Toyota Yaris / Vitz


Debut: 2011
Maker: Toyota
Predecessor: Yaris / Vitz Mk2



 Published on 18 Feb 2011
All rights reserved. 

If Toyota wants to claw back the lost reputation and market share with the new Vitz and Yaris, it must be childish...


For 3 decades Toyota failed to crack into the small car market with its mediocre Starlet. In 1999, it called the end to the Starlet line and replaced it with Vitz, or Yaris in Europe. It immediately became a hit. European crowned it Car of the Year thanks to its funky styling and innovative, highly efficient packaging. It established a good reputation and sales prospered globally. A new era was born.

Unfortunately, the second generation born in 2005 did not take the game to higher level. It gradually fell behind Honda Fit (Jazz) and new waves of European superminis. However, I suppose that was not the end of its decline. What you see here is probably worse…

This is the Mk3 Vitz and Yaris. If Toyota wants to claw back the lost reputation and market share with them, it must be childish. Today's competition is so intense. If you want to build a class winner, you have to upgrade build quality, refinement and safety significantly. You also need to develop a full line of green engines, joining the trend of downsized turbocharged or direct injection engines. Automatic engine stop-start is a must. Exterior looks shall be more creative than ever, while interior shall feel as classy as big cars. In the new Vitz / Yaris, we found few signs of these elements.


While Hyundai-KIA raises their game significantly in recent years, Toyota keeps designing ugly cars.


Take the engine range for example. Among the three petrol engines on offer – 69hp 1.0 three-pot VVT-i, 95hp 1.33 DVVT-i and 109hp 1.5 VVT-i, only the 1.33-liter unit gets automatic engine stop-start to boost fuel economy in urban area. The other two are old engines. Equally unlikable is the fun-killing CVT. When will Toyota introduce DSG ?

Styling is very important these days. While Hyundai-KIA raises their game significantly in recent years, Toyota keeps designing ugly cars. The home-grown Mk3 is more angular and edgier than the last two generations. The concept behind is clearly to attract matured male buyers. In Japan, there is a trend of downsizing. More and more mid-age men shift from their Corollas and Civics to B-segment small cars due to depressed economy. While the attempt to catch these customers are not wrong, the execution is poor. This is evident from the Japanese homepage of Vitz, which shows two 30-something men standing in front of the car. From their dressing, hairstyle and body language we can see they tried too hard to look cool. That delivers an old-fashioned, 1980s Japanese pop stars feel. It is the outdated thinking of its chief engineer produced such an outdated design. The Vitz / Yaris does look edgy, but not sporty, let alone "heart up". Its lack of character and progress makes it easily forgettable. I'm afraid on the one hand it may fail to attract men, on the other hand it may turn off traditional female buyers and young people. This is a sharp contrast to Honda Fit / Jazz, which manages to satisfy all kinds of people.


From their dressing, hairstyle and body language we can see they tried too hard to look cool. That delivers an old-fashioned, 1980s Japanese pop stars feel.


That said, the exterior design is not the worst aspect of the car. The interior is. To put it in one word: disaster. If you want to see which new cars still employ shinny hard plastics all over its cabin, you don't need to go to China or India. Just look at this one. It looks cheap and feels cheap in your hands. The interior design is uninspiring, too, and there are few fancy kits to raise your interest. Its cheapness is the answer to high yen.

Well, the lack of quality upgrade at least keeps weight in check. The Vitz weighs around 1000 kg, undercutting all rivals bar the brilliant Mazda 2. In addition to a low Cx of 0.285, performance should be okay.

Cabin space is also competitive. A stretch of wheelbase by 50 mm and overall length by 135 mm put it to closer to its European rivals. Although much of the gain is spent to front overhang to improve crash protection, thinner backrest helps liberating rear seat legroom by a valuable 35 mm.


The exterior design is not the worst aspect of the car. The interior is. To put it in one word: disaster.


On the road, the Vitz / Yaris continues to disappoint. Although NVH suppression is clearly improved, it is not as good as its European rivals. Performance is modest for the 1.0 and 1.33-liter engine, especially because they pair with the lazy CVT. Neither is the 1.5-liter strong. It looks powerful enough on paper, but in reality its power delivery is peaky and the lack of low-down torque is obvious against those small turbocharged engines on its rivals. It's a joke to put this engine under the bonnet of RS trim, unless RS meant "Really Slow".

Apart from performance, the chassis is also short of fun. The electric power steering is non-linear and numb. The suspension setting, at least on the Japanese car, is biased strongly towards the comfort side, thus lacks a crisped body control. A Mazda 2 or Suzuki Swift is more fun to drive.

European Yaris will be set sportier, but even so we don't expect it to match a Ford Fiesta or VW Polo.

So the Mk3 Vitz / Yaris is disappointing. It looks uninspiring, it drives unremarkably and, perhaps the worst of all, its cabin feels cheap. Seems that the days of Starlet have returned.
Verdict: 
 Published on 27 Sep 2014
All rights reserved. 
Yaris / Vitz facelift 2014

I doubt if the aggressive fascia delivers the right message about the actual character of the car, which is more focused on fuel economy.


