Toyota Yaris – Young at heart

Ian Lamming enjoys the radical new Toyota Yaris.

PARKED right in front is a ‘new’ Yaris but it’s actually the last of the old model.

I know this because I’m in the latest and the contrast is startling, so this is a great opportunity to compare generations.

When the previous Yaris was launched it came packed with hybrid technology that we all oohed and ah-ed over and rightly so as no other manufacturers seemed to be doing much to halt the global meltdown.

Now, of course, everyone has jumped on the electric bandwagon so Toyota needed to respond in fine fashion – which it has with the brand new model.

Older Yaris did a sterling job but tended to be driven by more mature owners who appreciated its total worthiness but weren’t too bothered about its conservative set of clothes.

New Yaris joins a world where smart casuals have replaced traditional suits, where we are all looking less formal – I’ve even stopped wearing a tie to bed – and our attire is suited to a more active way of life.

In short, Yaris comes dressed in active-wear, because it has gone all sporty and is just off out for a quick run before work.

It is a striking and fine looking car from all angles. It looks squat and sturdy, points in the direction of travel like a sprinter in the blocks and has a fine looking curvaceous back end. Overall it is attractive, sporty and very modern, which will appeal to the young and young at heart in equal measure.

The interior boasts extra funk too. I love the clocks which have an air of motorcycle about them. With the steering wheel they form a face that greets you every time you climb inside. The centre console is dominated by the touch screen but primary functions remain on easy to use buttons, which is great.

Yaris feels so much more jaunty inside and the seats hold you in a snug embrace. They come into their own on the school run when roadworks close the motorway unexpectedly, sending us down the twisty stuff and putting us in danger of being late.

The 1.5 litre three cylinder petrol is a little growler and coupled to the electric motor has genuine poke. It will sprint from a standing start, romp up steep hills and is more than happy to spirit you by slow movers with its seamless reserves of silky smooth power – and it’s fun.

When you aren’t in a hurry, the miles seem to just slip by as Yaris feels grown up and relaxed. The ride is super-smooth, the cabin ambience nice and quiet and overall it is a very comfortable way to travel.

Nothing to plug in with this particular hybrid, just get in and drive and all the clever stuff under the skin swaps between electric and petrol with the driver oblivious to who is doing what. What doesn’t go unnoticed is the economy which is an easy to reach 60+mpg.

If old Yaris was a great little car, the new model is better still in every way and with its smart fresh looks can’t fail to broaden its appeal even further.

Fact file

Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Engine: 1.5 litre three cylinder petrol plus electric

Power: 114hp/55KW

0-62mph: 11.8 secs

Top speed: 109mph

Transmission: CVT

Combined MPG: 65.6

CO2 g/km: 98

Price: £21,920.00 o