both useful figures and the new unit helps propel this little car along at a reasonable lick. The SR only weighs just over a tonne and the engine’s a responsive one.
However, the gearing’s quite short, so cruising at motorway speeds can get tiring after a while, with the engine buzzing away like a hive of bees at a kazoo convention. The lack of wind noise is very impressive, but the Yaris SR sits in that awkward bit of the ether between sporty and comfortable, never totally managing to do either really well.
The ride reflects this. The SR has been lowered by 8mm and retuned springs have been fitted, but this makes it a bit bouncy on the motorway. Through the corners it comes alive a bit more and the thin, leather-covered steering wheel does a reasonable job of transmitting messages from the road, but safety-first understeer kicks in when you start to push on.
All of which is a shame, because the Yaris SR isn’t a bad looking car. There are a few exterior tweaks, most notably the 17-inch alloy wheels which beef it up considerably. Combined with the subtle bodykit, the Yaris wears these alloys well. The interior’s not what you’d call sporty, but the cloth trim in the doors, and the analogue dials – as opposed to the standard car’s digital speedo – do distinguish it from lesser models.
Or they would do, if you’re able to ignore the 1.4 diesel and 1.3 petrol Yaris SRs that also go on sale in April. That means the SR will effectively become the top level of trim, but the lesser engines won’t get the chassis tweaks. Still, that rather takes the shine off this supposed Yaris halo model and doesn’t help its cause amongst rival superminis. Still, the torquey 1.4 D-4D will be the SR to go for, as it should be a better long-distance cruiser and a more harmonious package.