The 3rd generation Yaris / Vitz born in 2011 was really disappointing. It was ugly outside and cheap-looking inside. It lacked firepower as well as refinement. No wonder I rarely see it on streets. Considering how poor it was, the mid-life facelift has a lot of work to do. Frankly, only an all-new generation can sort out all the problems, but we hope the facelift can at least shorten the gaps from the class norm and bring Toyota back to the mid-pack of one of the most important market segments.

Design and engineering of the facelift is led by the European operation of Toyota located in France and Belgium, though the updated engines come straight from Japan. Outside, the cosmetic change is so obvious that I guess no need to describe. It’s nearly as radical as the new Aygo, though I doubt if the aggressive fascia delivers the right message about the actual character of the car, which is more focused on fuel economy. Anyway, it is definitely more interesting to look.

The interior is also restyled. Although the basic architecture remains, the instrument pod gets a nice reshape and the door panels look more stylish – sadly, the latter is absent on Japanese and American cars. The horizontal dash panel is now made of soft-touch plastic. Unfortunately, most other surfaces are still finished in hard plastics of varying grains. Overall speaking, this cabin still lags a long way behind the standards set by VW Polo and Peugeot 208.


More soft plastic aside, this cabin still lags a long way behind the standards set by VW Polo and Peugeot 208.


To improve running refinement, Toyota strengthened the chassis in various locations. For example, it added 36 welding spots to the center and rear of the monocoque. It reinforced the dashboard supporting beam and the central tunnel. A new windscreen bonding material also helps improving rigidity. As for suspension, softer springs should improve ride quality, while new dampers with rebound springs and a stiffer torsion beam axle should keep body motions in check. In reality, the car does offer a more forgiving low-speed ride, but it fails to settle over high speed bumps. This means it is better to limit its usage in town. Toyota said the electric-assisted steering has been retuned, but it is just as numb as before.

We hope the Yaris / Vitz could add some more firepower. Unfortunately, Toyota concentrated on fuel economy. The core 1.33-liter petrol engine used in the Japanese car has been overhauled and developed into a new Atkinson-cycle unit with codename 1NR-FKE. Unlike other Atkinson engines though, it employs an unusually high compression ratio of 13.5:1 so that it can produce 99 hp, i.e. same as the old engine still employed by the European version. To make possible the high compression ratio, it employs very long, 4-2-1 exhaust manifolds (an idea copied from Mazda Skyactiv-G), water jacket spacer at the combustion chambers (to reduce temperature), high-tumble port (to speed up combustion) and cooled exhaust gas recirculation. It also gets low-friction pistons and chains to enhance efficiency. Besides, its intake variable cam-phasing has been switched from hydraulic to electric actuated thus gets a new name, VVT-iE. Performance is practically unchanged, but fuel economy is improved by 20 percent according to Japanese combined cycle.

The base 1.0-liter 3-cylinder is also improved in efficiency, if not as radical. It gets the same low-friction components, cooled EGR and high-tumble port design to enable a higher, 11.5:1 compression.

The 1.5 VVT-i engine available in Japan and US is unchanged, ditto the hybrid powertrain on the Hybrid model (it is transplanted straight from Aqua / Prius C). All Yaris / Vitz remain slow and lacking driver appeal.
Verdict:
 Published on 10 May 2017
All rights reserved. 
Yaris / Vitz facelift 2017


Although it is already 6 years old, Toyota considered another facelift would be sufficient to keep its sales momentum.


A mainstream car in the most competitive segment receiving a facelift at its 6th birthday is abnormal, especially its maker is Toyota, which used to 4-year model cycle. Not that the Yaris/Vitz is poor selling. Although it is not going to chase for segment crown, Toyota has just celebrated the sale of 2 million copies of Vitz in Japan, while in Western Europe it sold 208,000 units of Yaris last year, not bad for a 6-year-old kid, thanks largely to the segment-unique Hybrid model that accounted for 40 percent of its sales. As there is no sign of decline, Toyota considered another facelift would be sufficient to keep its sales momentum.

This is the second facelift of the Mk3 model. It is not quite as radical as the last one introduced 2.5 years ago, but nonetheless a more thorough revision than the industrial norm. It introduces 900 new parts and costs €90 million to develop. Toyota’s studio in France is once again responsible for styling, which improves its aesthetic by discarding the chromes surrounding the bulldog fascia and add back some chromes around the foglights. A new two-tone color option has the roof painted black to smart it up considerably, as well as color-coding the dashboard panel and upholstery to match the exterior paint. Look is no longer a problem for the Yaris and Vitz.



Small improvement aside, overall this is still an outdated interior...


The interior design is basically unchanged, although the color coding improves the ambience and a bit more soft-touch plastics enhance tactile quality a little. However, overall this is still an outdated interior, lacking the visual appeal of, say, Peugeot 208 and Nissan Micra, as well as the perceived quality of most of its top rivals. Toyota’s Touch 2 touchscreen infotainment system is also a cheap one. It is suffering from a wide range of problems, i.e. glare, small screen, slow response, unintuitive interface design and lack of Apple CarPlay / Android Auto. A new TFT info display added between the dials claws back some points, but not enough to save the game. The cabin is also suffering from high-mounted seats and insufficient reach adjustment for the steering wheel. These issues have not been addressed by the facelift.

