The subcompact hatchback segment (B-segmet) has mainly been dominated by the Honda Jazz. Not surprising, considering it offers the versatility of an MPV in a package that’s about as small as any of its competitors. It’s the hatchback that defines how Honda manages to squeeze out so much space in such a small footprint. Naturally, competitors would want to knock the Jazz off its feet, and one such vehicle is this, the comprehensively refreshed Toyota Yaris.
This year, Toyota has decided to give the Yaris a refresh, and for a facelift, it’s a very comprehensive one. So far, we aren’t able to pinpoint what was left unchanged in the car’s panels. It’s an unprecedented move, considering that Toyota needs to invest in new dies and molds for what is essentially a car that’s just undergoing a mid-life refresh. As such, almost the entire vehicle’s design has changed, for better or worse. Whether you like it or not, this will also be the new face of the refreshed Toyota Vios, which will be launched this July 20, 2018, or perhaps by the time you’re reading this, the Vios may have already been launched. Personally, I like what Toyota has done to the Yaris’ sheetmetal. With slimmer headlights, curvier bumpers, and a snazzy side profile courtesy of a blacked-out C-pillar, the Yaris to my eye is full of character. Though many of my friends are not too keen on the car’s front fascia, I happen to really like it. I prefer it over its predecessor, which to my eye seemed to have a black (E variants) or silver (G variants) moustache happening on its face. What has received universal acclaim among my friends, however, are its new wheels and rear fascia. Toyota has added a black panel piece below the rear windshield, which perfectly complements the blacked-out C-pillars. Overall, I think Toyota has done a good job updating the car’s looks, as it can already pass as a new generation model.
Like the exterior, the interior is also almost completely new. It gets a symmetrical dashboard design graced with some silver trim pieces and shiny piano black trims. Unlike most shiny black trim pieces though, the ones in the Yaris seem to be more resistant to hairline scratches than others (yes Mazda, I’m looking at you). It’s full of hard plastics though, but the graining does its best to make the tactile feel of the dashboard feel nicer than it suggests. Honestly, I think Toyota could’ve done without the fake stitching. Blue interior panel lighting and stitching uplift the cabin vibe, eschewing its predecessor’s orange stitching and instrument lighting for a more modern and premium look. As a whole though, the Mazda 2 won’t loose any sleep, as it remains to be the class benchmark for interior quality and finish, but Toyota has done well enough to make the Yaris a nicer place to be in.
Space and Practicality
Though it’s not going to oust the Honda Jazz in terms of outright space anytime soon, the Yaris still offers a good amount of space for adults nevertheless. Up front, the two thrones offer a great deal of support even for tall adults like me, plus unlike the lower variants of its competitors, the Yaris still manages to offer a center armrest. At the back, the Yaris nicely offers space for three people, but since this is a somewhat narrow car, the middle passenger will have to compromise for shoulder room.
In terms of storage places, all four doors have a decently sized storage bin, and there are two cupholders up front. However, I must mention the elephant in the room, and that would be the location of the 12V socket. It’s in the weirdest place I’ve ever seen it could ever be, which is located right beside the parking brake.
At the back, trunk space is about average for the class. Unfortunately, there’s a large lip when you fold the rear seats, which makes pushing items into the inside of the car even more difficult, but as a whole, the square shape of the trunk gives it good levels of practicality to store items neatly.
Features, Safety, and Infotainment
This entry-level Toyota Yaris 1.3 E is decently equipped for the price. Standard features include a touch screen infotainment system with Bluetooth, USB, AUX, and CD, keyless entry, as well as power windows with electronically adjustable mirrors.
The infotainment system is the same one found in the Toyota Rush. As a whole it’s an easy to use with a snappy touch response, though I think the graphics could be better. The infotainment though makes changing the radio stations a two-step process, but as a whole, it’s intuitive enough to use that it won’t be too distracting to operate while on the move. While I wouldn’t complain too much about the lack of a volume knob, that fact that it doesn’t have steering wheel controls makes for an inconvenient operation when all you want is to turn down the volume from the four speakers.
While there’s nothing that stands out with the Yaris’ feature kit, its trump card, however, is safety, which we highly commend here at Go Flat Out. As standard on all variants, the Yaris has a host of 7 airbags, electronic stability control, and ISOFIX child seat anchor points on the rear outboard seats. We are Go Flat Out think that electronic stability control should be standard on all cars regardless of price and class.
