2012 Toyota Yaris

The Good:
– Looks decent enough
– Cabin space and features
– Reasonably comfortable ride
The Bad:
– Weak engine
– Controls feel too light
– Hard cabin plastics

When you think about “workhorse” vehicles, you never think about the Toyota Yaris. But that is exactly what it is — a simple car designed to do a task over and over again, without fanfare. The Yaris has shuttled numerous sheeple to work, reliably and efficiently, but most of all, cheaply. But even a workhorse needs a makeover once in a while. And so, the new-for-2012 Yaris is ready for business.

The redesigned Yaris is slightly longer and lower than before, with likeable styling and better features. Priced about the same as competent new rivals such as the Chevrolet Sonic and the Hyundai Accent, the Yaris will need more than just its reputation to remain appealing.

The new hatchback boasts a slightly-larger cabin, and it shows. With thin front seat-backs, a flat rear floor and a tall profile, the Yaris offers superb cabin space for its size. The cloth front seats are decently-bolstered. Rear legroom is among the best in class, while boot space is enough for a week’s worth of groceries. The boot floor is deep, but can be raised to make a flat load floor in line with the folded-down rear seats, if needed. There are also little uncovered storage areas all over the car, some more useful than others, and mostly for front passengers. But with the instrument cluster now moved from the centre-console to behind the steering wheel, where it belongs, the new one has less covered storage cubbies than the old model, aside from the glove box. Only the front passengers get to have cup-holders.

The new interior also boasts interesting textures on the dashboard and door panels. Unfortunately, all those textures are ingrained in hard plastic. While the older model got cloth door inserts, there are no such luxuries here. The only padded bits are the door elbow-rests for front passengers, which none of its main rivals can claim to have — a small victory that might go unnoticed by consumers.

Toyota has chosen to keep the options list short for the GCC-spec Yaris, but the standard features are generous. Along with power windows, electric mirrors, two airbags, power steering and a funky single-arm windshield wiper, there’s keyless entry, passable 6-speaker CD/MP3 stereo, Bluetooth with steering-wheel buttons and even a USB port. The Bluetooth phone is surprisingly easy to use and the manual a/c is pretty damn good. Fog lamps, leather steering wheel, rear spoiler and 15-inch alloy wheels are extra, as found on our tester. But you still won’t get a tachometer, let alone a trip computer.

To get the blood pumping, the 1052-kilo Yaris also comes standard with a rev-happy 1.3-litre 4-cylinder, carried over from the previous model, making 87 hp at 6000 rpm and 121 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm, mated to a 4-speed automatic for good measure. We managed a blistering 0-100 kph time of 15.3 seconds during our October test. We also calculated a fuel consumption figure of 9.1 litres/100 km, not bad for a small car, but the Honda Jazz gets better mileage, probably because it has a bigger engine that doesn’t need to be caned hard on every occasion.

Aside from the having the weakest engine in the segment, the new Yaris is rather good. The ride quality is smoother than we expected for a car this small. Sure, it feels a bit firm on some uneven road surfaces, but the Yaris is one of the more comfortable cars in its class. Stay below 100 kph, and wind noise is nicely muted, while the drive is perfectly stable even in a sandstorm. Closer to 120 kph, typical small-car traits show up, such as louder external noises and more susceptibility to cross-winds which require constant steering corrections. Also, the engine makes itself heard anytime the throttle pedal is touched.

The steering itself is very light, although it does offer a tiny bit of feedback. Handling is entertainingly chuckable, let down only by limited grip from the 185/60 tyres. Body roll is limited and there is no untoward swaying in most cases. But start sawing on the steering wheel like a psycho, and it is easy to unsettle the rear of the car at high speeds. Otherwise, it just understeers safely. The brakes seem awful at initial tip-in, as pressing the pedal partially doesn’t seem to do much. But the car stops rapidly enough during full-on emergency braking, aided by standard ABS.

Some of the things that sound like criticisms, really aren’t. Hard-plastic interiors and highway noises are par for the course when it comes to cars in this segment. In fact, the Toyota offers more than most competitors in terms of space, comfort and features. If it had a better engine, it’d truly be a class leader. It is still destined to become a sales leader anyway, thanks to its resale value and expected reliability alone.

Price Range:
Dh 51,000-56,000

Current Model Introduced in:
2012

Body Styles:
5-door hatchback

Engines:
1.3L 87 hp Inline-4 / 121 Nm

Transmissions:
4-speed automatic

Setup:
Front-wheel-drive

Suspension:
Front: independent
Rear: semi-independent

Brakes:
Front: discs
Rear: drums

Curb Weight:
1043-1052 kg

Length:
3885 mm

Wheelbase:
2510 mm

Top Speed:
165 kph

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
15.3 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
9.1 litres/100km

14 comments to 2012 Toyota Yaris

  • mohamed

    Yaris used to come with a 1.5 L engine !! have they stopped that?

  • noel

    It became uglier now. Why can’t they come up something like the VW golf R? Which is really gorgeously looking, though a bit pricey. 2012 Yaris is good enough to keep pizza warm.

  • Zao

    today at motor show 1 of the toyota guy said they could deliver 1.5 yaris on order…they are not sure about the price and they said waiting period could be 4 months…

  • Shahzad Haider

    Mash….Are you sure about Fuel Economy 9.1L/100km. Its quite hungry car…. even if you are not driving it on High way…. if its true then disappointed with this fuel economy…

  • Mario

    9.1 litres for 100 km ???
    My Godness ,is seem as a 2500 cmc engine ! That’s UNBELIVEBLE !!!! You are very sure about this matter ?
    I can’t believe that this car “eating” more than 6-7 L./ 100 km !May be ,you didn’t check properly.

  • Naila

    Not a good car if accident happen

  • Vikas

    Hi Mashfique,
    Does the Yaris still have a Sedan version? If so, do the things you’ve had to say in the article apply to the Sedan version too?

  • Rizwan

    Hello every one,
    I bought this car Yaris 2012 HB. And i am tired of it’s mileage. Its the worst mileage among all small cars. My car’s mileage is 9.0 / 100 KMs and i dont know what to do with this. And this mileage is on highways as i drive sharjah to dubai. Check the mileage before you buy.

    • Asad

      Are you driving around 120kph? i think at that speed the engine is revving way beyond its capacity. I think its better to driving under 100 to get the maximum mileage.

      If I am incorrect, pls do correct me. thnx

  • JumaYaqoob

    Slam 3lkm Mashfique

    please do a Review or Road test of the Suzuki Swift 2012 i wonder no 1 talks about it come on guys its way better than Yaris in terms of power and quality price range is high but overall its good i have driven both cars both are comfortable except the in terms of acceleration Swift is more faster engine differences Swift 1.4 and Yaris 1.3 Come on Mash do a road test or a small review ;)

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury

      We’d drive it if the dealer would give a car for a couple of days, which they won’t.

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