Disguised in this safety vest is the all new practical and fun hatchback, the Toyota Yaris. Unlike our Thai neighbors who get regular updated Yaris variants, we have not been so lucky. Toyota brought in the second generation Yaris and it did not shift as many units as expected so this time, UMW Malaysia is back with a vengeance and is championing this wildly styled Vios hatchback as the epitome of practical yet sporty lifestyle vehicle.
The lovely guys at Toyota Pandan Indah 3S Centre handed me the keys to this green machine, and though I did not get the point of it from pictures, walking up to it made me understand why Toyota confidently market it as a trendy lifestyle vehicle. Up close in the metal, it looks the part. Sure the front end has too much going on styling wise but overall it is a handsome car that to the target market.
Once inside, any Vios owner would be hard-pressed to differentiate the Yaris and their very own. Essentially, the Yaris is a hatchback Vios so everything is copied right over. There’s a colourful 6.8inch infotainment screen with the bells and whistles, on the top of the range G variant, with the 360-degree Panoramic View Monitor, built-in dashcam, and USB mirroring. The last one is helpful if you want Waze up on the screen.
The speedometer is pretty traditional aside from the addition of a little offset digital screen to display vitals such as fuel economy, mileage and such. The steering wheel has all the control you’ll need to avoid looking away but I found the wheel, in general, to be larger than I preferred, despite being able to adjust its height.
On the move, the Yaris makes a journey feel almost as though you’re floating on a cloud. That may sound exaggerated but I kid you not, the smooth shifts from the CVT paired with the senselessly comfortable ride are uncanny. My little test drive was purposefully pothole filled and left me impressed. Then there are the seats. Sure you don’t get leather seats but that just means they don’t wrinkle up in the long run and actually do the job of pampering your tooshie pretty well in a traffic jam.
While the Vios is a popular Grab vehicle, I doubt the Yaris will be used for that function but if it were, it would be superb. The space the Yaris offers genuinely contradicts its exterior shape. It will seat five without any fuss and take in luggage with ease in the boot. Everything a family man with spark left in his needs. Or for his son/daughter to take on a night out. Wonder how many of these will I spot at the local bar scene in the next couple of months.
Just as this hot air balloon was soaring high into the sky, an anvil dropped. If I’m honest, it felt like the anvil was IN the car. I am of course referring to the performance. The 1.5-litre Dual VVT-i engine may be one of the ultimate fuel savers out there but it does not offer up much power. The smooth transmission plays a role in numb power delivery. I guess it would be asking too much for a car to be able to do both comfort and performance at this price range. The handling though is well sorted out. Odd and unexpected from a Toyota of this segment but I certainly enjoyed its chuckable character and the way the body allows some roll but doesn’t push into understeer in a rush.
All in all, the Yaris is wreaking havoc in the B-Segment because it is serving up the ideal 3 course meal. Price, Practicality, and Image. Thanks to it being built at Toyotas brand spanking new assembly plant in Klang, prices are pretty low, we can sense their rivals potentially wetting their pants. Three variants are available and they range from RM70,888 to RM83,888 excluding the over the top TRD body kit shown here. To find out more on what the Yaris drives like, watch our video review of the Toyota Yaris below.
Toyota Yaris G with TRD Bodykit Photos