Ticks all the right boxes

2011-09-16 07:41

Toyota has found a lot of favour with women when it comes to the Yaris, mainly because it’s not macho enough for the guys. The new Yaris launches next month at the Johannesburg International Motor Show and its makers are banking on the car to broaden the target market.

Denmark, especially its capital city, Copenhagen, is known for being ecofriendly and I was excited to see some blond-haired, blue-eyed hunks while there. This Scandinavian nation is bordered by water – the Baltic and the North Sea – where large yachts sail, and I was looking forward to driving the popular hatch in this vivid scenery. Meanwhile, however, my colleagues and I decided to hit the town.

After giving up on the tour guide map we picked up at our hotel, we settled on beers at an Irish pub called Dubliner, which was packed with noisy lacrosse fans watching a championship final on the big screen.

Thirst quenched, it was time to mind our growling tummies. And just around the corner from the pub was Bof & Ost Restaurant where, typical to our South African roots, we tucked into T-bone steaks and red wine. Not quite the raucous Viking welcome I had expected, but there were a couple more days still to get through.

The next day we got down to business and drove the Yaris – which at first glance looks like an Opel Corsa – on a 160km loop around the city.

I soon found it was best not to be with someone you have too many laughs with when driving an unfamiliar left-hand vehicle on the “opposite side” of the road in a foreign country. You might take a wrong turn on to on-coming traffic on an off ramp.

Of course, the Danish motorists threw a hissy fit. Mind you, it was the most animated I’d seen their frozen expressions since I arrived.

A quick U-turn fixed the situation.

Day two took us on a shorter route around the city centre to test the car in its prime element. The new car is a stunner, with chiselled looks that Toyota hopes will draw the macho type.

This Yaris sports a sportier stance due to the big air intake and protruding bonnet centre. The rear lights are more detailed, with the tailgate almost integrated into the bumper.

Inside are lots of chrome finishes, soft-touch materials and a sporty steering wheel. There’s a new Touch and Go multimedia system with on-board navigation and Google search functions, as well as a stop-and-start system.

While the Europeans will surely fall in love with the gadgetry, this infrastructure isn’t yet supported locally and will therefore not be available. And that silly centre-console and instrument cluster has been banished, leaving the cluster neatly behind the steering wheel.

In South Africa, entry-level models will only come with a radio/CD player instead of the multimedia system, while higher-specified models will include dual climate control, rear power windows, panoramic sunroof and up to seven airbags.

There were three models available to test. They included a 1.0-litre mated to a five-speed manual transmission, a zippy
1.3-litre VVT-i petrol model in six-speed manual and an impressive 1.4-litre D-4D diesel model.

Sadly, though, our government does not understand the importance of bringing over decent diesel, so we will not be seeing the latter model on our shores. We will, however, have 13 different models to choose from, with three yet-to-be-named trim levels.

Thanks to the optimal drive, fuel consumption is lower and C02 emissions fall just under the South African threshold.

The local models have the addition of the optional multidrive S unit with seven-step manual sequential override.

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