2020 Toyota Yaris adorable

It is affordable too in other markets where it costs less than $US20000.The 2020 Toyota Yaris competes against Chevrolet Spark, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Kia Rio and Mitsubishi Mirage.

Andrew Muzamhindo

It is part of a dying breed. It is one of just a handful of five-door sub-compact hatchbacks you can still buy for a reasonable price, as some smaller vehicles are now competing with cheaper SUVs price wise.

The 2020 Yaris uses the Mazda2’s sporty underpinnings, a peppy 1,5-litre four-cylinder engine, and Mazda’s decent infotainment system. The 2020 version comes with even sports faux leather seating with real leather accents on the steering wheel and shift knob.

This car is pretty adorable. The pint-sized hatchback has an angry face, courtesy of aggressively sloped headlights, clean 16-inch alloy wheels, and a simple rear-end. Only keen eyes will notice the Mazda2 taillights out back, the car with which the Yaris shares its base.

The Mazda ties are a bit more obvious inside. The tacked-on, 7-inch touchscreen from older Mazdas carries over (new Mazdas get a nicer 8,8-inch screen), as does the rotary controller, volume knob, and virtually all of the components of the dash and center console. The cloned cabin makes the inside of the Yaris look more upscale than its predecessor, as well as most of its subcompact competitors.

The Yaris does not have great noise insulation. This makes it pretty loud on the highway. Nor does the tiny hatch offer tons of interior space; its 38,2 inches of front headroom and 41,9 inches of front legroom are some of the worst figures in the class, and make the front compartment feel tight. Only the Mitsubishi Mirage has less leg space up front. The rear bench feels especially cramped for tall individuals.

The imitation leather seats on the Yaris XLE are pretty. Replacing the standard cloth seats on the base LE model, the upgraded buckets are soft, supportive, and do a good job of imitating real cowhide. There is real stitched leather elsewhere in the cabin, too: on the steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake. They might not be the highest of quality, but those touches do add a bit more of an upscale feel.

As already mentioned, the Yaris’ standard 7-inch touchscreen is a direct carryover from previous Mazda products. And it is a perfectly acceptable set-up here, on par size-wise and from a functionality standpoint with most of the other options in the class. The home screen has a concise layout that is easy to navigate via the rotary dial called the “Commander Knob” mounted in the centre console, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. There are two tiny screens on either side of the instrument cluster, but they only display basic readouts like fuel economy outside temperature.

This is where the Yaris finds its footing; the Mazda underpinnings make this Toyota the most fun to drive car in the class. Powered by a lively 1,5-litre four-cylinder engine, the Yaris is good for 79Kw horsepower and 139Nm of torque. The leader of the class, the Nissan Versa doles out 90Kw of horses. The Yaris’ four-cylinder, however, delivers power exceptionally well.

The excellent suspension tuning and well-weighted steering makes the Toyota Yaris super fun to fling around in, too. This Yaris has a sharp turn-in and keeps mostly flat in the corners, even when pushed. The hatchback has a lone six-speed automatic transmission, while the sedan gets a six-speed manual option.
Considering Toyota is so good about active safety equipment elsewhere in its line-up, it is odd that the Toyota Yaris only offers a low-speed forward collision warning, front automatic emergency braking, LED headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Not even the XLE model gets optional active safety like lane-keep assist or rear cross-traffic alert which is now becoming standard in most 2020 vehicles.

Compare that to the top-trim Nissan Versa, which has an optional Safety Shield 360 suite that offers all of that mentioned equipment and more, and the Yaris comes out second best.

The Toyota Yaris XLE hatch nets 13kms per litre in urban settings and 17km per litre on the highway. That fuel economy figure matches the Nissan Vers,a but falls a step behind the Mitsubishi Mirage and Kia Rio.
andrew@muzamhindo.com