Toyota Yaris Hybrid review
The Toyota Yaris Hybrid has a sporty look and is fun to drive yet it also doesn’t use much fuel. It’s not the most quiet of cars when you accelerate, though, and don’t expect the plushest cabin materials.
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The Toyota Yaris Hybrid is a supermini that no longer looks and feels like it was put through the blander somewhere between concept and production. This latest model looks sporty, is great to drive and offers fuel economy that’s as good as ever. It’s fair to say if you’re looking at a Yaris you’ll also consider a Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and VW Polo, but remember that none of these offers a petrol-electric hybrid power.
That’s why it’s the Best Small Hybrid Car in our 2021 carwow Car of the Year Awards.
The front of the Yaris Hybrid is genuinely aggressive-looking and gives you the impression it’s the spawn of the Toyota Supra sports car – especially versions further up the range, which sit on larger-diameter alloy wheels. And as for the fizzy Toyota GR Yaris, the company has gone all Popeye and fed the Yaris a tin of spinach.
The interior isn’t as stylish as the exterior, although it isn’t what you’d call dull. Mind you, that of a Peugeot 208 is much funkier. A VW Polo shades the Yaris for interior quality, too. Still, at least Toyota has had the good sense to keep the climate controls separate from the touchscreen; it makes the system much easier to work out.
Every Yaris Hybrid gets a touchscreen; it’s 7-inch in the entry-level model or 8-inch from Design trim and up. Either system caters for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is what most people will use most of the time, at least partly because the native Toyota system is a bit complex and tricky to use. The optional Tech pack does bring a brilliant head-up display, mind you.
Space isn’t huge, either. Okay, space in the front is pretty good, and you shouldn’t feel the need to complain, while the driving position is adjustable enough for people of all shapes and sizes to get comfortable.
Everything behind is a little disappointing. Rear space is average at best, and anyone taller than average will struggle for knee room. The boot is pretty small, too. Basically, if you need to carry people and stuff, a VW Polo makes a better choice.
There's just one engine, but mid-level Design trim offers good looks and great equipment. Head to our deals page for the best price!
The sole engine choice is a 116hp petrol-electric hybrid system made up of a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor. The Yaris will return around 60mpg if you drive carefully around town, and emits as little as 92g/km of CO2.
In town is where the Yaris excels, for a couple of reasons; it has a good turning circle and although its rear screen is relatively small, it’s easy to park thanks to a reversing camera coming as standard across the range.
Out of town, the Yaris Hybrid is a bit of a hoot. Its engine does get a bit noisy when pushed hard due to the nature of its CVT automatic gearbox which holds onto revs rather than swapping physical gears, but it also steers sweetly and does a tidy job of cornering. One caveat, adding the 17-inch wheels might make the car feel nimbler, but they also make the ride significantly firmer.
The Yaris’s motorway ride is pretty bouncy, too, but otherwise the Yaris cruises along well; it’s punchy enough not to feel overwhelmed, and there’s not too much wind or road noise.
So, a Ford Fiesta is still the more fun car to drive, but this Yaris puts on a very impressive showing. A Polo is more spacious, too, but if that’s not your primary concern, then the Yaris Hybrid offers lower running costs, higher levels of standard equipment and Toyota’s legendary reliability record.
If that’s convinced you, head to our deals page for the best prices.
There’s loads of space for people and stuff up front, but things are less good the farther back you go.
You certainly can’t argue with the space in the front of the Toyota Yaris. There’s a decent legroom for a couple of fairly tall adults, and they shouldn’t feel short of headroom, either.
Things aren’t so good in the back seat. Those in the two outer seats will likely find their knees rubbing the backs of the front seats, and anyone forced to sit in the middle will feel like no one likes them, because they’ll be cramped and uncomfortable, such is the shortage of both legroom and headroom.
There’s also space for a rear-facing child seat in the back, although you’ll need to slide the front seat forward as much as possible to get it in there. You’re also guaranteed to lose the covers for the Isofix mounting points.
