Toyota’s Yaris has powered its way to the front of many people’s minds as they come to choose their new hatchback. The first car to go ‘under the knife’ for the design change that has recently swept across Toyota’s range, the Yaris offers very good looks alongside a solid standard spec. There’s traction control, 6 speakers, MP3 connectivity, and follow-me-home headlights to name but a few – and it can all be yours through a Toyota Yaris contract hire with us.
A younger audience is being sought for this car, but even if its appeal extends no further than the young at heart, the brand will see that as a step forward in its efforts to broaden this model’s appeal and convince wavering drivers that when it comes to comfort, quality and a little bit of spirit in this sector, X marks the spot.
With most facelifts, the driving dynamics are left well alone. Not here. With drivers of earlier versions of the third generation model criticising refinement and handling response, Toyota has acted decisively, stiffening the body, fitting revised torsion beam rear suspension, improving steering response, changing the springs and dampers for better body control, adding better soundproofing material and altering the aerodynamics to reduce wind noise.
And under the bonnet? Well it’s here that you’ll find what is arguably the most important change to the improved third generation model. Or at least you will if you’re a driver for the entry-level 1. 0-litre petrol version, for it’s been fundamentally re-designed, primarily for better efficiency but also with a view to further cutting noise and vibration levels. Performance from this three cylinder unit though, remains leisurely. Stir the five-speed manual gearbox vigorously through its ratios and 62mph from rest can come and go in 15. 3s en route to 96mph.
In practice though, I think you might find that even that kind of speed is a bit of a struggle in a 1. 0-litre Yaris. Which is probably why most drivers will continue to choose the 100bhp 1. 33-litre petrol four cylinder petrol variant, a car which improves its feebler stablemate’s showing to 11. 7s on the way to 109mph. That’s as fast as most potential drivers will probably want to go, but those seeking a little more pulling power might want to consider the 1. 4-litre D-4D diesel version, which develops nearly twice as much torque but returns an almost identical set of performance figures.
Particularly targeted at city folk is the most interesting, the most efficient and arguably the most desirable Yaris variant, the Hybrid model. It’s driven by a Hybrid Synergy Drive system serviced by a 73bhp 1. 5-litre petrol/electric powerplant and a bespoke version of the CVT auto gearbox. A selectable ‘EV’ electric-only setting is part of the package, but even with the batteries fully charged, it’ll only take you just over a mile in milk float mode.
Though it’s a long time since the Yaris has been seen as in any way youthful and extrovert, creating that kind of feel has been the objective. This time round, the styling influence comes clearly from the second generation Aygo citycar, with the X-shaped frontal graphic giving this supermini a far sharper and assertive look. Europeans like that. The headlights get projector technology for high and low beams and the clusters incorporate the option of LED daytime running lights.
Perhaps the most important cabin change lies with the upgraded infotainment set-up on offer, the ‘Toyota Touch 2’ system. Here, it gets a larger, higher-resolution 7-inch colour screen, though it’s a display that’s still very difficult to read on a sunny day. It is though, now ‘MirrorLink’-ready, which means you can connect your smartphone via standard Bluetooth connectivity and operate it entirely by using the touchscreen.
So, how to sum up? Well, there are doubtless more engaging chapters in the Yaris story still to be written, but what’s important is that the updates we’ve covered here have put this third generation version back on track. Which means that if you want to know how to right a best seller, all you’ve got to do is to talk to someone with one of these in their driveway.