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Car reviews - Toyota - Yaris - hatch range

Launch Story

Toyota logo26 Oct 2005

By MARTON PETTENDY

SPACE, performance, safety and value-for-money are up while fuel consumption and exhaust emissions fall in Toyota’s latest light-car combatant, the Yaris.

Like its six-year-old Echo hatchback predecessor, the Yaris was designed in France according to European tastes. Sales start from November 4.

Opening the 12-model range, which comprises three- and five-door hatchbacks, is the YR three-door variant, priced from $14,990.

It costs $500 more than the equivalent outgoing Echo but adds an MP3/CD audio and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist as standard.

Dual front airbags, air-conditioning, power windows, electric mirrors, remote central locking, power steering and 14-inch wheels are also included.

Next up is the YRS. For $1800 extra it includes 15-inch wheels and reach as well as rake adjustment for the steering wheel, which also has leather trim and audio controls.

Spending $1500 above the YRS yields the YRX range-topper, which has alloy wheels, a six-stack CD changer, extra storage areas, foglights and jazzier trim.

A Yaris four-door sedan will size up against the Holden Barina sedan early next year.

GoAuto believes all Australian-bound Yaris variants – built at Toyota’s Takaoka plant in Japan – will eventually be sourced from Thailand, where production starts next year.

About the only Echo carryover items are the two twin-cam 16-valve VVT-i four-cylinder engines offered in either a revised five-speed manual or a driver-adaptive four-speed automatic gearbox.

The latter is a $1500 extra.

The 1.3-litre 2NZ-FE unit is reserved for the YR. It produces 63kW of power at 6000rpm while maximum torque tops out at 121Nm from 4200rpm.

Toyota predicts that two-thirds of Yaris buyers will opt for the larger 1.5-litre 1NZ-FE engine that musters 80kW at 6000rpm and 141Nm from 4200rpm. It is the sole engine in the YRS and YRX.

It used to motivate the warm Echo Sportivo and near-invisible Echo sedan. Since the former had its fans, Toyota is expected to revive the nameplate on a 1.6-litre or 1.8-litre Yaris Sportivo.

The YR manual is the most frugal, sipping 6.0 litres of unleaded fuel per 100km.

Automatic 1.3s add 0.5L/100km while the 1.5 manual/auto returns 6.1 and 6.7L/100km respectively.

Size-wise, Toyota’s goal was to maintain the Echo hatch’s 3750mm overall length for the Yaris but with a cabin that could comfortably accommodate four 192cm adults – so a significantly larger interior had to be devised.

Success came by stretching the wheelbase 90mm (to 2460mm) and seating distances (to 880mm) while the engine bay is shorter and the fl oor free from tunnel protrusions.

This, along with increased use of high-tensile steel, also helps body stiffness improve by a claimed 50 per cent.

The Yaris’ rear seat is almost as spacious as the current Corolla’s. However, weight has increased by an average of 100kg over the Echo. Luggage space is also up.

With rear seats in situ there are 272 litres – slid forward this rises to 363 litres and 737 litres when flattened.

Sited underneath is an all-new chassis with a wider track for a broader overall footprint. It accommodates a completely redesigned front strut and torsion beam rear suspension system.

A new electric-powered rack-and-pinion steering system was also developed.

Toyota says the Yaris was engineered to deliver a five-star Euro NCAP crash test result.

An optional driver’s knee airbag (part of a $750 safety pack on all models that also adds front-seat side and full-curtain airbags) and a rigid safety cell help, as does better pedestrian protection.

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