Yaris - new car has more competition

Last updated 11:28 21/10/2011

Toyota's new Yaris III comes to a market this week that is decidedly different from the one that the first model found for itself in 1999.


That first car was known as the Echo when it first arrived, and at the time, it had very little competition. There was no Nissan in the B-segment to compete, Honda had only the old Logo in that slot, Ford could offer only the Festive, and Mazda's square-rigged Demio was a bit of an also-ran at the time.

Holden did have the Barina, but that was very much a second-class citizen compared with the wildly styled Echo, with its centre-clocked dash, soft-wedge profile and clever fore and aft sliding rear seat.

It sold like hot cakes.

Whether the new one will do the same is a moot point, for though the new car is a gorgeous looker, with much more interior space, it has lost the clever passengers-or-luggage seating, now has a conventional dash and still uses the same 1.3- or 1.5-litre engine lineup with five-speed manual and four-speed automatic.

In 2011, the new model has to clear new hurdles in this slot: the roomy second-generation Jazz (five-speed auto), Mitsubishi's Colt, a cute wee Nissan Micra, a stunning new Fiesta (with a six-speed two-pedal option), Hyundai's refined new i20, as well as the big, spacious slick-looking Kia Rio and its slightly smaller mate, the Picanto, and the all-new Barina from Holden that not only goes well and seems to be sized for the segment above, but offers a six-speed automatic as part of its package.

Add in the VW Polo (seven-speed DSG) and the Skoda Fabia (same gearbox) and it can be seen that the new Yaris has a lot more competition than it did a dozen years ago.

In some areas it's quite good enough to compete, but with models like the wee Suzuki Swift going gangbusters at the top of the field and Suzuki adding another model in the B-segment mix in the form of the new Splash, Yaris might find it a little harder than that first one.

Mind you, while its pricing might look a tad steep at from $23,290 to $27,490 when a Kia Picanto 1.25 asks from less than $19,000, nobody pays full price for a new Toyota these days.

See our driving impressions in next week's Fairfax newspaper motoring sections.

Follow Dave Moore on Twitter - @mooretothepoint

Post a comment
Ivor   #1   11:37 am Oct 21 2011

"the new car is a gorgeous looker"

Should have gone to Specsavers

phil_style   #2   12:23 am Oct 22 2011

"the new car is a gorgeous looker"

Eye of the beholder I suppose. Certainly doesn't do it for my aesthetic.

Graham Broun   #3   08:02 pm Oct 23 2011

A great choice of cars, almost all of which are great lookers and great performers. Don't expect to see any on Top Gear though as these little tigers are for the less-well-off, not to the guys from Top Gear.

Alan Wilkinson   #4   12:33 pm Oct 24 2011

I see our "we make no apologies" police holiday weekend 5 km/h speed tolerance campaign has produced 7 casualties to date. No doubt the police will conclude that trivial speed infringements make no difference to the accident rate.

And pigs might fly when you have a profitable industry and empire based on speed enforcement myths.

Rex   #5   04:31 pm Oct 24 2011

I only wish they would change the name. My wife drives an Enima and now parks it next to my Yaris.

Kind Man   #6   08:01 pm Oct 24 2011

Hi, I felt sorry for you only having five comments, so I thought I'd add one for you. No worries at all :)

Gavroche   #7   10:48 am Oct 26 2011

What a lot of words in this article to say nothing.

Harold   #8   05:23 pm Oct 26 2011

Get a corolla

Ross   #9   12:27 am Oct 27 2011

I'd be very interested in knowing whether Toyota have allowed Chris Amon (or anybody else with actual expertise in setting up suspension) to work his customary magic on these little cars. Your average Japanese-spec Toyota now handles every bit as badly as they did back in the 80s, when Amon's disparaging TV comments spurred Toyota NZ into forming what became a very constructive partnership. The twin benefits of outstanding reliability and superb handling have given NZ-new Toyotas a clear edge over the competition for over 25 years.

It seems to me that Toyotas have lost one advantage - they don't seem to be much more reliable than the rest of the Japanese car-makers any longer. It's so nice to drive a car that actually responds to the controls, and if they lost that ability as well there really would be little to choose between them.

Bill   #10   08:58 am Oct 27 2011

Ross, I agree with you. 1980-1990's NZ built Toyota's did have the twin benefit of being very reliable and Handling well thanks to Chris Amon. Now a Toyota is simply reliable.... just like most other Jap Brands, and have been nothing more than appliances since the late 1990's.

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