What is it?
The latest Yaris is bigger, sharper and less blobby than before, but it remains a straight and sensible supermini rather than something radically leftfield. It is, furthermore, small. A given, you’d think, with it being a supermini and all that. Not necessarily though, as most of its rivals have swelled in recent years. But the Yaris has remained compact, and this means it is particularly easy to pedal in town.
The Yaris’s tiny footprint and lack of unnecessary weight make it quite fun to boot about, even though this is resolutely not that sort of car. Far more important to Japan’s no-nonsense brand is a decent level of refinement, which arrives courtesy of some very frugal, small petrol engines and a competent 1.4-litre D-4D diesel. A clever hybrid version has also joined the range, offering short-range EV running (in near-silence, of course) and a Prius-lite driving experience.
The ride is quite firm on all models, an unavoidable off shoot of that short wheelbase, but it’s not bad enough to stop you taking long journeys and coming out the other end surprisingly fresh. This is one of those classic examples of a car doing exactly what it says on the tin. Although it’d be in Japanese, so we’d have no idea what it meant.
On the inside
It used to be a bit of a Monet, the Yaris interior. Great from a distance, but disappointing up close. This current one has addressed this with a much cleaner layout, although it’s worth knowing that the plastics are still pretty scratchy. It’s also brought about a step up in kit, with a high end sat nav/Bluetooth system available on most models. It’s much better than the dreadful TV ad suggests.
The Yaris’s cabin is spacious and immensely solid, but it’s always been strangely cheap to the touch. That hasn’t changed enough during the facelift, but you just know that nothing will ever drop off, go wrong or otherwise let you down. For supermini piece of mind, the Yaris takes some beating.
This is perhaps the point at which you plump for a Yaris, regardless of any previous criticism. You regularly hear about people taking their Toyotas round the clock a couple of times with nothing more than regular servicing, and there’s no evidence to suggest that you couldn’t do that with a new Yaris. Running costs are going to be low, whichever of the unsporty engine and trim you decide on, with the hybrid claiming 80.7mpg and 79g/km CO2 – it’s the cleanest conventional-fuel new car on sale, and the cheapest hybrid. Residuals are strong on small Toyotas thanks to their well-deserved reputation for endless reliability.