Remember when car ignition keys alone turned the engine on and off, gearboxes were
manually operated, clutch pedals were prodded and windows wound up and down by

I recently did a spot of travel back in time in the Yaris Ascent Sport, the compact
hatchback from Toyota. With its eschewing of such modern automated aids, the Yaris
Ascent Sport manual, I presume for economic advantages, really is a hands-on vehicle.

At $22,130, plus on-road costs, the car is the entry level to the Yaris line and the only
variant featuring a six-speed manual transmission. The others have a direct shift CVT,
which adds just $1500. A CVT-equipped hybrid on SX and ZR attracts a further $2000
over their equivalent petrol variants.

Ownership costs include a five-year warranty, extendable to seven years, up to 10 years
on the hybrid battery and five annual services capped at $195 each.

Standard equipment on Ascent Sport includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED
daytime running lamps, tail and stop lights; auto retractable door mirrors with LED turn
signals; and power windows.

For the first time on a Toyota vehicle in Australia are ground-breaking safety features,
designed to make Yaris the world’s safest compact car. They include front-centre airbags,
sensors that can detect vehicles or pedestrians at intersections when making turns and a
secondary collision brake.


The all-new Yaris is shorter and lower than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase (40
mm) for maximum interior space and stability. Despite the lower roofline, interior headroom
is not compromised, the driver and passengers sitting lower thanks to the new Toyota B-

A sporty exterior boasts a stand-out cascading grille, longer bonnet, sculpted door panels,
dynamic character lines and a shorter rear overhang. There are 12 exterior colours.

Ascent Sport has an all-black interior, offering an open, spacious and comfortable cabin
with ample headroom and an up-market ambience with high-quality seat fabrics. Despite a
wider centre console, there is no room for an armrest, hence no leaning post for the driver.
Gearshift and cup holders take up the space.

However, the new platform allows the driver’s seat to be set lower and further back
towards the centre of the car, creating an appealing driving position and helping to lower
the vehicle’s centre of gravity by around 15 mm.

The steering wheel is set closer to the driver, with wider tilt and telescopic adjustments.
Electric steering is tuned for a light feel at low speed and responsive feeling at high speed.

Driver information is sourced through a 7-inch touchscreen and a 4.2-inch multi-
information display in the instrument cluster.

Bluetooth connectivity includes phone and music. With enhanced voice recognition,
there’s access to Sir, Eyes Free, Google Now voice commands. AM / FM / DAB+ digital
radio are in the hands of six speakers, while USB video playback is on offer when the
vehicle is stationary.

The new direct-injection three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine’s 88 kW and 145 Nm forge
gains of 10 per cent and 2.7 per cent over the previous 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, the
result of a lighter block and crankshaft, reduced frictional losses and high-speed
combustion technology.

Other advanced safety technologies include a pre-collision safety system with autonomous
emergency braking3, active cruise control3, automatic high beam, and technologies to
assist with cornering3, staying in the intended lane3 and detecting speed signs. A
reversing camera and a full suite of brake assist and traction-control systems including
active cornering assist are also standard.

Eight airbags include driver, front passenger, two front centre, two front side, two curtain
shield. The new front-row centre airbags – a first in class – are designed to offer additional
protection in a range of accidents.

They can act as energy-absorbing cushions between the driver and front passenger in
side crashes, or in passenger-side crashes when the driver is the only occupant. They can
also provide safety benefits in rollover accidents.

The new 1.5-litre petrol engine produces more power and torque – while using less fuel –
than the 1.3 and 1.5-litre four-cylinder engines it replaces.

Tagged with the ‘Sport’, engine performance is not all that impressive. High revs are the
key otherwise stalling is the downfall.

Toyota claims the new Yaris manual uses just 5.4 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the
combined cycle. The test car clocked 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres while flitting around
town and 3.7 litres per 100 kilometres on a motorway run.

The little motor was quiet enough at low revs but let out a raspy reply when urged to work
higher up the scale. The manual gear shift at times was not of Toyota’s usual high
standards and needed firm handling to avoid connecting with the wrong gear.

On the upside, the new platform underpins a significant increase in body rigidity, which
contributes to agility, stable handling, ride comfort and lower noise and vibration.

A 270-litre cargo area incorporates a two-level deck board. Larger items can be
accommodated with a 60:40 split-fold rear seat back. Front door pockets take up to a 1.5-
litre bottle, rear door pockets up to a 600 ml bottle

Having generally left manual motors behind to the ascendancy of the so smooth automatic
transmission, it is interesting to be reminded just how inconvenient shifting gears by hand
is in heavy stop / start city traffic. Spare the gear(rod) and spoil the child, it would seem.

Looks 7/10
Performance 5/10
Safety 8/10
Thirst 7/10
Practicality 6/10
Comfort 6/10
Tech 7/10
Value 7/10


Yaris Ascent Sport manual $22,130
Yaris Ascent Sport CVT $23,630
Yaris SX CVT $27,020
Yaris ZR CVT $30,100
Yaris SX Hybrid CVT $29,020
Yaris ZR Hybrid CVT $32,100
Premium paint: $500
Two-tone paint: $450
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota Yaris Ascent Sport 1.5L 3-cylinder petrol, 6sp manual, FWD)

Capacity: 1.490 litres
Configuration: Three cylinders
Maximum Power: 88 kW @ 3600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 145 Nm @ 4800-5200 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 5.4 L/100km
CO2 emissions 126 g / km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive

Length: 3940 mm
Wheelbase: 2550 mm
Width: 1695 mm
Height: 1505 mm
Turning Circle: 10.2 metres
Kerb Mass: 1000-1050 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 40 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Drum

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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