- Timmy the Toyota looking smart...

Toyota Yaris: The Perfect First Car?

Over the past 3 years, we've owned a 2004 Toyota Yaris. Are they rubbish, or actually pretty good? Let's look further into this pocket-size Yaris...

First of all, let's time travel back to August 2017, we had sold our family Mini due to being slightly uneconomical and too harsh on the roads and our ever growing legs in the back. We needed a new car, something for running about in with ease. We'd tried the Ford Ka (which was shockingly cack) so we searched the market for many alternatives. I found an old Citroen C2 VTS, but my parents said it would be too unreliable, so we got a Toyota Yaris instead - Timmy. Was it a good choice, I'll spit it out now - yes. Read on reader...

I wasn't keen on the Yaris at first; I just found them a little dull and not very interesting. Now, don't get me wrong, they aren't exciting, but they're still great.

We picked up the car, which was in terrific condition thanks to it being garaged and having only done 49,000 miles. It was mint. It instantly grew on me from the moment I saw it, I immediately saw the positive side of this so-called 'boring' car.

Timmy standing tall...

Timmy standing tall...

We had the car for three years and had no intention of selling it. That was until some muppet (may have been me, although I will not be held legally responsible) thought that getting a Fiat Panda 100hp would be a great idea. While the Panda is a great car, we have still to see whether it was a good choice or not replacing the Yaris with it. My friend, Matt, finds it weirdly hilarious that we swapped a perfectly-reliable Japanese car with a possibly-problematic Italian car. With the arrival of the Panda at the start of the UK lockdown, we knew that the Toyota had to depart pretty soon. By the end of lockdown, it was safe to sell cars again so we listed Timmy online for a fair price and day two on sale, it sold - huzzah! Don't you love it when things go to plan?

I am writing this article the day after the sale, and I'm still feeling quite retrospective, but "never look back", as they say. Although, I'm defiant and therefore looking back through teary eyes.

Anyway, I'm rambling, so let's discuss some key topics.

What was it like to drive?

Timmy was (I hate referring to the car in the past tense) actually a very pleasant car. Comfortable, relaxed, very reliable, but not fast. Under 40mph it was no slouch, the 1.0 VVT-i petrol engine pulled away nicely, but seemed stressed when reaching around 60mph. It's clearly a town car, so I'm not going to discriminate it too much. All in all, it was a very easy car to drive, and a pleasure to be inside. Many rainy days, Timmy warmed us up nicely on the way to school with some of my Dad's obscure music.

Timmy starring into the window...

Timmy starring into the window...

Was it reliable?

Who's coming up with these questions? It's a Toyota, duh.

The car itself was very reliable, however being a car from 2004 which is a long time ago now, there were the expected age-related consummable car faults. The exhaust turned into dust, rear hub, brake pipes etc. All was sorted fairly cheaply being a pretty simple car, not to worry. The engine was fantastic, I would honestly describe it as bulletproof. No unsurprising problems to report really. All in-order.

Timmy starring at you to like this article...

Timmy starring at you to like this article...

What was the interior like?

The interior is very good, actually. Our Yaris was the MK1 facelift, so it had an updated interior - without the rhino-coloured plastics, cheers Toyota. It came with a CD player, FM radio, electric windows, heater & blower, four speakers up-front. A feature I particularly liked was the tunnel-vision speedo. It's so when you look at the speedo, your eyes don't have to re-focus looking back up at the road ahead. For a cheap car, it's very impressive. Top score for the tiny-Japanese motor-car!

The seats were very nice, too. They were very spongey and comfortable. The back of the car is maybe the only part of the car that's not-so-plush; headroom and legroom are minimal, but I'm half Dutch so maybe it's just because I'm a slight giant.

How practical are they?

Very, in fact. The boot is an acceptable size for a small car, but if it's too small for your big dog, then you can chop your passenger's legs off and slide the rear bench forwards. Excellent. There is also the option to fold the seats down. The car was also very good on fuel, around town it'll average around 48mpg, Timmy was not a greedy pup.

I'm a big fan of the badge, very comical...

I'm a big fan of the badge, very comical...

Would I recommend it as a first car?

Definitely! It's simple, yet perfect. I can strongly recommend a Mk1 Yaris to anybody. You can pick up a clean example like ours for around a grand, which is quite acceptable. They will not let you down, that's for sure. I'm really going to miss ours, it served us well. Fairwell, Timmy, drive safe little friend.

If you'd like, you can check out my YouTube video on this car by clicking the video below. I walk you around the car in person (behind the camera) and give you some bonus exhaust noises. Nice.

Thank you for reading, I hope that I've grown you all into Yaris-yearners.


Daniel Achterhuis is a 14-year-old automotive journalist for DriveTribe and presenter of 'The Piston Podcast'. Daniel has written for various newspapers, magazines, and was the youngest-accredited press at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed. He aspires to become a full-time automotive journalist in his later years. Follow him on social media:

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Comments (13)

  • 2nd gen Mazda3 Sport Grand Touring - perfect period.

      9 months ago
  • I think I’d rather have Chlamydia.

      9 months ago
  • In Texas we use those kinda cars as hockey pucks 10 percent of all full size trucks made in the United states are bought in Texas

      9 months ago
  • Because... Toyota!

      9 months ago
  • Seems like a sensible first car for your average driver, nice, simply and inexpensive to run, a good idea.

    I looked at MGs, Renualts and Fords before settling on a Land Rover Freelander because I’m a contrarian and sod a easy to learn in or park first car. Although then again it has remained whilst my second car got sold...

    I think it probably made me a better driver through being a hand full over something with less than 90hp and a nice easy to learn clutch

      9 months ago
    • It really makes sense. And it won’t let you down! Highly recommend to anybody, really.

        9 months ago
    • Well I think my Freelander taught me more about driving than my driving instructors micra, but I can imagine most people won’t want 120hp and AWD for their first car. Bit of a handful for anyone without the confidence to deal with one.

        9 months ago