The fourth generation Toyota Yaris has sharp styling, a quality interior, great media connectivity plus it also boasts a superior self-charging hybrid engine that's mated to a CVT automatic transmission as standard. It's a real contender for Motability customers looking in the supermini segment.
The Toyota Yaris range has come down in price, and now begins at £0 Advance Payment. The Yaris GR Sport automatic looks good value at £495 (section updated October 2023).
If you were asked to name the cars vying for the title of best supermini, it would be a reasonable wager that the Toyota Yaris wouldn't be amongst your top three. If, on the other hand, you had to name a small car that would be trouble-free, cheap to run and easy to use, it would be right up there. The thing is, those criteria are exactly what many supermini drivers are looking for. They don't care if the car can't take the Esses at Donington flat without lapsing into understeer. It's an irrelevance for most but car magazines still put a huge priority on handling and award their 'best of' titles predominantly on which cars are most fun to drive at the limit.
The Yaris has always been a supermini that works well in the real world and this fourth generation car is no exception. It has long lacked a bit of flair though, and Toyota has belatedly realised this, endowing the latest model with a lot more styling input, as well as engineering improvements. It's now exclusively a self-charging hybrid.
Here, Yaris drivers won't get the conventional 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre petrol engines offered with the car in other markets. That's because the brand thinks UK customers will want the self-charging hybrid version. This electrified variant features a new 1.5-litre petrol powertrain mated to a CVT auto transmission that's claimed to be more linear in response than the old Yaris Hybrid 'rubber band'-like set-up. The electrified petrol engine is 1490cc in size but has the same bore, stroke and piston size as the 2.0-litre hybrid unit that Toyota uses in the Corolla. Maximum engine power is 90hp, the combined system output is 114hp and there's 120Nm of torque. This car makes 62mph in 10.5s en route to 109mph.
The brand reckons that the new lithium-ion battery will be able to drain and recharge more quickly than the previous unit, which means that it will be able to provide more of an electric surge through the 79hp electric motor. As a result, the company expects that over 80% of urban journeys in this car will be able to be completed under electric power alone. On all models, ride quality should be better thanks to suspension tweaks and a considerably more rigid body.
The Yaris takes its styling influence from the current Corolla family hatch, the panel work adopting various creases to give it some extra flair. Pronounced blister feature over the wheel arches, plus there's complex surfacing over the rear doors - and the car is both lower and wider than its predecessor. Unusually and against the current trend, this MK4 design is actually slightly smaller than the one it replaces, measuring in at 3,940mm - most supermini rivals are over 4 metres long. As usual, of more importance is the stuff you can't see - namely the new generation 'GA-B' platform this car sits upon.
Inside, you'll notice features more commonly seen in larger cars, including a large 10-inch centre-dash infotainment touchscreen. 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring is standard. There's also a further TFT information display between the two instrument binnacle gauges. The driver's seat positions you a little lower than before (36mm lower to be exact) and there are plenty of soft-touch materials around the cabin. The dashboard has been made slimmer and is set lower, with a wider and higher centre console. The driver's instrument binnacle has twin digital meters flanking the TFT multi-information display, and is presented with a shallow hood. Last, but not least, the steering wheel size has been reduced. The rear part of the cabin isn't especially spacious, but the boot area is of a versatile size and is enhanced by a variable-height boot floor.
Most models get features like dual-zone air conditioning, rear privacy glass, push-button start, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control and auto-folding mirrors. Plus leather steering wheel trim, air conditioning and a smartphone-mirroring-compatible multimedia system.
Safety was a design priority: Toyota says that this fourth generation Yaris was designed to be the world's safest compact car, featuring significant advances in both active and passive safety systems. Standard advanced driver assistance systems include full speed-range intelligent adaptive cruise control and lane trace assist. In addition to these systems, the new Yaris has been developed to provide the best possible occupant protection, in line with stricter testing standards. For example, to provide protection in the event of a side impact, the Yaris is the first car in its segment to be fitted with a centre airbag.
The hybrid engine is 20% lighter this time round, contributing to an overall weight saving of around 20kgs. That's really improved the overall economy. Toyota is talking of a CO2 figure as low as 92g/km. And a WLTP fuel economy reading as high as 68.8mpg.
The Toyota Yaris always used to be one of those cars that grew on you - it didn't have the force of personality to impress you with sheer showroom wow factor. The latest model ups its game quite markedly in that regard. Don't for one moment think that Toyota has given into superficiality, favouring style over substance. This is fundamentally better product and its hybrid engine will be a big draw. Electrified technology makes a lot of sense for a supermini owner and this car leads its field in that regard.
None of this will impress the enthusiast magazines or interest those who pore over 0-62mph times or wax lyrical about handling adjustability. But what the Yaris lacks at the ragged edge on a Welsh mountain road, it more than makes up for in everyday use. Put down the car magazines, ask yourself what you really need a supermini for and then see if this Yaris doesn't tick every single box.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new Toyota Yaris through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local Toyota dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.
This month, these Toyota Yaris New models can be ordered through the Motability Scheme: