Small package; big personality
- 2009 Toyota NCP91R Yaris YRX; 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; four-speed automatic; three-door hatch - $21,490*
In a segment that sees around 18 models vying for attention, the Toyota Yaris YRX is well worth some investigation.
The YRX is the top of the Yaris model line-up and while we tested the three-door model, a five-door hatch is also available. Front and rear spoilers, fog lights, side skirts and 15-inch alloys add a dash of spunk to the standard looks of the Yaris base model.
The 1.5-litre engine is well suited to this bite-sized car, delivering a perky dose of power and pace, with 80kW and 141Nm at hand.
The four-speed auto in our test vehicle performed beautifully around town as well as on freeway hauls. The engine sets a great tempo and maintains its composure through uphill acceleration.
The steering of the Yaris is confident, direct and quite composed – almost playful in its handling, which makes light work of tight corners. Needless to say, parking the Yaris is a breeze.
Priced at $21,490* (plus dealer and on-road costs), the Yaris YRX is at the top end of the light car price list, but it’s packed with enough options as standard to justify the price tag.
Despite its modest proportions, the Yaris delivers a comfortable ride for all passengers, absorbing bumps and speed humps with the greatest of ease. In a recent light car comparison, the Yaris was voted above its competitors to provide the best ride comfort for passengers. Although it does cater for five passengers, including head rests and lap sash belts all round, I wouldn’t want to be sitting three-up in the second row; its bench style seating is very tight.
The Yaris has MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, which produces pleasing ride quality and handling. Inside, only a small amount of road and engine noise can be heard. And at just 1045kg in weight, the Yaris manages to sit quite firmly on the road.
The cabin ergonomics, durability, comfort and fit-out of the Yaris YRX are all of a good standard and splashes of chrome lift the tone of this mostly plastic interior considerably. The sporty exterior looks of the Yaris YRX compliment its interesting, modern interior design which seems to leave opinions divided – somewhere between love and hate. However, in a segment that features some fairly bland, plastic interiors, the Yaris brings a unique, quirky design to the table. The big, centre-mounted digital display is the key focus, leaving the driver without the usual instrumentation cluster behind the wheel. It is however a point of difference, setting it apart from – some would argue well above – the dated interiors of several of its competitors.
The driving position is very comfortable, made easier by the both fact that the Yaris has both tilt and telescopic adjustments for the steering column. Visibility is great and maneuverability is effortless thanks in part to the nimble steering of the Yaris.
Despite its diminishing proportions, the Yaris is to be commended for not only its comfort, but for its versatility. It held its own on a trip to both Bunnings and BBQs Galore, packed with garden supplies and a full sized garden umbrella! I was impressed just how much you could fit into the Yaris when the seats are folded flat. It was by no means ideal or comfortable for the three occupants, but nonetheless doable.
For smaller everyday items, the Yaris offers a fantastic range of in-cabin storage options, about 20 at count, with every spare inch of space housing a storage spot of some kind.
Other features as standard include; steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and auxiliary input, keyless entry and remote locking, power windows and mirrors.
In a segment that achieves some fairly frugal fuel economy, the Yaris sits about middle of the road, delivering 9.1L/100km on our test route. CO2 emissions come in at 160g/km.
Safety features of the Yaris YRX include front airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist which contribute to the Yaris receiving a four-star rating from ANCAP. Disappointingly, the Yaris YRX three-door does not have side or curtain airbags or stability control as standard.
The Yaris does sit among the top selling models in this light car segment, however the competition is tough. Rivals such as the Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta put forward an equally impressive value proposition and marginally better drive dynamics, but the unique character of the Yaris YRX makes it an interesting battle for buyers.
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