Toyota Yaris Expert Review

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Introduction

Toyota customers have always been willing to pay a premium for the trust that comes with this brand’s badge. We expect the Toyota Yaris to be priced at a premium over the competition as well, but is trust all you’re paying for?

Toyota Yaris

The Japanese have always been known for their rigid punctuality. But in the case of a mid-sized sedan for India, they are surprisingly late. This segment has seen multiple cars establish their USPs: the Maruti Ciaz for sheer value for money and comfort and the Honda City for its rich backseat experience. The Hyundai Verna achieves a balance of usability and feature-rich packaging, while the Volkswagen Vento/Skoda Rapid are popular for their premium quality and driver-pleasing performance & handling.

Toyota Yaris

With the competition covering almost every need and want, how does the Toyota Yaris differentiate itself? Importantly, is the premium it commands justified?

Pros
  • Standard safety includes 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, brake assist and ISOFIX. Higher variants add tyre pressure warning, hill-start assist, front parking sensors and more!
  • Premium interior quality. Feels like you’re in a car from a segment above
  • Easy to use and refined petrol engine. CVT available right from base variant.
  • Class-leading ride comfort. Manages bad roads and high speed undulations brilliantly, even with a full passenger load.
  • Segment-first features: roof-mounted rear AC vents with ambient lighting, 60:40 split folding rear seats, front parking sensors, acoustic and vibration control glass, solar energy-absorbing windshield with infrared cut off, infotainment system with air gesture control and rear wheel disc brakes.
  • Cavernous 476-litre boot with folding rear seats. Will easily accommodate the family’s luggage.
Cons
  • Infotainment system looks aftermarket. Glares under harsh sunlight. Misses out on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
  • Not a very wide car. Etios has a greater sense of space and can seat 3 in the back with more ease.
  • No diesel engine available, period.
  • Few feature misses: Reach-adjustable steering, auto-dimming IRVM, LED headlights, sunroof, vanity mirror illumination.

Stand Out Features

  • Rear wheel disc brakes

    Rear wheel disc brakes

  • Infotainment system with gesture control

    Infotainment system with gesture control

  • Roof-mounted rear AC vents with ambient lighting

    Roof-mounted rear AC vents with ambient lighting

  • Acoustic and vibration control glass

    Acoustic and vibration control glass

  • 60:40 split folding rear seats

    60:40 split folding rear seats

  • Solar energy-absorbing windshield with infrared cut off

    Solar energy-absorbing windshield with infrared cut off

CarDekho Verdict

The Yaris definitely has more going for it than just the Toyota badge. In fact, the Yaris has done a good job of cutting out a niche for itself. It sets itself apart by setting new expectations for safety features in the segment and even offers many segment firsts. What’s special here is that the focus is heavily on the experience of luxury.

"The cabin insulation, the premium interior trim/upholstery quality, and the sublime ride comfort make this a great car for a wide range of buyers. "

Yes, it isn’t the most driver centric car and there have been a few misses, in terms of features and in the sense of space. But these aren’t deal breakers, especially since you get a rich in-cabin experience in the tradeoff and there isn't any compromise on usability. In fact, if you wanted the Corolla Altis and didn’t have the budget for it, the Yaris matches the experience on most counts and even betters it on some (ride, for example). Launched at Rs 8.75 lakh for the Yaris petrol manual and Rs 9.95 lakh for the Yaris petrol CVT (introductory prices ex-showroom all-India), the Toyota Yaris justifies its price premium well.

Exterior

Toyota Yaris

The Yaris doesn't sport the most striking design in the space. If you're looking for a car styled to make you go WOW, the Honda City does a better job. Why is that? Well, Toyota has opted to give the Yaris a sober and clean design. Chrome, for example, is limited to the door handles. There's no overdose of cuts or creases either, just the shoulder line that connects the front fender to the tail light. 

Honda City

Even the wheel design isn’t over the top and unlike its competition, you don't get 16-inch wheels. 15-inchers are offered across the range, with wheel caps on the Yaris J and Yaris G & alloys on the Yaris V and Yaris VX.

Toyota Yaris

However, this isn't to say the Toyota Yaris doesn't grab attention. The plus-sized lower front grille and vertically stretched fog lamp enclosures add some mass to the face. They also look distinctly Toyota. Even the headlamp clusters that house the standard halogen projectors look similar to units used in the pre-facelift Corolla Altis. LEDs have been used for the grille-integrated daytime running lights (VX grade only) and the tail lights (V and VX grade). But LED headlights or wing mirror indicator lights (you get halogen bulbs) remain unavailable. 

