Some cars are easier to write about than others, and this is certainly true of the Toyota Yaris, which recently came my way in face-lifted form.
It’s one of those generically capable modern hatchbacks that goes about its business with an understated competence, without offering anything especially distinctive. Toyota has made cars like this for generations, which get on with moving people from A to B with the minimum of fuss, so if I didn’t write another word about the Yaris, you’d have a pretty good idea what it’s like.
However, we have to deal with specifics, so here goes. Other than the face-lifted car’s slightly odd frontal styling where lights, grill and badge form a large ‘X’ shape, the Yaris is an unthreatening, slightly rotund five door hatchback that’s a bit big to describe as a ‘supermini.’ It’s not ugly, but nor is it distinctive.
Climb inside and there’s more of the same. The seats are well shaped and comfortable, you’ll find a decent amount of space in the back, and everything’s well made, although a lot of dark fabrics and sensible, hard plastics have been employed.
The dash is a little fussy, but the controls work well, fall easily to hand and, shock, the heat/vent rotary knobs are rather stylish.
A while back I drove a pre-facelift Yaris hybrid, and found the unyielding, hard plastic of its steering wheel actively unpleasant, which sounds petty, but is the sort of thing that can really irk if you live with a car long term, so the softer material used in the new one was welcome.
It came with six-speed manual gearbox that was nice to use, and handled very tidily, with accurate steering, plenty of grip in bends and a commendable lack of body roll –all this is effective rather than fun, which suits the character of the car. I thought the ride a little choppy, but no more so than many of its rivals.
The 1,329cc petrol engine was smooth and quiet at low speeds, and proved willing in the lower gears, where I found the throttle response to be mildly jerky. I was less convinced about the spacing of the higher gears, where on country roads I know well, the thing would suddenly run out of zest on inclines where dropping down even a couple of gears didn’t seem to make much difference, which meant selecting a lower gear than was ideal and a lot of high revving mechanical screaming.
That aside there’s little to complain about with the Yaris, an everyman’s (and woman’s) car that provides fuss free, no nonsense transport which is easy to live with if not especially exciting to write about.