One of the most competitive segments in the motoring industry today, the hatchback category, is in a state of constant flux. With top brands vying for the top spot, each new hatchback that is being launched seems one step better than the rest! We have seen numerous new releases in this segment in recent weeks, not the lease of which is the much-anticipated new Toyota Yaris.

Making it’s first appearance in 2005, the Yaris became a popular sight on the roads, most especially in it’s signature blue colouring. With more and more releases aimed at this specific segment due to the target market being particularly big, the Yaris didn’t quite perform as well as was expected, despite being so well loved. Building on this, Toyota has now released the upgraded, updated Yaris to the public.

Increasing the vehicle in length by 165 mm and a few extra millimetres in width too, the space inside the Yaris has been increased quite a bit, with an almost 10% increase in luggage capacity. 79 kW of power and 140 Nm of torque, which is quite respectable in this segment. Some choices are offered in terms of gearbox, including a 5-speed manual or a CVT driving the front wheels. Both of these options are noted by Toyota to yield a satisfying 5/9 litres (for the manual) and 5.8 litres( for the CVT) to each 100 kilometres in terms of fuel consumption.

Although we don’t have much choice in terms of engine variants, there are 4 trim levels available, that range from keyless entry, push-button start and standard features for audio options to the more racy version which boasts 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and retractable side mirrors. A Cross version also exists, featuring roof rails, black side mouldings and a brushed metal apron for the front and rear. The Sport trim is highlighted in the red-stitched leather steering wheel and gear level, a more improved sound system, leather seats and sports-accessories (shark fin antenna, side skirts and front and rear spoilers to name but a few).

The most noticeable difference is in the new touchscreen infotainment system which is now fully integrated to your smartphone on both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and also hosts a Sat Nav system as well.

In terms of safety features, the Yaris is well-specced and all models feature airbags for the driver and passenger, ISOFIX child restraints, ABS and EBD, Brake Assist, Stability Control as well as Hill Assist Control. The Sports model has extra airbags on the curtain side and at the driver’s knees which is worth noting.

Priced between R230 000 and R286 000, the Yaris seems like a serious contender in the market at this point!


By Desh Bechan