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Toyota Yaris Cross review - Engines, drive & performance

The Toyota Yaris Cross has keen handling and feels responsive

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating
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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

Hybrid models, including those from Toyota, used to have a reputation for being painfully dull to drive. Sluggish acceleration, CVT automatic gearboxes with a rubber-band feel and eco tyres were acceptable in built-up cities, but frustrating for anyone venturing further afield.

This all changed for the latest crop of hybrid models, however, based on Toyota’s new TGNA platform. New battery technology and more powerful electric motors have helped bring models like the Yaris and Yaris Cross alive. They’re more responsive when you press the throttle, and feel light and agile to drive.

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The Yaris Cross has quick steering and feels composed and unflustered when you tackle a series of bends, much like the low-slung Yaris it’s based on. While it has a 25mm increase in ride height, you’ll mainly notice this in the raised view out, rather than how the Cross feels to drive. Models like the Ford Puma still feel more engaging, but most drivers will find the Cross feels more like a hatchback to drive than an SUV.

That said, the GR Sport narrows the gap between the Yaris Cross and the Puma. The engine is unchanged, but thanks to input from Toyota’s Gazoo Racing engineers, the GR Sport is more engaging to drive. It’s all thanks to the upgraded suspension, which has been tuned to deliver better steering, reduced body lean and more grip.

Toyota Yaris Cross hybrid engine

The Yaris Cross is fitted with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, along with an electric motor making an impressive 79bhp, for a combined total of 114bhp. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 11.2 seconds for the front-wheel- drive version, but the low-down surge of the electric motor helps it feel quicker than this figure suggests. 

There are several driving modes alongside the default, called Eco, Power and EV, but it's easy to get the best out of the hybrid set-up with little effort. When ‘B’ is selected using the gear selector, a braking effect can be felt when easing off the accelerator, which can help slow the car in traffic and down hills with less reliance on the brakes. 

EV mode allows for electric-only stints around town or in traffic, and so long as the battery has enough charge, the petrol engine won’t kick in until the Cross hits around 30mph. Above this the powertrain defaults to hybrid mode, where the car decides how best to juggle its power, and a clear graphic indicates how the system is working. We found the Yaris Cross spent less time running on electricity with the petrol engine off than the Honda Jazz.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.5 Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £25,530

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.5 Hybrid Design 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £27,130

Fastest

  • Name
    1.5 Hybrid 130 GR Sport 5dr CVT
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £31,320

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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