Things aren’t too bad, especially in the front. There’s a decent-sized storage area ahead of the gearlever where all but the biggest mobile phones will fit.
The door pockets, meanwhile, are big enough to take a 1.5-litre bottle, and if you’re extra thirsty, one of those will fit in the glovebox, too.
There’s also a tray to store your phone under the central armrest, and ahead of that there’s a couple of cupholders that will take a coffee cup or small bottle of water.
Iceberg ahead. On paper, the Yaris has the smallest boot of all its competitors, at just 286 litres. Compare this with the 350 litres of the Volkswagen Polo and the Yaris comes off very second best.
But wait! Strange things are afoot. You see, we managed to get five carry-on suitcases into the boot of the Yaris, which is exactly the same as the number we got into the Polo. Toyota has clearly learned how to bend physics.
The Yaris also comes with a height-adjustable boot floor, which means there’s no load lip to speak of, and when you fold down the rear seats they lie flush with the boot floor.
The Toyota Yaris is comfortable and economical in town, but feels less at home on faster roads.
|Engine||0-62mph (sec)||Max speed (MPH)||Average MPG||CO2 g/km|
|1.5L Hybrid||9.7||109||65 – 51.4||92-98|
Toyota’s gone all ‘take it or leave it’ with the engine choice, because there’s only one. It’s a hybrid powertrain with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol unit linked to an electric motor, and together they produce 116hp.
It drives the front wheels through a CVT automatic transmission, and emits just 92g/km of CO2. It’ll do an average of 60mpg, too.
In town is where the Yaris is most at home, because it has a good turning circle and the suspension does a decent job of soaking up bumps. The Yaris is also easy to park thanks to the reversing camera that’s standard across the range.
On faster roads, the Yaris acquits itself fairly well but it can be a bit noisy because of the way the CVT gearbox makes the engine rev hard. Still, it steers sweetly and does a tidy job of cornering. We’d avoid adding the 17-inch wheels, because these make the ride significantly firmer.
The Yaris’s motorway ride is pretty bouncy, too, but otherwise the Yaris cruises along well; it’s punchy enough not to feel overwhelmed, and there’s not too much wind or road noise. Overall though, rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo have more of a grown-up feel.
The Toyota Yaris has decent infotainment across the range and its cabin looks neat. There are small cars that are better in both areas, though.
The Toyota Yaris’s interior isn’t that fancy to look at, but it feels good and everything’s where you need it to be. Highlights include gloss black trim on the centre console and classy-feeling fabric on the doors, and everything feels nicely built, but cars such as the Peugeot 208 feel far funkier inside.
The main focus of the dashboard is the large touchscreen, which looks a bit ‘plonked on’, but Toyota has had the good sense to keep the climate controls separate.
Icon and Design cars come with standard seats in cloth, but Dynamic and Excel models come with figure-hugging sports seats in fabric and synthetic leather, which helps lift the cabin. All cars get a leather steering wheel and gear lever, though.
All models have a central touchscreen. On Icon models it’s a 7-inch set-up with Bluetooth, DAB radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, we’d recommend upgrading to at least second-rung Design trim, because this comes with an 8-inch touchscreen with all the same goodies.
Both systems use the same software and graphics package, which isn’t quite as easy to use as a VW Polo’s system, but is still pretty good. Each screen has some shortcut buttons on the side, and there are a couple of rotary dials in each bottom corner.
Neither system features built-in sat-nav, but that’s no problem at all, because both come with smartphone mirroring and therefore app-based navigation. These apps are far superior to built-in systems.
Fully digital dials aren’t available, but you can add a Tech Pack which brings with it a 10-inch head-up display. It’s clear, crisp and comes in very useful in day-to-day driving, but is only available on range-topping models.
The standard stereo has four speakers, but a punchy JBL system with eight speakers is fitted to Dynamic models but is, weirdly, an option on the range-topping Excel.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid colours
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