With fuel prices spiralling higher, thanks in part to current political instability in the Middle East, smaller, more fuel-efficient cars enjoy ever increasing popularity.
With its fuel-miserly ways, a roomy interior and renown for reliability the Toyota Yaris could be the right blend of flavours to please the palates of many current used-car buyers.
Replacing the popular Echo in late 2005, the Yaris was a significant step forward on its predecessor. Limited edition versions aside, the eight model strong Yaris range offered three different equipment specifications – the entry-level 1.3-litre YR, rising through YRS to the top tier YRX (both 1.5-litre). Body style choices were a three or five door hatch and a four-door sedan (YRS and YRX only). Transmission choice in all models is a five-speed manual or four-speed auto.
In class terms equipment levels were respectable. Dual front airbags and ABS are amongst the standard safety features. Look for cars with the optional safety pack for extra airbags including a driver’s knee bag. Stability control became standard on YRS and YRX from September 2009.
The 1.5-litre engine is the better option performance-wise, especially if an auto is the gearbox of choice. The 1.3-litre can feel a little lethargic and as it works that bit harder it’s unlikely to yield any significant fuel savings. Yaris is primarily a city-slicker but won’t disgrace itself if shown the open road either.
On the road Yaris feels well planted and secure, while ride is mostly comfortable. Light steering and a small turning circle make for easy parking. The digital speedo in the middle of the dash won’t appeal to everybody though. It’s the runt of the Toyota family, but efficient design maximises interior space within its small body shell. The sliding and flat-folding split rear seat maximises rear leg room or cargo space.
Yaris has a reputation for reliability with troubles more likely to be due to neglected scheduled servicing, so look for well maintained examples with service history.
Under the pump
Yaris will use between 6.0 litres and 8.5 litres of fuel every 100km, depending on model and driving conditions.
For an indication of what you would pay for this vehicle please go to RACQ's online car price guide or contact our Motoring Advice Service on 07 3666 9148 or 1800 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.
Hyundai Getz 2005 – 2010
Long-running popular Korean model. Canny motorists will enjoy the thriftiness of operating and servicing Getz. Choice of three and five-door hatches, 1.4 and 1.6-litre engines. Overall driving experience, sophistication and finish falls short of Yaris. Look for later models with ESC.
Honda Jazz 2005 - 2010
Well finished five-door hatch, 1.3-litre or better performing 1.5-litre engines. Spacious interior for size, practical, good fuel economy. Stability control not available. Increased power and torque from mid 2008 upgrade. Watch for expensive-to-fix dud CVT gearboxes.
Mazda2 2005 – 4/2010
One of the segment’s leading lights. Well finished. Good performance from 1.5-litre engine, nimble handling, easy to drive. Five-door hatch, and between 2008 and mid-2010 three-door hatch also. Look for models with six airbags.