2009 Toyota Yaris sedan | road test

Posted on Apr 11, 2010 by
The Yaris sedan is solid, if not very exciting to look at

The Yaris sedan is a solid little car, if not very exciting to look at

AT A GLANCE

FOR

  • Practical
  • Comfortable
  • Good fuel economy

AGAINST

  • Not much to look at
  • Noisy engine
  • Hire car image

SUMMARY
The Yaris sedan is commonly seen on local roads as a hire car, reflecting its position as a no-nonsense, value for money small runabout. There’s plenty of space in it and it’s comfortable, as well as feeling solidly built. On the other hand, the looks are unremarkable and as a budget vehicle it’s rather unrefined. The price makes it attractive, but aside from that it’s one of those cars that does nothing particularly badly, but nothing particularly well either.

This photo puts the Yaris on a twisty mountain road, but it's probably better around town

This photo puts the Yaris on a twisty mountain road, but it's much better around town

PERFORMANCE
The Yaris has no pretences of being a performance car, but the 107bhp, 1.5-litre engine is a perfectly decent one for pootling around town. On the freeway it doesn’t really have the power to make for rapid progress – plant your right foot and it will make a lot of noise but with minimal change in velocity. The four-speed automatic gearbox is basic, but it does the job its meant to in a solid fashion. A five-speed manual version is also available.

HANDLING AND RIDE
The Yaris corners well enough although there is little feel in the steering – it’s very rubbery. Although this could get annoying at higher speeds, it’s fine for manoeuvring around traffic in town, which is where the little is most at home. It has a very tight turning circle which means nipping in and out of city streets is a breeze. The ride is fine, with the suspension soaking up bumps in the road adequately.

COMFORT
The test car we drove was well equipped, but there are plenty of specifications of Yaris available – check with your local dealer. It’s a comfortable car to be in, with an attractive interior design. The standout feature is the central instrument cluster, which although a novelty at first soon becomes mildly annoying – it’s not as easy to glance at as a regularly-placed gauge.

There’s plenty of room for four passengers inside, and even five at a bit of a squeeze, despite the Yaris’ small size. Covering decent mileage with a full car should be no problem for anyone.

Being a budget car, the quality of materials used is adequate but no more than that. It doesn’t feel like a premium product (because it isn’t) and the plastics are all quite hard, but Toyota is noted for its build quality and accordingly everything feels solid and well made. All the ancillary controls are simply laid out and easy to use.

The seats are comfortable although the driver’s seating position is quite high, even on the lowest setting. There is quite a lot of engine and road noise in the cabin.

Interior is plasticky, but

Central instrument panel is a bit annoying, but otherwise the interior is well thought out.

PRACTICALITY
There are lots of storage spaces within the Yaris: moderate sized door pockets, cup holders for both passenger and driver in the dashboard and a storage box under the front armrest. There are more storage spaces either side of the centre console where it meets the dashboard, while rear seat passengers also get two cupholders – one in the back of the driver’s centre armrest and one in the fold down rear armrest. No door pockets in the back though.

The boot is a good size – larger than in the Yaris hatchback – and the rear seats fold down flat to accommodate larger loads in the back. Don’t expect to fit a golf bag in, but the weekly shop should present no problem.

FEATURES
We tried the top-spec Yaris, which is fairly well equipped. It comes with manual air conditioning and a four-speaker radio CD player with the obligatory auxiliary socket for MP3 players. It rides on 15-inch alloy wheels and also comes with rear parking sensors, which probably aren’t needed on a car this small, but we like having anyway. The seats are fabric-covered, but the steering wheel and gear knob are upholstered in leather. The general level of specification is about what we’d expect at this level.

2009 Toyota Yaris sedan

2009 sedan

SAFETY
The base model Yaris comes with ABS and brake assist, which automatically applies the full braking force in the event of an emergency. Driver and front seat passengers get an airbag each, but electronic stability control is not available on the 2009 model, which is a shame. The Yaris sedan received a four-star rating out of five in the US NHTSA crash-testing programme.

COSTS
The Yaris sedan starts at 45,500AED for the entry-level 1.3-litre version. A car with the 1.5-litre engine that we tested starts at 48,500AED, while the top-spec version we tried costs 64,500. This isn’t bad, but for only 6,000AED more, you could buy a Honda Jazz EXL, which is a much better car and more powerful too.

We ran the Yaris for several hundred kilometres over two days and used barely half a tank of fuel. Officially, the fuel economy is 8.1l/100km in the city and 6.7l/100km on the highway (with the automatic gearbox), which means that you can expect a maximum range of around 630km from its little 42-litre fuel tank.

Toyota offers a three-year/60,000km warranty on the Yaris sedan. Major services are due every 40,000km and should cost around 1,000AED at the time of writing.

2009 Toyota Yaris sedan

Engine: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder
Max power (bhp/rpm): 107/6,000
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 140/4,200
Transmission: Four-speed automatic/five-speed manual
Driven wheels: Front wheel drive
Kerb weight: 1,064
Price AED: 45,000 – 64,500

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