DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake-valve timing
Compression ration (x:1)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
106 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)
103 @ 4,200
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)
Even with the meager power this engine has, the Yaris with the manual transmission has the ability to chirp the tires and elicit a pretty aggressive traction-control moment. The gear ratio change between 1st and 2nd gears drops the engine way down the rev range and as a result, it struggles to get back up into the more energetic part of the engine's power band. Temporarily overriding traction control (only defeatable below 30 mph) will allow the car to accelerate without the electronic shackle holding it back. Done properly, acceleration to 60 mph improves by almost a full second. The clutch pedal operates intuitively and positively when it engages. The shifter is light and reasonably precise sliding between gears, but the gear ratios seem odd. Even at 70 mph in top (5th) gear, the engine is quite busy (at 3,000) and noisy at nearly 70 dB.
The SE's disc brakes don't feel very different (from the other Yaris' rear drum brakes) through the medium-firm pedal; however, the behavior they produce is different. There's far less ABS buzzing or fussiness coming into the cabin and there wasn't one bit of wiggle or wander during simulated panic stops from 60 mph. Also, the SE's stopping distances were measurably shorter, most likely due to the wider tires' contact patches. The better cooling afforded by the disc brakes definitely contributed to the tight grouping of these stops, all varying by only a couple of feet, with the shortest stop occurring on the third of four total.
Without the ability to override the electronic stability control system (ESC), the handling tests somewhat become a test of what the car will allow -- which is quite a lot. The SE's steering is responsive, direct, and precise. The car transitions from side to side quite easily and without pause. The tires offer admirable grip, and the result of all of this is a confident and adept little handler. At some point, however, the ESC doesn't approve of all this fun and begins grabbing brakes to correct the car's heading, or it limits the throttle to bring the speed down.