The 2014 Toyota Yaris Sport is a superb reflection of Toyota’s renewed focus on design. As the most visually assertive model in the broadened Yaris line-up, the new Sport grade uses carefully chosen aesthetic enhancements to boost its emotional appeal.
Alessandro Massimino, the Brussels-based product manager for new Yaris, said: “Yaris was always extremely strong in its rational dimensions. What we wanted to achieve was to connect the model not only with our customers’ brains, but also with their hearts.”
In that respect, the Yaris platform has been given a more dynamic focus which goes much deeper than the cross-shaped frontal treatment and integrated rear diffuser. Commenting on this update, senior project manager Serkan Karaman said: “For the first time in the history of [Toyota’s] R&D division in Europe, we have taken the initiative and made important changes to the platform with regard to vehicle dynamics that go way beyond the boundaries of a facelift.”
The bodyshell itself has been stiffened with the addition of 36 extra spot welds, and features a new rear torsion beam and tough new lateral support behind the dashboard. Revised suspension parts include springs, shock absorbers and anti-roll bar, while new control logic has been applied to the electric power steering. As a result of these developments, quantifiable improvements have been made in roadholding, driving pleasure, comfort and NVH levels.
Rising from this dynamically-enhanced structure is the new Sport grade, which slots into the Yaris line-up above the established Active and Icon grades but below the top-specification Excel model.
Available in five-door form only, Yaris Sport is paired with Toyota’s rev-happy but gutsy 1.33-litre Dual VVT-i petrol engine. A six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard, though it is possible to specify Multidrive S continuously variable automatic transmission instead. Performance is sprightly, with 0-62mph arriving in 11.7 seconds (manual gearbox) on the way to a 109mph top speed, while the combined fuel economy figure of 55.4mpg ensures that interruptions for top-ups are few and far between.
Key visual elements make the Yaris Sport stand out from the rest of the range. It is the only model equipped with 16″ machined finish alloy wheels, rear privacy glass and a rear spoiler as standard; and through the spokes of the rear wheels lie 278mm brake discs – significantly larger than those on hybrid models, while the rest of the range use drum brakes. Attractive LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights both feature on the Sport as well as the top Excel model.
Moving inside, DAB radio is introduced within the Toyota Touch 2 touchscreen multimedia system, and Yaris Sport customers are the only ones able to switch the regular soft-feel grey interior trim across the dashboard and doors for vibrant Piri Piri red trim at no additional charge. Doing so adds a stronger level of coordination to that already found in the standard Passada cloth seat trim and red-stitched leather trim on the steering wheel and gear lever gaiter.
Specification levels in Yaris Sport are generous. However, Toyota has responded to customer requirements for greater levels of personalisation by creating nine body colours (two solid, six metallic, one pearl), an optional Skyview panoramic glass roof, optional black leather upholstery with either red or grey stitching, and two themed equipment packs.
The practical Protection Pack adds mudflaps, carpet mats, rear bumper protection, and parking sensors, while the statement Style Pack adds aluminium scuff plates, aluminium bumper protection plate, rear chrome trim, chrome tailpipe finisher and chrome sill trims.
Prices for the Toyota Yaris Sport start at £14,995. Click the following link for our review of the Yaris range, and use this search function on the official Toyota website to locate your nearest dealer and arrange a closer viewing.