Which? drives the new Toyota YarisLatest supermini first drive

03 September 2011

All new Toyota Yaris

Exterior styling of new Yaris is more evolution than revolution from predecessor

Which? Car has been among the first to drive the latest version of the Toyota Yaris.

Since it was first launched in 1999, the Japanese supermini has been popular thanks largely to its exceptional reliability - but it's never been as trendy or as popular with enthusiastic drivers.

So can the new third-generation model aims to change that?

Find out about other soon-to-be-launched models in our guide to the Frankfurt Motor Show

Yaris grows up

The third-generation Yaris is a more grown up car than its predecessors. On the outside it’s been given a rakish makeover that helps it look more sporty.

Inside, the revisions are matched by classier looking trim and controls, and the icing on the cake is a large touchscreen multimedia system you'd usually expect to find only on big executive saloons. A basic version of this neat, useful piece of kit is thrown in free on the mid-range TR models, and can be upgraded to include a sat nav for just £500.

All-new Toyota Yaris

Sporty SR model comes with rear roof spoiler, tinted glass and lowered suspension

It’s not all about cosmetic tweaks, Toyota has also worked on improving ride and handling by revising the Yaris’s suspension and electric power steering systems.

And safety has been improved too, with all Yaris models now offered with seven airbags (front, side, curtain and driver’s knee), electronic stability control and brake assist.

Not everything is new though, the same three engines (1.0 and 1.33 petrol, and 1.4 diesel) are offered, albeit each with improved fuel economy, and the 1.0 and 1.4 with lower emissions. And the same four trim levels are offered: T2, TR, SR and T Spirit.

Toyota Yaris - driving

The overriding reason to choose the tiny Toyota over the plethora of rivals has to be the brand’s superb reliability record. It’s been one of the top performers in the Which? Car survey for many years, and even Toyota's recall woes of recent years couldn't dent its performance.

For front seat passengers at least, it’s comfortable, with a well designed interior that cocoons the driver and puts all the essential controls within easy reach.

The revamp has improved handling, but the ride on the sporty SR model is too harsh and crashy.

And creating that wedgy side profile hasn't impaired visibility; the Yaris still has a decent sized rear window making it a rare modern machine that you can park without electrical assistance.

Our initial test drive was only of the 1.33 model, and we think this offers the best compromise between price and equipment.

Which? members can read the full Toyota Yaris report.

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