This is the MC Toyota Yaris – MC meaning ‘minor change’ – but on face value the third-generation Yaris appears more than just a re-skin. That’s because significant work has gone into updating its appearance, body structure and interior with over 1 000 new parts and 576 000 worth of man hours spent smoothing out the previous model’s bugs and flaws.
While some may dislike its new look the styling changes have kept the Yaris both in touch with Toyota’s new style guide and contemporary trends, too. As such the Yaris adopts a radical-looking front end underscored by a narrow upper trapezoidal grille which is divided from the lower grille by two chrome diagonal strips – quirky but distinctive nonetheless. However, things are a lot simpler at the rear where a new bumper arrangement – comprising a diffuser and integrated fogs – imparts a hunkered-down, muscular stance.
The hybrid version features model-specific styling additions such as LED daytime running lights, front fog lamps and unique badging that subtly differentiates it as the flagship from the quotidian models. Furthermore, the body structure of the minor change car has been strengthened by 20 per cent while the suspension has been tuned to deliver better compliancy and sportiness to go with reduced NVH levels. Climb inside and you’ll notice a spacious and functional cabin with such areas as the dashboard, door cards, trim panels and instrument cluster all receiving some form of visual improvement.
Several engine choices are available which range from 1.0-litre and 1.3-litre through to a 1.5-litre hybrid. Of the three the 1.3-litre 16-valve DOHC with VVT-I is the most versatile offering in the line-up, delivering great performance and fuel consumption figures. Cranking out 73kW and 125Nm it can hit 100kph in 11.7sec, reach a top speed of 175kph and return figures of 5.6l/100km if driven conservatively. The ride quality is exceptional – the MacPherson front/torsion-beam rear in combination with the re-tuned dampers assuring a superior pliancy to that of its predecessor. While the steering is light and sometimes vague around centre it still allows the driver to track accurate lines through the corners – something we thoroughly tested over the Bainskloof pass on the launch route.
At R194 300 the Yaris 1.3 may seem a little expensive considering the price points of the competition but you must remember it comes standard with a host of mod cons its rivals supply as options. These include electric windows all round, a Toyota Touch Multimedia system (with Bluetooth hands-free functionality), 15-inch alloy wheels, remote central locking, air con, electric mirrors, power steering, dual front and side airbags and ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift lever. Add to that Toyota’s comprehensive three-year / 45 0000km service plan and you’d be silly not to consider it come car replacement time.
NEED TO KNOW
Toyota Yaris 1.3
PRICE R194 300
ENGINE 1329cc, four-cylinder 16-valve, 73kW @ 6000rpm, 125Nm @ 4000rpm
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
SUSPENSION Macpherson strut front, torsion-beam rear
LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT 3 950 / 1 695 / 1 520 mm
PERFORMANCE 11.7sec 0-100kph, 175kph top speed, 5.6l/100km,131g/km
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