Toyota Yaris 2014 Sedan Review: Basic Plus

You buy a Toyota Yaris sedan, feel happy and throw a party. Life moves on till it’s time for an upgrade. But with the new extra-large Yaris sedan, the upgrade too could perhaps wait. Even so, moving from A to B is the Yaris sedan in a nutshell. So, the Yaris sedan is back to claim its place at the near end of a buying spectrum where function reigns supreme, and everything else is a bonus: thanklessly expected.

Engines: 1.3L: 84 hp @ 6000 rpm, 121 Nm torque @ 4400 rpm / 1.5L: 107 @ 6000 rpm, 141 Nm torque @ 4200 rpm Both engines: 4 Cylinders In-Line, DOHC with VVT-i, Transmission: 4-speed automatic

UPSIDE: Impressive looks, Adequate power without wheezy pickups, Added space in the rear and boot, Good overall handling

FLIPSIDE: Feels subcompact at speeds, No bluetooth, No front cupholder, Hard to use centre seat

THE PRICE: 1.3 L engine: S @ AED 48,500 and SE @ 51,900 / 1.5 L engine: SE @ 53,500, SE+ @ AED 57,900 Sport: AED 56,900

Dimensions: 4,410 x 1,700 x 1,475 mm, Suspensions: Macpherson Strut & Torsion Beam, 14” and 15” wheels - Sport and SE+ get alloys

The Drive

The 2014 Yaris sedan impressively handles its everyday tasks from quick lane changing in traffic to letting you stretch a little on longs, besides of course taking you between points.

The steering is sort of small in size with the hint of a flat bottom, comfortably maneoverable within its leather wrap (lower trims get Urethane). It is proof enough of the new Toyota transition, where lightness has given way to tightness, ever so slightly though. Not especially refined yet. The suspensions are alright for an entry level car but they do bring road imperfections into the cabin.

The full-blown proportions of the bonnet makes the car look larger than it is; a feeling that is continued inside as well in the surprisingly spacious cabin.

Entering the market after a couple of years, the new Toyota Yaris is 11cm longer, 1 cm wider, yet 1.5 cm taller – making it slightly narrower, which perhaps explains why often at high speeds, the car feels too fast for itself. That is not to say that the car will not comply to your need for speed or keep steady. It does, though always with an underlying shadow of caution. The handling is pretty smooth without any tendency to stray even in sweeping bends or corners. If you push it too much, the rear wheels budges a bit but only to correct itself quickly.

The 1.5 litre engine carries forward and is mostly calm but for the part when the rpms are quickly pushed past the 6000. That’s when the engine almost becomes raucous, though without the tearing apart feeling of many other small engines.

The 15” wheels might look small. But believe me, they are exactly what the Yaris sedan needs – on them, it rolls comfortably. The 0 to 100 came up in 11 seconds while the economy turned out lower than the 11 km/L showing up on the gauge – it worked out to 9.39/ L on my drive.

The new sedan has made its hatchback counterpart look rather outdated.

The Design

Among the many Toyota models introduced in 2013, the Toyota signature grille arguably suits the Yaris Sedan the best. Along with the large lower grill and the integrated headlamps, the full-faced smile isn’t overdone here. My test car came with white interiors, black dashboards and a sprawling expanse of beige only punctuated by silver grey plastic door inserts. The rear featured prominent tail lamps.

They’ve done something to the roof as well – there is a sort of a double bubble, similar to the one in the Peugeot 301 design.

Two young bicyclists I encountered felt the new Toyota Yaris sedan looks cool. Good for futuristic targeting, Toyota!

Cabin and Controls

Space seems to be the luxury readily offered by sub-compact sedans and hatchbacks these days. Especially the ones launched this year – the Peugeot 301 or the shortlived Volkswagen Polo Sedan (in these markets) not to mention the inexeplicably roomy Tiida hatchback.

Standard safety: Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) & Brake Assist (BA) / Dual front airbags except in the 1.3 L base /

There is a bottle holder in the door sill storage but no cup holder on the central console – the rear makes up with two at the tail of the armrest. Ironically, the armrest serves little of its purpose but the storage within is deep, though narrow. The little niche at the fag end of the console would have been ideal to keep your mobile safe and unrattling except that, it gets slightly warm out there on the drive. The glove box provides for modest storage.

The SE+ version came with volume and stereo controls on the compact steering but the music system as well as the radio reception were so-so. If the lights in front are really bright that’s because there are none in the rear. The hard plastics are not of cheap quality and overall, the car feels a bit light even though it looks large for a sub-compact sedan.

Driving into an inroad, soon after the rains, the brakes proved commendably good to avoid a pothole that popped up right ahead.

Don’t expect a reassuring thud when the Yaris doors or boot are closed. Thankfully, the lightness of it all never transfers to the confidence during the drive and the Yaris sedan doesn’t compromise on standard safety features.

Despite having almost upgraded the Yaris Sedan in terms of space and comfort, Toyota has ditched the frills in favour of prices. While some rivals do offer navigation, rear view camera or parking sensors, it’s not a sin to skip those in this segment. The top edition SE+ gets keyless entry and a push button start. But the absence of the cup holder (I swear there was space for one!) as well as Bluetooth connectivity is quite mystifying.

As an entry level family sedan, the popular Yaris should think about the Bluetooth, seriously.

Family Drive

While the family will appreciate the extra space and style in the new Yaris sedan, the oneness with the road might not go well with them, especially on bumpy roads. It’s no Avalon but the cabin noise is kept tolerable.

The already large boot in the Yaris sedan offers even more space with folded rear seats.

The Yaris provides seat back pouches but they’ve abandoned door sill storage entirely at the rear. The ashtray in the central armrest can be dumped for an extra cup or the baby’s bottle. There is no ISOFIX but a 2-point seat belt is provided in the centre. Ironically, the rear centre seat isn’t especially usable, thanks to the central armrest which is pretty hard even when folded back.

The essential Toyota Yaris Sedan 2014

My Yaris sedan test car proudly bore the signs of SE+ and 1.5. Not without reason, because this engine turned out enough and more to drive the small sedan without any groans or wheezy struggles. The Yaris Sedan has grown up noticeably in terms of the space, especially in the rear cabin and the boot. The space and convenience is similar to many mid-sized sedans but it is the hurtling down feeling at high speeds that keeps it sub-compact, though without the sharpness and fun of a super-mini. Yet the practical insights in the Yaris Sedan arm itself well to hold its place among worthy rivals like the affordable Peugeot 301 or the next-segment comforts of the Nissan Sentra.

The Yaris Sport trim gets sport seats, smoked metallic plating and analogue instrument cluster as well as front and rear spoilers. Everything else remains Yaris!

Drive Courtesy: Al Futtaim Motors
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy

About Sudeep Koshy

One of the earliest toys I had, like most men, was a car – that came with a driver, who I was accused of gobbling up. Decades later, I haven’t given up the devouring passion (for cars, not for drivers). I guess, after 15 years as an Ad man, learning to balance skewed thought with sober observations was a part of growing up. Helping five top automotive brands place their wheels on firmer ground in the Middle East is another little thing under the bonnet, as I take the wheel as a roadrunner and storyteller rolled into one. Every car comes with a tail-pipe and a tale. I believe Car Reviews too should feature both. And so to my page...
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