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Toyota Yaris goes Zen

2010-10-29 08:29

ZEN?: The streamlined Toyota Yaris range is gunning for a younger audience.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Toyota
Model Yaris
Engine three-cylinder, 12-valve, 1.0-litre VVT-i; four-cylinder, 16-valve, 1.3-litre VVT-i
Power 51@6000; 63@6000
Torque 93@3600; 121@4400
Transmission five-speed manual or four-speed automatic
Top Speed 155 km/h; 170km/h (160km/h on automatic models)
Fuel Consumption 5.4 litres per 100km; 6.0 litres per 100km (6.5 litres per 100km on automatic models)
Weight 1440kg; 1445kg
ABS with EDB and BAS
Airbags driver and front passenger
Tyres 175/65 R14 5J; 175/65 R14 5J (185/60 R15 5.5J with alloy wheels on range-topping Yaris T3 Plus and Zen3 Spirit)
Front Suspension McPherson strut
Rear Suspension Twist beam
Service Intervals 15 000km

Hailey Philander

Toyota has repositioned its Yaris as a “hip and funky” alternative for the young and young-at-heart but will this old favourite rattle the newly successful VW Polo Vivo and Ford Figo?

Based on the principles of Zen, this Yaris is meant to reflect enlightenment and peace -of-mind. However, after spending some time with the car at its launch in Cape Town this week, I can’t say I feel any more enlightened than I did before…

The Yaris Zen looks, feels and drives like a Yaris. It is a Yaris. However, this car should not be lumped into the sub-B category too easily. It’s based on the decidedly modern Yaris, which means, since it doesn’t follow the “re-engineered using older technology with basic specification” formula as the Polo Vivo and Figo, it’s not nearly as cheap as those two.

Toyota hasn’t had a true campaigner in the entry-level segment since the demise of the “TT” (or Toyota Tazz) and the runaway success of vehicles such as the Polo Vivo and Figo may have caused the Japanese automaker some sleepless nights. So, in an “ohm” moment, Toyota decided to take its Yaris and rejig it for the local market.

Leaner, more affordable Yaris

We didn’t do much driving at the Yaris Zen launch in Cape Town this week, there was no need to. The Zen is identical to the Yaris we know, right down to the engine spec and drive trains, but the line-up has been dramatically streamlined from 14 to 10. There’s one one-litre model (the Zen 1 three-door hatch) and a new entry-level 1.3 sedan (Zen 3), while the fun-yet-pricey 1.8 Yaris TS has been culled. Prices across the range are lower, too.

And, despite the prices being fairer, the Yaris Zens now available are not lower-spec, lower-grade cars than the “regular” Yaris. In fact, even the base Zen 1 has two front airbags, ABS, EBD and BAS, power-assisted steering and an immobiliser. It gets better from there, with range-topping models adding side, curtain and knee bags and alloy rims.

Yaris Zen models, in the spirit of customisation and body art that has become de rigueur among the younger set that Toyota is hoping will connect with Zen, these little cars are sold bearing “Zen” badges and free - though optional - decals.

Standard across the Toyota range is a four-year or 60 000km service plan that can be extended and patched at will.

STATE OF MIND: Yaris Zen is Yaris as you know it, just a little cheaper.

Yaris Zen hatchback
Zen1 - R126 300    
Zen3 AC - R135 900    
Zen3 ACS - R138 000    
Zen3 Plus - R150 100    
Zen3 Plus AT - R162 600    

Yaris Zen sedan
Zen3 - R137 000
Zen3 AC - R148 300
Zen3 Plus - R158 900
Zen3 Plus AT - R172 700
Zen3 Spirit - R168 500

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