Toyota Yaris HSD

16 Dec, 2011 7:10pm Andrew English

We try the petrol-electric Yaris that promises to deliver 80mpg


The Yaris hybrid’s biggest problem is that there’s already an efficient 1.4-litre diesel – and Toyota reckons buyers will have to do 15,500 miles a year over three years for the hybrid to be cheaper to run. Most only do 10,000 miles annually, and even then, few hybrids match their lofty economy claims. Still, the car will be exempt from road tax and congestion charge, it drives well and it’ll cost £1,000 less than a Honda Jazz Hybrid.
Toyota’s most popular model in the world is going hybrid. The petrol-electric Yaris will go on sale in June and should cost about £15,000 – that’s £1,000 less than the Honda Jazz Hybrid. It’s set to account for 20 per cent of sales. We test drove a prototype in Japan to see what buyers can expect.

Some clever engineering has gone on under the skin. The 1.5-litre petrol-electric drivetrain from the Prius has been re-engineered and now weighs 20 per cent less. There is also no compromise on boot or interior space.

The Yaris hybrid is easy to drive, too. In ordinary traffic it creeps silently along using just battery power and has a total electric-only range of 1.2 miles. That helps slash CO2 emissions to 85g/km.

However, as it weighs about 20 per cent more than a standard petrol Yaris, the engine has to kick in fairly quickly to maintain the performance.

The car feels heavier, too, with slightly ponderous steering and handling, although it will still be agile enough for most owners.

Toyota engineers have tried hard to reduce noise by improving the CVT gearbox, which hangs on to revs. They have been only partly successful and there’s a knack to keeping the Yaris refined and quiet on the road.

There wasn’t much opportunity to make a judgement on ride quality, but we’d expect it to feel rather stiff on UK roads.

Key specs

* Price: £15,000 (est)
* Engine: 1.5-litre twin-motor hybrid 
* Total power: 99bhp
* 0-62mph: 12 seconds (est)
* Top speed: 110mph (est)
* Economy: 80mpg (est)
* CO2: 85g/km (est) 
* Equipment: Air-conditioning, electric mirrors and windows, Toyota Touch screen, unique trim and seat upholstery
* On sale: May