Toyota Yaris new car review – already outstanding in its class, so is £76m revamp worth it?

Toyota Yaris new car review

Toyota Yaris new car review

Toyota Yaris Icon Tech new car review

Toyota has splashed out £76 million re-vamping its Toyota Yaris, a car that was already outstanding in its class.
 
There is no longer a three-door model nor a diesel engine in the line up, which now offers 1.0 litre, 1.3 and new 1.5 litre petrol engines. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard, auto tramission an option, and you can also get a fuel-saving hybrid model.
 
Yaris competes in the tough supermini sector dominated by Fiesta, Corsa and Polo and so needs to be impressive – and it is. The £76 million has been partly spent on giving the car a sharper and more substantive new exterior appearance and the refreshed cabin also has a more contemporary look.
 
Upgraded technology and safety features also add value.
Prices start at £12,495 for an adequately equipped 69 hp 1.0 litre version, but most buyers will be heading up-range, and some will be opting for the new 110 hp 1.5 litre petrol engine which offers improved performance and almost 60 mpg.
This was the engine in my Icon Tech version, laden with kit and costing £15, 845. The 0-60 mph time is a modest 11 seconds, top speed 109 mph and the fuel figure very respectable at 58.9 mpg combined.
 
It’s a smooth quiet engine mated to a positive-shift 6-speed manual gearbox, and with light precise steering too, the new Yaris delivers a pleasing driving experience with compliant ride and composed cornering.
 
The car offers a slightly higher driving position than some in the sector, and there is plenty of adjustment for seat and steering wheel so most people should easily find their ideal settings. There is no wow-factor for the dashboard but it is well-designed for ease of use, with good placement of dials and switches.
 
The Yaris has a surprisingly amount of cabin space – more than appears from the outside – and can accommodate five adults with decent leg and head room, though four will be more comfortable. At 286 litres, the boot is quite large and folding the rear seats boosts space to 768 litres.
 
Standard equipment on the Icon Tech model includes auto wipers, auto lights (including auto-high-beam), alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, multi-media 7-inch touchscreen, sat nav, on-line connectivity, front parking sensors, rear view camera and safety kit including pre-collision response and
lane departure alert.
 
Main rivals in the sector all have strong individual plus-points but my overall impression of this latest Yaris is that it is a great all-round package under-pinned by Toyota’s fine reputation for reliability, robust re-sale values and a five-year warranty – many rivals offer only three years.
 
FOR: Toyota dependability, smooth driving dynamics.
 
AGAINST: Rear seats don’t fold flat.

Toyota C-HR Excel new car review

Toyota C-HR Excel new car review

Toyota C-HR Excel new car review

Toyota C-HR Excel new car review

Compact SUV models have experienced a massive sale boom in recent years and one of the latest contenders to attack this crowded sector is Toyota with its funkily-styled and head-turning C-HR.

The initials stand for Coupe High Rider and the model is clearly aimed at image-conscious buyers – which is just about everyone in the SUV and Crossover class! Cool and very distinctive styling gives this Toyota an edge, and with a more upmarket interior than many rivals and a choice of turbo-petrol or frugal hybrid engines, the C-HR has compelling appeal.

Priced from £20,995, it is well-equipped even in entry level guise, but there should be plenty of demand for the upper-spec versions which are laden with extra kit and a raft of technology and connectivity features for which many buyers are prepared to pay a premium.

Indeed, my test model was in mid-range Excel trim, and with the 1.2 litre petrol engine costs £23,995. With options including leather upholstery, upgraded premium audio system and metallic paint, the total price was £26,190.

The C-HR is similar in size to the Nissan Qashqai, the sector leader, which is a hard act to beat, but this Toyota does pack a few aces, notably a wow-factor wraparound dashboard, stand-out exterior styling with rocket-ship-type protruding rear light clusters, and impressive driving dynamics.

It has coupe design cues with a mix of curves and sharp angles, steeply sloping roofline and ‘hidden’ rear door handles. Beneath its smart exterior suit is the chassis used on the latest Toyota Prius, which on the C-HR delivers superb ride quality and assured handling, arguably best in class.

Despite its higher ride height, independent double-wishbone suspension gives a comfortable ride and minimises cornering pitch.

There is a 1.8 litre petrol-electic engine, likely to be the choice of around 75 per cent of buyers, but the 1.2 turbo-petrol in my test model has a lot to offer – 114 hp to give punchy performance, a 0-60 mph time of 10.9 seconds, top speed of 118 mph and fuel economy of 47.1 mpg combined.

Front and rear occupants have plenty of space though the rear windows are quite small and restrict the view. The 377 litre bootspace is typical of class standards and the rear seats fold down for extra load versatility, though overall, the C-HR is not as roomy as some of its main rivals. Front-wheel drive is standard across the range along with a 6-speed manual gearbox. CVT auto transmission is available on some models, so too four-wheel drive.

All versions get alloy wheels and distinctive LED running lamps, climate and cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, an auto dimming rear view mirror and seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The Excel test model adds sat-nav, online connectivity, keyless entry, heated seats and park-assist among extra features.

FOR: Stand-out visual styling, premium-look cabin, Toyota build quality and reliability.

AGAINST: A little less roomy than some rivals.