Toyota Yaris

The curvy haunches make its profile seem Nissan Sunny-like while the rear end gives you a sense of how wide the Yaris is, at least on paper. The design actually plays a bit of visual trickery and the Toyota Yaris sedan looks smaller than its competition. However, while it's shorter in length than the Honda City, Hyundai Verna or Maruti Ciaz, it's one of the tallest and widest cars in the mid-sized sedan segment. The wheelbase, though, is 50mm short of the City and a full 100mm less than the Ciaz.

Toyota Yaris

So what does that mean for cabin space?

Interior

Toyota Yaris

There’s one thing that strikes you about the cabin first: It doesn't seem as wide inside as the dimensions chart would suggest. In fact, the cabin feels a bit narrow and even the Toyota Etios has a greater sense of space. It'll even seat 3 abreast better. Rest assured, what you’re sensing isn’t without reason. With 1275mm of rear shoulder room, the Yaris falls behind rivals like the Honda City (1325mm) and Hyundai Verna (1315mm). Even the maximum knee room is lesser than that of its rivals, especially the Honda City which offers upto 1000mm of knee room, compared to the Yaris’ 815mm.

Front Legroom (min-max) Knee Room (min-max) Seat Base Length
Toyota Yaris 870mm-1070mm 575mm-810mm 480mm

Additionally, the front row has a storage console that doubles up as the front armrest. This unit juts into the rear row unnecessarily, nullifying the impact of the flat floor. Not to mention, it's not a very usable front armrest unless you set the seat way back. Simply put, the Yaris’ cabin is for four, not five. But it is adequate for two six-footers and no doubt, it's a properly roomy car. There's even oodles of space to tuck your feet underneath the front seats. At 890mm, headroom will feel a bit underserved for tall occupants in the rear (read: over 6ft tall).

Toyota Yaris

But with that caveat out of the way, the experience only gets richer. No matter which variant you pick, the Yaris gets a light beige cabin contrasted with a black dashboard, black door tops and black floor mats. So the cabin may not be the most accommodating in the segment but it feels nice and airy. Oh yeah, sorry to disappoint - there's no sunroof to amplify that sense of airiness.

Toyota Yaris

What will have you sold though, is the quality. Save for a few panel gaps in the door pad and lower half of the centre console, the fitment quality is top notch. We really appreciate the premium grade of plastic used all round that feels almost as good as what we've seen in the Corolla Altis. Then there's the beige fabric headliner and carpeting that leaves no sheet metal exposed. Best of all is the top-spec VX’s leather upholstery. Not only does it envelope the seats, armrests, door armrests and steering, the quality is superior to what we've seen in any other car in the segment. It feels quite close to genuine leather! That said, the choice of light beige comes with challenges in upkeep. Our test cars already had stains on the seats and plastics.

Toyota Yaris

What really sets the Yaris apart are the experience enhancers. These subtle additions go miles in making you feel like you're sitting in a car from a segment above. Noise insulating glass that cuts the outside world off impeccably. Just have a conversation with the window open and whirr it shut to see the difference. Or there's the roof-mounted AC that helps cool the cabin more effectively (more details on that in the technology section). There aren't any soft-touch plastics but there is a stitch pattern on the dashboard to make it look richer. 

Toyota Yaris

Even the analogue-digital split instrument cluster looks futuristic. It gets a 4.2 inch MID with detailed information like two tripmeters, outside temperature display, a digital fuel gauge and speedometer, distance-to-empty, average speed and fuel consumption. Like in the Innova Crysta and Fortuner, here too we see the Eco wallet that monitors how efficiently you're driving. Backseat occupants are treated with a rear manual sunshade, two 12V power sockets and individual reading lamps.

Toyota Yaris

Seat comfort and support is impressive. With a seat base length of 435mm, the underthigh support isn’t segment-leading but it is adequate. The backrest angle is comfortable for both slim and overweight occupants too. Also, the front and rear seats have a little side bolstering for lateral support.

