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Toyota Yaris

Review by Tony Glencross

Technical stuff
Engine: – 1298 CC
Transmission: – 5 speed manual, 4 door sedan.
(Vehicle supplied courtesy of Toyota Uganda)

My first car was a Mini, 1275 CC GT with double carbs and a 0 to 60 KM time (about 6 seconds) equal to the CAR of the generation, the Golf 1 GTI. The reason I am telling you this is because I was recently given the Toyota Yaris to test drive. This is a 1300CC injection engine that goes like a bomb. Even my GT mini did not have this kind of pace. How they get these little cars to go so fast is beyond me – it is almost mind popping how quickly they fly off the mark! They accelerate well, and handle like a dream, Yada yada yada technology – the performance that can be delivered by a 1300 CC engine is remarkable.

The Yaris is the perfect little car for the start up family in Uganda. I tested the Sedan, but there is also a hatch back type version available, plus there is a choice of manual or Automatic 4 speed.
The dials and speedo can be found in the middle of the vehicle’s dash. I am sure this is a measure to make the cars more cost effective to produce, as they can flick between left and right hand drives, without major tooling changes for production lines, however, the experts from Toyota would be able to answer this question. However, that all said, I quite like the dials in the middle – it looks different and makes the car feel more roomy – this is just a personal preference.

For a small vehicle the Yaris is very roomy and spacious (It has more passenger space at the back than my current double cabin) which is really surprising. I like to lounge back in the chair when I drive and I found that the Yaris provided me with more than enough space to do this. The boot (Trunk if you are American) is also roomy and I got both mine and my wife’s golf clubs into the boot with little effort, and then still managed to get the two golf carts in as well, albeit with the wheels off.

The car handles very well, although the test car I drove had a very tweaky steering (It seemed to react to the slightest touch). This may have been because of incorrect alignment, or just me being more used to a more difficult steering mechanism – however, I soon got used to the feel and had no problems with the drive. All cars take a pounding on Kampala roads (yes, even those huge Landcruisers) and the Yaris, with its decent suspension, you still feel the ribs and bumps on the roads, but it is greatly reduced. The ground clearance is high (for a sedan) so, the average pothole is no major task and they are easy to get around. The Toyota Yaris stands up to the conditions very well.

On the safety side, the Yaris comes with ABS brakes (Anti lock braking system), so braking is fast and secure. I was banging along Jinja Road at around 100KM per hour and slammed on the brakes to get a feel for the cars braking capabilities. The car kept straight and it did not slide in any direction – ABS brakes should be standard on all cars on Ugandan roads. It has airbags on the front (driver and passenger), plus airbags and supports on the sides for the driver and the passenger. It has crumple zones (In an extreme accident situation, the car crumples and absorbs the impact, sparing the passengers).

On the whole, the car is cool and if I was starting out in Uganda I would seriously consider this car, especially, as being new, you get that peace of mind of hassle free driving and warranty for a good few thousand KM’s. The Yaris comes standard with ABS brakes, electric windows, airbags, seat belts, wireless entry and locking, air conditioner, radio cd, power steering with tilt and sporty little mags!

The vehicle is available from Toyota Uganda in Kampala at an all in price of 28,316 US dollars or 66,544,000/= Ugandan shillings. Finance is available with a 10% deposit and monthly payments of
$ 554 US dollars or 1,569,000/= Shillings (The interest rate for a dollar and shilling loan differ).

For more information, please contact:
Toyota Uganda Limited
1 First Street, Industrial Area, Kampala
Tel: (031) 2301500. Fax: (041) 4346649
Email: sales@toyotaug.co.ug. Website: www.toyotaug.co.ug