The new Toyota Yaris Cross effectively packages what we’ve come to like about the latest Yaris Hybrid into a compact SUV body with no needless surprises or alterations. It’s exceptionally efficient, if not the most startling performer. The hybrid drivetrain takes little getting used to and is easy to extract fantastic efficiency from. It could be a great company car option too, thanks to CO2 emissions from as low as 102g/km for Design trim.
The Yaris name now spans a family of small cars within the Toyota line-up; it’s a title applied to an efficient supermini, a searing hot hatch and now, a small SUV.
This is the Yaris Cross, and it takes its name and some styling cues from its supermini counterpart, but mixes it with design inspiration from the larger RAV4.
It’s a hybrid, so direct rivals include the Hyundai Kona hybrid and the Renault Captur E-Tech. The Yaris Cross is built on the same small-car TNGA platform as the regular Yaris supermini, with a drivetrain that consists of a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine linked to a CVT transmission. A hybrid transaxle packages an electric generator and motor alongside each other on the front axle.
Car group tests
The electric motor produces up to 79bhp, with the maximum combined output for both power sources quoted as 114bhp. Better still, it’s straightforward to get the best out of the set-up.
There aren’t too many modes; just a default one, plus Eco and Power settings, an EV mode and a setting marked ‘B’ for extra regeneration to unlock the Yaris Cross’s trump card: effortless efficiency.
EV is good enough for short stints around town, with the 79bhp motor providing sufficient propulsion. It’ll stick resolutely in this mode up until 30mph, or until the battery is empty. Above this speed it’ll run in hybrid mode, with the car’s ECU deciding when to use either petrol, electric, or a combination of both sources. The result of this is plain to see on the driver information screen, which shows a breakdown of how much you’ve been using electric power only.
You’ll find that, with little effort, you’ll cover a lot of ground on electric power. Even on our test route, which combined urban settings with dual-carriageways, and faster A-roads and B-roads, more than half the journey was completed on electricity; 66.5mpg was the end result with no effort on our part, and that’s a figure that outstrips the official claims made by Toyota. Put a bit of effort in and rely on Eco mode’s softer power map, and you might even hit 80mpg.
It’s in keeping with the Yaris Cross’s dynamic make-up, because this small SUV is far from scintillating, but feels solid to drive. It retains the best aspects of the Yaris supermini, with its positive steering and good body control, and it feels composed and comfortable. The CVT transmission is well behaved, too.
The suspension is still ever so slightly on the firmer side of things, but not unacceptably so. The ride height is increased by 25mm over the Yaris, but the impact of that is felt more in the seating position; it certainly feels like you’re perched higher up than in a supermini, although the driving environment feels more functional than flashy, combining decent materials with fairly straightforward switchgear.
The eight-inch infotainment screen on Design trim models is a massive improvement on older Toyota tech.
Design trim certainly has lots of kit. Alongside the main screen there’s a seven-inch driver information display and a strong level of safety and assistance kit, including adaptive cruise control, automatic air-con, a reversing camera, LED lights, aluminium roof rails and 17-inch alloys. Heated seats are found on the next grade up, however.
It’s good value, and mid-spec Design trim is expected to account for as much as 50 per cent of UK sales.
|Model:||Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 VVT-i Design|
|Engine:||1.5-litre 3cyl petrol hybrid|
|Transmission:||CVT auto, front-wheel drive|