In 2020, Toyota Indus launched its new Yaris to replace the outgoing Corolla Gli and Xli models. A year on, we look at how the car has performed, how it compares to its competitors and what it brings to the market with respect to its predecessors.

While the Yaris is a new car for the Pakistani market, it isn’t the latest and greatest in the international market. The 2020 Toyota Yaris introduced in Pakistan is, in fact, just a facelifted version of the 3rd generation Toyota Vios that went out of production in 2019. This isn’t the first time a Pakistani manufacturer has given us what is, for all intents and purposes, an old car. Suzuki did it with the Kazashi, Honda is doing it with the City and doesn’t even get us started on the Mehran, which was in production in Pakistan for almost 30 years. So, by now, bringing in rebranded older generations of vehicles has become a bit of a trend in the local market. 

Despite all of this, the Yaris is selling well; really well. According to the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA), Toyota sold 12,845 units of the Yaris from July 2020 to December 2020. This made it the highest selling car in its segment. It outsold both the Honda City and the Honda Civic, as well as its older sibling the Toyota Corolla. The car has clearly been well-received but what drives its popularity amongst the average Pakistani consumer?

Price and Features

The Yaris starts at PKR 2,515,000 and even in its lowest trim-level it gives consumers features that competitors don’t offer. In terms of safety features, it has two airbags as standard, comes with Antilock Brakes and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution which should help you stop better and has VSC with traction control. Bar the Abs system, these are all features that a comparable Honda City model does not have. 

The highest trim-level Yaris, the Ativ X CVT, comes in at PKR 3,005,000. This makes it slightly more expensive than the top-of-the-line Honda City, which sells for PKR 2,859,000. However, the Yaris might still give you more bang for your buck. It comes with keyless entry, an automatic climate control system, an Optitron meter with a Multi-Information Display (MID) and a steering wheel with multimedia controls. These are again options that competitors don’t offer. 

The Yaris also has 8 different trim-levels (6 for the 1.3L version and 2 for the 1.5L version), which means there’s something in there for everyone. Dealing with a market as segmented as Pakistan’s can be tough but Toyota has clearly come up with a strategy that caters to all. 

In terms of features and pricing then, the Yaris has its competitors beat but what about the way it looks and the way it drives?

Styling and Performance

The Yaris isn’t the best-looking car in the world. Its tall and narrow design makes it a bit odd to look at. However, it does bring modern design elements to a market that has been severely deprived of them. If one compares the City to the Yaris, the former looks old and dated. As it should, given that it is now almost 13 years old. 

In terms of suspension, the Yaris rides better than some of its competitors. It’s also more comfortable and quieter due to its laminated windshield. However, this might be a bit subjective as some users may not like the cushier setup that introduces a little more body roll when compared to cars like the City. 

Back to hard figures then. Like for like, the highest trim-levels of the Yaris and its closest competitor, the Honda City, both have a 1.5L engine. However, the City produces 120hp while the Yaris puts out 106hp. The Yaris does have a better gearbox though, with its CVT being slightly more responsive than the City’s standard torque-converter automatic. The traction control system on the Yaris may also help with off-the-line performance. 

As a city car, the Yaris is expected to return good fuel economy and it does. According to some test figures, the Yaris should return 14 km/litre in the city and 16 km/litre on the highway. 

So, the Yaris is a good, fuel-efficient car with a decent feature list and is currently blowing away the competition. However, does it live up to the cars it replaced last year?

Is Newer Really Better?

In short, it depends on how one looks at it. Just in terms of features and technology, the Yaris has the Gli and Xli Corollas beat. The Xli didn’t even come with power windows and the Gli gave you little in the way of safety. However, what they did offer was prestige at an affordable price point. Despite being lower-spec vehicles, they were still Corollas. They were bigger and more spacious and one could argue, even better looking. 

The Corolla has always been treated as an executive saloon in the Pakistani market. That’s why consumers preferred it over the City. With the new Yaris, that symbol of prestige no longer exists. The decision to get rid of the Xli and GLi models then might not have been appreciated by people who wanted to step into a Corolla for a reasonable price. However, with an impressive feature list, two engine options and modern safety features on the Yaris, they might just come around.


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