Toyota Yaris road test by Steve Rogers
Unlike my primary school reports my parents would have been pleased with my marks for the Yaris hybrid.
Each trip ends with marks out of a hundred and comments on how well, or badly, you have done, and I did rather well. What I wouldn't have given for marks like 86,73 and even 66 along with 'excellent' and 'very good hybrid driving'. Clearly a late developer.
In some ways Yaris is a bit of a late developer; it has taken four goes and 20 years to make it look really appealing. Now there is style in abundance with its eye catching front and dynamic tail end, in fact Yaris has gone through a total rebuild sitting on a new platform that has transformed the driving experience as well.
Yes it looks pretty but the fourth generation Yaris needs to be hailed as a top hybrid in its class. The pandemic is crippling petrol and diesel but there has been a veritable explosion in hybrid and electric models this year so, remarkably, sales are up and when it comes to a self charging hybrid supermini Yaris is out in front.
Ten years of experience has made Toyota a hybrid master and this is the second Yaris with hybrid power. The more experience the better the product and this comes through strongly with performance, economy and emissions all improved.
This is a one engine fits all set up so we have a three cylinder 1.5 litre petrol beefed up by an electric motor powered by a battery pack slung under the back seats. Compared to the previous Yaris it is like someone has turned on the lights. It is quicker off the line but the biggest improvement is 50-70mph which has been trimmed by two seconds so overtaking is a breeze.
Not that you should be flooring Yaris too often if economy is a key reason for choosing hybrid. Aggression does not work, it has to be the complete opposite with measured, smooth acceleration and gentle braking. The car is at its most efficient puddling along the motorway at no more than sixty, or around town where the electric motor can take over for a short time. That is when petrol consumption can shoot into the eighties although a real time average will be mid fifties.
So all good on that front but how are we feeling about the restyled cabin? It has a modern look with either a seven or eight inch touch screen for everyday essentials and, thankfully, the heating controls are separate with a neat row of touch pads that are beautifully lit up at night but a little too dark in the day so additional back lighting would help.
The driver's binnacle is excellent with switchable information held in a central display, the best of which are the hybrid graphics so you can check how you are doing on battery power, recharging and the like. It is also the place that marks the driver and gives tips to improve hybrid efficiency.
If space is high on the wish list then pile everyone in to make sure they fit! Up front is fine but rear legroom is only average and beaten by some rivals. Honda Jazz is about the best I've come across for space. Boot capacity is also just average and without the option of a false floor suffers from too much of a drop into the well so retrieving heavy stuff is a pain.
With its new platform and sport suspension Yaris is good fun to drive through twists and turns, yet I think Toyota has got this all wrong.
There are four models, the first two with standard suspension and the top two with a sports set up. If you want a model with the best spec you can only have sports suspension which is going to be too hard for a lot of people. Over poor surfaces you can feel pummelled. If you want a hot Yaris then get the GR.
Yaris is one of the more expensive superminis (£19,910-£22,220) but hybrid power pushes up the cost, yet it has one of the best specifications particularly at entry level. All come with a rear camera, which is rare, rain sensing wipers and automatic lights, a strong safety list and mirroring for smart phones. With no satellite navigation available you need to tag a phone app to the main screen for travel directions.
Like it or not it is starting to make more sense to think about hybrid or electric as your next car so if small is your bag then Yaris is a real front runner, strong on style, performance, economy and low emissions but the full range needs to be offered with standard suspension. Need to know
Yaris Hybrid Dynamic
1.5 litre; 114bhp
0-62mph 9.7secs; 109mph
Transmission: CVT automatic
98g/km. 1st road tax £125
Insurance group 14
Boot: 286 litres