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Toyota improves Yaris breed

Sport on: The sporty ZR flagship has a host of cosmetic enhancements and extra cabin features, but Toyota has left its 1.5-litre engine untouched.

Comprehensive upgrade brings bolder looks, high-grade features to Toyota Yaris


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23 Sep 2014

TOYOTA’S facelifted Yaris light hatch has reached Australian showrooms with a thorough overhaul that goes well beyond its bolder looks and extends to high-grade standard features across the range including a reversing camera and 6.1-inch touchscreen.

As GoAuto reported in April, a three-door model is no longer available so the $14,990 low-water mark with the previous YR opener has likewise evaporated.

Having said that, the Japanese-built and European-designed five-door series continues to start from $15,690 plus on-road costs – the same price point as the outgoing entry-level five-door – yet Toyota claims that additional standard equipment on this newly named Ascent model variant, which also includes cruise control and 15-inch steel wheels (up from 14s), is worth more than $2000.

Furthermore, every Yaris now includes emergency brake warning lights, LED stop lamps, revised suspension for better ride quality, telescopic steering adjustment for an improved driving position, other ergonomic adjustments such as telephone switchgear on the steering wheel, and improved stereo sound with an additional two speakers, bringing the total to six.

Pricing is everything in the cut-throat light-car segment in which Yaris currently holds a 12.4 per cent share, making it one of the top-three players but behind the market-leading Hyundai i20 and the Mazda2, both of which are soon to enter a new generation.

Yaris sales were down 12.1 per cent to the end of August, so Toyota will be banking on this comprehensive update – and only modest price rises elsewhere in the range – swinging the pendulum back towards the brand.

The mid-series SX now starts from $17,790, up $400 on the previous YRS but said to be equipped with $1000 worth of extra gear including the rear camera, foglamps, tinted windows and new wheel covers.

At the top of the range, the auto-only ZR has climbed a steeper $1300 to start from $22,690, although the company is quick to point out that it now carries auto-levelling LED headlights, unique LED tail-lights, a rear spoiler and diffuser, side skirts, newly designed alloy wheels, and, not least of all, the app-based ‘Toyota Link’ connectivity system.

ZR’s audio unit also includes voice recognition, adding to the Bluetooth phone connection and audio streaming standard across the range, while the sporting model’s seats are trimmed in a newly designed fabric.

As before, there are seven airbags onboard across the range, along with electronic stability and traction control and ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

There are no powertrain changes, with the Ascent using a 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine – as was the case in the previous YR – while the mid-series SX and ZR rely on a 1.5-litre unit. Automatic transmission adds $1600 on the Ascent and SX.

The engineering work undertaken with the upgrade has focused on other areas, resulting in a stiffer body shell, retuned suspension components and reduction in noise and vibration, according to the car-maker.

Toyota says increased rigidity, achieved through additional spot welds, contributes to a more direct and linear steering response and reduced vibration, while the new suspension calibration aims to improve ride comfort without compromising handling characteristics.

Improved seals and sound-deadening materials are claimed to have reduced cabin noise, while a new cowl louvre is said to cut air turbulence at the base of the windscreen.

Designers have aimed to create a more upmarket feel in the cabin with a grain finish on the dashboard and instrument panel surround, while brighter detail work is finished on the air vents and door switches.

The glovebox has also been redesigned to improve amenity and better integrate with the rest of the dash.

The colour palette now stretches to nine colours including a ‘Vivid Yellow’ and two new blue hues – ‘Aura’ and ‘Tidal Blue’.

Toyota Yaris pricing*
Ascent (a)$17,290
SX (a)$19,390
ZR (a)$22,690
*Excludes on-road costs.

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