News of the week:
- Toyota has launched an updated version of the Yaris in SA.
- Toyota has invested 85 million Euros, engineered 1 000 new parts and spent 576 000 man hours refining the new Yaris.
- The new Yaris sees the most dramatic execution of Toyota’s contemporary frontal design language to date with sharp-edged detailing.
- The narrow upper and large trapezoidal grilles, a hallmark of Toyota’s current design, are present but the design twist is that they now merge at the point of the Toyota emblem to form a powerful cross shape.
- The headlamps themselves use projector technology (Hybrid) for high and low beams and the clusters incorporate standard daytime running lights (LED for the hybrid).
- In profile, Yaris displays a new door belt moulding and door mirrors – the look is rounded off by standard 15” alloys across the range.
- The new Yaris is available with three engine choices – two petrol, and a hybrid. The full hybrid system, a first for this segment, benefits from adjustments which have brought its CO2 emissions down further, from 88 to 82g/km.
- Yaris Hybrid’s powertrain features a four-cylinder Atkinson cycle 1.5L engine that is 50mm shorter than the 1.8L unit used by Prius and Auris Hybrid; it is also 17kg lighter.
- Its features include a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system, an electric water pump, a low-friction distribution chain, an intake manifold made of a composite material and a compact exhaust manifold.
- In a similar vein, the 1.3L Dual VVT-i petrol has undergone secondary modifications specifically aimed at reducing noise and vibration. When paired with a six-speed manual transmission the 1.3 Yaris is engineered to achieve the best balance of performance and fuel economy.
- Top speed is pegged at 175kph (the 0-100kmh dash is dispatched in 11.7 seconds), while fuel consumption in the combined cycle fuel consumption averages out at 5.6 litres per 100km.
- Of the trio, though, the engine that has benefited from the most fettling is the three-cylinder 1.0L petrol engine. It has undergone noteworthy changes to improve its performance, reduce emissions as well as cut noise and vibration levels.
- The new Toyota Yaris benefits from an updated version of Toyota’s affordable touchscreen multimedia system. It comes with a new higher resolution seven-inch screen that uses four times as many pixels as the original system, for bright, sharp images with a deeper 3D effect.
- The package includes Bluetooth for hands-free phone calls, sending and receipt of text messages; a rear-view camera (Hybrid only); vehicle information, including trip data and climate control profile. There is also a new lay-out to show the operation of the hybrid system.
- It also enables simple connection of iPods and MP3 players via USB or Bluetooth, and, where available, will display album, artist and track information. Audio system options can also be controlled using the screen.
- Pricing starts at R167 900 for the 1.0 through to R276 900 for the Hybrid.
- Petrol models come standard with a three-year / 45 000 km service plan. For the Hybrid version, it’s a standard four-year / 60 000 km service plan.
Road test: Citroen C4 Picasso
Back in 1796, French writer Nicolas-Sebastien Chamfort wrote, “A man is not necessarily intelligent because he has plenty of ideas, any more than he is a good general because he has plenty of soldiers.” So is the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso the product of intelligent design? Let’s have a look.
Flexible it surely is. The big front seats are comfy and the light and airy feel comes down to the huge windscreen that slopes well up into the space normally reserved for the roof, and the large triangular window between the legs of the split A-pillar. Lots of glass. Lots of daylight.
The three seats in row are all individuals and all adult-sized. They can not only be slid back and forth by around eight inches, they also recline.
The two seats in the back row are also individual and adult-sized, albeit for adults of slighter proportions. They’re accessed by folding and sliding forward the second row seats, and getting in and out isn’t as difficult as you might imagine.
As for the cargo hold, the space is understandably limited with all the seats up, but as you start folding them away, the hole becomes cavernous. There are complicated combinations of toggles and levers to manipulate to fold and stow the furniture and I never worked out how to fold the second-row seats flat, but I see from the pictures it can be done.
There are unfolding panels to stop up the gaps in the flat floor but they seemed so flimsy that I felt nervous just kneeling on them.
Back in the driver’s seat there’s plenty to play with. This car has a keyless entry system so with the blipper in my pocket I just touched the door handle to unlock the doors. Now I push the start button to get the engine running.
There are no dials in here as such. All the info you need is on either the 7″ touchscreen in the middle of the centre console, or the 12″ HD display high and well forward in the middle of the dash – and that’s where you’ll find the graphic speedo in one of several different guises you can choose from.
Take a deep breath now because we’re diving into the on-board computer which has almost limitless features.
Using a combination of touch-sensitive buttons and touchscreen navigators we can change the look of the “dials”, programme the mood lighting, alter the layout of the screens, play with the satnav, set up the phone, programme the parking sensors or park assist, and select or deselect the lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and the auto-dipping headlamps and rear view mirror.
Beyond that there’s the collision risk alert, a speed limiter, you can set the distance you want as a safe gap between you and the car in front, and there’s an internet connection service.
Add cruise control, rear-view cameras, DAB radio, dipping side mirrors when reverse is selected, tyre pressure monitors, options on how many doors unlock when you use the remote control (it’s called Driver Plip Action) and a whole host of other things and you get the idea that it’s dripping with technology.
One piece of technology it doesn’t have is a CD player, but you can play from your other media devices, and there’s an onboard juke box in the car’s own memory.
Two of the best pieces of kit, however, are the low-tech ones. They are the side sun-shades built into the rear window-ledges, and the small fish-eye rear-view mirror that gives you a clear view of what the kids are doing in the back seats. You could maybe add the fold-down tray tables in row two.
And so to the engine: Citroen is trying to steer us away from our obsession with size and towards the more important engine power. Rather than saying this is a 1.6L turbo diesel, it’s telling us it’s the e-HDi 115 which develops 85kW and 270Nm. The engine is smooth and quiet and with just me in it the car pulls well up the steep hills without too much stress.
Rather impressively for such a big car, the official average fuel consumption is just 4.0-litres per 100km, aided by the stop/start engine. It gets from 0-100kph in just 11.8 seconds and will reach a top whack of 189kph.
Progress isn’t sporting, of course. The steering is soft and light and the suspension does what it needs to do to keep the car mostly upright through the corners but iron out the ripples and bumps in the road surface. It’s built for comfort, not for speed.
The main bugbear in this car is the automatic gearbox. The ETG6 gearshift is a six-speed electronic unit that allows you fully automatic selection of the gears, or you can use the paddles on the steering column to do it manually. Normally in a non-sporting car I’d leave it in automatic and let it do the work for me, but not this time.
I’ve never before used an auto box that’s so sluggish and hesitant. Every gearshift is accompanied by a lurch that literally rocks you in your seat. It’s horrible. Leave it in automatic and you’ll be using that fish-eye mirror to see which of the kids will be first to vomit down the back of your neck.
Plenty of ideas then, but is it intelligent? Well that’s up to you to decide. For me the most important things are that it’s spacious, flexible, comfortable and five-star safe.
It’s also economical to run, road tax isn’t a problem due to its 105g/km CO2 output, and at R325 000 you get a lot of car for your money. As for the relative merits of the rest of the add-ons, that’s up to you.