Under the bonnet, the 69hp 1.0-liter 3-cylinder remains. The 1.4D-4D diesel has been dropped due to the success of Hybrid. However, the biggest news is that in Europe the 1.33-liter petrol has been replaced with a new 1.5-liter engine that comes from the ESTEC family of high-efficiency engines. Despite of upsizing, its fuel consumption is claimed to be up to 12 percent lower than the 1.33 engine. How is this achievable? The answer is using Atkinson cycle. Its intake variable cam phasing is implemented electrically (VVT-iE) so that it can delay the intake valve closure in a fraction of a second, hence switching from Otto cycle to Atkinson cycle. Under higher loads, the engine reverts to Otto cycle to deliver maximum power, which is 111 hp and 100 lbft, equaling to Toyota’s existing 1.5 VVT-i unit. By using water-cooled exhaust gas recirculation to reduce the likelihood of knock, it can adopt a 13.5:1 compression ratio to enhance power. Overall, the new engine achieves a thermal efficiency of 38.5 percent, a bit lower than the 40 percent benchmark of the 1.8-liter unit on Prius. Compared with the outgoing 1.33-liter, it not only saves fuel but also improves 0-60 mph acceleration by 0.8 seconds.


Against the trend, Toyota opts for upsizing its engine but it manages to improve performance and cut fuel consumption simultaneously.


That said, the Yaris 1.5 is still far from entertaining to drive. While it is certainly quicker than before, it is no match with its much torquer turbocharged rivals. You also need to stretch the rev to deliver the required overtaking punch, by the time the engine becomes uncomfortably noisy. In fact, the outdated architecture of the car lacks the necessary NVH suppression to be competitive against its current rivals. Its door mirrors generate excessive wind noise on highway. Its window sealing and sound deadening materials seem to be lacking. The suspension also rides noisily over ridges on highway. The higher the speed, the more unrefined it appears against its rivals. This is still essentially a city car.

Toyota spent more effort to improve the NVH and handing of the Hybrid model, which is admittedly undeveloped last time. Regarding the 1.5-liter petrol model, only a new engine mount and retuned shock absorbers have been introduced, but they don’t do any miracles. There is a lot of body movement through corners, and the car is unsettling over high-speed undulations. The steering is light, inconsistently weighted and lack of communication. The engine feels strained at upper rev range, and the 6-speed manual is not exactly slick. The car cannot be pushed hard, nor you will feel joyful to do so. To those motorists demanding an entertaining drive, the Mk3 Yaris/Vitz has long passed its golden time, if there was any. Toyota should have renewed the car long ago, not counting on the sales of Hybrid to extend its life.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Vitz 1.0
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3885 / 1695 / 1500 mm
2510 mm
Inline-3
996 cc
DOHC 12 valves, VVT
-
-
69 hp
68 lbft
CVT
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
165/70R14
970 kg
97 mph (est)
14.5 (est)
-
Vitz 1.3
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3885 / 1695 / 1500 mm
2510 mm
Inline-4
1329 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
-
-
95 hp
89 lbft
CVT / 6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
175/65R15
CVT: 1000 kg
109 mph (c)
6M: 11.5*
6M: 43.6*
Vitz 1.5RS
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3930 / 1695 / 1500 mm
2510 mm
Inline-4
1496 cc
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
-
-
109 hp
102 lbft
5-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
195/50R16
1030 kg
115 mph (est)
9.5 (est) / 9.0**
32.8**




Performance tested by: *Autocar, **C&D





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine

Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Yaris 1.0
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3950 / 1695 / 1510 mm
2510 mm
Inline-3

998 cc
DOHC 12 valves, VVT
-
-
69 hp
70 lbft
5-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
175/70R14
980 kg
96 mph (c)
14 (est)
-
Vitz 1.3
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3885 / 1695 / 1500 mm
2510 mm
Inline-4, Atkinson-cycle

1329 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
-
-
99 hp
89 lbft
CVT
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
175/65R15
1000 kg
109 mph (est)
12 (est)
-
Yaris Hybrid
2014
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3950 / 1695 / 1510 mm
2510 mm
Inline-4, Atkinson-cycle + electric
motor
1496 cc
DOHC 16 valves
-
-
75 hp + 61 hp = 101 hp
82 lbft + 125 lbft
CVT
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
175/65R15
1085 kg
103 mph (c)
11.1 (c)
-




Performance tested by: -





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Yaris 1.5
2017
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3945 / 1695 / 1510 mm
2510 mm
Inline-4, Atkinson/Otto-cycle
1496 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
-
-
111 hp
100 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
175/65R15
1040 kg
109 mph (c)
10.3 (c)
-


















































Performance tested by: -





AutoZine Rating

Yaris / Vitz



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