Rear Shoulder Room Head Room Knee Room (min-max)
Toyota Yaris 1275mm 890mm 650mm-815mm

Toyota Yaris

This makes driving the Yaris a comfortable experience, with the driver getting the added benefit of an 8-way adjustable electric seat (manual seat height adjustment comes as standard). But while we may forgive the absent auto-dimming interior rear view mirror, a big miss for the driver is reach adjustment for the steering. The default setting feels like it's glued onto the dashboard.

Toyota Yaris

Finally, the Yaris scores high on practicality. There are 1-litre bottle holders in the centre console and front doors (two each), 500ml bottle holders in the rear doors and armrest (two each), and a phone slot for the driver next to the handbrake, with a smartly placed 12V socket right behind. On paper, the 476-litre boot isn't segment-leading but is large enough for a week's worth of the family’s luggage. Besides, it's the only car in the segment that gets folding 60:40 split seat for added storage space. Even the seatbelts have proper harnesses to ensure they don't get tangled up or tucked into the cushioning when the backrest is folded down.

Toyota Yaris

Technology

Toyota Yaris

The Toyota Yaris offers many gizmos but let's explore the unique bits first. We begin with the roof-mounted AC. The setup doesn't have an independent evaporator, but it does have a large suction unit that takes in air from the front AC vents and channels it through a nozzle to two vents. These aren't regular vents but rudders the size of your palm that give you a wide spread of cool air. This makes rear seat cooling a lot more effective and it gets ambient lighting of its own with rheostat. Additionally, if you turn the rudders all the way down, the cool air can be channelled towards the front occupants' seat back!

Toyota Yaris

While a basic music system with Aux/USB/Bluetooth/CD comes as standard, the G and V variants of the Yaris get a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The Panasonic unit supports HDMI and Miracast. It's actually better to use and has a cleaner interface than the one you get in the top-spec VX. The range-topping Yaris VX gets a Pioneer head unit and adds MirrorLink, WiFi and navigation. Also, both head units get gesture controls, another first in segment. While the Panasonic head unit gets touch-based gesture controls, the top-spec gets air gesture controls, like you get in the BMW 5-Series and 7-Series! The feature needs you to hold your hand ahead of the sensor to activate it before each use. Then, swipe up and down for volume adjust (raises or drops four points at a time) or swipe left or right to shuffle through songs or switch radio stations. Cool stuff aside, we have a gripe. The placement of the touchscreens makes them prone to glare under direct sunlight.

Toyota Yaris

Of course, you also have the standard segment fare - auto AC, cruise control, auto headlamps and wipers and an impressive 6-speaker sound system. 

Performance

The Toyota Yaris will not be available with a diesel engine and don’t expect to see one any time soon. What it uses is a 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine that has the same block as the Etios -  but everything else, including the head, is unique to the Yaris.

A major draw of this motor is its refinement. At idle, whether it’s inside the car or outside, the motor’s barely audible. This smooth nature is experienced whether you’re driving at 40kmph in the city or cruising at 120kmph on the highway. Where it gets noisy is during overtakes. We drove the CVT-equipped version and even low speed overtakes are usually accompanied with a downshift and a significant surge in revs. Go for a hard launch off the line, and you’ll hear the motor bellowing, but the actual performance never gets exhilarating. In our 0-100kmph tests, the Yaris was significantly slower than its rivals, managing the sprint in 13.39 seconds, compared to the City’s 11.90 seconds and Verna’s 12.04 seconds. That said, while the engine note is quite audible, the vibes remain well in check. 

Toyota Yaris

High speed overtakes do need some planning, as even pinning the throttle doesn’t get you an immediate surge in performance. In fact, going from 60-100kmph does take a while and you can find yourself playing catch up with highway traffic. That said, it isn’t too far behind its rivals with 20-80kmph (kickdown) taking 8.36 seconds; slightly slower than the City CVT (8.22 seconds) and the Verna petrol automatic (7.14 seconds). In our road test, it took a leisurely 8.36 seconds to get from 20kmph to 80kmph. While that’s not too different compared to the Honda City CVT that took 8.22 seconds, it’s over a second slower compared to the Verna automatic, that gets the job done in 7.14 seconds.

On the highway, we discovered the Yaris is a decent cruiser. Left to its own accord (and not in manual mode), the 7-speed CVT drives at 100kmph with the rev counter locked at about 1,600rpm. At that point, the engine note is nothing more than a light hum and the only thing that’ll take a toll on your fuel efficiency will be the overtakes. Toyota claims the Yaris CVT will deliver 17.8kmpl (MT = 17.1kmpl), and when tested, it came quite close, delivering 16.31kmpl on the highway.

