Makeovers seem to be accelerating their pace between generations. Toyota has already given the 2015 Yaris hatchback a thorough upgrade. Available in the UAE from the last week of June, the popular hatch is now bigger, quieter and bolder for the introduction of a new 1.5 engine, not to mention a Mexican moustache it sports!

UPSIDE: New engine choice, quieter cabin, steadier handling, great value

FLIPSIDE: Dragging high revs, Cabin feels narrower

The Price: 1.3L SE – AED 51,000, 1.5L SE 54,900 and 1.5 SE+ 57,500

Cleaning up the canvas
The problem with ‘scrupulously sculpted’ looks is that their charm vanishes with trends, while cleaner lines stay longer in vogue. The front and the sides of the new Toyota Yaris hatchback have been scoured of its multiple design bumps, while the sculptors at Toyota’s design house have kept their secret love for the  Peugeot 208 spilt over the tail lamps. A long and widening moustache, like the tusks of a Walrus, steeps into a newly designed lower trapezoidal grille flanked by an updated headlamp cluster.

The profile of the new Yaris is cleaner, with dual shoulder lines running along the whole profile of the body making the car appear larger; so do the thinner pillars that also offer practical benefits in visibility.

Improvements that define the segment
Reliability asks for a small price in the Toyota Yaris. Quoted in the early fifties, both the Toyota Yaris and the Nissan Tiida (the 1.6 L version) are hot favourites with first-time car buyers. Toyota must have felt the heat of the ever-growing space within the Nissan Tiida and the recent upgrade of the rival hatch with a 1.8L engine. The new Yaris has shown a lot of practicality in adding a 1.5 L engine under its bonnet instead of anything larger; because the entry-level segment would rather get more for the less they pay. The Yaris hatch is now 4115mm long, less than half a foot short of the mindbogglingly spacious new Nissan Tiida. With a wheelbase that has grown by 40mm, you get more room to stretch!

The increased length of the Yaris also adds to the aerodynamics, coupled with a seemingly negligible 5mm added width and a stance lower by 45mm. The new catamaran roof and side fins should have done something too, because the handling skills have certainly improved and so has fuel economy – the spec sheet claims something as crazy as 5.6 L per 100 km!

Inside the Yaris 2015 hatchback
More space – precisely 48 mm – has been freed up for you to swing your knees within the new legroom of 663mm. Leaning back is also more comfortable with added shoulder space. A rear flat floor – rarely seen these days – allows the mid-rider at the rear to sit comfortably. The boot volume now begins at 326 litres with the option to add more with folded up rear seats – together in SE and separately in the SE+.

What I had liked most about the Yaris 2012 that I had tested was its standard safety features. The new model follows suit with driver and front-passenger airbags (SRS), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) within an impact absorbing body structure and high strength body frame.

Toyota has made sure that the first time shoppers are rather impressed with a good looking cabin with a combination of silver and chrome-plated accents, besides premium-styled stitching. The seats and the new three-spoke steering wheel get red stitching in the SE!

If that orange sticker on the rev and speed counters are suggestive of fun, it flew past my taste, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating the overall cabin appeal in black and new ivory (What is ‘new ivory’? Seriously, whoever colour codes cars have a shrinking lexicon and imagination!)

The Yaris AC can cool the cabin to 15ºc in only 3 minutes.

Grown in size, grown up in handling!
Weaving my way through the back roads of Sheikh Zayed Road and around the roundabouts on the way to Nad Al Sheba, the difference in driving the all-new Yaris didn’t escape me. The new 1.5L VVTI engine is good to save you some sweat on a late-for-meeting drive. The new engine delivers 107 bhp and 141 Nm of torque while the 1.3L lump continues as the entry-level option generating 84 bhp and 121 Nm. Toyota puts the 0-100km figure for the new Yaris at a respectable 11.9 seconds.

A new Electric Power Steering (EPS) and a newly developed front strut-type suspension designed for durability and improved body rigidity shows up in the way the new Yaris tackles corners and turns. The small car is much more poised at highway speeds and turns in more gracefully than its predecessor. Almost as though a sub-compact car is supposed to keep its trademark groan, the Yaris still drags noisily up the higher revs but is desirably calm in the range you would more often use.

Toyota has employed a variety of sound absorbing and insulating materials, like acoustic glass for the front windshield. Whether it is due to the tiny bubble planted next to the side mirror or not, the wind has surely come down; so has road noise.

As every new Toyota, the Yaris comes with the T-connect navigation assistance free for the first year.

The essential Toyota Yaris hatchback 2015

Value is the trademark of the Toyota Yaris throughout the variants and the 1.5 SE+ caps it with Smart Entry and push-button start, upgraded alloys, automatic climate control, projector beam headlamps and 60/40 split folding seats, while still selling for AED 57,500 only! With the quieter ride, cleaner lines and welcome power boost, the all-new Toyota Yaris hatchback is grown-up enough to handle challenges you throw at it. The car has earned the new moustache it sports.

Yaris 2015 comes in 9 colours, including three new – vibrant Orange, Silky Beige and Frozen Blue.

2015 Yaris hatchback First Drive: Growing a moustache was last modified: December 27th, 2016 by Sudeep Koshy

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