Toyota Yaris Manual Test Drive Review: Good to be bought over Psuedo SUVs?

We put the manual derivative of the Toyota Yaris through its paces to find out if the same is worth the buy over the convenience of the CVT automatic.

By:July 12, 2019 4:56 PM

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Sedans, which once used to be the symbol of pride, are slowly losing their reign to compact and sub-compact SUVs in India. These bulky bodied jacked-up hatchbacks promise to offer all the features and creatures comforts of a sedan, while at the same time offer its buyers the road presence and practicality they desire for. Demand for D-Segment sedans in India has already succumbed to this changing trend and next-in-line could very well be the ones in the C-segment. The latter currently comprises of cars such as the Honda City, Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, Hyundai Verna, Volkswagen Vento and the Skoda Rapid. The average monthly sales of the segment leader, which stands around the mark of 3,500 units, in comparison to the 10,000 plus of the leader in the corresponding compact SUV segment, shows the grim future of this category of vehicles.

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This fact, however, is not stopping car manufacturers in India from exploring what’s left of this segment as they continue to launch updates and new iterations of their respective models. The latest one to join the bandwagon is Toyota. The Japanese automaker had sometime back launched the Yaris sedan in our country, which marks its second attempt, after the Etios, at taking on the c-segment.

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The highlight of this new boy is its CVT automatic gearbox which Toyota had made available right from its base variant and which we talked about at length in our first-drive review. In addition to the aforementioned CVT, the Yaris is also available with a 6-speed manual gearbox. This review focuses on how easy is this manual gearbox to live with and how well does it perform in the real world situations, should you decide to go for the same instead of the CVT unit.

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The Toyota Yaris comes with a 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, VVT-i petrol engine. This unit is capable of churning out 107 hp of power along with 140 Nm of peak torque. This gasoline engine works perfectly in sync with the 6-speed manual gearbox. The combination is quite brilliant for city driving conditions. The clutch pedal action is very light and as soon as you disengage, the engine rewards you with ample amount of torque, right from the word get-go and stays with you till about 3,500-4,000 rpm after which it starts to taper off. The engine keeps pulling even after the aforementioned rev range, but the power delivery curve goes flat.

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Thanks to the ample low-end grunt of the engine, one does not need to downshift very often. But even when one has to, the mechanism offers positive throws. The light clutch action further adds to the convenience factor. Driving this car in peak city traffic will not be painful for your left knee. Our only gripe was that the gear-lever itself felt too tall for a sedan, especially with your hand placed on the front centre armrest. In addition to this, we felt the steering wheel to be a bit too heavy and a bit too large for a vehicle of its class. In addition to this, the ride quality, when driving solo, is a bit bumpy and only improves once the vehicle is fully laden. Though the stiff suspension set-up does help during highway stints, for someone who is going to use this vehicle as a daily city commuter, it does leave some room for improvement.

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The cabin of the Toyota Yaris is a good place to be in. The cabin is well insulated and boasts of decent quality materials, though all panels are made of hard plastics. The fit and finish are good, as you would expect from a Toyota. The seats of the Toyota Yaris are supportive and should be good over a long distance. In terms of features, the C-segment sedan is quite decently equipped and offers a couple of segment-first features, both in terms of safety as well as creature comforts.

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The exteriors of the Toyota Yaris are simple yet elegant. The large sweptback headlamps up-front gives this sedan an up-market stance. The side profile of the Yaris, though neat in terms of design, looks a bit dull in comparison to the competition which comes with sharp creases and bold character lines. Similarly, the rear fascia of this sedan lacks in terms of the absolute ‘wow’ factor but does get a sober layout.

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So, if you are one of those few who still think that sedans offer a better experience than the pseudo SUVs which are taking over the market and prefer the control that a manual gearbox offers over the convenience of an automatic, should you be heading to a Toyota dealership? Well, why not! The Yaris comes across as a worthy contender in the C-segment of sedans. Yes, it does lack in terms of outright bling in comparison to the competition and there are a few drawbacks like the stiff suspension set-up and a rather heavy steering wheel, but considering the overall package, it packs in everything that one can ask for including the perks that come with a Toyota badge.

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