Testing the new Toyota Yaris Cross prototype


The Toyota Yaris Cross is not exactly a leader in terms of practicality or driving pleasure, but it is still a very credible entry into the bulging category of small SUVs. Its mix of a hybrid powertrain that offers strong efficiency, a high quality cabin, cleanly integrated technology, and solid build quality should mean that those sold for its funky looks should get a great ownership offer.

Toyota likes to argue that in some ways it was responsible for the general acceptance of “off-roaders” thanks to its original RAV4. And yet the Japanese brand has slowly joined the enthusiasm for the smaller SUV based on a super mini. Only now, more than a decade after the original Nissan Juke was launched, do we have a serious offering in this class of Toyota. And make no mistake, the Yaris Cross is a proper entry indeed.

First of all, the new addition is based on TNGA, Toyota’s modular (and very impressive) vehicle architecture. We’ve already seen how it turned the regular Yaris from a follower into a real Fiesta rival. Now it supports a small SUV – one whose pure hybrid powertrain feels right in line with buying trends. And it’s even offered with all-wheel drive, a relatively rare feature in the class.

Mechanically, the transmission is actually the only choice – and even then, a large part of that decision will be determined by which trim level you choose. All models of the Yaris Cross feature Toyota’s hybrid system, which is based on a 1.5-liter three-cylinder petrol engine with 114 hp and the standard e-CVT transmission.

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Most of the range will be front-wheel drive, but there is an additional version of the setup labeled AWD-i which is only available in higher trim levels and has an additional electric motor that drives the rear wheels. The overall performance doesn’t change, but obviously there’s more weight and a little more for the engine and battery, so the fuel consumption drops a bit.

This is still an efficient car no matter how many powered wheels you choose. Front-wheel drive versions emit just 103g / km of CO2 (and there’s no plug, remember), while AWD-i manages 107g / km and increases the BIK rate by just a single percentage point.

There are four basic trim levels plus a launch special that will only be available for one year. The regular range starts with Icon, which includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera, Smart Entry and Keyless Start, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, automatic headlights and windshield wipers, and air conditioning. It definitely got the basics covered, in other words.

Step up to design and you’ll get LED headlights and taillights, ambient lighting in the cabin, milled 17-inch alloys, a 7-inch digital instrument panel, aluminum roof rails and rear protection glass.

The top of the range is split in two, between Excel and Dynamic. Both get 18-inch alloy wheels, a nine-inch infotainment setup with wireless smartphone integration, heated front seats and two-zone automatic climate control, but while Excel comes with a heated steering wheel and an electrically powered tailgate with a kick sensor, Dynamic offers a two-tone -Painting with black roof and optionally with all-wheel drive AWD-i.

In the first year of life, the Premiere Edition offers well-heeled customers black leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, a JBL sound system and a 10-inch head-up color display. This version can also be ordered with AWD-i.

The car we drive here is a late front-wheel drive prototype in the European ‘adventure’ trim – a decent equivalent of the UK market’s dynamic spec. And it doesn’t take long to realize that the Yari’s solid foundations have carried over well to its larger stable mate.

The TNGA underpinning provides very respectable body control for a car of this type, the steering is heavy enough and pleasantly direct, and the handling is borderline, but just about compliant in most situations (at higher speeds it’s a little happier than in nearby). City on 18-inchers, we would suggest).

As we previously reported, the latest iteration of Toyota’s small hybrid powertrain is also more powerful than before – although we’d be about to say it’s ready for any real entertainment. So yes, the three-cylinder rumble won’t appear long after pulling away, but once you start moving, the system seems to be able to pull the Yaris Cross along with you with relative comfort.

Its cap is best described as nimble rather than fast as a 0-100 km / h time of 11.2 seconds suggests, but that’s enough for most everyday use and roughly in the same ballpark as most Renault Capturs .

Just don’t expect to rush the Toyota; When in a hurry, the newest e-CVT feels the closest to its predecessor, with revs increasing as the transmission tries to make sure the system has enough power to meet your needs.

What’s this? is efficiency is good at that. You may notice the engine turning on every now and then, but you would do well to be so vigilant about how much time it spends not running at all. On our test track – a good mix of city, federal and federal highways as well as a bit of the motorway – the system estimated that 66 percent of us were on the road with purely electric drive. If you do most of your motoring in urban areas, we could easily see this ratio hovering north from 70 percent, helping you get closer to the official economy figure of 65.7 mpg.

Inside, it feels a bit more premium than the Yaris – thanks to well-placed strips of fabric for it, as they’re just a bit more tactile than even more dark gray plastic – and the layout is generally chic and functional. It also feels as well put together as you might expect.

Toyota has made significant strides in in-car entertainment lately, and the Yaris Cross continues that trend. Our car had the larger infotainment screen, but the display was sharp, bright, and easy to use.

Yaris Cross boot looks and it is an appropriate size. There’s 360 liters of space to the tarpaulin and 460 liters when you’re ready to load items up to the roof. An adjustable floor height allows you to prioritize a flat floor or absolute capacity, but on the whole those numbers are very respectable for the class, if not quite on par with the Renault Captur, which also offers a sliding back seat to order possibly to help cubicle space.

That feature would be useful here as the Yaris Cross’s compromise on packaging (there’s usually one somewhere) is in the rear cabin, where anyone approaching six feet tall will likely complain about leg and knee room. In this respect, the car, which has the same wheelbase as a conventional Yaris supermini, seems to be intended for young families or couples who want the pseudo-off-road look paired with a decent trunk and a higher seating position.

As usual, a lot will depend on how willing Toyota is to gamble with the interest rates on its PCP deals – though the impressive residual values ​​for hybrid cars should give dealers some leeway right now. Right now, if you’re holding just under five grand, you can own a Yaris Cross Design for £ 229 a month that looks competitive against the (non-hybrid) automatic Captur.

Model: Toyota Yaris Dynamic 1.5 VVT-i
Price: € 26,465
Engine: 1.5 liter gasoline hybrid with 3 cyl.
Power: 114 hp
Transmission: CTV car, front-wheel drive
0-100 km / h: 11.2 seconds
Top speed: 106 km / h
Economy: 65.7 mpg
CO2: 103g / km
On offer: Now

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