Toyota Yaris and BMW 130i appealing – Road Test | Drivesouth New & Used Cars , Motoring News , Reviews

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BMW

Toyota Yaris and BMW 130i appealing

By David Thomson on Sat, 25 Nov 2006

TOYOTA YARIS SEDAN

Toyota has avoided the ugly-duckling looks of the Echo sedan with its conservatively-styled successor, the Yaris 1.5-litre saloon.

The Yaris four-door is only 65mm shorter and 10cm lower than a Corolla sedan and this along with clever design has delivered a cavernous interior by class standards. There is, for example, sufficient legroom in the Yaris sedan to allow 1.83m passengers to travel one behind the other in comfort. The boot, meantime, will swallow a staggering 475 litres of kit.

The interior is also neatly styled and well-finished in typical Toyota fashion. Air conditioning, power windows, a factory MP3-compatible CD-sound system, remote locking, power mirrors, dual airbags and antilock brakes are all standard. Handy features such as decent-sized pop-forward drink holders on either side of the dash also impressed.

Thus specified, the Yaris sedan lists at $24,170.

There is a four-speed automatic for $26,080, and a further six airbags can also be added to either variant as a $1200 option.

Most Yaris sedans are likely to be bought by older folk, and perhaps used mainly as round-town transport, and the test car gave no cause for complaint in this role. It also showed well when pressed into service unexpectedly for a 600km highway journey.

While no performance king, the 80kW/140Nm 1.5-litre VVTi engine provides adequate pep for everyday motoring as long as good use is made of the gearbox for passing and on medium to steep gradients. Sitting on 185/60 rubber, the car also manages to keep the driver in touch with the road through the steering to an extent that many larger and faster vehicles cannot match. Handling is crisp and predictable, with some body roll and an inbuilt tendency to understeer.

Equally importantly, open-road ride quality is very good, and noise levels quite low for a vehicle of this type.

Well done Toyota, both for consigning the awful looks of the old Echo sedan to the past, and for providing such a spacious and capable successor.

BMW 130i SPORT

Knocking the BMW 1-series is a fashionable sport in some quarters: oddly proportioned, and excessively cramped in both the back seats and the boot, claim the naysayers.

They have a point, but in making it they also miss one: the 1-series brings to small-car design traditional BMW dynamic values associated with rear drive and a straight-six engine mounted longitudinally (lengthways) in the engine bay.

Enter the flagship 130i Sport, powered by an electronically-controlled six cylinder 3-litre engine, and using either a six-speed manual or, as tested, a six-speed steptronic automatic gearbox.

The 130i driving experience is centred around the raw performance unleashed by a 195kW/312Nm engine in a small car, and its interaction with rear-drive dynamics.

BMW 1-Series

Paddle shifts on the steering column allow the driver to control gear changes even on the automatic, and with a 0-100kmh time of 6.3sec and regulated top speed of 250kmh, the 130i Sport is certainly quick.

Its traction and stability control keep the 130i Sport on a leash without feeling overly intrusive, but the car is even more fun with the electronic aids off.

Excellent turn-in throttle response and the ability to balance the car precisely on the accelerator come into their own on twisty roads.

The 205/50 front and 225/45 rear tyres provide tenacious grip, and when the limits of that grip are breached under hard acceleration the shift to oversteer is progressive.

At speed, the suspension also does a far finer job of sponging away the mid-corner bumps than one might expect, given the car’s unyeilding (and rather noisy) low-speed ride.

The experience of driving a powerful, sharp-handling car hard is crowned by a nice aural touch thanks to a special valve that activates under hard acceleration to give an extra snarl to the exhaust note.

Amid a stack of interior features – leather trim, dual-mode climate control, a multi-stack sound system, cruise control, and so on – snug front seats with manually-adjustable under-thigh support were especially appreciated.

The 130i Sport is both a worthy flagship, and also a car good enough to justify BMW’s somewhat controversial approach to the whole 1-series range.

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