Road test: Five things about the Toyota Yaris ZR

The 2017 Toyota Yaris ZR.
The 2017 Toyota Yaris ZR. Paul Bradshaw

1. Imagine - $23K-plus FOR a Yaris

The city car's facelift, the second makeover since this generation went on sale in 2011, brings new headlights, tail-lights, remoulded front and rear bumpers and added safety tech. The range starts at $17,490 for the 1.3-litre with automatic transmission and can be optioned with a $650 safety pack that includes automatic emergency braking up to 40km/h, lane wander warning and auto high-beam. The flagship ZR ($23,490 drive-away with four-speed auto) gets this safety tech as standard, adding built-in navigation, alloy wheels and 1.5-litre engine with a bit more zip - but it's not quite as quick to the speed limit as Mazda2 or Suzuki Swift rivals with six-speed transmissions.

The 2017 Toyota Yaris ZR.
The 2017 Toyota Yaris ZR. Paul Bradshaw

2. Auto dipping high-beam tech works pretty well

The high-beams dip when a camera in the windscreen senses oncoming traffic - earlier versions were a bit hit and miss, often triggered by reflective signs. But the technology is getting better. The ZR dipped the beams the instant it picked up oncoming cars or the tail-lights of vehicles ahead. Low or high, the lights were amazingly bright on dark country roads.

The 2017 Toyota Yaris ZR.
The 2017 Toyota Yaris ZR. Paul Bradshaw

3. Service intervals are every six months but cheap

Most new Toyotas - including this one - still require routine servicing at six month/10,000km intervals. As new generation models go on sale, it's expected these will extend to 12 months/ 15,000km (as with the C-HR stablemate). Yaris servicing is cheap at $140 for each of the first six visits, after which the warranty expires. Beyond the capped price period, the big services every 40,000km or so (which include spark plug and fuel tank filter changes) cost in excess of $800.

4. There's only a space-saver spare

Toyota was one of the last to hang on to full-size spares. Pressure from Japan to save money and create boot space meant they were replaced with skinny space-savers in the Yaris among other models. It's OK if you live in the city and can limp to a tyre shop but not much help outside a metro area. Most Hyundai and Kia models creditably retain full-size spares, so if it's a deal breaker, test drive one of theirs.

The 2017 Toyota Yaris ZR.
The 2017 Toyota Yaris ZR. Paul Bradshaw

5. There's no digital speedometer

For all the tech and the price, there is still an old-school speedo needle. Pre-2011, the Yaris had a large digital speed readout. Some potential buyers haven't updated to this model because they've come to rely on the instant accuracy and clear display of the digital readout.

Topics:  car advice joshua dowling motoring review road test toyota yaris

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