What's the used Toyota Yaris hatchback like?
The original Toyota Yaris of 1999 broke the mould for small cars, with daring design details such as a digital speedometer housed in a pod in the centre of the dash. While it’s true to say the Yaris has become more conventional over the years, as reviewed here in third-generation guise it still represents solid value for money, particularly for those who rate reliability over driving dynamics.
The Yaris is one of the roomier cars in its class, with plenty of interior space for those in the back, helped by a completely flat floor. There’s lots of head room up front, although the dashboard design is a little basic. Boot space matches the Fiesta's but falls short of that in the Fabia and Jazz. Furthermore, you have to make do with a large step in the floor of the boot when the rear seats are folded.
However, the Yaris does stand out from rivals because of the availability of a petrol/electric hybrid version, which loses out on some boot space but promises green credentials. The only other hybrid alternative in this class is the Suzuki Swift, although it’s not quite as economical as the Yaris.
Petrol engines in 1.0-litre and 1.3-litre capacities, plus a 1.4-litre diesel, make up the rest of the range. We like the livelier 1.3-litre unit paired with the easy-shifting five-speed manual gearbox (Toyota’s Multidrive S CVT automatic is fine around town but provokes a lot of engine noise under hard acceleration). From 2017, a 1.5 petrol replaced the 1.3. It brings a slight increase in fuel economy and a decrease in emissions. It’s noticeably faster than the 1.0, therefore better for those who regularly tackle longer journeys.
The light steering is good for town driving but, on the open road, it doesn’t inspire as much confidence as the more informative steering you get in rivals such as the Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo or Mazda 2. Similarly, ride comfort lags behind the Fiesta's; although the Yaris is far from unbearable, you do feel more thumps and bumps through the suspension and there’s a bit of wind noise at motorway speeds, too.
As you’d expect of a Toyota, the Yaris has a good reliability record and performed well in crash tests, with a five-star rating from Euro NCAP.
Also of note is a facelift in the middle of 2014 that resulted in a slightly swishier dashboard and more aggressive styling at the front of the car. The update in 2017 brought some new model specifications alongside the 1.5 petrol engine.