Facelifted Toyota Yaris offers improved style inside and out, but lacks the dynamic substance to make a real impact

What is it?

The facelifted version of Toyota's Toyota Yaris hatchback, and a car which must match up to the likes of the Honda Jazz, new Nissan Note and Volkswagen Polo if it's to survive in Europe's supermini battleground. Being able to square up to the class-leading Ford Fiesta would be a bonus, too.

This new model gets a mild styling refresh, adopting themes from the new Aygo including the new X-faced front-end design. The Japanese manufacturer is also promising improved driving dynamics thanks to a revised suspension setup underneath.

Engines are carried over from the current Toyota Yaris, meaning the line-up includes a 1.0-litre petrol, a 1.4-litre diesel and a 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid, as well as the 1.33-litre petrol tested here.

Our test car came in middle-market Icon trim, which is strongly tipped to be the biggest seller in the range. For £14,095 customers get 15-inch alloy wheels, a rear-view camera, air conditioning, and Toyota's Touch 2 infotainment system with Bluetooth.

What's it like?

A definite improvement, for sure. The Toyota Yaris' updated looks add to its appeal, and from most angles it looks like a smart, modern supermini. The X-face front-end design has carried across well from the Aygo, and the addition of optional LED DRLs give it additional presence on the road.

The same can be said of the interior, the changes to which have gone well beyond the realms of a usual facelift. Almost the entire dashboard has been overhauled, and it now looks more premium than before. Upping the fit and finish has worked wonders, too, especially with a soft-touch strip running the length of the fascia.

There are still some rough edges and hard plastics elsewhere - and, if anything, they're highlighted in contrast to the new furnishings. For the most part, though, the Yaris' cabin remains one of its strongest selling points.

It's relatively spacious up front, too, and adults will be comfortable on the back bench for short journeys. Boot space is unchanged over the outgoing model, meaning there's 286 litres of space available with the rear seats in place. They do also fold forwards - but not flat - to create a decent 768-litre loading bay.

Our 1.33-litre model, in mid-level Icon specification, is expected to be the biggest seller in the range. While it's undoubtedly the pick of the range, sitting alongside 1.0-litre petrol, 1.4-litre diesel and 1.5-litre hybrid options, it's still a little unrefined for our liking.

Progress from a standing start is slow, and reaching 62mph takes 11.7 seconds - slower than the 1.0-litre Ford Fiesta EcoBoost.

The engine is also noisy under load, which is a shame because this unit needs to be worked hard to perform at its best. There's little vibration intrusion into the cabin, but noise can become an issue when cruising at motorway speeds.

Speaking of noise, Toyota has worked hard to quieten the cabin, with a re-engineered dashboard silencer and upgraded carpetting among the new additions to the car. Mostly it's been successful and it's only at speed when wind noise – particularly from around the side mirrors – finds its way inside.

We tested a version with a six-speed manual transmission. It's serviceable, but out of town the urban-biased gearing can become an issue. Be ready for cruising at 70mph to sit you at around 3000rpm, for example. An automated manual is also available, should you require it.

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Things are better on the economy and efficiency front, with CO2 emissions rated at 114g/km and a claimed average of 57.6mpg. 

The updated car has a significantly re-worked suspension setup, with a stiffer torsion beam at the rear and softer springs up front aiming to improve the ride and handling.

It's again only partly successful, because while the ride is undoubtedly improved over the old car it now feels unsettled over rough surfaces, especially at the rear.

Steering remains light and well weighted at speed, but as with most electric systems there's no feeling through the wheel - arguably not a big miss considering the Yaris' core market. There's more than the fair share of body roll through corner, too.

Should I buy one?

That depends on your priorities. The Toyota Yaris has come on leaps and bounds in terms of its interior. The new Touch 2 infotainment system, for example, looks good and is easy to use – and can even imitate your mobile phone's functions using Mirror Link software.

Elsewhere the cabin now feels of a suitably high standard, with only a few hard plastics letting the side down.

Where the new car fails to live up to competitors like the Nissan Note and class-leading Ford Fiesta, though, is dynamically. It's an uninvolving car to drive and venturing out of town can leave the 1.33-litre engine quickly wanting for power.

Arguably a car like the Toyota Yaris will be confined to city centres where outright power matters less, but in the face of rivals which are as capable on the motorway as they are in town, the Toyota hatchback is left wanting.

Toyota Yaris 1.33 VVT-i Icon

Price £14,095 0-62mph 11.7sec Top speed 109mph Economy 57.6mpg CO2 114g/km Kerb weight 1030kg Engine 4cyls, 1329cc, petrol Power 98bhp at 6000rpm Torque 92lb ft at 4300rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual

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rxl 17 July 2014


how can Autocar car say that this Yaris cannot live up to the " Nissan Note" in dynamics??? do I read right? I mean, I may agree that the Fiesta is better, but the Note? LOL

And a 1.3L NA with 98hp isn't week too. many cars from competition need to have 1.5L to achieved that. Maybe you folks from Autocar forget how it feels to drive a small NA car, since everything now is turbo powered... from my experience driving the turbos may be tricky. it gives the impression of a huge power on a fast start, but then it sense of power decline from 4000RPM up. this little NA will keep pushing to 5500 RPM with vivacity. and to me that is the fun of driving: squishing the power from a engine, not waiting for the turbo doing it for me.

noluddite 17 July 2014


That really is offensive.
Greenracer 16 July 2014


Facelifted ? It's SO ugly from the front...I would sue the 'surgeon '.