Hot on the heels of the new Toyota Aygo City Car range which has just gone on sale in the UK with the advertising theme of Go Fun Yourself, now comes the new Toyota Yaris range of Supermini sized three and five door hatchbacks.
They go on sale from 1 August backed by a TV and on-line musical theme which includes the classic song of ‘Uptown Girl’ all done under the strapline of ‘Fall in Love with Driving Again’.
Toyota sees the need to lower the average age of their customers globally despite, in many cases, younger people having more important things to spend their hard earned money on, a mortgage for instance , raising a family, still paying off university fees or perhaps enjoying life with expensive holidays. What Toyota’s recent youthful drive has done is increase the brand’s customer conquest rate improving from 43 to 57%. The updated version of third generation Yaris is following form and targeting the young but it will still be the older generation that will be the mainstay to sales and keep the Yaris as Toyota’s best selling model range both in Europe as a whole and in the UK.
Both the Aygo and the Yaris model ranges in the UK have customers in the over 50s age bracket and the majority are female so the ‘Uptown Girl’ song could be another hit with them.
Prices for the ‘new’ – more significantly revised than totally new, are described as ‘carry-over’ but with more specification, more models and increased options. They start officially from £10,995 for the 1.0-litre three door models and go up to £17,696 for the five door 1.5-litre petrol/Hybrid with its standard CVT auto transmission. However Toyota GB has a launch offer on the cheapest model of a £1,000 price reduction so prices in fact start at £9,995.
In its first full year of UK sales Toyota GB expects the revised Yaris to sell in the region of 36,000 units, 12,750 of which will be the Hybrid version, the only Hybrid model on offer by any manufacturer in the Supermini sector. According to official sales figures issued by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders the top selling models in the UK’s Supermini sector last year were the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, VW Polo, Peugeot 208, Fiat 500 and then the Toyota Yaris. The total UK sector sales were 813,092 units out of three million sold in Europe or one in every five new cars sold was a Supermini.
Chris Hayes, marketing director for Toyota in the UK said at the European media launch of the new Yaris held in Germany this week, the range of three and five door hatchbacks continues to be designed and developed in Europe and all versions are built in France.
The engine line-up remains the same but each of the four units has been revised to improve performance and fuel economy but reduce CO2 emissions and running costs. The engines on offer are the 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder, 68bhp petrol and also used in the new Aygo, the 1.33-litre 4-cylinder 98bhp petrol, the 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder 89bhp turbodiesel and the Hybrid with its combination of 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, 73bhp petrol engine and its 59bhp electric motor.
He said that the 1.33-litre engine will be the largest seller taking 54% of UK sales followed by the Hybrid at 35% with the 1.0-litre unit being the choice of 8% of UK customers and the diesel will account for 3% of sales.
When it comes to the specification levels Chris Hayes said there is a wider and more clearly defined range and more option packs each with their own character to help broaden the appeal of the range to a more diverse customer base. The established Active and Icon grades are joined by the new Sport trim and at the top of the range is Excel.
He said the entry level Active specification will only account for 1% of UK sales, the Icon will remain the most popular appealing to around 62% of customers, Sport should take 13% of sales and the Excel level – aimed at down-sizers who still expect larger car specification, would take around 24% of sales. Not all body types and engine options are available with all spec levels, for instance the Yaris Hybrid can be specified only in Icon and Excel levels.
As far as he best selling Icon spec level goes it has 15-inch alloys, projector headlights, electrically heated and controlled door mirrors, Toyota Touch 2 – their latest touchscreen multimedia system – with 7-inch screen which includes Bluetooth, sending and receipt of text messages, audio streaming, rear-view camera, vehicle information, computer and air-con/climate control settings and so forth, front fog lights and leather steering wheel;. Electrically operated front windows, vehicle stability control and a 6-speaker audio system are several items carried over from the base Active spec level.
In addition to the four core spec levels the option packs, depending on the model chosen, are Design at £395, Style at £500, Protection at £700, Smart at £395, Appearance at £795, Go Navigation at £650 and the Skyview glass roof at £550.
Chris Hayes concluded by saying that over 80% of UK customers will choose a five-door version, 70% of sales will go to retail customers, 60% will be female drivers and currently the average age of a Yaris UK customer is 55 years. Around 80% of customers use the Access Toyota PCP finance options with the most popular Icon five door model starting from £139 per month over three years.
