Your first car will most likely be the largest purchase of your life up until that point in time so there is a lot of pressure to get it right. Your parents will want something safe, not too quick and you will be looking for a great design, functionality and maybe practical features like size and fuel economy.
Car companies also understand the importance of the first car purchase, getting a young driver into one of their cars forms a high chance of creating brand loyalty and for some families this loyalty will last for generations. Toyota is one such company who can crow about the brand loyalty of their customers with a recent J.D. Power study finding 60.3% of Toyota customers in the USA returned to the brand to buy their next car.
This makes the all-new Yaris a very important model in the Toyota line-up because it is one such vehicle that would make a perfect first car for many people. Available as a hatch or a high-riding crossover version and with both petrol or hybrid engine options paired with a cute interior and exterior design means there is certainly a lot to love about this little car.
I spent a week with Yaris ZR, which has 12 bright colours to choose from plus the option of having a black roof with some of these colours for added style. My Yaris had the 1.5L 3-cylinder in-line petrol engine that produces 88kW and 145Nm and you get three drive modes, Eco, Normal and Power. The Yaris is front-wheel drive and the engine is paired with a slightly lethargic auto-CVT transmission, but overall the Yaris offers a comfortable enough driving experience. If you are budget conscience you will love that Toyota recommends 91RON fuel for the Yaris and that the official combined fuel consumption of the ZR is 4.9L/100km and for my week I used just a bit more than this at 5.1L/100km. So that’s a big tick for fuel economy!
I think the exterior design of the Yaris is good looking and the interior has quite a few nice features as well including an abundance of pockets and ledges. There are two rigid cup holders in the centre console at the front of the arm rest. While at the front of the centre console is a storage pocket for your phone with one USB port and one 12V outlet.
All models in the Yaris range come standard with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto with seamless integration with the 7″ colour touchscreen display. The infotainment system also comes with satellite navigation with the SUNA traffic channel. Media options in the Yaris include AM/FM radio, DAB, USB, Bluetooth and Miracast. A 4.2″ Multi Information driver’s display is also standard across all models and the ZR comes with head-up display as well.
The light-coloured cloth seats do show dirty marks easily and the sports front seats have manual adjustment controls only. The driver’s seat has height adjustment, but the passenger seat does not and I felt too high when I sat in it and there was only about an inch gap between the top of my head and the roof.
Your friends might find the rear seats are a bit tight for adults particularly for leg room, but I found headroom to be adequate. There are no central rear air vents, no USB/12V outlets and no central fold down arm rest, but I did like that the mat covered the entire length of the rear floor. There are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but you would only fit two car seats in the back.
This is a small car and the boot only has an official capacity of 270 litres, but the rear seats do have 60/40 split folding mechanism if you need more storage space. There is an additional 10cm of depth under the boot floor, but I could not work out how to remove the floor completely to fully utilise this. You also get a temporary spare tyre under the second boot floor.
Safety features are abundant on the Yaris range with all models getting Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian (day and night) and cyclist (day) detection, All-speed Active Cruise Control (on CVT models), Lane Trace Assist, Lane Departure Alert with steering assist, Intersection Turn Assistance, Road Sign Assist (speed signs only) and Automatic High Beam. The ZR also has Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. ANCAP tests of the autonomous emergency braking found the overall effectiveness to be rated as GOOD and the lane keep assist functionality also had its overall performance classified as GOOD. Overall the Safety Assist ANCAP score for the Yaris is 87%.
The Yaris’ all have a standard review camera with front and rear sensors and eight airbags with front, front side and full length curtain airbags. All variants have a 5 star ANCAP (2020) safety rating with an Adult Occupant Protection rating of 86% and a Child Occupant Protection rating of 87%. As a parent, this is the second big tick for me.
All new Toyota vehicles come with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and this can be extended for up to seven years with unlimited kilometres on Engine and Driveline if your vehicle is properly serviced and maintained as per the vehicle’s Warranty and Service book. Plus if a defect covered by the Toyota Warranty Advantage causes your vehicle to be undriveable, towing to the nearest Toyota Dealer and a loan car is covered.
The service interval for the Yaris is 12 months or 15,000kms, whichever occurs first. Using Toyota’s website I calculated the first four services for the ZR Petrol Hatch would cost $780 under the Toyota Service Advantage program.
The all-new Toyota Yaris makes a strong case as a first car option; it’s a good size, has technology where you want it, plenty of safety features and it’s fuel efficient. Prices for the ZR petrol hatch start at $30,100 plus on-roads costs and as tested with premium paint ($500) and two tone option ($450) my Yaris was $31,050 plus on-roads. Visit your preferred Toyota dealer for more information about the Yaris range and keep an eye out for my review of the Gazoo Racing Yaris in early 2021.
|Good looking small car||Light-coloured cloth seats|
|Great fuel economy||Front passenger seat sits up too high|
|Many standard safety features||No rear air vents|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.