It’s hard not to love the supermini segment. Seriously, there are some handy cars out there. Take the new SEAT Ibiza for example. It’s more practical than ever. Good space, great looks, and with the right engine, it could even pass for a small family car. The Ford Fiesta is a gem that offers a fun, dynamic, drive. And then there’s this... the Toyota Yaris.
Typically, I would never have been a major fan of the Toyota Yaris, but there’s something about this hybrid version that is very-much tickling my fancy. This mixes the versatility of a small car with some very good hybrid technology.
Of course, with this car being a supermini, you should not expect it to be massively spacious. The fact is, this car feels rather spacious. Nope, I wouldn’t personally be overly delighted about sitting in the rear for a 300km journey, but on shorter trips, I’d feel comfortable enough (as a reference point, I’m just under 6 foot tall or 182cm). My knees touched the seat in front while positioned in my normal driving position, but the clue is in the segment name – this is a supermini and the fact that my knees touch the rear of the driver seat is the norm. For the segment, the space is actually pretty good. My kids were pleased too!
Space to the front was excellent, and while historically I have given out about the dash layout in Toyota cars, I would have to say that things were well-suited in the Yaris. Our model had Toyota Touch 2, which is easy to use. Both the instrument binnacle and smaller TFT displays are easy to understand and use.
In terms of fuel economy, after a week with the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, I returned 5l/100km. This is a good return from a normal supermini, but considering that this is a hybrid, it would be nice to get a bit more out of it. As I’ve said, my drive in this car was on both motorway and city streets – the motorway driving is what hindered me returning a better economy. In cities, I found the return to be much better – better than conventional petrol cars.
The tech monitors allow you to see the hybrid system in action, with graphics that illustrate the transfer of energy from the wheels, to the motor, to the engine. The world’s governments are certainly trying to push people towards hybrid, EV and PHEV cars, and Toyota is at the top of their game with their entire range being available with hybrid technology. However, one thing about the hybrid system within the Yaris is that on take-off, it’s far too easy to slip from EV mode into engine mode. I felt that even while trying, keeping the car in EV mode can be tough because if you go even slightly too heavy on the throttle, the engine kicks in. With that said, the transmission from EV to engine is seamless.
What isn’t seamless is the CVT gearbox. I’ve never been a huge fan of these, but I’ve found one or two that have impressed me before. This CVT box produces lag when trying to get to motorway speeds and the car whines when trying to change up a gear. On the plus side, the Yaris Hybrid offers good ride comfort, it’s not at all bad on corners, and when the CVT box isn’t making noise, the road noise is relatively low.
Our test model was in SOL trim, which is one step away from the top of the range Luna Sport trim. With it, this car came kitted with newly designed alloy wheels and air conditioning. Of course, you will find USB connectivity and Bluetooth within the car as part of the Toyota Touch 2 system (which is available in all Yaris cars apart from the entry-level Terra). If it’s the Toyota Yaris that you are looking for, an entry level Terra model with a 1.0 petrol engine starts from €15,950. The hybrid range starts from €19,575. Our test model will set you back €21,495.
All in, I would say that this is a nice little car from Toyota. However, I’m not the target audience for this car. I imagine it would be someone slightly older, who doesn’t travel as much. This car has some excellent and stiff competition from the likes of the Ford Fiesta, the Mazda2, the Citroen C3 and the SEAT Ibiza, and while the Toyota Yaris may not be as dynamic and fun as the rest, its main advantage is the fact that it comes with some super hybrid technology that keeps city driving at an economical level. If you are in the market for a supermini, I certainly wouldn’t rule this one out.