Toyota Yaris 2009 Review

Toyota Yaris 2009 Review

toyota-yaris-fq

Apparently, the Yaris name is a unique combination from two very different sources. Yaris is a mix of the German expression “ja,” (pronounced ‘yah’)which means “yes,” with Charis, a Greek goddess who symbolised beauty and elegance. The bespoke name is an indication that the Yaris was always destined to be a most agreeable vehicle. If Toyota can fuse together a name like Yaris then what else can it blend together in this subcompact?

What the Yaris unites first and foremost is a well-built car with an entry-level price. The base model 1.3-litre, 3-door manual starts at $21,490 through to the 1.5-litre 5-door auto priced at $29,490. So what do you get for the money?

With the exception of the sporty Yaris RS (read review) you get the choice of the two engine sizes and with the 1.5-litre priced at a $6K premium over the 1.3 it’s an important decision. We had the chance to test both power plants and draw some conclusions.

The 1.3-litre unit puts out 63kW of power and has Toyota’s “intelligent” variable inlet valve timing (VVTi), double overhead cams, 16 valves and a new electronic throttle.  Even with Toyota’s latest engine technology the 1.3-litre unit is slow to get the Yaris off the mark and needs serious time to wind up for any sort of open road performance. That said, once up to speed it can maintain a comfortable cruising speed on the motorway. The 1.3-litre returns a 6.5l/100km fuel economy with the auto transmission, thrifty but not as frugal as some competitors.

The 1.5-litre offers up 80kW of juice and is a more spritely mix of power and economy. It’s zippy around town and more assured when seeking gaps at busy intersections. Returning 6.7l/100km fuel consumption it is only slightly thirstier than the 1.3-litre unit and won’t labour as hard when carrying luggage or passengers. The 1.5 is generally a more useful engine and if you’re planning on open road driving or carrying loads occasionally, the extra cost would be justified.

Both manual and automatic transmissions are available. The automatic box is a clever unit and even when mated to the smaller engine resists the urge to drop gears unnecessarily and will change down to provide engine braking when required. By comparison the manual unit was handy in drawing out maximum power from either motor but suffers from a stiff clutch underfoot. The manual requires accurate pedal work, which could become annoying in traffic and is inconsistent with the Yaris’ city car appeal.

Hit the twisty roads and the Yaris handles well. The 15-inch tyres offer decent grip and it doesn’t feel narrow and top heavy like some subcompacts can. It changes direction with acceptable body roll and stays relatively flat even when pushed. The Yaris is a highly manoeuvrable vehicle around town and with a tight 9.4m turning circle pulling U-turns and navigating tight car parks is its strong suit. The Yaris utilises electronic power steering that is sharp and accurate but too light and can dilute communication between driver and road.

When it comes to exterior aesthetics the Yaris is equal measures of distinctive and familiar. A stumpy front end is aggressively styled with huge diamond-shaped headlights pushing back nearly as far as the raked windscreen. A rising belt-line runs along the flanks stopping at a thick rear pillar, giving the Yaris a look of height at the rear and subsequently a pouncing stance. Overall it’s a modern look that’s neatly executed.

The interior styling isn’t quite as universal and the mid-mounted instruments won’t suit all tastes. Personally I don’t like this configuration, but it’s easy to adapt to and the digital display’s more accurate and more prominent in the driver’s vision than traditional instrumentation. Elsewhere in the cabin hard plastics mix in with soft and dark colours contrast with light. While the general styling and ergonomics are sound there is a budget feel to some of the dashboard plastics and also the seat upholstery. That said, cabin fit and finish is typically good and has a real sense of durability. Visibility is excellent front and sides, rear visibility is compromised by thick C-pillars but no worse than other new subcompacts.

The interior is spacious considering the Yaris’ overall size however this comes at a price with the hatch luggage area being smaller than most competitors. Although luggage space is a weakness the rear seat design is quality. It not only fits three adults but it can split 60:40, slide forward for more luggage room and folds flat revealing a 737 litre capacity. Ultimately the Yaris can comfortably handle 5 occupants or some serious luggage, but you can’t mix both at the same time.

On the safety stage the Yaris is a strong performer boasting a class-leading 5 star NCAP crash safety rating. A full compliment of airbags surround occupants including driver and passenger front and side airbags, driver’s knee and curtain shield airbags. Dynamic safety features include Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). The only noticeable omission is a traction control system, which is a feature that’s been slow to become standard in entry-level models, but you’d still expect it from any Toyota.

