Toyota is out to make a statement. They've done it with the Vios; the number one selling automobile that kicked off their campaign to start the fun. Now they're trying to play the style game, this time with that car's brother: the 2014 Toyota Yaris.
Let's see how much of a statement this stylish hatchback can make.
The new generation Yaris for the Philippine market is based on the Dear Qin concept; a Vios-based model developed by Toyota's Chinese operations and subsequently debuted at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show. It featured a more radical styling direction "to attract more people to the user base". The Japanese automaker however decided to stick to a different platform for Japanese, European, Australian, and North American versions of the Yaris.
The exterior design for the new Yaris is a deviation from the otherwise conservative styling of its predecessors. As with the Dear Qin concept, the front features an 'X-pattern’ design statement which defines the cars character lines. From the side, the design seems to be very consistent from pillars A to C, only to be disconnected by a D pillar which seems to have been too radically placed, a weird plastic garnish to integrate the rear quarter glass and rear glass, and awkward looking taillamps.
The interior is pretty much a mirror of the new Vios except for some changes in color accents (read: orange) for the seats and instrumentation. Like the current generation Vios, the previous model's center stack gauges were moved to the conventional driver’s side position while the general styling has been completely redone for a more upscale appeal with faux stitching to boot.
The 1.3-liter may be a new power plant for the model considering its predecessor was only offered with a 1.5-liter engine; the 2NZ-FE however is carryover from the previous generation. Rated at 86 PS and 122 Nm and mated to a 4-speed automatic, the 1.3E variant is meant for urban driving with the occasional out of town runs.
The Yaris 1.3E feels quite zippy around town but clearly lacks that punch for overtaking on the highway. It feels just right for a 1.3-liter which was well matched with the 4-speed auto. In moderate to heavy traffic, fuel mileage was about 9.3 kilometers to a liter. The 1.3E also achieved a decent 12.5 kilometers to the liter on the highway at legal speeds.
Steering feels light and responsive; the car is easy to move around urban traffic. It feels stable out on the open road. The Yaris very able taking on corners with ease while the tail is a bit more responsive; yes, it's fun to drive. The brakes -like the ones on the Vios- are impeccable.
For its latest Philippine release, Toyota decided to offer a new 1.3-liter variant to better compete with the Honda Jazz and Ford Fiesta in the compact hatchback segment. This gives a good fighting chance in the segment for more fuel conscious buyers but want something larger than a subcompact hatchback.
Primarily more of a city car, the new 1.3-liter Yaris is fun and easy to drive all around and has more than eniugh power to get you out of town if the need arises. It rides better due to a longer wheelbase and improved suspension, while NVH has also received significant upgrades giving an enhanced level of comfort.
The previous model was what we call a bit of a wallflower especially against competition like the Honda Jazz and Ford Fiesta, but not anymore... not this new, strikingly styled 2014 Toyota Yaris.