Redefining praticality » Manila Bulletin Newsbit


Toyota Yaris 1.5G


Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven

Affordable, fuel efficient and versatile, the hatchback was once considered the modern-day station wagon. It was the family’s car of choice for practicality. I’m speaking in past tense because nowadays, the “hot hatch” seems to be an ongoing trend in the automotive industry. Hatchback offerings from Mazda, Honda, and even Ford emphasize speed, performance and handling characteristics, trading off legroom, luggage space and fuel efficiency in the process. The Toyota Yaris stays true to the original formula, with an updated look and a new, fuel-efficient engine that makes the point clear: this is your practical hatchback.

Updated styling2

It may not be a scorcher on the racetrack, but the Yaris does carry enough styling credits to merit a second glance. Its large, aggressive grille gives the compact hatch a lot of spunk, and the subtle tail spoiler on the floating roof gives adds character to its overall aesthetic.

Inside, Toyota’s efforts to enhance the Yaris’ sporty appeal continues, with stitching patterns across the dashboard to make the plastic look like stitched leather. Someone at Toyota somehow got the idea that stitching design cues add to the sportiness of a car, as stitching elements extend to the steering wheel and seats as well. We can’t fault Toyota for trying, as these elements do look good.

The rest of the interior is clean and presentable. A new touchscreen infotainment system rests at the center of the dash on top of two square air-conditioning vents. The knobs to control air-conditioning feel solid, with no hint of quality compromise. The instrument cluster is clear and legible, with a simple monochrome display indicating your distance, gearing, and mileage information. There is enough room in the back for 3 medium-sized adults and knee room is quite generous.

New engine3

The main complaint about the previous iteration of the Yaris was its fuel economy. Luckily, the shift from the old NZ-series engine to this current Euro-4 compliant, 2NR-FE 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine rectifies all that. At 107 hp and 140 Nm of torque, it doesn’t improve on the previous engine’s power, but it does boast of cleaner emissions and improved fuel economy.

How improved? We managed to achieve an average of about 10.3-km/L on mixed city and highway driving conditions — an improvement of about 3-km/L from the previous iteration. Also much improved is engine noise and rattle. The new engine is much quieter both at idle and at speed, which greatly improves the Yaris’ NVH levels whether you’re at a standstill or pushing to overtake.

Driving impressions

Despite being slightly underpowered compared to its competition, the Yaris still has enough pull to overtake with confidence. The same can’t be said about its CVT transmission, which occasionally has to search for the proper gear to shift before making its mind up. A traditional automatic transmission would greatly improve the Yaris’ shifting patterns at speed, but if the CVT transmission means better fuel economy, we’ll take it.

The practical choice

At P885,000, the Toyota Yaris redefines what it means to own a practical car. While not as ubiquitous as its Vios brother, the Yaris still proudly carries the Toyota badge, and all the benefits that come with it. Parts will be easier to find, maintenance will be significantly cheaper, and the Toyota badge of reliability speaks volumes in itself. Sure you won’t get the driving thrill that some of the current “hot hatches” provide, but when it comes to sorting out priorities, the hatchback was always meant to serve a very specific purpose — one of practicality and pragmatism. And you’ll be hard pressed to find a car that embodies those elements better than the Yaris.


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