Easy rider

The Toyota Yaris automatic is all about a low-stress and safe driving experience

By Abhijit Mitra
  • Published 1.07.18
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Toyota’s new Yaris has driven into the section of the sedan market that’s one step up from the entry-level, sub-4m models. This is an approximately 15,000-cars-per-month segment that is dominated by Honda City, Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and Hyundai Verna, with other cars like Skoda Rapid and Volkswagen Vento doing smaller numbers. Evidently, that’s a tough place to break into.

It is also the segment that lies between the higher-end cars and SUVs, most of which come with automatic transmission, and the lower end, where the manual gearbox still rules. But with driving a manual becoming a chore in the heavy traffic that has become more or less the norm in cities, many buyers are going for automatics and there has been quite a proliferation of such models in the market. With that backdrop, we checked out the Yaris automatic in Calcutta.

ON THE OUTSIDE

At first glance, it’s a smart-looking car with a busy front end. The somewhat angular design is reminiscent of other, more expensive, cars in the Toyota stable. When it comes to lighting up the road, the Yaris has quite the arsenal. The front clusters comprise projector beam headlamps, LED daytime running lights, a second set of lights for high beam and turn indicators. Then there are the fog lamps. The headlamp and the tail lamp clusters wrap around the sides a fair bit and liven up the view when the car is seen in profile.

The rear end is neat and very Toyota. For those who want splashes of chrome, there’s a bagful of shiny bits one can buy and stick onto the front bumper, the bootlid, the mirrors and around lamps. The alloy wheels look good.

DASH AND INSTRUMENTS

The black-and-cream colour scheme of the interiors and the quality feel of the materials used give the sense that one is in a premium vehicle. The dashboard top is black, leather-patterned hard plastic that manages to look like the soft stuff. But it beats us why Toyota put faux stitches on it on either side of the central console, which has got pretty cool zig-zag, brushed aluminium surrounds.

The console is where the touchscreen infotainment system (it’s also the parking camera display), the climate control vents and controls live.

The white-on-black instrument cluster is easy to read and there is a whole lot of information that you can get from the LCD screen — from digital speed readout to instantaneous fuel consumption to data for past trips. There are as many as three 12V power sockets in this car — two at the back, one in the front.

SEATING AND BOOT

The seats are good and supportive. The rear seat feels more upright than most cars of this class and the squab seems to be set higher. That makes it quite comfortable to get in and out of. Headroom is adequate, but not generous. The driver’s seat has eight-way electrical adjustment and it’s easy to find a good driving position. All five seats get head restraints, which sometimes hamper the view out of the rear windscreen, and using the outside mirrors is almost a must in most situations. 

Legroom is sufficient and one doesn’t feel cramped either in the front or the back. The boot is a clean, usable space, though on paper it’s a wee bit smaller than those of the other cars in this segment.

The aircon vents for the rear seats are worth mentioning. In the Yaris, there are two of them and they are mounted on the roof. This setup works way better than a low position between the front seats.

ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

The Yaris comes only with a 1.5-litre petrol engine that makes about 106hp and 140Nm of torque. The engine is mated to either a six-speed manual or a CVT (constantly variable transmission) automatic gearbox. For longer drives, this car also comes equipped with cruise control to lower stress levels even further.

RIDE & DRIVE

This car comes with good suspension that handles bumps, ruts and potholes other than the nastiest ones with composure, but in a light, Japanese, and very un-European way. The power-assisted steering is nicely weighted and makes the car easy to manoeuvre while giving sufficient feel of the road at the same time.

The automatic is very smooth. Most of the time in city conditions, it manages to keep the engine under 2,000rpm. Floor the pedal and it moves with a fair bit of urgency and engine speeds climb quite close to the limit. But that’s not what this car really is about. It is an extremely low-stress vehicle to drive in the city. It even made short work of a traffic jam we got stuck in while climbing a flyover. The hill hold assist feature stopped the car from rolling back long enough for us to get on the accelerator and get the car going again. Braking is good with disc brakes on all wheels in the variant that we drove and nicely grippy 185/60 R15 tyres.

SAFETY FEATURES

Toyota has put in airbags and anti-lock brakes (with electronic brake distribution and brake assist) in all versions of the Yaris. The two higher versions get disc brakes at the rear as well. Plus, there is electronic stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system, which isn’t that common in this segment. That apart there’s impact-sensing door unlock. There are seven airbags in this car and with the full complement of safety features it has got five-star NCAP safety rating, the highest possible.

BUDGET BASICS

The versions with manual transmission cost between Rs 8.75 lakh and Rs 12.85 lakh and the automatics between Rs 9.95 lakh and Rs 14.07 lakh. The automatic might not send pulses racing for adrenaline junkies, but for others it is a smart car that offers a smooth drive, good ride and enough creature comforts.

IN NUMBERS

Form: Sedan
LxBxH (mm): 4,425 x 1,730 x 1,495
Engine: 1,496cc, inline 4-cylinder, 16-valve, petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual or CVT automatic
Wheels and tyres: Steel or alloy, 185/60 R15
Kerb weight (kg): 1,110-1,135 (CVT)
Certified fuel consumption (kmpl): 17.8 (CVT), 17.1 (manual)
Boot (litres): 476
Price (Rs lakh): 8.75-14.07 (ex showroom, Calcutta)