2012 Toyota Yaris | first drive
At first, the launch of a new hatch on a hazey Wednesday afternoon did not seem like the most interesting proposition, but it turns out that the all-new 2012 Toyota Yaris Hatchback, especially in livid red can spice things up.
As evident from these pictures the roundness of the current generation has been swapped for more sporty ‘edgy’ styling and a spoiler on/to boot. The Yaris is now longer and lower than the one it replaces.
The instrument panel on the dash has moved away from the top stack of the centre console. It is more driver-centric now like in most regular cars. Toyota also got it right with the steering wheel. It is small and thick rimmed like that on a sportscar. The plastic aluminium trim and steering wheel mounted controls do add some upscale feel. They say ‘improved plastics’ but I wasn’t feeling it. For some reason the door handles on the insides reminded me a Corolla from the 80’s. Retro themed or cost cutting? The latter probably. With a speedo reading upto 220 km/h, Toyota is either borrowing from the parts bin of other cars within the family or being overly optimistic. The nicely rather large Hazard button is aptly placed. We at AutoMiddleEast.com love such stuff.
I’m not sure what to make of the 1.3-litre engine. It most definitely got us from A to B, with a conversation engaged which means it had to have a reasonably quite cabin. We weren’t expecting much out of the 86 horses delivered via a 4-speed automatic but one a few occasions I had my foot down and then this happened…Nothing! Besides some engine roar…we weren’t really going anywhere. Fuel economy was no concern in this short drive but the Yaris has the reputation of being amongst the most frugal in the dinky car class.
We observed that the 60:40 split folding seats don’t go flush with the cargo bay floor although the pictures tell a different tale. The musically inclined will find USB and Aux. input as welcome additions, especially in a car of this segment.
In the drive that lasted an hour, both from driver’s seat and the front passenger offered great comfort even for someone with a 6ft frame, such as me. The large controls and dashboard knobs were well within reach. Infact, I’m tempted to give it all five 5 star for ergonomics.
Driving through the challenging little obstacle course they put together, which included slaloming around miniature traffic cones, followed by some parking maneuvers and then some short-on-space drive-through posts gave us a good idea of the Yaris’ decent flick-ability factor, even after the car has grown some 10cm in overall length. Some guy even drove it in reverse.
When asked about service interval which at 5000km is a bit of an inconvenience, Toyota personnel said it was being reviewed. Not sure what that meant.
Overall, Toyota has got some of everything right but only with a few days at the wheel of the once ‘European car of the year back, 2000’ can we appreciate or berate it, whole heartedly.