With so much media attention focused on electric and hybrid vehicles these days, it’s easy to forget that there are several excellent subcompact cars on the market that offer amazing fuel economy from highly efficient and economical gasoline engines. The Toyota Yaris Hatchback fits squarely into this category and offers great driving fun and a reassuringly lengthy operating range between fill-ups.
Toyota describes the Yaris Hatchback as “an agile, urban-savvy subcompact that delivers style, versatility and driving fun with a modest footprint” and that sums it up nicely. Buyers can order a Yaris Hatchback with either two or four doors, according to their needs.
Like all hatchbacks, it’s a highly practical design and with its folding rear seats, can be converted into a surprising load hauler. It’s possible to get a couple of bicycles in the back with a bit of wheel-juggling. The seats split 60/40 when smaller loads are scheduled or room has to be made for a rear passenger. With all the seating deployed, the Yaris offers room for five adults.
In the cockpit, which is roomier than might be imagined for a car with such a minimal footprint, everything is within easy reach or sight of the driver, so it’s “driver-focussed” much like a sports car. There’s a 6.1-inch display audio system with USB points, Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel mounted controls.
All Yaris models use a responsive and lively 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that offers exceptional economy. Weight is reduced by using aluminum alloy for the engine block and technical assets include variable valve timing and multiport electronic fuel injection. The front wheels are driven via either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed electronic automatic. One benefit is a tight turning radius that is very useful in congested urban environments. Braking is taken care of using front discs and rear drums, a very well-proven combination.
Since this is a Toyota, it almost goes without saying that safety was a top priority at the design stage. The Yaris has Toyota’s Safety Sense C suite of technologies, which includes a pre-collision system, lane departure alert and automatic high beams. This combination brings lots of reassuring safety and the peace of mind that goes along with that. Especially welcome is a standard back-up camera, one of the most useful safety features to arrive in years.
Cars like the Yaris Hatchback are especially popular with young people, often couples living in urban areas who appreciate the car’s ease of parking and manoeuvring, very thrifty fuel consumption figures and peppy performance when needed. There are lots of buyers among older and retired people too, who no longer need a large car or substantial cargo capability. They also welcome the car’s fuel-sipping qualities. Three trim levels are on offer, CE, LE and line-topping SE
SPECS AT A GLANCE:
BODY STYLE: 4-door subcompact hatchback
ENGINE: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 9-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: 7.2-litres/100 km combined (manual)
PRICE: Base car, $15,630