£11,970 - £20,710 Price range
55 - 85 MPG
The Yaris’s interior is practical and durable, but critics are disappointed by the low quality materials used. On the upside, passenger space is plentiful and the boot as big as in most rival cars.
Driving the Yaris in town is effortless with light controls and a tight turning circle. However, on the motorway, it’s quite noisy and the ride’s bumpy over broken surfaces. While most buyers will go for the modern petrol engines or the frugal diesel, the petrol-electric hybrid is definitely worth a look with its impressive fuel economy and free road tax.
A standard five-year warranty ensures peace of mind and all Yaris models come with air-conditioning, nine airbags and a height-adjustable driver’s seat.
Take a quick glance at the VW Polo’s interior and you can see where’s the Yaris’ falls behind. Testers are disappointed by the overall quality of the cabin, especially the cheap-feeling plastics. A 2015 update to the Yaris aimed to improve that by adding a coloured central strip of soft-touch trim, but it only serves to highlight the sub-standard materials that surround it.
The Yaris’ infotainment system is an aftermarket one, so expect it to be less intuitive than in-house developed units like the ones in the VW Polo or Vauxhall Corsa. Other than that, its functionality is on par with rivals with a Bluetooth phone connection, a reversing camera and DAB (digital) radio.
Toyota Yaris passenger space
One of the original Yaris’ selling points was its impressive passenger space and the latest model continues that by offering a lot of head and legroom. The front seats aren’t praised or criticised about anything in particular, but the driver’s gets lots of adjustment to make a perfect driving position easy to achieve.
Things are good on the rear bench, too – there is no transmission tunnel intruding into legroom meaning three adults can fit for short trips. Many superminis can make you feel claustrophobic in the back, but the Yaris isn’t one of them thanks to large glass areas that not only let lots of light in, but also help with all round visibility, so the £590 dealer-fit all-round parking sensors aren’t essential.
Toyota Yaris boot space
The Yaris’ boot measures 286 litres in capacity with the seats up, which is big but not the largest in class. It can hold more than the Ford Fiesta, but the Honda Jazz beats it with a seriously impressive 379 litres of space. Fold down the Yaris’ standard splitting rear seats and they open up 768 litres, but a high load lip dents practicality slightly. Have a look at our dimensions guide to see if the Yaris will fit in your life.
For something as unpretentious as a city runabout, the Yaris is acceptable to drive. If you spend a lot of time driving in towns you’ll love the light steering and tight turning circle that takes the hassle out of navigating congested city centres.
However, get onto the open road and the Yaris suddenly looks out of its depth. There the tight turning circle and light steering make the car nervous at speed. Even if you’re not an enthusiast driver, you’ll find a Ford Fiesta is more fun.
Engine noise is poorly suppressed in the Toyota and if you go for the hybrid version you’ll face a constant engine drone during acceleration thanks to the way its CVT automatic gearbox works.
With a range of modern petrols, a fuel-efficient diesel and even a London-congestion-charge-exempt hybrid the Yaris offers an engine for most buyers’ needs, although performance enthusiasts are best served by the Ford Fiesta ST or VW Polo GTI.
Toyota Yaris diesel engines
The 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine has the most torque (151 lb ft) and the quickest 0-62mph time at 10.6 seconds. Testers say it feels even quicker than that thanks to the low-down power delivery of the diesel engine. With a combined fuel economy figure of 72mpg and £20 for annual road tax the diesel Yaris is cheap-to-run, but so are the other engines available and you need to do lots of miles to offset its higher asking price when compared to the petrol offerings.
Toyota Yaris petrol engines
Most buyers, then, will go for one of the cheaper petrols. A 1.0-litre developing 68hp kicks off the range, but it’s too slow and not as fuel efficient as the official fuel economy of 67.3mpg suggests, because you need to work it hard to achieve meaningful progress. The upside is that, on the smallest wheels, it dips below 99g/km CO2 emissions making annual road tax free and (taking 15.3 seconds to get from 0-62mph) it’s more than half a second quicker than a basic Fiesta.
The larger 1.33-litre is peppy enough to keep up with motorway traffic. Running costs aren’t bad, with fuel economy of 57mpg and annual road tax of just £30. However, a 1.0-litre EcoBoost Fiesta is quicker and more fuel efficient for roughly the same money.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid
The engine that makes the most sense in the Yaris is the flagship hybrid. With diesel-like fuel economy of more than 80mpg, total exemption from road tax and the London Congestion Charge it has plenty going for it. If you drive carefully you can run it entirely on electric power for short trips in complete silence. However, CVT automatic gearboxes tend to be noisy and the one in the Yaris Hybrid is particularly vocal.
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It's a combination the press is divided on. Some feel it's noisy, sluggish and poor to drive, while others say that at city speeds, it's unintrusive and quiet. In reality they're both right, as they're describing different situations - reviewers note that it's busy on the motorway, but quiet and incredibly frugal in town. Combined economy is as high as 80.7 mpg.
The pre-facelift version of the Yaris racked up a solid five stars when tested in 2011. That was a long time ago and Euro NCAP crash tests are more demanding now, so expect newer rivals to be safer.
Nevertheless, the Yaris is jammed full of electronics to help avoid crashes in the first place – including stability control and electronic brake force distribution on all models. As a well-priced £400 option you can spec Toyota’s Safety Sense – it adds lane-keep assist, adaptive headlights and automatic emergency braking making it a pretty safe little car.
Despite sharing trim names with the regular model, the hybrid Yaris is better-equipped across the range with alloy wheels and part-leather interior as standard.
Toyota Yaris Active
Even Active trim – the entry level version of the Yaris – comes with a decent amount of standard equipment for the price including a six-speaker stereo, electric front windows and electrically adjustable door mirrors.
Toyota Yaris Icon
Next-level-up Icon trim has useful features such as a reversing camera that makes the Toyota very easy to park. It also improves the looks of the basic car by adding 15-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps while the driver gets a leather-wrapped multifunction wheel that is nicer to hold.
Toyota Yaris Design
The Design trim, added in 2016, is the top-spec version of the regular Yaris and gets some upmarket extras such as heated mirrors, cruise control and LED daytime lights. You can have the Yaris Design with the optional £700 bi-tone pack, which paints the roof in a contrasting colour and adds a two-tone interior colour scheme, making it more stylish to look at.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid Excel
The range-topping Excel trim, only available on Hybrid models, lets the Yaris moonlight as an executive saloon. That includes items such as sat-nav, rear electric windows, climate control and automatic lights and wipers.
Have a look at our Yaris colour guide to find your favourite shade.
Overall, the Toyota Yaris is a practical and spacious supermini that is easy to live with and, in Hybrid form, makes for a cheap city runabout. However, those who are more style-conscious might sway towards the Seat Ibiza, while those who are practically minded will inevitably head for the Honda Jazz. Buyers who want some driving fun are catered for by the Ford Fiesta and those who want the best all-rounder will head straight for the VW Polo.