The Yaris looks great and goes like a bomb

I MUST confess when motoring editor Mabuyane Kekana told me that she had a Toyota Yaris for me to test drive I wasn't exactly doing summersaults in excitement.

I MUST confess when motoring editor Mabuyane Kekana told me that she had a Toyota Yaris for me to test drive I wasn't exactly doing summersaults in excitement.

I mean a Yaris!

My preconceptions were totally misplaced. This particular Yaris was anything but a "mom's taxi."

With a full body kit, tinted windows, bee-sting antenna, factory-fitted mag wheels supporting 17-inch tyres, sports-style exhaust pipe and colour-coded exterior mirrors, the Toyota Yaris 1.8 TS is the Godfather of the Yaris family.

The sporty exterior flows over into the interior, which is also very unlike any other Toyota I have driven.

The instrument panels are placed in the centre of the front dashboard instead of the conventional place behind the steering wheel. This will not be to everyone's liking and from a personal point of view, I prefer this configuration where I am used to it - directly in front of the eye. That said, they are all clearly visible, so perhaps it's just a case of getting used to its new position.

Being a two-door hatch, the interior is surprisingly spacious. It might be pushing it to say Matthew Booth would fit in the front and Bakkies Botha comfortably in the rear, but four average-sized adults would be easily accommodated.

So how does it perform?

Well the VVT-i engine pushes out 98kW at 6 000 rpm, 173Nm at 4 400 rpm, scoots from 0-100 kmh in 9,4 seconds and has a top speed of 194 kmh - which in simple English translates into: "Pretty damn well!"

The power is not as instant compared to some others in the hot-hatch segment. It's more a case of it building up as you quickly work your way through the six-speed transmission.

Being top-of-the-range, the car comes with all the bells-and-whistles you would expect - ABS (anti-lock braking system), VSC (vehicle stability control) and seven airbags.

From a comfort point of view there is power steering, electric windows, multi-function steering wheel, air con and rear seats that fold completely flat if extra boot space is required.

The Yaris TS is by no means cheap at R225900 considering the base model one-litre T1 comes in at just R122000.

A big difference, but for that extra R103 900 you are getting a car that performs as well as it looks.

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