First drive: 2015 Toyota Yaris in the UAE
The outgoing Japanese-built Toyota Yaris has had a rather short life-cycle in the GCC. Launched here in 2012, it’s already been replaced by an all-new Thai-built Yaris hatchback that’s been on sale in South Asia since late last year, and is a direct cousin to the current Yaris sedan. If the global politics confuses you, don’t worry about it — the 2015 Yaris is a nicer car than the one it replaces.
The new Yaris is larger and more flamboyantly styled, although Toyota’s constant insistence that it is “sporty” isn’t going to convince anybody. It looks good, but the new design direction may not sit well with those used to more staid modes of transport. But they’ll still buy it anyway, so no worries.
Inside, the dash and possibly everything else are straight out of the Yaris sedan. That means you get a very nice design and hard-plastic everything, all shamelessly moulded to look like stitched leather. It’s spacious and comes with just enough convenience tech, such as keyless entry and power mirrors. Our top-spec model, as signified by a silver grille, even came with a starter button and single-zone auto a/c. The stereo has a USB port but not Bluetooth, the latter of which used to be standard on the old model.
While the base model gets an 86 hp 1.3-litre, our car thankfully had the 107 hp 1.5-litre 4-cylinder. When you’re playing at this level, you need every single horsepower you can muster. And while a 4-speed automatic doesn’t help matters, the overall driving experience is fine in city-driving. Drive casually, time your moves, and it’s perfectly fine even at highway speeds.
While wind noise is ever-present, it’s no louder than most of its rivals, and the ride is fairly smooth too. More interestingly, it handles very well too, with limited body roll, mildly-weighted steering with a bit of feedback, and responsive controls, except maybe for the mushy brake pedal. Don’t push it too hard though. At some point it runs out of grip, and your “hot hatch” ends up going wide and off the road.
This is probably the first time we’ve found a Yaris to be interesting, desirable even, given its new-found “controversial” style. Although that sentiment will likely change once the city is overrun by millions of fleet-spec insects, there is no denying the fact that it is still a good car at a good price.
For detailed prices and specs, visit the Toyota Yaris buyer guide.