The Toyota Yaris is powered by a 1.3-liter Dual VVT-i petrol engine that produces 98 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 123 hp @ 4,400 rpm. Power is sent through the front wheels via a CVT with 7-speed manual mode.
How It Drives
More than just giving the same old Yaris some new clothes, the driving dynamics of the Yaris have received a lot of improvements. For instance, a complaint that I typically have in this class of cars are its less-than-stellar amount of sound insulation, and that’s where Toyota have improved upon with this Yaris. Upon starting its engine, barely a ruckus permeates through the cabin, and this newfound levels of refinement is evident in the entire driving experience.
Even when tootling down rougher tarmac, not a lot of tire noise echoes inside the cabin. At low speeds, the 1.3-liter motor provides a decent amount of punch. The engine’s torque curve is mainly developed for use around town and nipping through gaps in traffic. Even with five adults inside, the Toyota Yaris accelerates at a decent pace once the light turns green. The CVT does a good job of keeping the engine in its sweet spot, even keeping the engine at very low revs when cruising down a city street.
The problem with smaller engines is that, they’re more sensitive to straining when the car becomes loaded. As me and my friends climbed up to Tagaytay with the car fully loaded with five of us, the engine worked harder to pull the weight, though it’s nothing too bad. It can still overtake, granted, you’ve prepared some planning before doing so. Despite the engine working harder to climb up to Tagaytay, the cabin remained very quiet, with even my friends commenting that the Toyota Yaris seems to be even more refined than my ’12 Honda Civic, which says a lot about the Yaris’ impressive levels of refinement.
Driver the car alone though, and the Yaris feels pretty nippy going through the twisties. Though the Mazda 2 is still the class benchmark for driving dynamics, the Yaris is competent enough that it handles the bends with poise. There’s more pronounced body roll compared to the Mazda, but it nothing that will unsettle the car. The steering is pretty good for my taste, too. Though lacking in feel, it’s nevertheless quite accurate, and the weighty feeling of the tiller as you speed up is very welcoming, keeping the Yaris stable when travelling at high speeds. It’s about as dynamic as most people will ever need to in a small hatchback.
And speaking of high speeds, even at expressways, the Toyota Yaris remains very composed for such a small car. It’s really among the best in class now in terms of how refined it is to drive. The suspension deals with bumps pretty well both in low and high speeds. Along with its excellent refinement, these two things give a feeling of stability when driving the car down an expressway. It’s a huge improvement over its predecessor, wherein crosswinds and potholes are enough to unsettle the car. Unfortunately though, with cars having this small of an engine, overtaking at expressways becomes a challenge. Past 100 kph, the Yaris starts to struggle. Put your foot down, and the Yaris will first think if you’re serious about your decision, and then the needle will start to climb, albeit at a snail’s pace.
With a small engine and a small body, one would expect the Toyota Yaris to provide best-in-class fuel economy, but sadly, that isn’t the case. Though 12.3 km/l is not thirsty by any means, it is however, trumped by the Honda Jazz’s 13 km/l, and that thing has a bigger, more powerful 1.5-liter petrol engine.
On The Downside
With an MSRP of P928,000, you expect the Yaris to be loaded with kit, but apart from the aforementioned impressive safety gear, the Yaris does not even have steering wheel controls. Lastly, while I wouldn’t normally complain about the lack of steering wheel reach adjustment at this price point, the steering wheel seems to be designed for people with long arms, making it awkward for people with short legs and short arms, as they might have a conflict with the distance between the pedals and the steering wheel.
The Toyota Yaris may seem expensive, and it is, especially since this is just the entry level variant. All things considered though, the P928,000 price tag is worth it in my opinion, because of the Yaris’ greatly improved refinement, and also because Toyota has shed a light on an aspect that Filipinos often overlook in a car, and that is safety. If you notice on our reviews, we almost always commend a car manufacturer whenever they equip their vehicles with electronic stability control as standard, even on their entry level variants. This Yaris takes it a step further by adding standard 7 airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchor points to the mix. Yes, the Yaris does not necessarily raise the bar in terms of driving dynamics, but what it brings to the table is an impressive level of safety that’s usually found only on the high spec models of its rivals. If safety is your key priority, whilst having the benefit of a refined driving experience, the refreshed Yaris is what you might be looking for.
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.1 out of 5