Celebrated as the miniature embodiment of Toyota’s legendary reliability and residual value, the Yaris has enjoyed walkovers when it comes to accolades. But at a time when compact cars compete to stack up their space with more, is it a hands-down victory?
Overheard between the Yaris and a reviewer…
“The Toyota Yaris is one of the best small cars one can buy.”
“Who are you calling small?” snorted the Yaris.
With both the man and the machine, I tend to agree, and disagree.
In the way it comfortably seats four and a half with the roominess of almost a midsize family saloon, and the way it cares for the safety of its riders, the new Yaris exonerates itself of the diminutive description. But the way it drives, still, it’s very much a small car.
Blame it on the compact looks and sporty design of the redesigned Yaris 2012 but you can’t help a surge of expectation as you slip in behind the three-spoked wheel of the Yaris. A newly fine-tuned suspension and an almost an inch longer stabilizer bar rise to the occasion, ensuring that the ride is smoother and the curves are comfortable; while the steering is easy even though at points, a bit overzealous.
After a smooth and swift initial run, the fuel-efficient 1.3 L engine of the 2012 Yaris makes a lot of fuss stepping up to your persistent right foot. But even when the power tapers out the sound of the effort to keep up doesn’t – till you settle down at a stable speed. Somewhere mid-ride, the new Yaris brings an aircraft to mind, which it really shouldn’t. This is because you are wondering if there is a mechanism that lifted the wheels at some point after you took off so nicely. The contact with the road is pretty disappointing but, reassuringly, the new brakes keep you on safe grounds.
The Yaris has been completely redesigned, and definitely for the better. With a more prominent skirting and a billowing rear end, it’s now a full 100mm longer. It has acquired a more agile and sporty stance, which has a positive impact on its aerodynamics as well as the stretch dynamics of the rear passengers.
The façade looks a ‘sharp’ departure from the earlier Yaris, which used to remind me of a frog-shaped birthday-balloon. The headlamps take up half the hood, which is now steep and short. Its new shorter appearance is due to the fact that the new Yaris is mostly a sweeping glass case. Yet, safety is still paramount as the distance from the bonnet tip to the driver is maintained with an expansive dash. The side windows too trail upwards with the shoulder line running parallel to them – a sporty design tendency with the year’s most notable small cars. The Sporty level Yaris has front fog lamps, rear spoiler and 15-inch alloy wheels.
The deep blue car I drove certainly looked catchy and there are 9 more colours to choose from!
Scoring high in safety
Safety is one aspect where the Yaris still outruns most of its competition. Besides the standard driver and front-passenger dual-stage airbags (SRS), the new Yaris also boasts the Toyota’s Star Safety System™, which includes Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Brake Assist. New in the 2012 Yaris is the Advanced Whiplash Injury-Lessening (WIL) front-seat structure. The design is supposed to reduce the whiplash effect by supporting the leaning body in equal measure. For those wondering what qualifies the Yaris for those awards, well, this should be enlightening dope.
First family car
Despite a subcompact appearance, the 2012 Yaris has enough space to let a family of four settle down snugly. It gives more room for storage, by exactly a dozen liters. The boot seems a bit crammed but simply move the false flooring to find deeper space in the tyre well. And of course, for more, you can always knock down those rear seats!
Despite the roomy interiors, there are no lights for the rear passengers – a need that most compacts simply overlook.
Cabin and Controls
The instrument panel is cleansed of clutter – also because the level of sophistication that a Yaris offers is pretty basic. The Cycloptic dial of the hatch has its single eye out for speed and there’s no tachometer at all. (So you simply cannot count the revs of that pretty raucous acceleration course.)
While the glasshouse design adds volumes to visibility aided by the large side mirrors, it could get the legendary Toyota AC blowing hard to get the rear cooled in warm July!
The black and cream hues elegantly complement each other inside the cabin – quite unlike the combed finish of the dashboard and the textured grey plastic. Apparently, “brushed plastic” finish doesn’t work as well as brushed aluminium!
The 2012 Yaris may not sound off Toyota’s attempt to load its ammo box with tons of fun-powder. But the proven reliability of Toyota’s 1.3 L engines and the low cost of maintenance make Yaris still a no-brainer for a value-conscious, no-fuss, first-time car owner.
UPSIDE: Roomy interiors, Sharper design, Toyota’s Star Safety System, Good fuel efficiency
FLIPSIDE: Feeble road connect, Dashboard plastic with odd textured finish, Low fun quotient
Drive Courtesy: Al Futtaim Motors
Picture Courtesy: Supplied