Toyota’s offering in this segment is the Yaris, which accounts for 24% of the company’s total sales in Europe. The fourth generation of Yaris was launched last week in Dusseldorf, Germany.
With the current model three years into its life cycle, it was time for a midlife face-lift. The design was very much a collaborative effort within the Japanese manufacturer’s European operation, which has already played a significant role in the design of the current Avensis and Verso.
Body styling changes to the Yaris are dominated by the frontal treatment, a cross-shaped structure links upper and lower grilles, while the “floating” spoiler gives the car a wider, lower appearance. New rear tail-lights and an integrated diffuser, as part of the bumper assembly, complete the rear’s refreshed look.
The interior sports a slimmer upper dash and redesigned instrument binnacle with a subtle use of satin chrome finishes. The Toyota Touch 2 entertainment system gets a bigger display screen – now up to 7 inches – and the centre console height has been increased, which means a 30mm shorter gear lever, resulting in better shift feel.
But this is no ordinary mid-cycle face-lift; a serious amount of re-engineering has gone into generation 4 of the Yaris. Normally a face-lift is a change of light clusters, a few bits of interior trim and another cup holder – but not this one. The body shell has been strengthened in several areas and the addition of 36 more spot welds has stiffened the entire chassis.
It’s not just the body that’s received a major upgrade: front and rear suspension have been changed to provide better ride quality, improved handling and reduced noise, vibration and harshness. A change to the control logic of the electric power steering system improves steering feel and responsiveness.
Powertrains coming to SA will be the 1.0 litre three cylinder and 1.33 litre four-cylinder petrol engines and top-of-the-range Hybrid.
The 998 cc DOHC 12 valve with VVT-i, three cylinder engine is an improved version of the current unit and features increased thermal efficiency and reduced emissions. Delivering 51kW at 6000 r/min with 95Nm at 4 300 r/min the baby of the line up produces just 99 g/km of CO2 and with the Stop & Start system that figure drops to 95g /km.
The DOHC 16 valve with dual VVT-i 1329 cc puts out 73kW at 6000 r/min with 125Nm of torque at 4000r/min with emissions of 114g/km, reduced to 109 g/km when the Stop & Start system is fitted.
Fuel consumption on a combined cycle is claimed at 4.3 l/100km for the 1.0l and 4.9l/100km for the 1.33 litre.
Topping the range the Hybrid employs a 1477cc 4 cylinder Atkinson cycle petrol engine delivering a total output of 74kW including the electric drive and sips a frugal 3.3 l/100km, emitting just 75g/100km of CO2 emission.
The 1.0l engine drives through a five speed manual gearbox, while the 1.33 is available with a six speed manual as standard or an optional Multidrive S automatic transmission, the Hybrid is only available with the automatic.
Multidrive S offers a manual mode with 7 fixed gear ratios that can be selected via steering wheel paddles or shift lever.
At launch the models that will grace our shores were available for test drives over both urban and rural routes and while all derivatives performed well my choice would have to be for the 1.0 litre three cylinder. Performance was very good, but let’s not forget Dusseldorf countryside is not exactly Alpine, so it may be very different on the Reef. But I’m a sucker for the soundtrack of a 3 cylinder.
The Yaris has moved into a new era and the high specification across the range means that one can expect an increased price and you would be right. Although exact pricing is not yet available Toyota has provided guidelines. The 1.0L 5 speed will be priced between R168 000 and R170 00, the 1.3L 6 speed manual between R195 000 and R198 000, in automatic guise R205 000 to R208 000 with the range topping Hybrid between R276 000 and R278 000.
With the high specification level and higher pricing it is as though Toyota is moving the new Yaris into a more premium market. The Hybrid remains almost the same as its predecessor, the 1.33 litre comes in at R8000 more than previously and the 1litre a staggering R15 000 higher than the outgoing model, that’s almost a 10% hike.
This has to bring the newly launched Etios Cross 1.5 Xs into play with its sub R160 000 price tag.
The new Yaris is due for launch in SA in September this year.
> The 1.0L 5 speed will be priced between R168 000 and R170 00
> The 1.3L 6-speed manual will be between R195 000 and R198 000
> The automatic will be R205 000 to R208 000
> The range-topping Hybrid will be between R276 000 and R278 000