Where the updated Yaris is noticeably different is the new styling, very much in line with the modern treatment highly praised for the new Aygo city car. There is the same ‘X’ style front end grille and bonnet treatment coupled with a rising waistline side profile, relatively high roof for good headroom and visibility, plus a sharp looking treatment for the rear end with its modern lighting and practical tailgate. Inside the quality and choice of trim is also more acceptable and modern looking than the previous drab versions.
Also noticeable is the improvement in the handling and ride comfort departments. The bodyshell, with increased spot-welding joints, is 20% stiffer so it is more torsionally rigid. This means that softer suspension components and bushes are used and with rebound springs and a stiffer front roll bar added. The handling is sharper, the balance and poise improved and the ride more compliant. Changes to the engine and transmission mountings also refine the driveability.
When it comes to the engines the 1.0-litre petrol unit is the same as the one used in the Aygo. It has the same distinctive three-cylinder gruff sounding throb and needs to be worked quiet hard. It is more suitable for town driving then long open road journeys in my opinion. With CO2 emissions of 99g/km VED road tax is free, the Combined Cycle fuel consumption is officially 65.7mpg and it is now Euro 6 compliant.
The 1.33-litre four cylinder engine will be the main seller and is most suitable for the larger size of the Yaris. This model in many cases is the main car of a family so it needs to cope with long and short journeys. But it is no ball of fire with just 98bhp of power and only 92lb ft of torque available at a high 4,000rpm level. Officially this engine will return 57.6mpg and on my press launch test drive around the Dusseldorf city roads and on a longer country road drive it returned 45.2mpg. CO2 emissions are 114g/km so VED road tax will cost £0 for the First Year rate and then £30 for Year Two onwards. Despite its variable valve timing design it is not the most modern engines and it is still only Euro 5 compliant. In truth there are better smaller capacity petrol engines now using turbochargers to boost low down torque response and mid range bhp performance. The latest generation Ford EcoBoost units, the VW Group 1.2/1.4-litre TFSI and PSA Peugeot-Citroen 1.2-litre turbo petrol engines are good examples. Whilst Toyota is doing a good job with new car designs in harness with providing better specification, a wide range of personalising options and improved ride comfort, they need to invest in new small capacity engine turbo technology not just minor changes to older units.
The 1.4-litre D-4D turbodiesel unit offers 72.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km but unless you are a high mileage business user then the £1,500 price premium over the 1.33-litre petrol unit, both with Icon specification, this choice is just not worth it and that is reflected in its small sales forecast.
The most viable option to the 1.33-litre petrol engine is the Hybrid version of the Yaris which will be the second most popular model in the range. With its 1.5-litre 73bhp petrol engine and 59bhp electric motor with its low 75g/km CO2 emissions makes it free of the London Congestion charge and of course free of any VED road tax. The power delivery is smooth, it offers a small degree of electric power only driving but on the open road in top gear the petrol/hybrid power pack means the Yaris is running in its Eco mode most of the time except under brisk acceleration. Officially 85.6mpg is the Combined Cycle fuel consumption and on my test drive over the same route used for the 1.33-litre petrol engine the real-life fuel economy was 56.4mpg. This hybrid version comes with a CVT automatic transmission which makes the engine noisy and sounding stressed during brisk acceleration. The only downside is the £2,100 price premium over the 1.33-litre petrol engine, both with the Icon specification.
Toyota’s best selling model range gives customers a wide choice of specifications and engine options. Customers just need to make the correct choice but also consider the numerous alternative models from other brands. The latest Yaris is no class leader, apart from the Hybrid version, but customer loyalty will ensure its popularity and that will be music to Toyota’s ears.
MILESTONES: Toyota Yaris 1.33 VVT-i manual Icon 5-Door. (Best selling model). Price: £14,095. Engine/transmission: 1.33-litre, 4-cylinder, petrol, DOHC with variable valve timing, 98bhp, 125Nm (92lb ft) at 4,000rpm, 6-speed manual. Performance: 109mph, 0-62mph 11.7 seconds, combined Cycle 57.6mpg (45.2mpg on test), CO2 114g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £30 Year Two onwards. Insurance group: 10E (tbc). Dimensions/capacities L 3,950mm, W 1,695mm, H 1,510mm, boot/load space 347 to 768-litres. Warranty: 5-years/100,000 miles. For: Sharp new design, new levels of higher specification, improved ride comfort, good amount of interior space, fuel efficient engines plus a Hybrid option, well known for reliability. Against: Not much fun to drive petrol/diesel engines, improved but still misses out in the overall ownership proposition to the Ford Fiesta. Miles better news agency