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Car review: Toyota Yaris Excel

By Roger St. Pierre and Hazel Kempster

Toyota GB is an official participating partner in this year’s Comic Relief fundraising effort – which explains the bright red plastic nose cheekily gracing the snub little bonnet of my Yaris Excel test car.

The smile on the face of the delivery driver signified this pretty little car to be worthy of such adornment – yes, it’s a thoroughly sensible, practical little vehicle but it offers the driver a fun quotient too. It’s definitely a feelgood model.

Renewed emphasis on styling sees the Japanese supermini comprehensively re-worked, both inside and out. It's body lines are sharper, its cockpit more light and airy – with quality materials and fit. There’s now a much wider choice of colours and equipment. This is not a mere facelift – handling and roadholding, NVH performance and driving pleasure have all been improved at a stroke.

The bodyshell has been stiffened with an extra 36 spot welds and the suspension parts are all brand new while there’s a new control logic for the power steering and the whole gamut of extraneous noises – engine, tyre, road, wind  – have been considerably suppressed.

Kit levels are high right across the range, with standard items including air-con, a leather-clad steering wheel, nice wheels and a whole range of useful oddments spaces.

Power now flows from a choice of four free-revving engines – 1.0 and 1.33 litre petrol models, a 1.4 diesel and a range-topping 1.5-litre petrol hybrid.

The three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol unit is the first in a new Toyota family of 14 superbly engineered engines that offer greater thermal efficiency and that will all be brought to market in the coming year. The engine’s 37 per cent thermal efficiency – the amount of energy contained in the fuel that is converted into mechanical energy – delivers improvements in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, to 65.7mpg and 99g/km respectively.

Likewise, fine tuning of the petrol/electric system in the Yaris Hybrid has reduced CO2 levels from 79 to 75g/km, with a concurrent improvement in combined cycle fuel economy to a wallet friendly 85.6mpg.

My nippy Yaris Excel test car was capable of 109 mph and came with the optional Toyota Touch & Go system and metallic paint, ringing the dealer’s till at £18,235.

A major landmark in Toyota’s European activities, the launch of the latest Yaris marks the first time the Brussels-based product planning and research and development departments, and the company’s European design studio, located near Nice, have worked together to deliver new designs and changes to a vehicle platform that will be adopted for other Toyota models around the world.

The new car enters the so-called B-segment of the new car market, easily the largest segment of all, approaching a combined total of three million sales for the Yaris and its competitors across Europe – or four million if you include Russia in the equation while last year Yaris accounted for a whopping 24-per cent of all passenger cars to drive out of Toyota’s busy dealerships – a figure that is likely to be comfortably beaten during 2015.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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