The Yaris faces stiff competition in its segment particularly from the Suzuki Swift and the fancy new Ford Fiesta, but it still holds its own. Like its cleverly mixed name it offers some agreeable blends. It’s exterior is compact but interior space is ample, its styling is unique but not over-the-top and the engines are economical but still strong enough to get around town. The market for subcompacts is fierce but the Yaris has the safety, style and reliability to deserve its good reputation and the consideration of potential purchasers.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications.

Price: From $21,490

What we like:

  • Safety features
  • Neat styling
  • Durable interior
  • Price

What we don’t like:

  • Boot space
  • Instrumentation position
  • Electronic power-steering too light

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Toyota Yaris 1.5-litre – Specifications

Engine Model Code 1NZ-FE
Type In-Line, 4 Cyl, 16 Valve, DOHC with VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing – intelligent)
Alternator 80 amps
Battery Voltage 12 volts
Bore 75 mm
Capacity 1497 cc
Compression 10.5:1
Configuration In-line 4 cylinder
Emission 160 g/km
Test ADR 81/01
Fuel Tank Capacity 42 litres
Fuel Type 91 Unleaded Octane Petrol
Fuel Economy Rating 4.5 out of 6
Litres per 100km 6.7
Cost Per Year 2008 cost per year based on price per litre of $1.85 and an average distance of 14,000 km $1,740
Injection Type Electronic Fuel Injection
Location Front, Transverse
Measurement standard for max power and torque (SAE-NET)
Maximum Power 80 kW 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque 140 Nm 4200 rpm
Starter 0.80 kW
Stroke 84.70 mm

Dimensions

Front Track 1470 mm
Rear Track 1460 mm
Gross Vehicle Weight 1480 kg
Kerb Weight 1075 kg
Minimum Ground Clearance 140 mm
Overall Height 1520 mm
Overall Length 3750 mm
Overall Width 1695 mm
Tow Capacity Braked 1050 kg
Tow Capacity Unbraked 550 kg
Wheelbase 2460 mm

Brakes

Front Power assisted ventilated discs
Rear Power assisted drums
Park Brake Centre floor lever type mechanical parking brake

toyota-yaris-fq

Apparently, the Yaris name is a unique combination from two very different sources. Yaris is a mix of the German expression “ja,” (pronounced ‘yah’)which means “yes,” with Charis, a Greek goddess who symbolised beauty and elegance. The bespoke name is an indication that the Yaris was always destined to be a most agreeable vehicle. If Toyota can fuse together a name like Yaris then what else can it blend together in this subcompact?

What the Yaris unites first and foremost is a well-built car with an entry-level price. The base model 1.3-litre, 3-door manual starts at $21,490 through to the 1.5-litre 5-door auto priced at $29,490. So what do you get for the money?

With the exception of the sporty Yaris RS (read review) you get the choice of the two engine sizes and with the 1.5-litre priced at a $6K premium over the 1.3 it’s an important decision. We had the chance to test both power plants and draw some conclusions.

The 1.3-litre unit puts out 63kW of power and has Toyota’s “intelligent” variable inlet valve timing (VVTi), double overhead cams, 16 valves and a new electronic throttle.  Even with Toyota’s latest engine technology the 1.3-litre unit is slow to get the Yaris off the mark and needs serious time to wind up for any sort of open road performance. That said, once up to speed it can maintain a comfortable cruising speed on the motorway. The 1.3-litre returns a 6.5l/100km fuel economy with the auto transmission, thrifty but not as frugal as some competitors.

The 1.5-litre offers up 80kW of juice and is a more spritely mix of power and economy. It’s zippy around town and more assured when seeking gaps at busy intersections. Returning 6.7l/100km fuel consumption it is only slightly thirstier than the 1.3-litre unit and won’t labour as hard when carrying luggage or passengers. The 1.5 is generally a more useful engine and if you’re planning on open road driving or carrying loads occasionally, the extra cost would be justified.

Both manual and automatic transmissions are available. The automatic box is a clever unit and even when mated to the smaller engine resists the urge to drop gears unnecessarily and will change down to provide engine braking when required. By comparison the manual unit was handy in drawing out maximum power from either motor but suffers from a stiff clutch underfoot. The manual requires accurate pedal work, which could become annoying in traffic and is inconsistent with the Yaris’ city car appeal.

Hit the twisty roads and the Yaris handles well. The 15-inch tyres offer decent grip and it doesn’t feel narrow and top heavy like some subcompacts can. It changes direction with acceptable body roll and stays relatively flat even when pushed. The Yaris is a highly manoeuvrable vehicle around town and with a tight 9.4m turning circle pulling U-turns and navigating tight car parks is its strong suit. The Yaris utilises electronic power steering that is sharp and accurate but too light and can dilute communication between driver and road.

