On Test: Toyota Yaris 1.33 VVTi

Watch the video review here

If there’s one thing a Toyota is not, it’s bad quality. Everything is engineered to be bullet-proof and it’s constructed by perfectionists.

You see, Toyota Europe convinced Toyota HQ to splash out on this facelift – almost £70 million, in fact, for changes way beyond the call of duty for a normal mid-model update. It’s therefore safe to say this car has far more than just a new pair of wing mirrors.

But can the dull yet worthy 2014 Toyota Yaris ever be called ‘sexy’? ‘No’ is the short answer.

That said; the driving level of the Yaris has been transformed. Previously, it was a rather lumpy piece of tin with a highly-strung feel. But by sprinkling fairy-dust over its suspension and changing the body structure to make it 20 per cent stiffer, means it’s now a more chilled-out car.

There’s little point talking about 0-62mph sprints and top ends here. More relevant is that this car is cheap to run – I won’t bore you with figures – just trust me on that. Perhaps, more interestingly though, the harsh ride in town is now lessened. It’s also more hushed over bumps and relaxed at speed – both on straights and on country lanes. It feels more mature- like a more pricey motor.

The downside is noticeable body roll if you fling it about but there’s enough precision for you to go swiftly without doing this. What’s more, it doesn’t fall to bits if you do hurl it into bends; body lean is no indication of a car lacking suspension reliability. What it isn’t though is enjoyable. Fairly classy and level-headed, yes, but more VW Polo rather than Ford Fiesta.

There’s no denying the Yaris looks a lot better than before. The big, ‘look at me’ front end design helps and the cabin is leagues apart too. The old model was rough as pumice – but now, it’s covered with soft-touch plastics and tasteful, simple finishes.

Visibility is good and space is surprisingly respectable – but the whole package is still not enough to make you dribble with excitement.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s decent, but it’s not a class-leading vehicle.

The Polo has that extra coat of quality and the Fiesta, is in a league of its own. What the Toyota Yaris does instead is battle very competently with superminis such as the Vauxhall Corsa, Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio.

Certainly, thanks to its refreshed styling, refurbished interior and dynamic alterations it’s an uncomplicated car to live with, just like a Japanese motor should be; the old Yaris wasn’t though.

Overall, it’s a talented, well-bolted-together small car and it has almost, but not quite, transformed from an ugly duckling into a swan.

Toyota Yaris 1.33 VVT-i Icon

Price: £14,095 (5-door)

Engine: 1.3-litre 4-cylinder petrol

Gearbox: 6-speed manual

Power/Torque: 98bhp; 92lb/ft

Economy/Emissions: 58.9mpg; 114g/km

0-62mph: 11.7 secs

Top speed: 109mph

What do you think?

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