Over the last month EFTM has sampled some of Toyota’s latest offerings, from the iconic Landcruiser 200 series to the funky and well equipped RAV4 Cruiser. Now it’s time to cast the spotlight on the diminutive and range topping Yairs ZR.


The 10 Minute Test Drive

The ZR is the bee’s knees of the Yaris range and does well to assert itself above the rest. High end auto-levelling LED headlamps, a body kit which includes a rear spoiler and side skirts and Toyota Link connectivity give the ZR a fair boost over the Assent and SX variants.

Let’s be honest, Toyota can produce a very plain-looking car but the upgraded and now exclusively five-door hatch features the manufacture’s current “family look” signature design. The face is similar to that of the Corolla with a slim upper grille and gaping trapezoidal lower grille, a central cross shape incorporates the Toyota logo. It’s a dramatic look and pleasing from front on, but personally I don’t think it gels with the rest of the little hatch’s body.


Inside the Yaris has a largish feel to it, especially when it comes to headroom. There’s at least a palm and a half between my noggin and the roofline.

Width-wise is also a similar affair, I never felt squeezed in between two bookends. The cabin is well constructed with good use of convincing plastics and textures. A grain finish is the predominate change to the dash and instrument panel alongside brighter elements around the air vents and door switches. I wouldn’t call it upmarket but Toyota has done well to keep up with the times.


There’s also any number of storage compartments available to the driver and passenger including a neat little opening just near the A-pillar on the driver’s side.

Planting the foot won’t titillate the senses in any way shape or form, the 1.5-litre four-cylinder channels all of its ability through a simple four-speed automatic. Essentially most of the time you only have 2nd and 3rd to work with. But hey I guess buyers in this category aren’t looking at the performance credentials, but a smidgen of gusto and a six-speed auto would go a long way.


The Yaris rides and handles very well, for a short-wheel base hatch. The suspension tune irons out road imperfections and provides a stable and safe platform in terms of handling.

Ins And Outs

It’s a two engine line-up for the Yaris range, a 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre with the as-tested ZR scoring the latter. Just 80kW is on tap with 142Nm @ 4200rpm. Only a four-speed automatic is available on the ZR, a five-speed manual can be chosen on the Ascent and SX.


Size still does matter in any prang but the Yaris goes above and beyond with seven airbags including a driver’s knee bag. Along with all the usual electronic stability programs every Yaris also scores a standard rear view camera.

The Tech Inside.

I’ve mentioned in the past how I’m hardly in raptures over Toyota Link which is its connectivity interface. It’s a fraction too plain and sedate for me but does allow for users to connect smartphones and operate apps to help drivers find a destination, fuel, weather details as well as roadside assistance. The 6.1-inch touchscreen allows for familiar swipe and drag functionality and includes voice recongnion in addition to the standard Bluetooth and audio streaming.


On the ZR a most surprising bit of tech is the new auto-levelling LED headlamps, just a few years ago this kind of lighting system was purely the domain of seriously high-end vehicles. They’re excellent and standout like glittering diamonds at night.

The Hip Pocket.

The Yaris range kicks off with the Ascent at $15,690 before on roads. The SX is positioned at $17,790 and the as-tested ZR at $22,690. The latter is big money considering some of the shortcomings already mentioned. Fuel economy is rated at 6.3L/100km although I managed 7.1L/100km, there are larger capacity engines in bigger cars that do better than this. The upgraded Yaris hatch range is covered by capped-price servicing under the Toyota Service Advantage at a maximum of $130 for the first six years or 3 years / 60,000 km

EFTM Rubber Stamp


The last time I drove a Yaris it was equipped with the rather unorthodox off centre futuristic instrument cluster which was like looking into a parallel universe. Thankfully that’s now gone and admirably the Yaris as a whole is a decent car. The Toyota durability, build quality and resale value is all there. But unfortunately a dated, under performing engine and transmission package takes the gloss off an otherwise fine product. The Toyota Yaris ZR scores the EFTM Pass Rubber Stamp of Approval.