Toyota Yaris Hybrid review
"The Toyota Yaris Hybrid is the ideal supermini for navigating towns and suburbs"
- Toyota Yaris Hybrid review
- Stylish design
- Well equipped
- Dull interior
- Can get expensive
- Mediocre boot space
The Toyota Yaris Hybrid may seem like a niche proposition but it should, in fact, be on the shopping list of any savvy supermini buyer. It's cheap to run, well-equipped and more stylish than ever, while also being significantly cheaper to buy than the new breed of electric superminis.
It's also not alone in the market, taking on the newly launched Honda Jazz Hybrid and Renault Clio E-Tense, cars that can also run on electric power for a significant amount of time around town. Like those models, you never need to plug in the Yaris Hybrid. Instead, its small battery pack is charged each time you slow down and occasionally by the petrol motor acting as a generator. This allows the battery pack to be smaller and cheaper than it is in an EV like the Peugeot e-208.
On the road, the Yaris Hybrid performs beautifully in towns and cities, where its CVT automatic gearbox and electric motor provide smooth and quiet acceleration up to 80% of the time, before the 1.5-litre petrol engine chimes in. Owners can expect fuel economy of more than 60mpg with a normal driving style, unless they sit on the motorway, where the petrol engine has to do more of the work.
While it mightn't seem like the best recipe for driving fun, the Yaris Hybrid's chassis is also surprisingly accomplished. It serves up a sharp drive, particularly with 17-inch alloy wheels fitted, only blunted by the automatic gearbox that isn't as engaging as a manual on a back road.
In typical Toyota fashion, the interior feels well made and boasts an improved infotainment setup featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it isn't as stylish as the Clio or Jazz. There are too many black plastics, which is a shame given that the exterior now looks more attractive.
If you have an eye on running costs and the environment but aren't sure about fully electric cars like the Renault ZOE just yet, the Yaris Hybrid could be the ideal choice. It's affordable, good to look at and ideally suited to the driving most superminis are used for.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Toyota has spearheaded the push towards hybrid cars since the launch of the original Prius. One advantage of the technology is the small battery pack compared with pure electric rivals like the Peugeot e-208, which is not only much lighter but also keeps costs down.
The Yaris Hybrid's latest powertrain is based around a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, a combo which Toyota claims can see the Yaris run on electricity for up to 80% of the time around town. This gives it official fuel economy figures of 65.7mpg to 68.9mpg depending on the trim level and wheels fitted. On our mixed test route, we saw an average of 65mpg, and unlike most non-hybrid cars, the figure rose around town.
CO2 emissions span from 92g/km to 98g/km.That's not low enough to qualify it for free car tax (which costs £140 a year) or exemption from the London Congestion Charge, but it does make it cheaper to run than an equivalent diesel supermini. Company-car drivers will also have smaller tax bills thanks to a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band.
Engines, drive & performance
The Yaris Hybrid is a great car for town and city driving, with direct 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.. It's also worth noting, particularly if you enjoy driving, that the CVT gearbox is rather unengaging.
Interior & comfort
While the Yaris Hybrid handles better than we were expecting, cars with 17-inch alloy wheels and the firmer suspension of Dynamic and Excel trims can transmit some road imperfections inside the car. It's not uncomfortable, but the Design trim with softer suspension and smaller wheels will provide a smoother ride.
The interior is neat and functional, with a prominent infotainment system that sprouts from the top of the dashboard. A plus is that it's a quick glance away from the road, but we think the large bezel, buttons and knobs positioned around it look rather out of place. There's also little in the way of flair, with dark plastic and the occasional splash of chrome trim. Some more colour or interesting upholstery would be welcome, but we've no doubt the Yaris will at least prove solidly built.
Trims start with Icon, which includes 16-inch alloy wheels, the seven-inch infotainment system, a rear-view camera, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, air conditioning and automatic lights and wipers. Design increases the size of the central display by an inch and adds different wheels, LED exterior lighting and electric rear windows.
Dynamic brings 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air-con, keyless entry, sports seats, part-leather upholstery and a JBL speaker upgrade. There's also a range-topping Excel, costing from just over £22,000, with folding door mirrors and safety kit including blind-spot monitors, rear parking sensors and a system designed to help prevent parking mishaps. Options include a Tech Pack that adds the JBL stereo upgrade, a 10-inch colour head-up display and dimming rear-view mirror for just over £800.
Practicality & boot space
As with all modern superminis, there's plenty of space in the front two seats and the rear bench is easily accessed via the standard rear doors. Once inside, there's quite a bit of room for passengers, so long as they aren't over six-feet tall, at which point they'll probably only be comfortable for short trips.
The boot measures 286 litres, which is certainly reasonable for a supermini, particularly when it's a hybrid. It isn't class-leading, though, with the Renault Clio E-Tense pipping it with 301 litres and the Honda Jazz Hybrid managing 304 litres. It also misses out on tricks like Honda's flip-up 'Magic Seats'. The boot is a handy square shape, though, with a smaller loading lip than the Clio's.
Reliability & safety
The latest Toyota Yaris has received a raft of the newest safety features, and this has been rewarded with a five-star score from Euro NCAP. Toyota Safety Sense is standard, and its ability to follow the speed of motorway traffic, even in stop-start conditions, help you stay in your lane and even assist with swerving to avoid a collision is impressive for a small car.
Based on new underpinnings for Toyota, the Yaris will have to prove its reliability over the coming years. It's in a good position to score highly, however, thanks to Toyota's hybrids having a great track record of strong performances in our Driver Power survey.
Toyota itself came sixth out of the top 30 manufacturers in the UK in our 2020 results, with just 9.6% of owners reporting a problem within the first year of ownership.