IN just over 20 years on our roads the Yaris has become Toyota's most important model in Europe, steadily increasing both its sales volume and its market share.
Following its launch in 1999 it became the first car from the Japanese brand to claim the European Car of the Year crown, with the second generation model becoming the first vehicle in its class to gain a top five-star rating in Euro NCAP's safety testing programme.
The third generation introduced hybrid-electric power to the small car market for the first time and in 2019 the Yaris shifted 224,000 units across the continent, making it Toyota's best-seller.
Expectations are high, therefore, for the recently-launched fourth generation car - the first to be built on Toyota's global GA-B platform, that will now underpin a series of new models.
Lower, slightly shorter, and wider than its predecessor, the new Yaris cuts a dynamic figure, hunkered down on the road with some suitably muscular design flourishes such as the broad, imposing grille, flared skirts and bulging wheel arches.
Alloy wheels, a shark fin antenna and a rear spoiler add to the sporty look while certain versions can also be specified with a stylish contrasting black roof.
Four trim grades - Icon, Design, Dynamic and Excel - are available supplemented, for the time being, by a high-specification Launch Edition, with prices starting from £19,910 and rising to just over £24,000.
In keeping with the move electrification, and Toyota's pioneering heritage with the technology, power for the Yaris comes exclusively from the Japanese brand's latest hybrid electric powertrain.
The system mates a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors - one, on the front axle, that can drive the vehicle with the other taking care of starting the engine as well as generating power to charge the batteries.
Total power output is 114bhp, which will shift the car from standstill to 62mph in 9.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 109mph.
The Yaris feels brisk and punchy when on the move, with quick throttle responses, and the lower centre of gravity not only helps it to look good but also enhances the dynamic performance, which is genuinely impressive in the urban environment in which the Yaris is likely to spend most of its time.
It also offers some driving enjoyment on winding B-roads and dual carriageways, gripping well and staying flat through bends but, while not struggling for pace, there is some road noise evident at motorway speeds.
The standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) performs well for the most part but, as is usual with such units, there is some noise as the revs climb while waiting for the gearbox to catch up under sharper acceleration.
There is a firm edge to the ride on the 16-inch alloys sported by our Design trim test car which, though it never strayed into uncomfortable territory, you should expect to be more evident on higher spec cars with 17-inch rims and a sports suspension.
Economically and environmentally, of course, the Yaris' hybrid set-up offers many advantages with the car's electric-only capabilities being considerably enhanced.
Speeds of up to 80mph are now possible in electric vehicle mode and in urban traffic the intelligent system is capable of running on electricity only for much longer periods - meaning that average fuel economy of nearly 70mpg is not impossible while carbon emissions are just 92g/km.
Despite being slightly shorter than the previous Yaris, interior space is actually better thanks to a longer wheelbase and four adults will travel in comfort while the boot, at 286 litres, is roomy enough to cope with the weekly shop or a couple of decent holiday bags.
All versions come well equipped, with a touchscreen infotainment interface, Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, digital radio, reversing camera, air conditioning, automatic emergency braking and cruise control standard across the range.