The entry-level 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol model is very slow, even when you work it hard, and struggles to keep up with traffic on faster roads and across hilly terrain.
It doesn’t cost much to upgrade to our favourite version, the 1.5 four-cylinder, which is more flexible, has better throttle response, and a decent turn of pace when you rev it harder.
The Hybrid model, which has a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, is perkier still, albeit hardly brisk. None of them has the same zingy power delivery as the latest small turbo petrol engines from Volkswagen, Skoda and Ford.
Toyota Yaris ride comfort
To make up for the Hybrid's extra weight, Toyota has stiffened the model’s suspension over the others. That sounds like it should be bad news for ride comfort, but in fact, thanks to further revisions this model has received to its suspension over the other models, it is the most comfortable version of the Yaris.
It soaks up bumps well while controlling its body movements better than the floatier 1.0 and 1.5 versions. Prior experience suggests that the Yaris's smaller 15in alloy wheels are a comfier option than the range-topping 16in ones, too.
Toyota Yaris handling
Any small car faces a problem in the shape of the Ford Fiesta, which is one of the sweetest-handling cars available at any price; all its rivals struggle to match it.
The Yaris is no exception. Toyota has stiffened up the body shell to help it feel more planted in corners, but the light steering gives the driver little indication of what the front wheels are up to. It also feels less eager to turn in to corners than the VW Polo or the Fiesta, rolls over more in bends and runs out of grip more quickly, too.
Hybrid versions come with skinny eco-tyres as standard, and are heavier than their petrol and diesel siblings, and consequently feel slightly less stable cornering at speed. Even so the Yaris is easy to drive and handle, with light controls and a tight turning circle that make it easy to drive and park in town, if not very engaging outside it.
Toyota Yaris refinement
The Hybrid model’s CVT automatic gearbox flares the revs of the 1.5 petrol engine when you accelerate, but it seems slightly quieter in both than it was in the previous model and it is always smooth. Those who drive mostly in town will also benefit from near silent low-speed electric progress over short distances.
Push either the 1.0 or 1.5 hard and both engines boom loudly in the cabin, with the 1.0 three-cylinder sending back more vibrations through the controls. Noticeable road and wind noise on all three models on the motorway also frustrates.
The entry-point in the range is this three-cylinder petrol. With just 68bhp, it needs to be worked very hard to make decent progress, and is not very refined or smooth when doing so.
Our pick 1.5
The pick of the engines. This 1.5-litre petrol version is quicker than the 1.0 from 0-62mph, and is smoother in general. It’s worth going for, despite its higher CO2 output and distinctly average fuel economy figures. It’s available with either a manual or automatic gearbox.
This engine is borrowed from the Prius, albeit with a smaller battery pack. It is probably the quickest Yaris in-gear, thanks to the extra assistance from the electric motor, but the CVT gearbox is noisy, sending the revs flaring when you try and accelerate.