Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Ignoring the grin-inducing GR Yaris hot hatch, which gets its own separate review, currently there’s only one engine available: a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol that does without a turbocharger. Instead it uses a couple of electric motors and a battery pack to boost performance and fuel economy. Total power is 114bhp, which is enough for a respectable 0-60mph time of 9.0sec (in our own tests).
A CVT automatic is the only gearbox and, when you squeeze the accelerator pedal, moderate acceleration arrives reasonably promptly. However, when you need a real turn of pace there's quite a lot of noise, as we'll come on to explain in the Refinement section below.
Suspension and ride comfort
Go for Icon or Design trim and you get 16in alloys with regular suspension. This combination delivers a fairly firm ride, with the Yaris following minor road contours and jostling you around in your seat more than a Volkswagen Polo or Honda Jazz would. Things never become overly fractious, though.
However, choose Dynamic or Excel trim and your Yaris will have 17in alloys and 'sports' suspension. This, unsurprisingly, makes the ride even firmer, and means the Yaris is more jarring over potholes and expansion joints. It's really best avoided.
The good news is that the Yaris feels right at home when being driven briskly along a winding road, no matter which suspension you've gone for. There's a reasonable amount of grip, too.
However, although the Yaris is capable of making the corners of your mouth point upwards more than the Jazz can, the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza and even Polo are much more fun to drive. All of those cars have more feelsome, naturally weighted steering, and feel lighter on their toes – even if the Polo does lean quite a bit through faster twists and turns.
Noise and vibration
You'll be impressed by the Yaris’s peaceful manners around town, where the petrol engine is frequently left to slumber while the electric motor does all the work. Toyota claims that the Yaris can run on battery power alone for up to 80% of the time, and if you're crawling in traffic that may indeed be true.
In normal driving, though – even in urban environments – the petrol engine is running for large periods of time. It's relatively subdued when you're taking it easy, but accelerate hard and the engine revs soar and stay high until you're up to cruising speed. This isn't particularly couth, and you also feel some engine vibration through the soles of your feet and the steering wheel.
The Yaris is a relatively noisy motorway cruiser, too. Tyre roar is the big bugbear, something there's more of than in a Jazz. If you want a really hushed small car, though, look to the Polo.
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