Give and take: 2018 Toyota Yaris Sport

The Meander Chronicle - Motormouth Column

By Gordon Hall – The Motormouth

You know the old saying that what one hand gives, the other takes away? The new Yaris is rather like that.

Along with a recent facelift – restyled front, radically altered rear and brand new interior, it grew 200 mm longer and 35 mm wider. Its wheelbase stretched by 40mm and it gained 24l of boot volume while weight remained much the same. It accelerates from zero to 100 km/h seven-tenths of a second more rapidly, according to Car Magazine’s instrumented road tests, and peaks five km/h faster than the outgoing Pulse equivalent.

Power delivery and fuel efficiency

That’s the “give”. Here’s the “take”. First, the engine is slightly different. Pulse models used the 2NR-FKE evolution of the 1496 cc motor originally designed for Etios. Unlike that entry-level engine, however, it boasted dual VVT-iE. “E” means that its intelligent, variable valve timing is controlled electronically for the last word in power delivery and fuel efficiency.

Motormouth column by Gordon Hall

Stylish interior of the Toyota Yaris 2018 Sport. Pictures: Toyota@Motorpress

New Yaris reverts to a plainer 2NR-FE motor; also with dual VVT-I but without electronic assistance. That and a reduced compression ratio, provides three kilowatts less power but four Newton-metres more torque. You probably won’t notice the difference but the kicker is in the manual gearboxes. Pulse had a six-speed unit while New Yaris makes do with five ratios. “Big deal,” you might say, “they’re simply spread out a bit.”

There’s more to a car than that

Well, no. Pulse was geared “longer” overall, accounting for slower acceleration but noticeably better fuel economy. Referring to those instrumented tests again, average consumption increases from 6.0 l/100 km to 7.1 litres per hundred. While that could be a deal breaker for some motorists, there’s more to a car than just that.

We have five models here, of which one is an automatic. Entry-level Xi offers two airbags, ABS brakes, EBA and EBD, hill starting assistance, VSC, ISOFix mountings and child locks. Convenience kit consists of DRLs, push-button starting, powered windows and mirrors, rear fog lamps, intermittent wipers front and rear, follow-me lighting, manual air conditioner, four-speaker audio with Bluetooth and USB, steel wheels with 185/60 R15 tyres and fabric upholstery with manually adjustable seats.

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Upgrading to the top, Sport model like our test car, one gains quite a bit. This includes five more airbags, a shark fin antenna, auto-on projector headlamps, LED taillights, front fog lights, retractable side mirrors with indicator repeaters, Optitron digital speedometer, leather upholstery, alloy wheels with 195/60R16 tyres, front and rear spoilers, side skirts and two extra speakers.

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Get into gear with Toyota’s new Yaris.

While we’re on that, Xs and higher models score an advanced touchscreen infotainment system. Apart from AM/FM, USB and Bluetooth, it features full Smartphone integration and support, via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Plus.

While CarPlay uses standardised Apple applications including Siri, Android users can customise which apps they would like to mirror on the car’s audio screen by using Smartphone functions, such as ‘drag and drop’, or per Wi-Fi.

A tale of two bakkies, by Gordon Hall

Further, built-in satellite navigation allows users turn-by-turn guidance even when there’s no Smartphone connected. Features include speed limit reminders and GPS-sourced, real-time, speed readouts. The numbers glow red when you misbehave.

On that subject, the car’s performance is not overly sporty but it gets the job done. Road behaviour is firm and solid, parking and manoeuvrability is easy and fit and finish is generally good. Apart from handbrake action that’s not quite up to Toyota standard, its boot carpet is flimsy and the baseboard does not fit over the fully sized spare wheel as snugly as it should. Apart from those points, it’s as expected.

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On the positive side its boot sill is conveniently low, the well is shallow, the space is nicely shaped and lit, and it offers four bag hooks with three lashing rings. The 60:40-split seatbacks can be reached from behind once you find the hidden catches and they fold with a step. Back seat passengers enjoy plenty of head-, knee- and foot room, three belts and head restraints, grab handles, a dedicated courtesy light and sufficient storage. A flat floor means that the centre passenger can sit comfortably.

Priced at R288 700

New Yaris is a solid little city car with plenty of people space, decent luggage room and reasonable fuel economy. It’s perkier than its predecessor but you pay for that by way of more fuel. That leaves you with a choice: buy one of these or send your procurement team out after dark to “acquire” a clean, low-mileage Pulse. Kidding. Or are we?
** Test unit from Toyota SA press fleet

The numbers:
Price: R288 700
Engine: 1496 cc, DOHC, 16-valve, inline four, naturally aspirated
Power: 79 kW at 6000 rpm
Torque: 140 Nm at 4200 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 11.2 seconds
Maximum speed: 180 km/h
Real life fuel consumption: About 7.2 l/100 km
Tank: 42 litres
Luggage: 310 – 1016 litres
Turning circle: 11.4 metres
Not rated for towing
Warranty: 3 years/100 000 km
Service plan: 3 years/45 000 km at 15 000 km intervals.