by Brian Byrne
THE Yaris is a seriously important car for Toyota in Ireland, helping significantly in keeping the brand at the top of the sales league here. At the moment it’s the third most important model for the company, and in Irish market terms is the best selling supermini, currently in fifth place overall by models.
I hadn’t driven one for a while, and when I took out the latest version in hybrid form recently I was agreeably reminded of why it is so successful.
In its fourth generation, the stylists must have been on something good, because they have transformed the Yaris from a vehicle that was nice and steady in design to a car with definite ambition to appeal to a much wider and younger buyer cohort.
Both front and rear, the style changes are quite major. A nameplate that at times could be termed bland is now anything but. It has strength, stance, and sportiness. In spades.
Inside has also gotten an upgrade, but not at the expense of good ergonomics. Toyota knows that many people don’t like the fuzziness of doing without real buttons and knobs, so these are still in place even around the central touchscreen. Simple, big-graphics main instruments are also a pleasure to look at.
Also, while the A-pillar is quite raked, the Yaris doorway is actually high enough that I can get in and out without rubbing my head on the frame. This is a ‘Yay!’ moment ... (how easily I can be pleased).
Though a supermini, that roominess extends through the car, and four adults certainly won’t feel cramped on a trip. The boot capacity checks out well too.
These days I don’t mention a lot of the safety stuff, because it’s just there and everywhere. But the Yaris comes with another airbag that pops up between the two front seats in a side impact, which will stop two front occupants being banged into each other. Another first in the segment is steering assist in an emergency turn.
Like most of the company’s models, Yaris has a hybrid option, in this instance with a new 1.5 petrol engine and electric motor. Power output is 116hp, and while the Li battery is 12kg lighter than before, it has 19pc more capacity. Another sign of how quickly battery tech is moving.
Of course, hybrid also means automatic, so there’s that extra ease of driving here. I found the hybrid powertrain to be a pretty perky mover if I wanted to push things. Otherwise it just did its stuff quietly and efficiently. The same to be said for everything else about the latest Yaris.
Other engine options are a 72hp petrol and a 125hp version of the 1.5 petrol.
My review car was in Luna Sport grade, the middle of six levels in the Yaris offering. With 16-inch alloys and that digital instrumentation I mentioned, it had more pizzaz than lower versions. But still remaining cost reasonable, remembering that the auto trans is worth a couple of grand in itself.
What I like: Plenty to like here. Reckon it’s going to be hard to knock it off its placing.
Price: From €18,750; hybrid from €23,055; review car €24,410.