By BRENWIN NAIDU
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.