|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Sub-P 700k hatchbacks used to be the norm, but now, you’ll be lucky enough to get a decently-speced one for two hundred grand more. And yet, the Yaris seems to be largely inflation-proof. In the range-topping 1.5G guise, the Yaris’s got a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to an automatic gearbox as well as a robust list of standard features that include a suite of safety equipment and even split-folding rear seats. The price? A pocket-friendly P 845,000. It’s more affordable than the Ford Fiesta Sport and the Honda Jazz. Heck, it’s even cheaper than the Yaris’s own sedan sibling, the Vios!
Thankfully, despite the Yaris 1.5G’s affordability, Toyota didn’t scrimp on its design and execution. The Yaris now looks sportier. Losing what’s left of its curvy, egg-shaped styling, the 2014 model is a collection of angry angles, creases, arrows, and what have you. The front and rear ends are certainly the strongest points with a silver handlebar grille that extends from the headlights (now with projector-type lighting elements) down to the bumpers. At the back, you have the “floating” roof as well as the C-shaped tail lamps. This does well to differentiate the Yaris from the ubiquitous sea of Vios running around while still neatly tying it in to that family look. If there’s one complaint you can throw at it though, it’s the choice of rims. Not only are they shared with the Yaris 1.3E and the Vios, but the design could have been sportier.
The less-than-sporty design of the rims serve as the perfect precedence to the Yaris’s driving characteristics. It’s solid, stable, and comfortable, if a bit uninvolving. The lengthened wheelbase compared to the previous Yaris equates to a better ride, especially when going through EDSA’s pothole-ridden lanes. When you get to push it though, it feels more stable and secure, though it does tend to understeer and lean into corners. The steering, as expected for a sensible commuter car, is ultra-light and lacks the feel enthusiasts crave for, but it’s responsive enough for darting in and out of traffic. The NVH isolation though is perhaps the single biggest advantage the Yaris has over its rivals. It may have the same drivetrain as the previous-generation Yaris, but in this application, it’s noticeable quieter and smoother.
Speaking about its motor, the Yaris 1.5G comes with the tried-and-tested 1NZ-FE engine with 107 horsepower and 141 Nm of torque. It sounds pretty reasonable, with a hushed tone in all but full power application. In city driving, it’s lively and perky with power that comes in quickly. However, compared to its other 1.5-liter rivals, it loses out pretty quickly at the top end. Compared to its own 1.3E sibling, the performance difference will largely go unnoticed (subjectively), unless you love to floor the gas pedal at every stoplight or intersection. The extra 200-ccs of displacement though is much more crucial during overtaking maneuvers and hilly terrain. And get this: the extra pep doesn’t come with any penalty at the pump. The fuel mileage of the 1.5-liter is at par with the 1.3-liter: 9.6 km/L in the city.
Essentially a Vios hatchback, the Yaris is pretty much the same affair when you climb onboard. The entire look and feel will be familiar to any current-generation Vios owner sans for the orange-and-white instrumentation and unique fabric seat patterning (orange stitching, anyone?) The plastics are actually nicely grained with a good, solid feel. Fit and finish are leaps and bounds better than the previous model, but like its competition, is hard to the touch. There’s an irritating squeaking noise emanating from where the dash meets the audio system, but this could be down to this particular unit’s condition. Like the rest of the Toyota family though, the controls are placed logically and operate with a crisp and solid feel.
Overall, the Yaris’s interior is a great place to spend traffic in whether you’re a driver or passenger. The seats are supportive enough and the steering wheel offers ample adjustment even if it just moves up and down. However, the Yaris (like the Vios) suffers from a lack of useable cubby holes. Aside from an oddly-shaped storage tray located just in front of the shifter, there’s absolutely nowhere to put things like sunglasses, loose change, and two phones. Even the aforementioned storage tray will have difficulty fitting an iPhone 5s let alone any of those new “phablets”.
The lack of storage bins for knick-knacks aside, the Toyota Yaris 1.5G comes across as a solid value-for-money car. It may not have the usual sexy adjectives attached to it like ‘fast’, ‘powerful’, ‘sporty’, but where it counts, the Yaris delivers. Fundamentally, it’s a solid entry-level hatchback with the right amounts of kit, style, and price that will attract people who’re after sensibility rather than sexiness.
2014 Toyota Yaris 1.5G
|Ownership||2014 Toyota Yaris 1.5G|
|Body Type||5-door hatchback|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline-4|
|BHP @ rpm||107 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||141 @ 4,200|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / ~91|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,065|
|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, Front and Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|No. of Speakers||4|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|