For us though, this will make for a great city car - to drive or to be driven in. Throttle response is smooth and very predictable. The performance is flat throughout the rev range and while it won’t please the enthusiast in you, most drivers won’t find a reason to complain. If you do choose to go flat out, be prepared to wait for quite a while before it clocks 100kmph. It takes a yawn-inducing 13.39 seconds to get there, which is the slowest compared to its peers. For reference, the Verna automatic takes 12.04 seconds to get to 100kmph, and the City is quicker still with a 11.90 second time. Drive it in a relaxed manner and the Yaris will return the favour by keeping your wallet happy. The CVT we had on test delivered a stellar 16.41kmpl inside the city. That’s not a typo, it actually managed to match its highway mileage number. That’s down to the fact that the Yaris is usually in its “Eco” mode at city speeds, with the tacho ticking slightly over idle.

For the driven, the smooth throttling results in a jerk-free drive experience with no head nod unless you’re really pushing the car. Even the brakes (all round discs on the Yaris V onwards) offer progressive bite under normal circumstances but offer reassuringly sharp shopping power when you need to brake hard. In a hard braking test from 100-0kmph, the Yaris came to a dead halt in a respectable 43.61 metres. But, what is a M-A-J-O-R selling point in our books, is the ride quality.

Performance Comparison (Petrol)

Maruti Ciaz Honda City Hyundai Verna Toyota Yaris
Power 91.1bhp@6000rpm 117.3bhp@6600rpm 121.3bhp@6400rpm 105.5bhp@6000rpm
Torque (Nm) 130Nm@4000rpm 145Nm@4600rpm 151nm@4850rpm 140Nm@4200rpm
Engine Displacement (cc) 1373 1497 1591 1496
Transmission Manual Manual Manual Automatic
Top Speed (kmph) 190 kmph 189 kmph - -
0-100 Acceleration (sec) 14 Seconds 9.64 Seconds 11.31 Seconds -
Kerb Weight (kg) 1030kg 1084kg - 1110Kg
Fuel Efficiency (ARAI) 20.73kmpl 17.4kmpl 17.7kmpl 17.8kmpl
Power Weight Ratio 88.44660194174757 bhp/ton 108.21033210332102 bhp/ton - 95.04504504504504 bhp/ton

 

Ride & Handling

With the Toyota Etios and Corolla Altis both set up for comfort, you’d expect a similar story from the Yaris. But the car actually finds a healthy middle ground. Ride comfort is consistent, no matter what speed you’re doing. If you decide to open up your laptop and send a few reports, be assured, you can do it with the same ease at 30kmph or 100kmph, without feeling fatigued.

Toyota Yaris

Low speed bumps and potholes can be heard as light thuds in the cabin, but you won’t really feel them. Yes, even with a full passenger load, the Toyota Yaris remains complaint and unphased over bad patches. Also, unofficially, the ground clearance is a touch over 150mm unladen. That's not much, but even with the aforementioned heavy load, it was only the monstrously large speed breakers that saw the car scrape the underbelly. At 0-100kmph, even with 4 passengers and a full boot, the Yaris goes over highway undulations, expansion joints and even rough patches without ever losing composure. Even after exiting an uneven section, the suspension settles immediately, with almost no vertical movement and only small hints of body roll. An achievement even the Corolla can't brag of. Sudden lane changes will struggle to make the Yaris’ suspensions break a sweat too as it gets in line instantly.

Toyota Yaris

If you take the Yaris cornering, you’ll find it out of its element rather quickly. The steering feels lacklustre, and forces you to dial in corrective inputs. It’s not something you’d enjoy driving quickly. The comfort-spec suspension setup also means you will feel some body roll when you turn in aggressively. Drive sanely, though, and you’ll have nothing to complain about. The weight of the steering is light enough to not tire you out inside the city, and heavy enough to not make you nervous on the highway.

Safety

Safety is a core differentiator for the Toyota Yaris. While the competition offers 6 airbags on their top-end models, Toyota is offering 7 (including a driver knee airbag) as standard! That aside, ABS with EBD and brake assist, along with ISOFIX and central locking come as standard. Opt for the higher variants and you add hill-start assist, vehicle stability control, front and rear parking sensors, front and rear fog lamps and a rear camera.

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