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Car reviews - Toyota - Yaris - YRS sedan

Launch Story

Toyota logo10 Mar 2006

By CHRIS HARRIS

TOYOTA has added a sedan variant to the all-new Yaris hatch range it released Down Under in October, and it’s a sign of the times that the Japanese brand’s newest light car is as big and as powerful as the venerable EH Holden.

Priced at $17,690 ($19,190 for the auto), the single-model Yaris YRS four-door is considerably larger than the similarly equipped, mid-range YRS five-door hatch, yet is $300 cheaper.

Australia’s top-selling car brand says the booted Yaris - which is also as big as the current Corolla sedan - will bridge the gap between the light and small car categories.

As such, Toyota admits the largest Yaris will steal sales from Toyota’s own Corolla, which is $2160 more expensive in entry-level sedan guise and will be replaced by a larger new model next year.

Designed in Japan but offering the same crisp, edgy styling first seen on the European styled hatch, the five-speed manual and four-speed auto sedan brings to 14 the number of Yaris model variants.

By attracting up to 25 per cent of Yaris sales (about the same proportion its sedan predecessor made up of total Echo sales), Yaris sedan is expected to play a vital supporting role in maintaining Toyota’s light car dominance as it picks up the baton from runout stocks of the superseded Echo.

Last year more than 90,000 light cars were sold for the first time – more than double the number of a decade ago – and Toyota says 110,000 sales are possible in 2006.

Of the 90,731 light cars sold in 2005 in Australia - one of the world’s most urbanised nations with 84 per cent of the population living in just one per cent of the land mass – only two sedan models were represented.

This year Yaris sedan replaces Echo sedan, while Holden’s first Barina sedan joins the only other light sedan, Kia’s Rio.

Despite a predicted supply shortage, Toyota hopes to grow the fledgling light sedan market by attracting an increasing number of business buyers to its new mini-sedan, whose key attributes are claimed to be safety, space and value for money.

As with Yaris hatch - which comprises three and five-door YR, YRS and YRX variants starting at $14,990 – a $750 safety pack will be available with the sedan, comprising front side and full-length side curtain airbags for a total of six.

However, the safety option won’t include the hatch’s world-first (for a light car) kneebag, which is said to be redundant because of the sedan’s different dashboard shape.

The Yaris safety pack has so far proved three times as popular as it did in Echo by attracting a 10 per cent take up of customers, and up to 25 per cent of YRX buyers. After five months of Yaris hatch sales, some 75 per cent have gone to private buyers, with the five-door narrowly outselling the three-door.

Powered by the same 80kW/141Nm 1.5-litre 16-valve DOHC VVT-i four-cylinder engine as the YRS and YRX hatch, the YRS sedan measures 4300mm long (120mm longer than Echo sedan), 1690mm wide (30mm wider), 1460mm high (50mm lower) and has wheel tracks of 1470mm (front, up 30mm) and 1460mm (rear, up 40mm).

Its 2550mm wheelbase is 70mm longer than the Barina sedan’s, 90mm longer than the Yaris hatch’s and 180mm longer than the Echo sedan’s, while its 0.26Cd aerodynamic drag co-efficient is one point better than Yaris hatch’s.

Despite the longer wheelbase, its 9.8-metre turning circle is the both the same as Echo sedan’s and the best in class, while its interior couple distance (measured between front and rear hip points) is longer than the Corolla sedan’s at 905mm.

Interestingly, Yaris sedan offers a 475-litre boot – 11 litres bigger than Echo sedan’s (464 litres), 75 litres bigger than Barina sedan (400 litres) and 10 litres bigger than Holden’s Commodore (465 litres).

The official combined fuel consumption figure is 6.1L/100km for the manual (6.7L/100km auto) – less than Barina sedan (6.9L/100km manual), which employs a larger 1.6-litre engine that delivers less power (76kW) but more torque (145Nm).

As with the hatch, Yaris sedan employs new seats, steering, brakes and suspension. MacPherson struts with lower L-arms reside up front, ahead of a new trailing torsion beam rear suspension with toe-control bush. Steering is via the same electrically power-assisted rack-and-pinion system.

There are ventilated 255mm front brake discs, while the rear wheels make do with drums.

Anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA) are standard.

Steel 15 x 5.5-inch wheels, semi-concealed behind six-spoke plastic wheel covers, are shod with 185/60 R15 tyres.

Reflecting YRS hatch specifications, standard equipment includes twin front airbags, five three-point seatbelts, air-conditioning, four power windows, a height and reach-adjustable steering wheel, four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, body-coloured and powered wing mirrors, multiple storage compartments, digital clock, twin vanity mirrors and a full-size spare wheel.

The sedan adds a 60/40-split folding rear seat and centrally located analogue instruments (instead of digital).

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