One of the ways Canadians are more European in nature than our neighbours to the South is that we love our subcompact cars. The Toyota Yaris, for example, was much more popular in Canada than the US, so its big news for us that Toyota is introducing a brand new Yaris for 2016.
The new car is only available as a Sedan, and has grown up considerably both in terms of styling and content. Thirty centimeters shorter than a Corolla and some 8 cm narrower, the car feels surprisingly spacious and upscale. The engine is a carry-over from the previous car, a 1.5 liter four-cylinder, but that is not a bad thing at all. The Yaris engine is a fun-loving and willing partner, and is now mated to a choice of manual or automatic six-speed transmissions for more refinement and even more economy.
Other than the motor, the car is all new. The sheet metal is curvaceous and purposeful, with an angular face featuring slanted headlights and a cavernous trapezoidal grille. The lines flowing back from there are elegant and organic, and the car presents a very attractive profile.
The interior is truly spectacular at this price point. This Yaris is quite feature-laden even in standard trim with excellent fit and finish, including soft-touch vinyl in all the right places. Steering-wheel-mounted controls for cruise control, Bluetooth and audio are well-placed and easy to use and, on the premium model, a large display screen for the audio and optional navigation is controlled by a knob just behind the gear shift.
The ride and handling are superb, the car feeling planted and stable at any speed. The six-speed manual is taught and entertaining, but the automatic gives up little in this department with its sport shift mode. The automatic is the only transmission available on higher trim levels.
The 2016 Toyota Yaris will be available in Canada later this year, and is set to ensure that our love affair with the subcompact continues unabated. Sure, the Yaris has grown up a little, but still holds true to it’s endearing roots.