Toyota Yaris, the new Kid on the block


LIFE is fun when you’re young and on the move, carving your own niche in the big crazy world. Those of us tender-aged people know it, and those with a bit more mileage on the body clock yearn to re-live those exciting days.

At the launch of the new Toyota Yaris, Product Planner Bongeka Dyonas said that the Yaris is targeted at the up-and-coming, ambitious set of 25 to 34 year-olds. And there’s no denying that this objective is evident in the Yaris bodywork: it’s a funky, stylish little car – that you would be proud to rock-up in, meeting your fellow urbanites at the local Newscafe.

Dyonas also said that the Yaris’ product mission is be freshly competitive, and the ultimate fun-to-drive car in its segment. Now, only time will tell whether the Yaris fares well in the stakes of competition, but we managed to learn that the newcomer is a zesty performer, on the N3’s winding roads towards Pietermartizburg, and at Toyota’s vast training facility in Eston.

The events for the day included some mock rally driving on a dirt road, weaving in and out of cones on a slalom track, sliding about on a skidpan and high-speed manouvres to test its stability, in the event of real-world hazards on the highway.

If you’re looking to buy one of these, you’ll be happy to know that the Yaris ticked the boxes on the rigorous test schedule – it is actually fun to drive, and it feels confident even in fast-paced driving. Blistering speed is not one of the capabilities of the new Yaris, however. It’s offered with 1-litre and 1.3-litre engines, the entry-level mill has an output of 51-kilowatts and 93 Newton-metres of torque, and the latter produces 73-kilowatts and 125 Newton-metres of torque.

While the 1-litre certainly managed to hold its own on the drive – with a peppy, responsive feeling, I think that at our altitudes up in Johannesburg, it would feel like a slouch. We also drove the 1.3-litre model with the CVT-gearbox, and it made for a relaxing cruise on our return from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

They’ve done an interesting thing with the specification grades on the new Yaris. One usually finds that when buyung a car, if you go for the model with the smallest engine capacity, you’d be forced to accept a minimal level of features and niceties. But with this, you can have the 1-litre model in high Xr grade – which comes with all the cool fixings, like rain sensors, leather-clad steering wheel and gearlever and an 8-speaker audio system.

It’s a welcomed addition to the landscape of the B-segment, with fixtures like the Volkswagen Polo, Nissan Micra, Hyundai i20, Mazda 2 and Citrien C3. Although it is a highly-competitive, crowded segment, that esteemed Toyota image will definitely work in its favour to attract sales.

The price kicks off at R124 000 for the 1-litre Xi model, things work up to R189 000 for the 1.3-litre Xs with the CVT gearbox, and for the top-shelf 1.3-litre Xr 5-door, you will fork out R200 600. They’ve thrown in a four-year/60 000 km service plan and a three-year/100 000 km warranty.



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