October 07, 2005

●Toyota Vitz (Yaris) RS

The new Toyota Vitz went into production earlier this year and has been selling pretty well in Japan. It's biggest test is succeeding in the lucrative European market which is saturated with offerings from local manufacturers. It will go head to head with cars like FIATs new rather good Punto.




Overall it has grown considerably from the previous generation model and has plenty of interior space to sit 5 adults in comfort. Plenty of convenient storage spaces and cubby holes to keep anyone happy while the tilting rear seats (twin splitting on non sports models) offer impressively large and tall loading area. The RS comes with some nice sporty seats but, like in 99% of Japanese cars, are still way to high for tall drivers. The upright driving position might not be to everyone's liking but you do get used to it after a while. The RS came with the optional CD-based navigation unit which was excellent and feature packed and the keyless entry system which curiously uses the exact same Engine Start/Stop button as found on the Lexus GS & IS. I'm sure Lexus owners might have something to say about that!


The RS is distinguished by larger diameter wheels and a sporty bodykit as well as more aggressive rear LED-lights compared to your more sedate models.


The 110HP 1.5 VVTI engine offers plenty of go with a nice torquey low-rpm power-band but is right at home revving away to the 6,500 rpm redline. The five speeder is a bit vague but once again, like in every modern car I drive, the most annoying and hard to digest aspect is the damn throttle mapping. Electronic throttle it the culprit once again. You can stab the accelerator to give a quick throttle blip and you can virtually count to 5 while engine revolutions rise slowly and fall back to idle even slower. The result is slow gear-changes and a real pain to live with. Handling is superb, very precise and sharp turn-in which allows you to really commit to fast sweepers. Steering could do with some more feel but all in all a great all rounder. The RS is as happy pootling around Tokyo center returning 16 km/L as it is up on fun mountain roads being thrown from corner to corner. Even the brakes were superb.



Only real question is will the RS ever make it to Europe? I certainly hope so as I have no doubt it will give the hot european offerings a run for their money.

Posted by dino at October 7, 2005 11:22 AM
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