Thrifty super-mini car small in size, big on features

Charles Mogale

Charles Mogale

There are quite a few things about the Yaris T1, Toyota's entry-level model in the range, that will get you excited.

First, the tiny machine sips a measly 5,4litres of fuel a 100km, which increasing to a still impressive 6,4litres in the city. On the open road it is a mouth-watering 4,9litres a 100km.

Second, the list of features is as long as the proverbial arm. In fact, Toyota brags that the car is "small in size, big on features".

Third, the Yaris T1 retails at under R100000 (R89 990).

When the Yaris range was launched here late last year, the the target market was identified as being youthful, but the T1 seems to be pitching at the even younger.

The reception to the T1 has been phenomenal, with 10 000 units of the hatchback sold within the first few weeks of the launch. Between November last year and July this year, 21000 vehicles were sold in South Africa.

Considering its price and what it offers, it won't be surprising if the T1 surpasses the bigger models in the range.

If nothing else, the Yaris should offer some consolation to enthusiasts lamenting the discontinuation of the Tazz.

The first thing that might strike you as you sit behind the wheel of the T1, is the "superior" feel of the model and a sense of being elevated in a literal sense. This is an odd, but exciting feeling to be generated by a super-mini car.

The vehicle is powered by a three cylinder all aluminium 1-litre engine which puts out 51kW at 6000rpm.

The engine is fitted with a double overhead camshaft, four valves a cylinder and electronic fuel injection.

But technospeak aside, you feel you could be driving a bigger and more expensive car when the little monster gets going.

Toyota claim a lot of safety features as well, with dual airbags - for driver and front passenger - as standard, and ABS brakes with EBD (electronic brake force distribution).

There are also extras you would generally not expect in a tiny tot: electronic side mirrors, central locking, outside temperature display, electronic power steering, a remote fuel flap opener, headlamp on warning buzzer, map reading lamps, steering tilt adjustment and rear fog lamps.

An oversight was seat height adjustment - a short person I know could not reach the pedals, thanks to the height of the seat.

But I was particularly impressed with the loading capacity when the rear seats were folded. I managed to put in a large electric organ, a set of drums and other musical instruments which I am never able to do with a conventional car.

The T1 sells with a three-year or 100000km warranty with roadside assistance and service intervals of 15000km.