Toyota Yaris SR 1.8-litre dual VVT-I
Toyota's sporty-looking Yaris SR is more warm than hot hatch material
- High standard levels of equipment
- Comfortable sports-style front seats and rear seats that recline
- Offers improved handling and a firmer ride than the other Yaris models
- Sporty and stylish exterior
- Could do with a sixth gear for improved motorway refinement
- Driving experience still lacks finesse - not attractive to the true enthusiast
- Boot space small and fold-flat system doesn't really fold flat
- Despite stiffer suspension, SR still suffers form body roll
The Toyota Yaris has proved to be a popular choice with buyers in the fiercely competitive supermini segment since its launch in 1999. The second-generation car was designed to improve the car in all areas while remaining faithful to the original. Now, Toyota has added the SR model to the range: an attractively styled and competent 'warm hatch'.
Toyota's Yaris is widely recognised as being among the best small city cars, and the sports-styled SR is no exception. The SR adds to the three pre-existing specification grades of T2, T3 and T Spirit, and offers a firmer ride and better handling than the regular model.
The flagship 1.8-litre petrol engine is the latest addition to the Yaris's existing line-up: the 1.0 and 1.3-litre petrol and 1.4-litre D-4D 90 diesel. Other mechanical changes include the SR's sports-tuned chassis and suspension. The car sits 8mm lower than the regular Yaris, and its suspension has been adjusted to suit the standard-fit 17-inch wheels. Meanwhile the electric power steering has also been revised to operate 12 per cent more quickly than that of the regular Yaris model, providing more precise and nimble control.
The exterior sports styling of the Yaris SR is pronounced on both three and five-door bodystyles. At the front the SR has a deepened bumper with integrated fog lights, and a large black honeycomb mesh grille. The rear bumper is also different to the other Yaris models, with a chrome-finish sports exhaust pipe and fog lights. The rear light clusters particularly draw the eye, next to which sits the SR badge. The body gains 17-inch alloy wheels, deep side skirts to emphasise its lower stance and a rear roof spoiler to give it a more aerodynamic look.
The sports styling is continued on the interior, with features such as sports seats, leather-covered steering wheel and gearshift, and chrome highlights on the air vents. The equipment specification also marks out the model's premium positioning, including features such as climate control air conditioning and a Smart Entry and Start system.
Our verdict on the Toyota Yaris SR 1.8-litre dual VVT-I
If you are not anticipating a sporty car from the SR, this model is a sound offering. Even the larger 1.8-litre SR is more suited to the mature, sophisticated customer than the younger male. It has a package of solid, reliable performance, enhanced levels of safety and comfort, and attractive styling inside and out.
Factors such as good fuel economy and high security levels traditionally make the Yaris a very cheap car to run and maintain, although the SR is the first Toyota to feature the 1.8-litre dual VVT-I engine. With the Yaris range as a whole, servicing times have been reduced over the old model, and longer-life components have reduced the cost of maintenance.
Space and practicality
The SR's shape is designed to give maximum interior space for the size of the vehicle, and it does this to good effect - particularly in the front where there is ample head and legroom. The flexible rear seats and fold-flat boot system optimise rear passenger and load space. There are plenty of well positioned and useful storage cubbies, including the passenger's double glove box found in other Yaris models and cubbies built into the sides of the centre console.
Controls and display
The central digital display in the Yaris is informative, and its positioning makes it easy to read while maintaining forward vision. The soft orange illumination is a great improvement on the green backlight found in other Yaris models. The centre console has a set of circular controls and displays that are well designed, making them easy to use and attractive.
The Yaris SR provides an equal mix of good ride quality and handling, which results in a good standard of comfort all round. Most road imperfections are dispatched with ease and while roll is not a problem, on winding roads the traction control system can be a little hasty to act. Road noise and wind noise are well suppressed, contributing to comfort levels, although the 1.8-litre petrol and 1.4 diesel engines are relatively noisy for their modern design.
The Yaris SR is equipped with a number of safety devices, such as transponder engine immobiliser and security window etching. Remote control central double locking enables the driver's door to be unlocked separately to all other entrances.
The SR 1.8 incorporates all of the high safety standards of the existing Yaris range, which has been fitted with some features that are uncommon in this class. The SR is fitted with nine airbags as standard, including a driver's knee airbag. As well as ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, the SR 1.8 additionally benefits from Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Control.
The SR offers smoothness and comfort, thanks to its refined drivetrain. Manual models offer smooth gearchange and are preferable to the multi-mode transmission, which suffers from pauses between gear changes. That said, even the 1.8-litre SR lacks power, and very low gearing means it suffers from the lack of a sixth gear.
Family car appeal
With good interior space and a flexible load area, the Yaris SR would make an excellent family car or second car. The adjustable rear seats are very useful for accommodating various combinations of passengers and luggage.
First car appeal
The Yaris SR would make a good first car given its easy driving style, practicality, low running costs and reliability. However, the initial purchase price could well prove an issue for many first time car buyers.
Quality and image
The central instrument display is more of a cost saving device than an ergonomic advantage, and some of the plastics appear flimsy and cheap. In terms of image the Yaris SR comes across as a smart and modern supermini, though it still can't match the style of some of its rivals.
A high roofline and large doors makes gaining access to the SR easy. In addition, the SR sits 8mm lower than other Yaris models, and the tilted interior door handle is a useful aid for less mobile passengers when exiting the vehicle.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
A six-speaker CD/tuner with MP3 and Windows Media Audio compatibility is fitted as standard on Yaris SR models. The sound quality is good, while controls mounted on the steering wheel column are also a useful addition.
Colours and trim
Comfortable sports seats welcome both driver and passenger, while a leather-covered steering wheel and gearshift, and aluminium-looking centre console finish completing the sporting look. Overall the interior trim looks refined with complimentary dark and neutral colours and materials. As ever there is the odd exception, such as inexpensive plastics, in places.
The SR has a turning radius of 5.6 metres and benefits from light, responsive controls, making parking a simple affair. The near-vertical rear hatch gives improved visibility; a help when judging the extremities of the unconventionally-shaped Yaris.
A standard spare wheel is mounted under the boot floor.
Engine options - 1.0-litre petrol (67bhp); 1.3-litre petrol (86bhp); 1.8-litre petrol (123bhp); 1.4-litre diesel (89bhp). All fitted with five-speed manual transmission, multi-mode automatic transmission available on 1.3-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel. Trim levels are T2, T3, T Spirit available with all engine options plus SR for the 1.8 petrol.
Ford Fiesta ST Cheaper and quicker and offers a good driving experience
Vauxhall Corsa SXi Offers greater performance at a similar price
Peugeot 207 Sport A cheaper alternative that feels more powerful and assured at cruising speeds
Renault Clio In 1.6 16v trim, boasts less styling and standard-fit equipment but comfortable and fun to drive