This is the new Toyota Yaris. It's a springboard for Toyota in the sedan class, and it is here to do what the Innova did after the Qualis. Which is to give Toyota the presence, the sales and the mindshare that the Etios could never muster.
The Yaris competes against the likes of the Honda City and the Hyundai Verna. But, here's the thing; the Yaris might be late to the sedan party, but it brings along a different proposition, which should give it a great chance at success.
Let's dig deeper, shall we...
Now it terms of design, the Yaris isn't as flamboyant as its competition in the styling department. It's more mainstream in that sense.
Sure, the front looks aggressive with the dual tone bumper. But beyond that, the wheels, the profile, and even the rear - especially with the wider bumper that makes the 185 section tyres look skinny - the Yaris looks regular; almost bordering on uninspiring.
The lack of strong or prominent design lines - be it in profile or towards the rear - hint at a 'please-all' approach over all else.
Thankfully, the Yaris has a more interesting cabin. The design isn't exciting, but it's well thought-out.
The touchscreen doesn't look great, but the touch interface is good. There's lots to shuffle through as well like radio, media, navigation, vehicle setting etc.
Not just that, the MID as part of the instrumentation is an interesting add-on as well. It shows you the trip; allows you to scroll through some vehicle related settings; and it also throws up data on your driving. And if you do a good job, it rewards you for it as well.
In terms of space, the Yaris isn't as wide as the City on the inside, but it is quite roomy as a four seater. The seats too - leather cladded in this top of the line version - are cushy and big. These are comfy as well, both front and back. And the driver's seat is electrically adjustable.
Boot at 476 litres is more than adequate for this class, but the 60:40 fold for the rear bench is unique to this class. And, it is a plus.
Quality wise, there's nothing outstanding about the Yaris. In fact, at places, it struggles to match up to the competition even. What's more, plastic quality at places could be richer in terms of look and feel. But here again, like the design, it won't put you off, not enough to discourage a purchase.
Feature wise, the Yaris is loaded. And that's true for all trim levels. This one, the VX, gets a multifunctional steering wheel, a detailed MID, cooled glovebox, rear ac vents, rain sensing wipers, auto head lamp, keyless entry and start, electric ORVMs with fold and cruise control. And it has a few more driver aids. There's hill start assist, vehicle stability control, parking sensors front and rear, and a reversing camera. Lest we forget, all the trims also get 7 airbags and ABS as standard.
For starters, you can only have the Yaris with a petrol engine. It comes mated to a 6-speed manual and the option of a stepped CVT with seven pre-defined ratios.
The engine makes a little under 110bhp and 140Nm of peak torque. The good news is, this torque comes in early, which gives the Yaris good mid range performance. We drove the automatic and if you don't try to kill the throttle pedal with the right foot, the Yaris makes for a quiet, relaxed, and peaceful drive, both in the City and on the highway.
But, when you get excited and stamp on the throttle, the 1.5-litre engine gets quite vocal. It does move things along faster as a result, but it doesn't feel as quick as the engine noise makes it out to be.
The steering meanwhile isn't exactly light, but it is precise. The ride is quiet and absorbent. And the straight-line stability is impressive for a car of this class.
It rides quite well too. It won't smother everything in its path, but it comes close. The ride has that initial stiff edge to it, but as the going gets faster, the ride settles. And then even the harshest of bumps can't seem to get the better of the car.
The Yaris is a value proposition, no doubt. And, it does a number of things well. It's reasonably spacious, it's comfortable, it's well equipped even for the base trim, and it rides surprisingly well.
So, if I were to draw up a Pros and Cons list for buying this car, the pros will easily outweigh the cons.
But, the Yaris lacks one crucial element. Emotion. It's a car that does most things well, but it doesn't excite you; it doesn't make you want to reach for its keys; or to just look at it while you sip your morning cup of tea.
Photos By Kapil Angane