Toyota Yaris Icon hybrid review

On the basis of CO2 emissions the Toyota Yaris hybrid is the cleanest small car on sale which isn't electric. NOx emissions are virtually zero along with particulate emissions unlike with diesel engines. And if you are looking for a small hybrid car you are not exactly spoilt for choice. There’s the Yaris tested here or the more expensive Honda Jazz.

If you see cars purely as transport and most of your journeys are relatively short ones in mainly urban areas the Yaris hybrid has a lot to recommend it. Sales of the British-built Auris hybrid were up 20 per cent last year, accounting for almost half of all UK Auris sales.

Review by Russell Bray

PERFORMANCE

We know Toyota’s goal with the Yaris hybrid is ultra-low emissions and improved fuel consumption, not performance, but with a 73 bhp 1497 cc four-cylinder petrol engine and a 59 bhp electric motor providing a total power output of 99 bhp acceleration from rest to 62 mph in 11.8 seconds feels pretty lethargic.

The 103 mph top speed is probably adequate for the type of buyer this car is likely to attract, though its tax reducing abilities are winning an increasing number of fleet sales as well as private buyers. Gentle acceleration doesn't put the continuously variable transmission into full spin drier whine but when it does it’s a hateful thing. Driving range on purely electric power is a bit over a mile.

HANDLING

The Yaris hybrid is not a car for tackling twisty roads with enthusiasm. Though the low rolling resistance tyres provide reasonable grip (the Excel version has bigger wheels) through bends at normal cruising speeds, the car is happiest, and does its best work in an urban environment.

The electrically assisted power steering is light but has the ‘feel’ you get, or more accurately don’t get, with most computer games and does not encourage a press-on driving style.

BODY STYLE

Despite some 1,000 new parts and an Aygo inspired front ‘face’ the new Yaris is a major revamp rather than a completely new model. The cabin in particular has been considerably improved. The petrol electric hybrid is only available with five doors, but still looks swish. The styling drew positive comments from neighbours though the rear of the car is rather less inspired than the front and side profile. The headlamps use projector technology for high and low beams and incorporate LED daytime running lights (option for Icon grade).

The cabin is more spacious than, say, a Ford Fiesta and rear seat access easier too. Ingenious engineering means converting the car into a hybrid has not harmed the Yaris’s boot space which is larger than the previous model at 286 litres and slightly larger than that of the Volkswagen Polo but you lose some space under the boot floor. The rear seats split and fold but do not go completely flat. Boot volume then increases to 786 litres. The Yaris’s boot has a wide opening but has a high sill to lift bags over. Length 3950 mm. Width 1695 mm.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Toyota Yaris hybrid

The ride is quite firm and the Yaris hybrid rides rather stiff legged over bumps, especially at low speeds, which is a bit of a surprise as the suspension is quite soft overall. Finding a comfortable driving position is not a problem for most thanks to a reach and rake adjustable steering wheel and height adjustable driver’s seat. But being tall I could have done with more adjustment to the steering column.

The economy gauge instead of a rev counter tells you this Yaris is meant for economy not for fun. General refinement is marred by the noise of the car’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) when you need to accelerate and some wind noise at speed. The energy recapturing brakes can ‘grab’ after a low initial response.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

Carbon dioxide emissions of 75 g/km (82 g/km for the better equipped Excel on bigger wheels) mean neither car attracts any road tax and the Icon version also escapes the £11.50 per weekday congestion charge toll in central London. Official combined cycle fuel test figures are 85.6 mpg for the Icon version and 78.5 mpg for the Excel.

Our usual mix of town, city, urban, motorway and rural driving saw 54.3 mpg according to the Icon’s on-board computer. A more gentle drive resulted in 58.5 mpg. The hybrid has a six litre smaller fuel tank at 42 litres. Insurance is group eight and servicing is required every 10,000 miles/annually.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

The touch screen fuel consumption display can offer an economy target for every trip as well as showing where the car’s power is coming from and how much the battery is being charged or being used.

The Atkinson cycle petrol engine has delayed compression to create a higher expansion ratio for less compression, reducing pumping losses and converting combustion energy to engine power more effectively. The engine also has a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system to reduce emissions. According to our calculations, the Yaris hybrid tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 25.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

There is what seems to be some cheap plastic in places in the Yaris but overall there is the sense of a quality job well executed. Standard equipment includes 15in alloy wheels, seven inch touch screen to control car and entertainment functions, push button engine start, air-conditioning and a reversing camera.

Options include a panoramic glass roof (£550), LED daytime running lights and rear lamps, rear privacy glass and the Toyota touch 2 with Go multimedia system with satellite navigation (a £650 option throughout the range).

The protection pack (for Icon and Excel models) for £700 adds mudflaps, rear bumper protection, front and rear parking sensors and carpet mats, while the style pack (£500) adds aluminium scuff plates and bumper protection plate and a chrome finish for the door sills, boot, rear under bumper diffuser trim and exhaust pipe.

MODEL SUMMARY

Toyota Yaris hybrid

Model tested: Toyota Yaris Icon petrol-electric hybrid
Body-style: Five door hatchback
Engine/CO2: 73bhp 1497cc four-cylinder petrol engine and 59bhp electric motor/ 75 gCO2/km
Trim grades: Icon and Excel

On-road price: From £16,195. Price as tested £18,095
Warranty: Five years/ 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 STARS
Next Green Car Rating from 25

Click here for more info about this model range »

Russell Bray

Author:Russell Bray
Date Updated:7th May 2015

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