TOYOTA YARIS (2014-2017)


3dr/5dr (1.0, 1.33, 1.5 Hybrid / 1.4 D-4D diesel)

By Jonathan Crouch


Toyota couldn’t afford for their third generation Yaris to be an also-ran in the supermini segment. So in 2014, they fundamentally revised it, with smarter looks, extra equipment and much greater refinement and efficiency. The idea was to broaden this model’s appeal, seek a younger audience and convince buyers that when it comes to comfort, quality and a little bit of spirit in this sector, the Yaris could fit the bill. Let’s check this car out as a used buy.

The History

These days, a supermini must be more than sensible, practical, well-built and efficient. Buyers now take those sorts of things for granted and look instead for fashion, flair, innovation and technology. Back in 2014, Toyota hoped they’d be looking for something like this, the much improved version of their third generation Yaris.

The original version of this model launched in 2011 was a good car, but there simply weren’t enough reasons to buy mainstream versions when rivals offered more striking looks, more engaging design and a more dynamic driving experience. That was a problem, given this Yaris’ importance in accounting for over a quarter of all the company’s total European sales. Toyota, the first Japanese brand to produce a supermini specifically designed for European buyers, had allowed itself to lose sight of what those buyers really wanted.

So heads rolled, tables were thumped and full responsibility for immediate remedial action taken away from Japan and passed to the maker’s Product Development team in Brussels and Design Studio near Nice. The resulting facelift took an almost unprecedented level of effort, with over £70 million invested, around 1,000 new parts re-engineered and 576,000 man hours spent in developing this updated model, launched in the Summer of 2014.

The resulting sharper-looking MK3 design claimed to offer everything the trendiest small car seeker could want, from Google mapping to hybrid power. At the same time, aware that traditional older buyers might not want to Facebook their friends on the way to eat designer sushi, Toyota also prioritised their needs in making this car feel plusher, quieter and better built. Some things didn’t change of course. This remained one of the largest, most practical choices buyers of the time could make in the supermini segment and a range of engine updates also made it one of the more efficient options too.

This car sold until the Spring of 2017, when it was replaced by another facelifted model featuring a new 1.5-litre engine.

What To Look For

With our ownership survey, we found plenty of satisfied Yaris owners, but inevitably, there were a few issues. A rattling dash was reported by one owner. We also came across issues with creaking suspension and a clunking gearbox, while in one case, the centre console went blank occasionally. One owner had the misfortune to suffer a blown turbo on his 1.4 D-4D diesel model after 30,000 miles. And it’s been reported that the 1.0-litre petrol engine occasionally suffers problems pulling from, low revs. Look out for all these things on the test drive and, as usual, prioritise models featuring a fully stamped-up service record.

On The Road

With most facelifts, the driving dynamics are left well alone. Not here. With customers of earlier versions of this third generation model criticising refinement and handling response, Toyota acted decisively with this 2014 MK3 model facelift, stiffening the body, fitting revised torsion beam rear suspension, improving steering response, changing the springs and dampers for better body control, adding better soundproofing material and altering the aerodynamics to reduce wind noise.

And under the bonnet? Well it’s here that you’ll find what is arguably the most important change to this improved third generation model. Or at least you will if you’re a customer for the entry-level 1.0-litre petrol version, for it was fundamentally re-designed, primarily for better efficiency but also with a view to further cutting noise and vibration levels. Performance from this three cylinder unit though, remained leisurely. Stir the five-speed manual gearbox vigorously through its ratios and 62mph from rest can come and go in 15.3s en route to 96mph.

Particularly targeted at city folk is the most interesting, the most efficient and arguably the most desirable Yaris variant, the Hybrid model. It’s driven by a Hybrid Synergy Drive system serviced by a 73bhp 1.5-litre petrol/electric powerplant and a bespoke version of the CVT auto gearbox. A selectable ‘EV’ electric-only setting is part of the package, but even with the batteries fully charged, it’ll only take you just over a mile in milk float mode.

But to think in those terms is to miss the point of the Hybrid Yaris. The Synergy Drive system’s cleverness lies in the way that on the move, it’s always re-charging itself, even more so if you leave the auto gearbox lever in ‘B’ to maximise the energy that can be harvested from regenerative braking. The result is that in the stop/start urban traffic it’s designed for, this car is nearly always ready to revert to total battery power. So much so in fact, that Toyota’s ‘real world’ tests suggest that silent zero emissions driving, with the engine switched off, could account for up to 66% of a typical owner’s average commuter journey length and 58% of the total journey time.


The facelift applied to this MK3 model Yaris in 2014 certainly gave the car a fresh lease of life. Of course, no matter how far you tweak the trimmings, it’s hard to change any car’s fundamental DNA and sure enough, under the trendier packaging, this supermini remained the smartly conservative choice it always was.

So, how to sum up? Well, there are doubtless more engaging chapters in the Yaris story still to be written, but what’s important is that the updates made to this 2014-2017-era car put this third generation version back on track. Which makes it a decent used buy.