It may sound like fast pain relief from indigestion, but the Seltos has turned the small SUV segment on its ear thanks to low pricing, chunky styling, a versatile interior, spirited performance and leading warranty. It's easily big enough for smaller families. At a tenner under $26K the base grade comes within $3 of our 10 per cent price cut-off point.
New Toyota Yaris 2021 price shock: Kia Seltos, Mazda 3 and others worth considering for similar money
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The announcement this week that the base version of the all-new Toyota Yaris has jumped a whopping $6740 – from $15,390 to $22,130 before on-road costs – is shocking enough.
But when you consider exactly how much metal is available at or within 10 per cent of the price of the expected volume-selling Ascent Sport CVT auto (from $23,630), then you have to question the wisdom of Australia’s biggest car brand.
Yes, the fourth version of Toyota's light car since the game-changing Echo launched in 1999 is a ground-up redesign that is said to be substantially better in virtually every conceivable aspect – including safety, connectivity, refinement and comfort – but a Yaris is still a Yaris.
Put another way, it is an entry-level Toyota supermini that is meant to introduce the time-honoured brand pillars of reliability, durability, dependability, economy and affordability. That’s why more than one-third of a million Echo and Yaris hatches and sedans have found homes in Australia over the past 21 years.
Even if the all-new XP120 series does break new ground in its class for safety with front-centre airbags to dramatically mitigate life-threatening lateral-impact occupant injuries, it is debatable whether it meets the affordability criteria. Not when consumers have to fork out over $6700 more for the privilege.
Whether the 2021 Yaris is good enough to justify such a premium will be revealed in time.
So, here’s a list of five alternatives that are within close proximity or cost less than the base automatic Yaris Ascent Sport that wears a $23,630 pricetag.
Kia Seltos S CVT from $25,990 BOCs
Mazda 3 G20 Pure from $25,590 BOCs
Kudos to Mazda for offering the deliciously slick and sporty six-speed manual transmission in the underrated Mazda3 range; there’s a real driver focus in the level of intimacy and involvement this base grade brings, all within a well-equipped, comfortable, refined and sophisticated family-friendly package of exceptionally high quality. Up with Europe’s best small-car equivalents, and a high point for the series.
Volkswagen Golf 110TSI Trendline from $25,790 BOCs
The soon-to-die seventh-generation Golf continues to set the pace eight years after its release thanks to that punchy four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, superb six-speed manual and crushingly competent chassis that's good enough for Audi. The far-newer Mazda3 offers more kit for the dough and matches the VW on most fronts, but for classless elegance and poise, the Golf remains formidable.
Suzuki Swift GLX Turbo auto from $22,990 BOCs
Like the Yaris, the Swift hails from Japan, and offers a turbo three-cylinder engine to boot. But the Suzuki employs a six-speed auto rather than a CVT for the sort of rousing, rorty responses keen drivers can sink their teeth into. The steering’s as sharp as the styling, and the back seat is massive for a hatch so small.
Toyota Corolla Hatch Ascent Sport CVT from $25,395 BOCs
Here’s where we’re most vexed by Yaris’ pricing. The bigger and more powerful Corolla manual ($23,895) is just $265 more expensive than the base Yaris auto grade equivalent, and that’s only because Toyota just jacked up the former’s price by $560! Admittedly, Yaris’ cargo capacity is actually 53 litres larger, but otherwise, it’s hard to see how it would be a better buy than the excellent Corolla.