It started with the Starlet, then became an Echo of itself and is now the Yaris. Toyota’s small car sits nicely under the Corolla and, along with a number of Toyota models, has recently been given a nip and tuck, for a sharper, edgier look. A Wheel Thing checks out the 2015 Yaris ZR.
It’s a basic four potter, with multipoint injection and just 1.5L in capacity. It needs a good rev, especially with the archaic four speed auto it’s bolted to and is noisy, coarse, as a result. The high rev points required also have the engine falling off between gear changes, meaning it needs to climb back up through the rev range. Plus, there’s no Sports mode for manual shifting, which takes the driver right out of the equation. With a fairly light body weight though, it does move along at a reasonable pace but alacrity would not be the right word to use here. Toyota quotes 7.9L per 100 klicks in a city environment, which would equate to just over 500 kilometres from the 42 litre tank, however, even that is optimistic and the Yaris would be far better served by having an extra one or two ratios plus a manual shift option.
It’s a revolutionary evolution from the previous model; that was a slightly edgy look however the 2014/15 model takes it further, especially for the front. It’s a radical departure for the normally conservative Japanese behemoth and, frankly, it looks pretty damned good. There’s a chrome line that funs from the centre through each headlight cluster, splitting them top and bottom whilst front and centre is a huge blacked out grille/air intake that pushes the non LED driving lights to the bottom corners. In profile, however, it’s much of the same from the past, harkening back to the Echo and possibly the Starlet. The rear isn’t much else either, with a refinement of the previous model’s tail lights to emphasise the LED circles.
On The Inside.
Of immediate note is the oddly shaped binnacle housing the dash instruments; although of a classier “feel” than some of its competitors, it’s an unusual shape yet, oddly, seems to work. Not unlike that of an unshelled peanut, its toroid shape (in a semi carbon fibre look for the plastic) locates the navitainment system, aircon controls and a bit of storage (tucked away at the top right and not terribly useful) within it. The seats are black cloth with a mix of grey shaded stripes which clash badly with the rest of the interior. They’re comfy enough and thankfully the stripes are hidden when sat upon.
A simple and easy to overlook touch is the positioning of the Power button for the Navitainment unit; Australia has a right hand drive philosophy and it’s great to Toyota provide a unit with the button on the right side, not the left which normally neccessitates a reach across.
It’s an easy car to get into and out of, however the doors close with the distinctive metallic thud of a door with no insulation, borne out by the road noise the ZR gets. The gear lever is leather covered, falls easily to hand but is surrounded by cheap looking plastic in a jagged gate design.
The cargo space, on first glance, looks surprisingly shallow. However, look a bit deeper, literally, as it’s a bilevel design and subtly enhanced by the line and hook that attaches the cover to the upper blind.
On The Go.
More than once, the aforementioned gear lever, moved from Park or Reverse, would end up in Neutral, largely due to the weighting of the mechanism and the design of the gate. It’s almost unseen nowadays as a common sense design has the gate being a simple and straight forward linear movement. Having a four speed auto that Henry Ford would have dismissed as archaic doesn’t win favours here either. Being restricted to four forward ratios means that revs become important and under hard acceleration the drop off in revs is noticeable. A softer foot has the Yaris suffering from the lack of torque the engine has so any overtaking move needs to be planned well ahead.
Being, ostensibly, the sporting model, the ZR’s credibility takes a further hit with a softish front end suspension that has the Yaris feeling like the front will tuck in underneath, plus the relatively narrow rubber leaves the driver unwilling to take advantage of the shorter wheelbase’s go kart possibility. As mentioned, the engine is coarse and raucous when pushed, however, to give it its due, is quiet under minimal load. Having said that, when it’s underway and sitting at around 3000 rpm, response is improved.
The steering, although direct, doesn’t feel as if it communicates much back to the driver, potentally contributing to an unwillingness to further explore the chassis’ boundaries.
The Yaris ZR is car in desperate need of being dragged into the second decade of the 21st century. A well done nosejob can’t and won’t make up for the mechanical deficiency nor will a modern navigation unit cover for an odd choice of trim. It’s not a car I’d buy but I’m also not within the Yaris ZR’s target audience. And for that, quite frankly, I’m grateful.
For more info, head to www.toyota.com.au.
For A Wheel Thing TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zq3V13NZsqg&feature=em-upload_owner
Engine: 1.5L, multipoint injection.
Power/Torque: 80 kW @ 6000 rpm, 141 Nm @ 4200 rpm.
Fuel: Petrol, 91RON.
Tank: 42 litres.
Fuel consumption: combined (L/100km) 6.3, urban (L/100km) 7.9, extra urban (L/100km) 5.3.
Transmission: 4 speed auto only.
Dimensions, L x W x H in mm: 3930 x 1695 x 1510. Wheelbase: 2510 mm.
Body: five door hatch.
Wheels/Tyres: 175/65/15 inch alloys. Bridgestone Ecopia.
Weight: 1055 kg (dry).
Price: $22690 + ORCs