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After mounting some new tires on our Yaris today, I took it out for a little zip around the block to ensure my memory and senses were correct regarding the ride and noise levels in the new 2012 Yaris.
There is no doubt the new version has more insulation and is quieter on the road, but it is not night-and-day. Road noise is reduced, as is wind noise — slightly — although I find the new 2012 Yaris to be more susceptible to wind gusts, and it tends to wander quite a bit on the highway.
Engine noise is also less intrusive in the 2012 model, and the engine sounds slightly smoother, although I hope that is because of improvements and not an indication of a problem with my car — but I don’t think that’s the case.
My tester is a five-speed manual while my personal vehicle is a four-speed automatic. As a result driving feel is quite different. The five-speed feels more peppy around town, the lack of torque converter is obviously giving this little car the power it requires.
But I do find the engine turns a little too often, without a tachometer it is difficult to say what the RPMs are at any given speed, but based on the engine noise I’d guess around 3500 rpm at 120km/h and even close to 2800 rpm at 80km/h. The automatic transmission turns closer to 2000 rpm at 80km/h and 3,100 rpm at 120km/h as a result it is less “buzzy.”
Regardless, though, this Yaris is fun to drive around, it feels light and toss-able — the electric-assisted power steering makes the car feel lighter and more nimble as it incorporates a shorter turning radius and quicker steering ratio. The suspension feels slightly more taut and more compliant in this Yaris, offering a slightly better ride over rough pavement. As expected, Toyota has improved this Yaris in many areas.