Test-drive: Toyota Yaris 1.5G - Hatch-Tag

By thoriq, 14 August 2019

“As long as it looks good for the ‘Gram, man!”

That was how a millennial described the new Toyota Yaris, even after we pointed out some of the quirks present in our all-new premium-spec tester pictured here.

Such a reaction goes some way in proving that powerhouse UMW Toyota might have finally gotten things right for its re-entry into the local B-segment hatchback scene.

Having spent some time in this de-booted Vios of sorts lately, there’s indeed much more to bask in besides its Instagram-worthy good looks. On the surface, the Yaris’s sporty and sharp visual appeal is very clear, especially when dressed in the optional aerokit as our tester.

Adding to that are things like the LED DRLs up front and snazzy 16-inch alloy wheels, not forgetting the contrasting black and red exterior trims. They definitely help with a good first impression.

Climb into the cabin and things look and feel familiar here, but in a good way.

Much of what you see in the premium-spec Vios sedan is mirrored in this de-booted hatchback twin; the array of premium features and creature comforts found in the former carried over too.While some of these are welcoming, the rest aren’t as refined in feel and execution to say the least.

Take the Yaris’s blind-spot monitor for instance. Though it’s the first car in this segment to feature this, the system is easily triggered and brings forth an incessant volley of beeps that will annoy just about anyone.

You can switch it off, but that will mean toggling the menu page in the built-in dashcam unit that this flagship variant sports, which by the way is hidden behind the rear-view mirror.

Other poorly-placed items include the Eco and Sport drive mode buttons, which are in the lower-right side of the dash. There’s also the touchscreen head unit’s fixed position and angle forcing you to live with the glare coming off it too.

Our biggest gripe though lies in the absence of a telescopic adjustment feature for the steering, which by the way is a feature present in some of the Yaris’s rivals too.

Well, all that, and perhaps the slightly cramped 286-litre boot space, become the least of anyone’s worries as soon as they get the Yaris going. While not the most powerful nor the lightest in class, this hatchback does deliver some peppy driving dynamics to match its sharp looks.

At the heart of this is of course Toyota’s free-revving and seemingly bulletproof 1.5-litre four-cylinder mill, which is paired with an equally robust seven-speed CVT box to drive all 106hp and 140Nm available to the front wheels.

Truth be told, this powertrain fared better as an economical workhorse, especially when Eco drive mode is engaged.

While it’s pep increases with Sport drive mode, the absence of paddle-shifters to control the CVT transmission’s ratios does hamper things a little.

That, plus the rather muted feel of the Yaris’s electric power steering unit only adds to the notion of this hatchback’s true purpose as an efficient and comfortable urban workhorse.

The Yaris is a pleasant place to be stuck in traffic in, even if you’re seated in the surprisingly spacious back seat.

Speaking about comfort, the pliant and rather balanced setup of the springs and dampers Toyota employed for this hatchback is praiseworthy.

Couple that with the cabin’s decent noise suppression levels and it’s plain to see the Yaris is a pleasant place to be stuck in traffic in, even if you’re seated in the surprisingly spacious back seat.

In terms of safety, Toyota has done its homework here as it has in the Vios.

Included in the Yaris’s bill are seven airbags, ABS, electronic stability control, child seat anchors, as well as rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA) to supplement the 360-degree Parking View Monitor (PVM) feature this range-topper is brimmed with.

All quirks aside, the Yaris has little to no faults indeed. More than anything, it finally brings a breath of fresh air into a segment that’s been long dominated by the same suspects for a while now.

UMW Toyota knows this fact well, hence the unbelievable hype the firm set out to create for the Yaris.

For those that don’t believe in the hoopla, we’re glad to report that there’s indeed more than just good looks driving the Yaris.

In fact, there’s some actually decent substance to it all, including a five-year warranty. Now that’s a fact any millennial car buyer will agree with a #FTW tag in their next status update about the Yaris.

Toyota Yaris 1.5G
RM83,888 (excluding insurance and options)

SCORE: 7/10


1.5 4-cyl














Sporty visual appeal, bulletproof powertrain and comfy package.

“Premium” features feel unpolished in execution.

The Competition
Still not buying the Yaris’s hype? Here are some rivals that hope you’re right.

Honda Jazz
Honda Jazz


The segment’s benchmark feels a tad bit old now, but it’s still a better car in many ways.


Mazda2 Hatch
Hazda2 Hatch


Though smaller and much less practical, it’s arguably the best-driving of this lot.


Kia Rio
Kia Rio


Venture bravely into the left-field and be rewarded by the posh-est offering in this lot.


Perodua Myvi
Perodua Myvi


When all else seems unworthy, in the mighty Myvi we trust!