When it comes to exterior aesthetics the Yaris is equal measures of distinctive and familiar. A stumpy front end is aggressively styled with huge diamond-shaped headlights pushing back nearly as far as the raked windscreen. A rising belt-line runs along the flanks stopping at a thick rear pillar, giving the Yaris a look of height at the rear and subsequently a pouncing stance. Overall it’s a modern look that’s neatly executed.

The interior styling isn’t quite as universal and the mid-mounted instruments won’t suit all tastes. Personally I don’t like this configuration, but it’s easy to adapt to and the digital display’s more accurate and more prominent in the driver’s vision than traditional instrumentation. Elsewhere in the cabin hard plastics mix in with soft and dark colours contrast with light. While the general styling and ergonomics are sound there is a budget feel to some of the dashboard plastics and also the seat upholstery. That said, cabin fit and finish is typically good and has a real sense of durability. Visibility is excellent front and sides, rear visibility is compromised by thick C-pillars but no worse than other new subcompacts.

The interior is spacious considering the Yaris’ overall size however this comes at a price with the hatch luggage area being smaller than most competitors. Although luggage space is a weakness the rear seat design is quality. It not only fits three adults but it can split 60:40, slide forward for more luggage room and folds flat revealing a 737 litre capacity. Ultimately the Yaris can comfortably handle 5 occupants or some serious luggage, but you can’t mix both at the same time.

On the safety stage the Yaris is a strong performer boasting a class-leading 5 star NCAP crash safety rating. A full compliment of airbags surround occupants including driver and passenger front and side airbags, driver’s knee and curtain shield airbags. Dynamic safety features include Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). The only noticeable omission is a traction control system, which is a feature that’s been slow to become standard in entry-level models, but you’d still expect it from any Toyota.

The Yaris faces stiff competition in its segment particularly from the Suzuki Swift and the fancy new Ford Fiesta, but it still holds its own. Like its cleverly mixed name it offers some agreeable blends. It’s exterior is compact but interior space is ample, its styling is unique but not over-the-top and the engines are economical but still strong enough to get around town. The market for subcompacts is fierce but the Yaris has the safety, style and reliability to deserve its good reputation and the consideration of potential purchasers.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications.

Price: From $21,490

What we like:

  • Safety features
  • Neat styling
  • Durable interior
  • Price

What we don’t like:

  • Boot space
  • Instrumentation position
  • Electronic power-steering too light

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Toyota Yaris 1.5-litre – Specifications

Engine Model Code 1NZ-FE
Type In-Line, 4 Cyl, 16 Valve, DOHC with VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing – intelligent)
Alternator 80 amps
Battery Voltage 12 volts
Bore 75 mm
Capacity 1497 cc
Compression 10.5:1
Configuration In-line 4 cylinder
Emission 160 g/km
Test ADR 81/01
Fuel Tank Capacity 42 litres
Fuel Type 91 Unleaded Octane Petrol
Fuel Economy Rating 4.5 out of 6
Litres per 100km 6.7
Cost Per Year 2008 cost per year based on price per litre of $1.85 and an average distance of 14,000 km $1,740
Injection Type Electronic Fuel Injection
Location Front, Transverse
Measurement standard for max power and torque (SAE-NET)
Maximum Power 80 kW 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque 140 Nm 4200 rpm
Starter 0.80 kW
Stroke 84.70 mm

Dimensions

Front Track 1470 mm
Rear Track 1460 mm
Gross Vehicle Weight 1480 kg
Kerb Weight 1075 kg
Minimum Ground Clearance 140 mm
Overall Height 1520 mm
Overall Length 3750 mm
Overall Width 1695 mm
Tow Capacity Braked 1050 kg
Tow Capacity Unbraked 550 kg
Wheelbase 2460 mm

Brakes

Front Power assisted ventilated discs
Rear Power assisted drums
Park Brake Centre floor lever type mechanical parking brake

« | »

Let us know what you think

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Road Tests

Silver Sponsors

Car and SUV Team

Richard-Edwards-2016Richard Edwards

Managing editor

linkedinphotoDarren Cottingham

Motoring writer

robertbarry-headRobert Barry

Chief reporter

Ian-Ferguson-6Ian Ferguson

Advertising Consultant

debDeborah Baxter

Operations Manager

RSS Latest News from Autotalk

RSS Latest News from Dieseltalk

Read previous post:
Holden Commodore may survive in American market

Over in the states the once proud Pontiac brand is now dead in the water but many American enthusiasts are...

Close