Toyota Yaris

The latest model of the Toyota Yaris has just hit New Zealand with the marketing slogan "Yaris is Yes!" Angela Pedersen looks at whether this little car lives up to such big talk. 

When I parted with the Toyota Yaris after a week's trial I must say I took a look at the other Yaris models in the car yard, seriously considering whether my next runabout purchase should be the Yaris!

We are a bit of a car family (hence my love of doing car reviews). Hubby has a classic V8 muscle car, we have a family SUV and a runabout car that we use to go to work, drop our eldest at school and for when we don't need to pack all three kids in the back along with the kitchen sink. Now, having driven the Yaris, it has been hard to go back to our little runabout as I know what I'm missing!

The Yaris is such a fun little car and when I say little, I am really describing the "small car" category in which it sits, because it's actually quite spacious inside with a surprising amount of leg room in the front and back. I enjoyed zipping around town, squeezing into those parking spots our bigger car would never dream of fitting into (a bit like that little black dress after Christmas dinner!) and feeling very secure knowing that this car has nine air bags. Not that I thought I would need them, of course!

The beauty of Toyota is that so many of the high safety specifications that are found in their higher priced models also come standard in the smaller cars. As with all cars on the market its safety features are full of the obligatory acronyms, these include ABS, VST, EBFD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution), traction control and brake assist. One of the things I loved the most was the three Isofix mounts in the rear seats for attaching your children's car seats, making it simple to install and remove them from the back. Now, I did manage to ft three car seats in the back but that was two boosters and a car seat. I don't think it would have fitted three full car seats in the back and allowed the doors to close, but for a family of four this would be no problem at all.

As for boot room, I was able to fit the buggy in the boot and the baby bag and a quick shop of groceries fitted on and around the buggy. But realistically, if I were doing a grocery shop I'd hopefully be leaving the kids with their dad or shopping online if I couldn't!

Which leads me to the ability of the back seats to fold down in a 60:40 split to increase space. One thing I did notice on going back to our little car was just how quiet the Yaris is. The insulation in this car is remarkable, listening to your favourite song on the radio - or the Wiggles - is hugely improved (well, if listening to the Wiggles this might be arguable). 

I don't know about you, but I find my driving experience greatly improved with a good sturdy steering wheel and the little Yaris has a sports-style steering wheel with in-built audio control, so you're not fussing around the console to change the volume.

The voice control system is fun. It allows you to switch from radio to CD and it can access the contacts in your phone (while connected by Bluetooth) so I can tell it who to call! No more hands-free kit taking up space in the car, this is built in.

I had the use of the Yaris for a full week and I can safely say this car goes very easy on the gas. The Yaris claims a fuel cost per annum of just $1760, based on a fuel price of $2 a litre and mileage of 14,000km. That's just $34 a week, our bigger cars would swallow double that in a week. The week I had the Yaris I took the kids out to Piha which is a good half-hour drive, and I drove it daily, but even so, I used less than half a tank of petrol.

The Yaris comes in a three-door and five-door hatch, both having the added performance of the VVT-i engine. The five-door model is also available in a 1.5 litre option which received the maximum five-star rating from the EuroNCAP crash safety tests.

Toyota's reputation, of course though, is reliability, their cars just keep going and because of that they hold their value better than other cars.

So, after a week of testing and trialling, do I think the Yaris stands up to its marketing hype? Yes!

Angela Pedersen is managing director of OHbaby! and busy mum of three children.



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