You can be forgiven for thinking, at first glance, that the Yaris Sedan is not much more than a Yaris Hatch with a boot. It's natural to think that.
However, after a couple of hours driving the car you quickly realise that the Sedan version has a totally different character to that of the youthful 5-door.
For starters, it's more mature, with a better ride - mainly thanks to a longer wheelbase that irons out some of the pitching movements often found in short wheelbase hatches - as well as greater comfort as a result of an increase in rear seat legroom that puts it in the same class as much bigger cars.
Then there's the nose. On the Sedan it's been changed to incorporate a different grille, with a single centre slat that gives it a happy smiling "face".
In fact, when you go through the car you discover that it doesn't share any body panels with the Hatch!
The side pressing is done all in one piece from the front of the door back (the mudguards are a separate item for easy repair) and the wheelbase is longer than that of the Hatch.
This gives a better ride and more rear seat space, with 905 mm between the seat backrest and the front seats, 95 mm more than its main competitor the Volkswagen Polo, as well as allowing for a 426 litre boot that can be expanded to 738 litres by flopping forward the 60/40 split rear seat.
Another advantage is that when this is done there?s a completely flat floor for easy loading.
Changes inside centre on the dashboard, where the centre-mounted digital instrumentation on the Hatch is replaced by good-looking analogue dials.
On the way this means the lidded cubby in front of the driver disappears.
Heating and ventilation controls have also changed, the Sedan having two of its switches in a row above a third one instead of the three vertical switches found on the Hatch.
There are currently four models in the new Sedan range, all powered by the same all aluminium 1.3-litre petrol engine as the Yaris Hatch, and offering similar specification levels to those in the 5-door.
Maximum power is 63 kW at 6 000 r/min, with 121 Nm of torque at 4 400 r/min. This is matched to a 5-speed manual transmission with the option of a 4-speed automatic for the top of the range Spirit model.
Claimed top speed is 170km/h with 0-100 km/h in 12.4 seconds.
The Yaris Sedan T3 with aircon enters the market with a recommended retail selling price of R121 120.
The T3+ derivative offers added specification at R128 820.
The top of the range T3 Spirit with luxury features sells for R140 580.
The T3 Spirit with automatic transmission is priced at R150 260.
Model by model
Service intervals are 15 000 km across the range.
A 4 years/60 000 km service plan is included as standard and the warranty is 3 years/100 000 km with AA Roadside Assistance for the duration of the warranty.
Major specification items in the Yaris T3 are:
ABS anti-lock brake system.
EBD - Electronic Brake Force Distribution.
Emergency Brake Assist(BAS).
Dual stage driver and front passenger airbags.
Three point seat belts for all five seats.
ISOFIX rear child seat anchors and top tethers.
Safety belt warning buzzer and lamp for front seats.
Headlight levelling system.
5Jx14 steel rims with wheel covers.
Full size spare wheel.
175/65 R14 radial tyres.
Colour coded grille.
Electric power steering.
Integrated radio with RDS and four-speaker system.
Front loading CD player.
Intermittent and mist setting for windscreen wipers.
Rear windscreen demister.
Toyota "Easy Flat" fold-down function for the rear seats
Remote boot opener.
Remote fuel filler opener.
Headlamp on warning buzzer.
Map reading and dome lamps.
Luggage compartment lamp.
Tinted windows all round.
60:40 split rear seat.
Cloth seat trim.
Two cup holders in the front and one in the rear.
Transponder type immobiliser system.
VIN parts marking.
Next up is the Yaris T3+ which adds the following:
Remote control central locking with answerback and 30 second auto-lock delay.
Tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment.
Height adjustable driver's seat.
Colour coded side mirrors and door handles
Power adjustment for the side mirrors.
Power front and rear windows.
The T3 Spirit includes the features of the T3 and T3+ models plus the following:
Side airbags for driver and passenger.
Curtain shield side airbags.
5Jx15 alloy wheels.
185/60 R15 radial tyres.
Full size alloy spare wheel.
Front fog lights.
Luxury cloth trim.
On the road
All four have identical engines and suspensions, so it's really just a matter of comparing the manual with the auto.
The engines are quite lively, and with three up - a total of 280 kg - the car performed quite well at Durban's coastal altitude.
He manual version has a quick and slick gearchange, and excellent ratios, while the auto performs well for a car with such a small motor, testament to the advances that have been made in car technology.
It's 4-speed - for light weight and compactness - but is programmed for uphill/downhill shift control, a feature that until recently was only found on luxury Lexus models.
Uphill/downhill shift control selects the optimum gear to prevent hunting and provide effective engine braking by detecting when the vehicle is climbing or descending a hill by matching the throttle opening to vehicle speed.
While climbing the tendency to shift gear while accelerating is reduced while on downhill runs braking performance is enhanced by the a downshift being induced when the brakes are applied if the ECU calculates that this is appropriate.
A gated shift lever is fitted for positive gear selection.
This also allows for manual shifting if required. An electronic shift lock with key interlock is provided to prevent unintentional engagement of the transmission.
At time we needed to shift manually so we could hold the gearchanges to hustle the car on a bit, and we really would have liked a but more grunt.
But most of the time it performed admirably.
Comfort is a big plus point on this car, and we liked the positive brakes, the responsive steering, and the great ride quality - although handling wasn't quite as good as in the shorter and lighter Hatch.
In keeping with its target market - older, maturer drivers - the car aims for ride comfort at the expense of edgy handling.
But it's still gives a safe and secure feeling, in keeping with a car which, in Hatchback form, has achieved 5 stars in the tough Euro NCAP tests.
Active safety features on the Yaris include ABS (anti-lock brakes), EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution) and BAS (Emergency Brake Assist). The brake system employs large diameter (258 mm) ventilated discs at the front.
A transponder type immobiliser system is fitted to all models to provide a high level of anti-theft protection. On the Yaris T3+ and Spirit models remote central locking with answerback and a 30 second auto-lock feature is fitted.
Side door locks and actuators are shielded to inhibit intrusion. VIN parts marking is applied throughout the Yaris with additional VIN number stickers provided for fitment by the customer to provide a unique marking pattern for individual vehicles.
The Yaris Hatch has taken the market by storm, with the fastest growing sales yet recorded in South Africa, and there's no reason to think the Sedan won't follow suit.
Certainly it's bigger and more spacious than its main competitor, the VW Polo Classic, and its styling is more modern and more interesting.
Add to that Toyota's awesome reputation for reliability and super after sales service, and I think we have another winner in the making.