Toyota’s new Yaris is one small car that’s big on entertainment

The new Toyota Yaris comes decked out with some cool technology, integrating enough gadgety-goodness to make other small car owners envious.

We’ll get the motoring stuff out of the way first: Toyota claims the new Yaris has improved fuel economy, and all four in the line-up sport cruise control. Safety is also paramount, with all new Yaris models packing in seven airbags as standard.

Then there are the gadgets, and in case the name of our website didn’t give it away, we like gadgets. A lot.

Entertainment-wise, the Yaris introduces voice control technology for its audio system. This allows you to skip tracks using spoken commands, and is activated via a button on the  steering wheel. You’ll find a host of other additions in the dash-installed system too, including a CD player, Bluetooth streaming, iPod compatibility and USB connectivity. The features vary from model to model, but we were fairly impressed with what we saw here, even in the base-line YR. This offers FM radio with FM text, which displays the name track you’re listening to.

Go up one model (YRS) and the FM radio is integrated to a 6.1 inch full-colour touchscreen display that is able to read out emails or SMS messages from compatible handsets. With none of the Yaris competitors  –  Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2, Suzuki Swift  – offering a factory fitted touchscreen head-unit, this feature is unique in the small car category.

And what good is a 6.1 inch screen if it doesn’t display images? The Yaris’s 6.1 inch screen can play DiVX files from a USB flash drive, but only when the car is stationary. Safety first.

Speaking of which, as an optional extra, there’s a reversing camera that will work with the full-colour display.

Then there are the top of the line models (YRX, ZR), which feature the same 6.1 inch colour touchscreen, but with satellite navigation built-in (above). Like many of the standalone GPS navigation devices currently available, this also features the SUNA traffic channel, allowing you to view traffic conditions so you can avoid long delays on the road. The SUNA service is currently available in all capital cities in Australia, except Darwin.

The navigation also features “green-routing”, which Toyota says provides the driver with isntructions for the quickest and the most environmentally efficient way to a destination.



There’s a lot of the Tardis about the Yaris too, in that it feels far bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. I’m more than six feet tall, but the interior is designed so well that I never felt cramped in the cabin.  The dashboard is simple and appealing, with all the necessary information clear to view – even from my eye height. The touchscreen, too, is within easy reach of the driver, with all operations intuitive and simple.

Pricing for the new Yaris starts from $14,999.