¡Ay Caramba! Would you look at the face on this thing? It’s like a pint-sized luchador with ‘roid rage – it actually looks a lot like StrongBad, the gravel-voiced anti-hero of the Homestar Runner web comic. Good grief. It’s burninating my eyes.
We all know what’s happened of course. Toyota’s design team has been glancing longingly across the hall at the Lexus studios, where every movie night is a showing of Predator, and every single person dressed up as a Cylon for Halloween. Here’s the thing Toyota: because Lexus stuffs monstrous V8s behind their gaping grills, they can back up the Battlestar Galactica look. What you’ve done here is taken a friendly little eco-pod and given it a face like a box-fan with a harelip.
Normally I wouldn’t bang on about styling so much – just look at the pictures and make up your own mind – but this sort of thing has to stop. Just stop. I give up. Uncle. Our cars don’t all have to be so aggressive all the time: I’m not buying my 90-year-old grandmother a Tap-Out tank-top and a Monster Energy Drink flat-bill for Christmas, and we don’t need a Toyota Yaris that looks like it was designed to make shoestring fries out of pedestrians.
It’s a great shame really, as the Yaris is otherwise quite a likeable little tyke. Unremarkable, yes, but pleasant. This being the base LE five-door model, we have 15-inch steelies n’ hubcaps, all the door handles and the mirror caps are body-coloured, and the splash guards are all there. Basically, as the Toyota ad used to go, it’s a car. There isn’t anything missing or cheap-feeling.
Ditto the interior, which is actually quite pleasant for such an inexpensive car. The dash has a nice soft-touch material with plenty of useful cubbies, and the seats are pleasantly comfortable. “Grrrr” says the Yaris’ front end. “No hard feelings” says the interior.
Passenger space is really quite good, front and rear. Cargo-carrying capacity, on the other hand, is not great, and when compared to something like a Honda Fit, not quite competitive. It you pop up the floor tray you’ll see why – the spare tire is sitting at an angle, using up precious load height. If you regularly carry plenty of stuff in your trunk you don’t use often (chains, jumper cables, Mexican wrestler’s outfit), then perhaps this isn’t such a big deal. It you’re trying to get three friends to the airport, then it’s lappy time for luggage.
2015 Toyota Yaris LE, dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Up front, the driver settles into a slightly unusual driving position. Because the steering wheels tilts, but doesn’t telescope, one assumes the straight-armed posture required by an old Ferrari. Okay, so it’s not quite that bad, but the Yaris feels like it’d suit a driver shorter than my 5’11”. Headroom, however, is excellent, and there’s height adjustability as standard.
The dash layout is tweaked, but the basics are still all here. These include nicely chunky dials for the HVAC controls, standard cruise control (five door only), power windows, and power door locks. The touchscreen interface is a 6.1-inch display that’s easy to navigate, and the Yaris comes standard with USB plug-in located just above the cupholders, with a smartphone-sized bin right where it’s needed. There are cheaper cars out there missing some of these essentials, and while you’d have to move up to an LX model in the Honda Fit to get the USB port, it’s worth reiterating that this is the most-basic five-door Yaris. It has everything you could possibly need, right out of the box.