Toyota Yaris Hybrid Dynamic
Toyota's latest Yaris has fully embraced the company's hybrid technology as well as a new platform. Richard Gooding finds that not only is the small Toyota more efficient, it also has a fresh sense of fun
What is it?
It might have began with the Prius in the late 1990s, but Toyota's hybrid technology has filtered through its whole range during the past two decades. The fourth generation of the Yaris supermini is now exclusively available as a hybrid in the UK. It has some catching up to do, too, as Honda and Renault now also fit their small cars with 'self-charging' hybrid technology. But, a wide-ranging suite of upgrades – including a funky body and interior ?– mean the Yaris can easily take on its latest rivals.
How does it drive?
Stand the new Yaris alongside the old one and you won't believe it's the same car. Based on a smaller 'GA-B' version of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that underpins the Prius, the new Yaris has curvaceous five-door body. Bold styling touches include the aggressive front end, and the neat rear light bar which stretches the width of the tailgate.
Inside, the simple shapes of the Yaris' cabin may not be as daring as the Peugeot 208's, but the look is clean and uncluttered, and everything is easy to use with logically placed controls. And while the car is shorter than before, a 50mm increase in wheelbase liberates more room. The only real disappointment is the dated graphics on the 8.0-inch colour infotainment screen.
It's easy to find a comfortable driving position, and once you're there, it feels quite sporty. At slow speeds, the Yaris runs on electric power and although Toyota doesn't quote an official electric distance, the car probably runs on zero-emissions more than you think. An 'EV' indicator comes on when only the electric motor is being used and it can run without emissions at speeds of up to 80mph. Three driving modes tailor the driving experience: 'Normal' gives a balance of economy and performance; 'Eco' limits air conditioning and accelerator responses to save fuel; and 'Power' is for sportier driving.
The new Yaris is fun to drive, and feels sharp and keen to change direction, exhibiting an eager-ness unrecognisable from the old model. The light steering has a positive weight, and there’s little body roll. The three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine sounds mildly sporty, but not intrusively so, although does seem a little strained in 'Power' mode. System output is 114bhp, the engine running an Atkinson cycle for efficiency and mated to a 59kW electric motor and 0.8kWh battery.
Most of the time, you'll leave the automatic gearbox in 'D', but there is also a 'B' mode for stronger regenerative braking. This works very well and applies more moderate levels of engine braking to charge the battery.
What does it cost?
The new Yaris comes in four well-equipped core trim levels as well as a special Launch Edition. The £20,210 Icon starts things off and includes 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, auto lights and a reversing camera. The £21,270 Design comes next and adds an 8-inch colour infotainment system, LED lights, and rear privacy glass.
As tested here, the £22,335 Dynamic has 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone air conditioning, a JBL sound system and keyless entry and start. The £22,705 Excel features front and rear parking sensors, and a blind spot monitor. The £24,420 and range-topping Launch Edition adds more tech with a 10-inch colour head-up display, an auto-dimming rear view mirror and comes with a standard bi-tone paint scheme.
How much does it cost to tax?
With CO2 emissions starting at 92g/km rising to 98g/km, the Yaris Hybrid attracts a £130 VED charge in the first year of registration. After that first year, a standard annual £155 rate applies. Benefit in Kind (BIK) tax is pegged at 23 per cent for 2020-2021, rising by one per cent in 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.
Why does my fleet need one?
As well as head-turning looks and being an enjoyable drive, the brand-new Yaris Hybrid is effortlessly efficient and has an interior that is both better-made and much more stylish than before. If you're reluctant to go full plug-in hybrid, the Yaris proves there is still some life – and fun – to be had with 'self-charging' technology.