Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Compact Big on Value

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Compact Big on Value

Article excerpt

TOYOTA'S Yaris is not used to being runner-up. It was the class leader in light city cars for some time until a Korean upstart, Hyundai Getz, knocked it off over the past couple of years.

But Getz has gone, and the Japanese Yaris has evolved into its third generation (prior to the Yaris it was badged Echo, and prior to that the Starlet).

This time around, though, there's no sedan model. Instead, it will be up to a combination of three- and five-door hatchbacks.

The car maker aims to do it with a Yaris that has grown, and manned, up. It has kept Yaris's cheap entry price despite adding gear (although some is taken away), and turned it into something that closely matches or in some instances betters rivals.

That said, it has largely carried over the 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre engines and while the five-speed manual gearbox suits the engine, the four-speed auto sits in a space largely vacated by rivals that now use six-speed units.

We missed a chance to drive the 1.3-litre, base model YR, which is a shame because all the reports we heard said it was quite good despite its diminished engine size.

Instead, we were able to sample the mid-spec Yaris YRS, top-spec Yaris YRX and Yaris ZR models.

Yaris is the first of a generation of cars that will feature the new corporate face of Toyota. Swept headlights and a small, stylised air intake above a yawning air dam.

While the five-door version follows the classic hatchback formula, the three-door version abandons it slightly. Unlike the five-door, the three-door has a steeply-raked rear pillar that gives it quite good-looking proportions.

Slide in behind the steering wheel, and much has changed. For starters, a three-pod instrument cluster replaces the formerly digital speedo and has moved from the centre of the dash to its rightful place in front of the driver. Access is helped by a three-spoke steering wheel featuring a squared-off bottom.

Getting comfortable behind the wheel is easy. …

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