|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Oh, most definitely not. A minor mental re-adjustment is indeed necessary to re-connect the Yaris nameplate to something that looks so angular and menacing, but underneath, it’s essentially the same tried-and-tested formula that Yaris owners and fans have come to love over the years.
Outside, Toyota has taken a completely different approach in designing the Yaris. Whereas the previous generations of the Yaris would have taken a curvy, egg-shaped shell, the new one is more easily describes as ‘Vios hatchback’. And that’s a good thing. The Vios is already a great looking sub-compact as it is and swapping the trunk for a hatchback rear end just ups the sportiness factor. More than anything, the angularity of the Yaris has given it much more presence and gravitas—both of which were rather lacking before. But more than just grafting a new backend, Toyota designers added some nifty touches that add a distinct flavor to the Yaris.
Upfront, it’s actually more eye-catching with the black handlebar grille that extends all the way down the front bumper and the arrow-shaped headlights that taper at the edges. At the sides, the Yaris features blacked out B- and C-pillars giving it the illusion of a floating roof. And finally at the back, it features a plate holder that echoes the handlebar grille flanked by unique (as in the only Toyota globally to have this design cue) C-shaped tail lamps. All in all, the design works very well, cutting a familiar yet different silhouette next to the sea of Vios running around. There are perhaps two exceptions and these are fairly minor: one is the body-colored door moldings which distracts from the clean, angular lines and the standard alloys which are clearly shared with the Vios. A note to Toyota: a sporty hatchback needs sportier rims.
Inside, the Yaris continues to echo the Vios in almost every way. The entire look and feel will be familiar to any current generation Vios owners. It gains the Vios’s newfound style like the instrument cluster migrating to the more traditional position (in front of the driver as opposed to the center console) and the ‘floating’ integrated audio system. The previous Yaris was often bashed for using low-rent plastics (although I found them to be pretty alright), but the new one improves on that by leaps and bounds.
Though the dashboard is still generally made up of hard plastics, the new Yaris has much better consistency in texturing, fit and finish. It must be noted that the love-it-or-hate-it faux leather stitching is still present. The crisp and solid-feeling controls communicate a sense of excellent build quality while the use of orange-and-white instrumentation (replicated as stitching on the seats) add a hint of differentiation and sportiness. Again, you cannot fault the Yaris’s cabin, given the P 755,000 asking price except perhaps for two things: an unsightly cut on the dashboard near the driver’s side air conditioning vent and a glove box that doesn’t seem to close tightly.
Unlike the current-generation Vios which is essentially a re-skinned version of the previous model, the 2014 Yaris migrates its platform from the global second-generation model onto one that’s actually shared with its sedan sibling. Because of the move, the Yaris is now substantially longer by 315 millimeters with a wheelbase stretched by some 90 millimeters. Together with better interior packaging, it equates to a larger and roomier interior. The front passengers will love the flat-bottomed steering wheel, unobtrusive dashboard, and thinned out center console which allows you to spread your legs without banging knees. Those in the back won’t feel left out with surprisingly good levels of knee and legroom (up 77 millimeters). Three abreast wouldn’t be a problem with the flat rear floor and individual headrests and three-point seatbelts for all. Even the luggage space, which was a bane of the previous Yaris, has been fixed with a deeper cargo hold and the added flexibility of split-folding seats (finally).
There’s actually one aspect where the Yaris seems to have digressed and that’s in the lack of cubby holes. Whereas the previous Yaris held the record perhaps for having at least three glove boxes and other places to storage knick-knacks, the new one doesn’t even have one decent storage bin. During a week with the Yaris, I couldn’t even find a place to store my mobile phones much less things like sunglasses, loose change, and the iPod.
Sharing its drivetrain with its Vios sibling, the biggest news for the Yaris is that it now offers a 1.3-liter guise. In terms of driving experience though, it’s pretty much identical to a Vios. The previous Yaris was notorious for not being able to absorb heavy road cuts and cracks. Thankfully, the new one does much better. Even after pumping the tires up to 35 PSI (the official recommended tire pressure for a fully-loaded Yaris), the ride is surprisingly supple. The NVH isolation is excellent as well. Aside from vast improvements in the comfort aspect, it also behaves through corners with much more confidence. There’s some noticeable body roll (perhaps due to the softer suspension set-up), but it feels much more secure and less nervous, especially at higher speeds than before. The electric power steering is numb and lacks feedback, but it makes dashing in and out of traffic easy. Visibility all around is also good, though not to the same spectacular levels as the previous Yaris.
In its 1.3-liter form, the Yaris 1.3 E comes with just 85 horsepower and 121 Nm of torque which don’t sound a lot. In reality though, it’s lively and perky. Power comes in quickly and the Yaris’s 4-speed automatic seems well geared for city traffic. Of course, as speeds build up, it loses steam rather quickly. Anything below 120 km/h is fine and dandy, but anything above that, and the Yaris will struggle. 140 km/h downhill is already a feat for this car even if the engine still had some RPMs left in it. After a week’s worth of driving, the Yaris 1.3 E checks in at 9.6 km/L in city traffic and 16.9 km/L in highway.
The Toyota Yaris 1.3 E is priced at P 755,000 but since it’s kitted in TRD apparel, the cost goes up to P 821,400 (P 20,300 for the Front Skirt, P 25,200 for the Rear Skirt, and P 20,900 for the Side Skirts). And with that much money, it’s already more expensive than a rival 1.5-liter hatchback. Discounting the TRD body kit though, the Yaris 1.3 E is a surprisingly good deal. It’s certainly not poised to have the same sort of loyal following as other sub-compact hatchbacks out there, but it’s still a surprisingly fresh thing for Toyota. The all-new Toyota Yaris may have lost its cutesy image, but underneath the sharp suit, it’s still the zippy, roomy, and painless to own car that people have come to love.
2014 Toyota Yaris 1.3 E
|Ownership||2014 Toyota Yaris 1.3 E A/T|
|Vehicle Classification||Sub-Compact Hatchback|
|Body Type||5-door Hatchback|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||85 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||121 @ 4,400|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,040|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Torsion Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Urethane|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||4|
|Steering Wheel Controls||No|