2013 Toyota Yaris saloon review

Bigger is not always better

By Shahzad Sheikh

Toyota Yaris Saloon

I’m a big fan of the little Yaris – and when I say little Yaris, I mean the hatchback version. I even ran one long-term with just a 1.3-litre engine, and the only complaint I had the whole time was that I wished it had had a manual gearbox.

Overall it was versatile, practical, thrifty but more importantly sharp to drive and fun to throw about. There was another aspect that I really like about it, and that was its honesty. There is nothing pretentious about the little Yaris, it’s cheap and cheerful, it is what it is.

You can read my long term review here.

Toyota Yaris Saloon

All of this meant I was quite looking forward to sampling the all-new saloon version of the Yaris, and here it is.

It’s grown. Dimensions are up in all the key areas, which of course means there is more interior space and comfort with good luggage space too. It comes with two engine options, a 1.3 and 1.5. We tried the 1.5 Sport which comes with bodykit, and is priced at AED56,900.

If you’re a hatchback driver, then the interior will not be familiar. And at first glance it looks like it’s gone extremely upmarket – raised centre console, leather covering on the dashboard and doors?! No. Not really. Look closely. It’s just plastic that’s been mottled and even has fake stitching to suggest it’s a leather trimmed-surface.

Toyota Yaris Saloon

As for the centre stack, it appears well equipped, but after struggling for 20 minutes to pair my phone with it, I realised that it didn’t in fact have Bluetooth at all. In the little hatchback it takes a couple of minutes to link up your phone.

But it says Sport on the rump, and it does look rather fetching with the side skirts and the boot lid spoiler, so let’s drive it. The 1.5-litre four-cylinder puts out 107bhp, whilst the little hatchback only puts out 84bhp from its 1.3 (which the lesser saloon also has), so this should feel plenty quick then.

Actually it feels about the same, and in fact it’s not quite as eager as the little hatch was. Okay the four-speed automatic is clearly not doing it any favours and it could do with another ratio, but the real problem is that this just feels like a heavier car – it’s put on mass as well as girth. As such not only the performance but the steering response is also dulled.

Toyota Yaris Saloon

Of course it’s not all bad. It is a very handy little saloon, and saloons are popular here. It’s got typically Toyota standards of quality and finish, plus of course it should be very reliable. It doesn’t look too bad and for the money it has sufficient kit – although Bluetooth really should have been included.

But it feels like a rental, likes it’s just fleet fodder. It is a car you have to drive, because you’ve been given it. I don’t see why you would buy this with your own money. It’s pretending to be something it’s not – upmarket, stylish etc. So quite frankly if you want a small Toyota, go buy the Yaris hatchback – that little thing works its socks off to put a grin on your face, it even comes with a 1.5 and will cost you AED900 less. And if you want a compact Toyota saloon, wait for the Corolla – launching here tomorrow. I suspect that’ll be a far better purchase.

Toyota Yaris Saloon

2013 Toyota Yaris Saloon
Specs
Prices:
1.3 S AED48,500
1.3 SE AED51,900
1.5 SE AED53,500
1.5 SE+ AED57,900
1.5 Sport AED56,900
Engine:
1.3-litre, VVT-i, 84bhp @ 6000rpm, 89lf ft @ 4400rpm
1.5-litre, VVT-i, 107bhp @ 6000rpm, 104lf ft @ 4200rpm
Transmission: four-speed auto, front-wheel drive

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