The Toyota Yaris has always been a nifty little car, but the latest overhaul of this popular supermini has made it more appealing than ever.

The upgrades, brought about by a £76 million European-led programme, include a punchy new 1.5-litre engine and a revamped look.

In recent years, the supermini segment has placed increasing emphasis on looks and personalisation as would-be buyers seek a vehicle to make them stand out from the crowd.

While the Yaris has always been a practical and reliable car that works well in the real world, it has arguably been lacking a bit of flair.

But that criticism no longer rings true thanks to the extensive changes to this third generation Yaris.

The latest model benefits from a lot more styling input, as well as engineering improvements.

Indeed, its funky exterior and interior are matched by the liveliness of its performance on the road.

There’s no doubt that Toyota has worked to improve the driving dynamics of the Yaris and those who haven’t driven one for a while may be pleasantly surprised by the way it handles.

The steering has more feel to it than previous versions, although it’s still quite light and perhaps best-suited to city driving and negotiating tight spaces.

The excellent turning circle is also conducive to tight spaces and urban driving.

The ride quality is also better than it used to be, but the Yaris still gets somewhat unsettled over rough surfaces.

In terms of the engine, the most significant news is the introduction of a new 1.5-litre petrol engine to replace the rather ageing 1.3-litre unit.

That change provides a welcome power increase of 10 per cent to 110bhp, which makes the car nearly a second quicker over the 0-62mph sprint, which now takes 11 seconds.

Of even more note is the increase in torque, which is up to 136Nm, so the crucial 50 to 70mph overtaking increment feels a great deal quicker too.

On the whole, it’s a nippy little engine, which only seems to run out of steam on the steepest of Yorkshire’s hills.

Economy figures are good, with the official combined mpg coming in at nearly 59, while CO2 is 109g/km.

Inside, some clever design work means the cabin feels spacious, with a decent amount of room in front and back.

In terms of looks, the front end is completely new, with a sleeker and classier appearance than before. At the rear, there are revised tail light clusters. It all adds up to a more assertive-looking design.

The Bi Tone spec, tested here, features a black roof to offset the paint job and provide that added element of individuality. Smart alloy wheels complete the look.

The Bi Tone comes with plenty of kit, including a wide range of safety features such as a pre-collision system and lane departure warning.

A few creature comforts are thrown in for good measure, such as nice leather trim, air con, electric windows, cruise control and a rear view camera.

The infotainment system is user-friendly, and comes with a seven-inch touch screen.

When all this is factored in, equipment levels are among the best in class.

As you climb up through the spec levels, you have to be careful that the Yaris doesn’t become a bit on the pricey side. For example, this model comes in at over £18,000 on the road, which brings it into competition with some pretty illustrious rivals.

However, if you opt for the lesser-specced 1.0-lite version, it comes in at a more palatable £12,995.

In conclusion, the Yaris has upped its game significantly. The revisions to its looks and performance have made an already-competent supermini into an even more attractive package.


Toyota Yaris Bi Tone

PRICE: £18,245

ENGINE: 1.5-litre, four cylinder in-line petrol

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph in 11 seconds and top speed of 109mph

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual

ECONOMY: Fuel consumption of 58.9mpg combined and emissions of 109g/km