Toyota’s small-car comeback a mixed bag
Mark Smyth experiences the new Yaris that Toyota hopes can win back customers
Remember when Toyota and Volkswagen were locked in a furious battle in the small car segment? First it was the Tazz versus the Citi Golf, then the Yaris versus the Polo. But at some point everything went wrong for Toyota. In fact the brand is no longer the budget brand it once was with the majority of its sales being of vehicles costing more than R450,000. Its demise in the small car segment is clear in the figures. In 2017, Volkswagen sold 22,916 Polos. Toyota sold just 1,624 Yarises — in the whole year. Yes, it sold 14,686 Etioses but that Yaris-Polo fight is over. But Toyota wants to fight back and to do it, it has brought in a new Yaris from Thailand. Actually it’s the facelift of the Yaris that has been on sale in Thailand for four years. It looks substantially bigger than the old model and it is. The overall length has grown by 195mm and it’s 35mm wider, but the wheelbase, the all-important statistic that governs how much interior space there is, has only grown by 40mm. So big...