Skip advert
Advertisement
In-depth reviews

Toyota Yaris Hybrid - Engines, drive & performance

Its hybrid powertrain is fantastic around town, and only suffers on long motorway stints

Carbuyer Rating

4.0 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.0 out of 5

​The Yaris Hybrid is a great car for town and city driving, with direct, accurate steering and a planted chassis, while the hybrid powertrain spends a lot of time running just on electricity. The CVT automatic gearbox also means there are no gearchanges to worry about, adding to its relaxing feel. It doesn't feel out of its depth on faster roads, proving quite happy on A-roads too, even if its steering can't quite match the class-leading Ford Fiesta.

Advertisement - Article continues below

If there's one type of road the Yaris Hybrid is less well suited to, it's motorways, because here the hybrid system is forced to rely on the petrol engine and it can feel slightly strained at higher speeds. A more powerful model was introduced for 2024, which we’ve now tested, and it does a much better job in this respect. Its higher-powered motor not only makes it feel extra responsive around town, but on motorways refinement is improved, too.

In any case, the standard CVT automatic gearbox means the Toyota Yaris isn’t particularly engaging to drive, so keen drivers may be inclined to look elsewhere.

The Toyota Yaris is very composed to drive, especially on twistier roads where it’s capable when diving in and out of corners, but we’d argue it’s perhaps a harder suspension setup than it needs to be. Softening up the chassis a tad would make the Yaris a better all-rounder. Our GR Sport test car’s larger 18-inch wheels didn’t ride comfort and the smaller 16-inch and 17-inch wheels on all other models in the range, including top-spec Premier Edition, should marginally improve the ride.

Hybrid engine

Both of the hybrid systems offered in the Yaris use a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine coupled with a small electric motor and battery. The entry-level version has a total output of 114bhp, so the standard Yaris (now known as the Yaris 115) gets from 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds, which is reasonable and about average for this size of car. 

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Post-facelift models from early 2024 are now offered as a second ‘Yaris 130’ model in GR Sport trim and above, gaining a slight power increase to 129bhp, taking just 9.2 seconds to get from 0-62mph as a result. 

When we drove the Yaris 130, we found the benefits to the higher-output hybrid system went beyond the bigger power figure. Its electric motor felt punchier at lower speeds in urban environments, while the petrol engine didn’t have to be engaged any more often than in the Yaris 115. The improvements were most notable on the motorway at cruising speed where more electrical assistance meant the car was quieter with less of a drone from the engine. The CVT gearbox doesn’t need to lower its gearing as often to maintain progress so you don’t get the noisy spikes in engine revs. As a result, Toyota’s latest hybrid system is a lot more refined than before and it’s quieter than ever.

That said, the Yaris 130 hybrid system is only available with GR Sport trim and above, making it very expensive – we don’t think the benefits outweigh the extra outlay, so we’d stick to the 115 models.

As with the Toyota Prius, Corolla and C-HR, a CVT automatic gearbox is the only option for the hybrid model. CVT gearboxes don't have the best reputation among keen drivers, but in the Yaris, it performs like a regular automatic in most situations. Thanks to the electrical assistance, there’s less of the slow responses and peaks in engine noise that characterise CVTs, when you floor the accelerator pedal. 

CVT gearboxes don't have the best reputation among keen drivers, but in the Yaris, it performs like a regular automatic in most situations. Thanks to the electrical assistance, there’s less of the CVT’s infamous ‘rubber band’ effect and harsh noise when you floor the accelerator pedal. It’s even refined on a motorway, but a fast, twisty road does highlight the hybrid’s limitations. There are no such issues with the chassis; we feel it could easily cope with more power.

The main priority of the Yaris hybrid is efficiency, and it does very well in this regard. Thanks to regenerative braking (harvesting the energy otherwise lost in braking), the car runs on electric power as much as possible, and the engine cuts in smoothly without interrupting a conversation between passengers. The engine can switch off and let the electric motor take centre stage at up to 70mph.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

The most reliable small cars on sale in 2024
Most reliable small cars
Best cars
21 Jun 2024

The most reliable small cars on sale in 2024

Toyota Yaris review - a frugal hybrid supermini
Toyota Yaris Carbuyer drive
In-depth reviews
16 Apr 2024

Toyota Yaris review - a frugal hybrid supermini

10 smallest cars on sale 2024
smallest cars on sale
Best cars
28 Feb 2024

10 smallest cars on sale 2024

Top 10 best small company cars 2024
Best small company cars
Best cars
23 Feb 2024

Top 10 best small company cars 2024

Have You Considered

MINI Cooper review – cheeky and fun as ever, but a harsh ride
MINI Cooper front 3/4 tracking
In-depth reviews
30 May 2024

MINI Cooper review – cheeky and fun as ever, but a harsh ride

MG3 review – affordable, efficient and fun-to-drive supermini
MG3
In-depth reviews
29 May 2024

MG3 review – affordable, efficient and fun-to-drive supermini

Most Popular

Engine management light: what to do if it comes on
Engine warning light
Tips and advice
12 Jun 2024

Engine management light: what to do if it comes on

Ford Explorer review – good-to-drive EV with a long range
Ford Explorer front quarter dynamic
In-depth reviews
19 Jun 2024

Ford Explorer review – good-to-drive EV with a long range

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s best PCP finance offers
Carbuyer best new car deals hero
Deals
21 Jun 2024

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s best PCP finance offers

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
26 Mar 2024

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Public EV charge point
Tips and advice
11 Jan 2023

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
21 Mar 2024

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors

Top 10 best electric cars 2024
Best electric cars
Best cars
16 May 2024

Top 10 best electric cars 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024
The best cheap-to-run cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024
Fastest hot hatchbacks hero
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024