PERHAPS unfairly, the perfectly practical and painlessly efficient Toyota Yaris has gained a reputation for being a rather unexceptional thing.
That may once have been true but it certainly isn’t the case now.
As before, two petrol engines are offered to Yaris buyers and both have something to be said for them.
Featuring smart VVT-i variable valve timing, the 69bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit marks the entry level while those looking for more power will prefer the 100bhp 1.33-litre option which uses the more advanced Dual VVT-i configuration and gets Stop & Start technology.
The diesel option is a 90bhp 1.4-litre D-4D engine.
The 1.0-litre unit takes a rather tardy 15.7s to get to 60mph which, although adequate for shopping duties, struggles out of town.
The 1.33-litre Dual VVT-i engine feels much stronger during everyday driving and its Stop & Start system saves fuel too. 0-60mph takes 11.7s, but that’s still slower than the 1.4-litre D-4D diesel’s 10.7s.
As standard the 1.33-litre engine and the diesel are mated to a clever 6-speed manual gearbox with a higher than usual 6th gear to boost fuel economy on higher speed runs.
The 1.0-litre engine gets a five speed manual but the other option is Toyota’s Multidrive S continuously variable transmission (CVT), which features a sequential seven-step mode that the driver can operate using either the gearshift lever or paddle shifts on the steering wheel.
Now into its third incarnation, this is certainly the most aggressive looking Yaris to date and the one most likely to stand out from the crowd.
The angular headlights, pronounced ‘V’ sculpting of front grille, re-modelled bumpers and eased-out wheelarches give the car a sturdier, more purposeful stance
Move round to the back and the chrome strip running along the boot combines with the small tailgate spoiler to further massage the up-tempo message, an effect nicely rounded off by the dark-hued 8-spoke alloy wheels.
External dimensions have stayed more or less the same which means the Yaris a good slice shorter than a Fiesta.
While this means it’s easier to park, it also means Toyota has needed to box clever when it comes to fitting four passengers and their luggage inside.
The boot is 272-litres compared to 295 in the Ford but Toyota’s EasyFlat rear seats split 60:40 bring a useful degree of versatility and up to 477-litres of space.
Those who felt the Toyota Yaris didn’t require sassy styling to do its bidding may be a little taken aback by the latest, third-generation car – a shrinking violet no more.
The good news is, it hasn’t lost sight of the core values that have sustained its huge sales success.
The Yaris is a vehicle that manages the essential compromises placed upon it extremely cleverly. In doing so, it makes many of its rivals look a little one-dimensional.