For some reason, rental cars were really expensive in Switzerland this weekend, so I ended up booking the very cheapest type of car, and paying more for it than just about any rental to date! When I arrived at the counter, I was told that I had been “upgraded”………. into a Group B car. Slightly foolishly, as I now know, I asked if they had something other than the Grande Punto that had my name on it, simply in the interests of trying something else. So, they gave me a Yaris 1.3.
This is still a small car. Noticeably smaller than the Grande Punto, Clio and Corsa generation of cars, as I found out when I opened the boot to put my luggage in! Barely space, in length or depth for a small squashy bag, my PC and my coat!
The rear seats are on sliders, so in sacrificing legroom, you could get more length to the boot. There is a flat floor, with quite a lot of space under it, where I found the “winterising”, ie the snow chains, and the warning triangle. There’s plenty of room inside, and there are oddment cubbies everywhere. To some extent, this is achieved because of the central location of the instrument display. I found this quite easy to refer to, even the digital speedo was good, and should have helped me deal with the need not to exceed Swiss speed limits by even a couple of km/h when the cameras are around! The clock was wrong, and I never did manage to figure out how to adjust it, though!
The 1.3 engine is quite willing, but simply does not have enough power. However, its biggest challenge comes from the low gearing, which meant that the car was incredibly noisy on the autobahn. I continually found myself wondering if I was actually in third gear when I was indeed in fifth. A 200 km ride up to Stuttgart was more than enough for my ear drums. I can understand the low gearing, as the challenge with a car like this is when you need a sudden burst of acceleration – which I did when there was a gap to pull out into on a 2 lane autobahn – and there simply was not much. Changing down did not help a lot, either. Fully loaded, this car would be slow. Heaven help the buyers of the 1.0 version! In other respects, the Yaris is actually quite nice to drive. The handling is good, the gearchange is light and positive, and the steering is light and precise.
No issues on seat comfort, despite covering over 450 km in a single day, and I did notice that one “benefit” of the small boot is ample space in the back of the car.
Visibility is excellent, and with just a stubby nose in front of you, the car is easy to position, and very easy to park. The small triangular quarterlights were actually of some value, adding both light and a little more visibility to the side
Not quite so impressed by the interior style, though. In an effort to relieve the tedium of all grey, or black, there is a sliver of silver plastic down the centre of the dash, and some rather odd silver trim on the doors. The overall effect did not really work for me. So, although probably fine as a city runabout, overall, I have to confess that taking this car over a Grande Punto was a mistake! The Fiat just feels so much more “grown up”, and would have been a far better autobahn tool. Oh well, another crossed off the “cars to test” list!