Historically, the hatchback car format has not fared well in the Philippine car market as many car brands have tried to market a hatchback vehicle and only a few have had any real success. But in recent years, it seems the conservative Pinoy motorist have embraced the hatchback design with the increasing of models in the local market like the Wigo, Rio, Mirage, Mazda3, Jazz, Sonic, and Accent.
First of all, there is something about the 2015 Toyota Yaris that you can not ignore. It does not look anything like it's sibling, the Vios, which I think should be taken is a good thing. It gives the Yaris a distinct identity rather than just a Vios sedan with it's read-end cut-off. Next is the rather distinct styling on the front end or the “mustache” design that gives it a somewhat “angry cat-fish” sort of look. At the beginning, I had my reservations on the front-end look but as time went on, I got to like it more and more.
Under the hood of this Yaris is the veteran workhorse 1NZ-FE engine with 107 horsepower and 141 Nm of torque, the same engine found in the previous and current generation Vios. The four speed automatic transmission is also the same as found in the Vios. Driving around the city in mixed traffic levels, I got a fuel economy reading of around 9.5 km/L.
So how does this little car drive? Unsurprisingly, the ride is smooth and stable as the suspension soaks up all the road bumps well. The feather-light electric power steering makes driving the Yaris practically effort-free yet still accurate on the road with the lightest of steering input on wheel. Acceleration is quick at low speeds up to a little past 100kph which is good for overtaking slow cars or for some quick fun on traffic-free roads.
The interior of the Yaris is practically the same as with the Vios with a few notable differences. Stepping into the car, you'll quickly notice the black-colored interior dash and panels (the Vios has a beige colored interior). The dashboard and panels feature molded plastics with stitched-leather design that gives the interior an upscale look (as long as you don't touch the hard plastic). The sporty themed orange-stripped black seats with orange stitching nicely contrasts with the black colored interior panels. The orange seat stitching was a good surprise because I did not expect it on a car of this level. Next, the orange-on-black colored center-mounted speedometer in the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel finishes off the sport-theme nicely although I would have preferred either a more solid color pattern than the “orange fade” design used or a more basic black numbers on white background layout. Interior space of the Yaris is also the same with the Vios means spacious interior with generous headroom and legroom for both the front and rear passengers. The Yaris also features the “flat-floor” at the back seats which helps increase passenger space and seating comfort as found in the Vios. One thing I noticed after nearly a week of driving the Yaris is the lack of sufficient storage “pockets” to store small items like my mobile phone, house-keys, sunglasses and coins. The oddly-placed single cup-holder behind the handbrake is great for holding some coins but too small for my smartphone.
So what is the verdict on the Toyota Yaris 1.5G? Overall, this car feels like a modern throwback to the early 1990s and to the basics of what a hatchback car should be. A little car matched with a motor of just the right size to be fun yet still economical to drive. It has just enough powered features (example: power windows, electric sidemirrors) to be considered “modern” and comfortable while bare of other stuff like touchscreen headunit with GPS, cameras or enhanced driver displays. It is styled to have that boy-racer appeal. And best of all, with a SRP of Php861,000, it is priced to be practical and affordable. The Toyota Yaris 1.5G would be a great little car to have either for that daily commute to work or for that long planned weekend roadtrip vacation outside the metro.