Toyota Yaris Hybrid - Engines, drive & performance
Its hybrid powertrain is fantastic around town, and only suffers on long motorway stints
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.
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. It's also worth noting, particularly if you enjoy driving, that the CVT gearbox is rather unengaging.
The Yaris hybrid uses a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine coupled with a small electric motor and battery. With a total output of 114bhp, the Yaris gets from 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds, which is reasonable and about average for this size of car. 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 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.