On your marks…
As age creeps ever on, the eyes often need time to adjust to unexpected occurrences. Seen from a good hundred feet, I liked what I saw. The car was glossy black, small, by modern standards but owning its stance. Goodness, it’s a new Toyota; the fourth attempt at the Yaris. And, by George, Akio’s gone and done it – at least on first impressions.
Released August 2020, saw round four of the Big Small car bucking the trend; smaller, improved upon by degrees. Yaris part three was doing nicely for Toyota. A rising market share, reasonable looks and prices, typically impressive warranty – a customer mainstay. Nothing lasts forever; Yaris 4.0 moved over to the TNGA-B platform.
The Yaris 4.0 programme, internally known as The Compact Car Company, saw Chief engineer, Yasunori Suezawa prioritise five main principles alongside a sporting-based ethos: fuel economy, safety, spaciousness, usability and performance. Suezawa states, “The styling captures the stance of an athlete on the starting blocks.” The French-produced Eurocentric city slicker also happened to win the 2021 CoTY gong.
The five door bodywork (no more three door models) is certainly muscular. The front, whilst not necessarily angry is forthright and perhaps slanting toward fussy. It’s the rear arch where the athletic structure predominates, making the car appear perhaps rear wheel drive – it isn’t. Sinewy then, even the roof has visible bulges – distant from Zagato’s correlation, their purpose must contribute to fuel economy or those suburban streets really are meaner than at first glance.
The hybrid power plant sees many improvements. The trip-off-the-tongue M15A-FXE speeds up to 80mph, achievable on electrical power alone. Tesco trips should be adequate with 90bhp at 5,500 rpm alongside a city traffic friendly 120Nm at just 3,600rpm. The hybrid transaxle has lost size and weight, the two electric motor / generator units (MG1 & 2) having separate shafts capable of 17,000rpm.
MG1 starts the car alongside generating power to the batteries. MG2 owns the larger shaft to power the front wheels. As to batteries, the nickel-metal hydride from the third Yaris has gone, replaced by a smaller lithium-ion collection. Cells have reduced from 120 to 48, placed underneath the rear passenger area assisting a lower centre of gravity, increased body rigidity and saving a vital 12Kgs.
Emphasis on the exterior appearing condensed yet agile whilst extending and improving upon internal dimensions. Such is the Toyota way, no leaps or bounds, shortening the new model a whopping five millimetres. Compared to its forebear, Yaris 4.0 sits 40mm lower whereas the wheelbase has been extended by 50mm. Those moderately larger wheel arches house either 16 or 17” wheels, dependant on trim level, stiffer springing for the larger wheel. The A-pillars have receded. Elfin canvas changes a Toyota orthodoxy.
Looking inwardly, the dashboard has been lowered, the focus of the driver’s eyes having less movement. Higher trim levels incorporate coloured HUD with other essential features within your binocular vision. Redolent of a science fiction movie, the armrests quite literally stand out, especially when backlit; the cabin remainder suitably modern, connected and, on the model seen (Excel) pleasantly light with faux grey leathers.
Allowing for greater driver and front passenger flexibility, the seats have retracted 60mm with their hip point lowered by some 21mm. Little things in small packages add up. A significant plus point being the leather clad, slightly thinner steering wheel, which, according to Autocar is both pleasing to hold and worthy of a more sporting motor.
Reviews in the main circle the commendable adjective. Would you expect anything less from Toyota? Only things have changed. Excluding a certain Korean brand’s eighty four month warranty, Toyota offered sixty months protection until recently. Following the perceived industry norm, Toyota now give every new car a three year warranty under the rather dismal sounding “Toyota Relax,” banner.
Also covering the used brigades up to 100,000 miles or ten years, the only stipulation being to have one’s Toyota serviced at a dealership brandishing the ovoid enveloped T. This means one could snap up a nine years and six month old 80,000 mile, 2011 Toyota and remain covered until the next service where cover is then rescinded; handy to know. As are the hybrid batteries; getting upwards of fifteen years cover should anyone keep their Yaris that long.
On delving deeper though, cracks begin to appear. Prices kick-off with the Icon at £20,210 where at least the alloys are silver. Rivals are significantly cheaper though Toyota’s retaliation revolves around the overall package. Next level up being the Design. From here on in, the wheels are available in any colour as long as it’s black; only the spokes and radii alter followed by Dynamic then Excel, landing at £22,705. Your author is not a fan of the shaded wheel but, granted such hues obscure the brake dust.
Topmost package having the enigmatic moniker, Launch which you may attempt to with the salesperson when told this sticker price begins at £24,420. Mostly the interiors follow the shade of those alloys, the Excel a welcome lift. Further research found Titan Bronze to my liking but costs close to £600 more; add three hundred for red or white pearlescent. Those rear haunches will sully faster than the athlete jumping the gun.
Reviewers suggest higher specifications are the Yaris to aspire to but not to fall fowl of the 17” wheel as ride and fluidity is sacrificed. Which appears to be the Yaris Achilles heel; surely such a city bound car, however decent looking should be affordable to the many? One suspects the monthly PCP charges will be favourable as no–one uses filthy lucre these days. The internal changes have robbed rear passenger and boot space; concerned customers voicing their opinions directly to source – Toyota UK without much heed. The Yaris will sell handsomely, regardless.
I want to like the Yaris but feel compelled to seek out alternatives as the starting pistol fires, or was that an exhaust note, backfiring? For Toyota can now offer an altogether different blend of Yaris, dealt with in the forthcoming episode.