Usefully small and nimble for town driving, but otherwise too jittery and noisy
Simple and pretty comfortable
All the bases are covered
No worries in this department
Quite a roomy interior for a car this size
All but the cheapest models are loaded with handy features and kit
The Yaris's small dimensions, tight turning circle and light, responsive steering make it easy to manoeuvre in town. However, on scruffier road surfaces it feels jittery (especially in the sporty SR version), and because the steering doesn't get much heavier at speed, the car can feel a bit twitchy on the motorway. The perkiest engines are the 1.5-litre petrol hybrid and the 1.4-litre diesel; but these are more expensive, too. The 1.33-litre petrol is the sensible choice; the 1.0-litre petrol is just too slow. Unfortunately, all of the engines are noisy, which is a pity because otherwise the cabin is fairly quiet.
The cabin is woefully drab: most of it is made from hard, scratchy plastics, and compared with most rivals, it's desperately unappealing. The easy-to-use touch-screen infotainment system (available on most trims) reduces the number of buttons on the dash but its menus are complicated and the screen can be hard to see in bright sunlight. On the plus side, the Yaris offers plenty of passenger space, including lots of rear legroom - although headroom in the back is a bit tight. The boot is par for the course for cars of this size, and the Hybrid version is a bit smaller as some of its petrol-electric mechanics are located back here. At least all versions get a split-folding rear seat to help you carry larger items. Entry-level T2 models are low on kit but TR cars and above get the touch-screen infotainment system which incorporates Bluetooth, a reversing camera and, for a small fee, sat-nav. TR trim also provides alloys and air-con, while SR brings sports suspension and part-leather trim. T-Spirit models include climate control, keyless entry, and automatic lights and wipers. Edition and Trend trims add sportier styling to T2 and SR cars respectively. Meanwhile, the Hybrid Yaris has three trim-levels of its own. All models have Isofix on the outer rear seats.
Toyota's reliability record is the envy of the motor industry, and the Yaris comes with a generous five-year/100,000-mile warranty so you'll have few worries here. Safety provision is reassuring, too, with seven airbags - including curtain 'bags covering for the rear windows - plus stability control, and sophisticated brakes that help you avoid having a crash in the first place. The Yaris scored the maximum five stars in crash tests by Euro NCAP, including 89% for adult safety and 81% for children.
The Yaris is a car you'll buy with your head rather than your heart. It's not very good to drive and the interior looks drab; however, it's quite roomy, has top reliability credentials and most models are pretty good value for money given all the kit they come with. It's affordable to run, too, but bear in mind that the Hybrid versions probably won't get anywhere near their claimed fuel economy of at least 76mpg in real life; the diesel is more likely to get near its average of 72.4mpg.