The Toyota Yaris - Another car I’ve never, ever driven before. I’m a big fan of small cars but to be honest in recent years they’ve started trying to get a little too clever with trick automatic gearboxes and all the luxury add ons a of a plutocrat's limo. The Yaris then is a breath of fresh air - My car had an old-school 5 speed automatic gearbox. No clever double clutch technology. It just changes up and down through the gears like it should with very little drama.
It's had the same 1.33 litre Variable Valve Timing and Lift engine for what must almost be a decade now - Not surprising as it's renowned for being pretty bomb-proof and in such a light car, it makes full use of all of its 99bhp - Really surprising just how sprightly it feels both off the mark, and thanks to its gearing, in the midrange too.
The cabin feels large for a car of this size and the seats are really quite comfortable, although they do lack a little lateral support - Fuel economy is pretty good unless you press-on hard all the time. You know if you are because the engine can sound rather harsh at higher revs. It’s a little twitchy on motorways at speeds much higher than the legal speed limit but at 70 to 80 mph it settles down delivering a really smooth and predictable ride. This is a car I feel could cover considerable distance in in comfort. It feels light weight and does egg the driver on on country roads - But the limits of its tiny wheels and relatively high centre of gravity soon remind you to behave yourself.
The radio was a bit of nuisance - For some reason Toyota still insists on fitting the volume and tuning knobs on opposite sides compared to almost any other car, and whilst it’s nice to have such a large screen, it’s not much use if you can't see it thanks to it being made from a sun reflective plastic.
As with all current Toyotas, the Yaris is boringly, but reassuringly reliable, which makes used examples quite expensive compared to similar cars, but it is in my opinion one of those occasions in life where you definitely get what you pay for