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The iconic Grand Prix Circuit will present a new challenge to the GTC drivers as they tackle the country’s fastest racetrack on June 16.

Suzuki’s new Swift hatch and sedan in SA

Suzuki kicks off its new model assault with an all new Swift hatchback and standalone sedan called the Dzire.

Reader test: Toyota Yaris

2009-08-31 14:12

Jim Motshweni, Stellenbosch

Toyota’s reliability; it’s a punch line we’ve heard over and over again.

It will actually be unusual to write an article about a Toyota car without mentioning the word "reliability".

Having not owned a car before, that "catch phrase" played a pivotal role in me choosing the first car I would ever own. Yes, a maroon top-of-the-range Toyota Yaris sedan T3 Spirit with 62 000 km on the clock.

My first impression of the Yaris, having tested a Peugeot 207 1.4 XLine and a Polo classic 1.4, both with less than 30 000 km, was "wow".

Although I liked the VW the most, as I said before, the punch line would hold more sway as I finally settled for the Yaris.

After 62 000 km, I expected the car to rattle a lot. However, when I put the key into the ignition and turned it on, the car proved to be very quiet, including the ride.

Hill fun

With a 1.3 VVTi (Variable Valve Timing intelligence) engine, the Yaris is capable of 63 kW and 121 Nm. Translating this figure to a drive on the road will largely depend on the road you are driving.

As the torque suggests, the Yaris doesn’t pull like a horse. This means that, more often than not, you’ll be left pulling behind everyone else, especially on a hill.

But once the Yaris keeps going that’s where the fun begins. You’ll wish you had a number plate that read BYEBYEALL - WP. The engine propels the small body of the Yaris like a rocket.

The fun stops again on the next hill; suddenly you no longer hear the engine. It’s as if the car has an automatic shutoff. It becomes boringly slow as the fun is transferred to the other motorists you’ve been passing and you're left green with envy.

Thanks to a wise man who once said after an uphill comes the downhill, suddenly you can hear the engine working. The thrill is rekindled and the car is again propelled like a rocket.

Again, you'll wish you had a number plate that read BYEBYECOP - WP.

Big-car feel

The interior of the Yaris is nothing but ordinary.

The first thing that grabs you is that awkwardly placed speedometer, just above the radio/CD.

This simply means you hardly even look at the speed of the car whilst driving.

The metal finish on the radio/CD brings class to what is a rather dull and plastic-like cabin.

I like the Spirit because it has all whistles and bells you’ll find in a big car.

It has ABS, MP3/radio/CD, seven air bags, air conditioner, electric windows all round, electrically adjustable mirrors, central locking, fog lights and alloy wheels.

But more importantly the car is fuel efficient and has such a small fuel tank (only 42-litre capacity) that it hardly puts a dent on my budget.

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