Toyota Yaris Cross: long-term test review
First report: Fuel-sipping baby hybrid is making a good first impression
A strong start around town has seen the Yaris Cross cement its reputation as a small SUV that should work well for urban dwellers. We plan to hit the open road a bit more in the coming months.
Among all the talk of the 2030 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars, one key element of the landmark change is consistently overlooked. Fully electric cars will likely dominate new-car sales come the end of the decade, but hybrids won’t be totally off the table. The exact rules around what will be allowed post-2030 haven’t been ironed out just yet and are subject to further Government consultation, but some hybrids will be sold until 2035.
Perhaps that’s music to Toyota’s ears, because the brand boasts the sort of prowess in hybrid tech that other makers can only dream of.
The Yaris Cross is the brand’s latest effort to be powered by the technology, and it’s also the newest addition to the Auto Express long-term fleet. It’s a compact SUV that offers up a fiercely efficient take on the popular B-sector SUV format.
Integrated into the pleasingly chunky bodywork is the same hybrid system as you’ll find in the Yaris supermini, meaning a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, a small battery of around 0.76kWh and an electric motor combine to create a small SUV that can run on electric power alone for surprisingly large amounts of time.
Our Yaris Cross is in Design trim, with only two options boxes ticked. The £500 Tech Pack introduces a nine-inch central touchscreen system complete with satellite navigation plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. It replaces the eight-inch display with wired smartphone mirroring that’s offered as standard at this equipment grade. Our car’s optional Platinum White Pearl paintwork comes in at £920, although a solid white gloss is offered by default.
Standard kit on the Design trim includes a reversing camera and adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist. However, while it’s representative of what around half of all UK Yaris Cross buyers opt for, it’s a lower-mid-equipment level.
At £25,690, it looks expensive compared with competitors; more so if you choose a higher-spec model to gain bits such as heated seats, parking sensors and a power tailgate.
You can be in a range-topping Skoda Kamiq SE L Executive for the same money as the Design and perhaps you’d find that’s a car with a little bit more flair and panache inside. A bit more space, too, given that the somewhat diminutive Yaris Cross, with its 4,180mm length, is on the shorter side.
The impact of this is felt in the second row, where the rear bench is something of a tight squeeze to access and a little short on space once you get there.
But what buyers won’t find in the Skoda is a hybrid powertrain as impressive as this. The electrified aspect of the Yaris Cross is, without a doubt, its biggest trump card. Agreed, at 114bhp its performance isn’t especially sprightly; 0-62mph takes 11.2 seconds, despite there being a Power drive mode. But by far this car’s most impressive aspect is its rather astonishing efficiency.
Since taking delivery I haven’t covered huge miles in the Yaris Cross. Just over 300 have been racked up so far, nearly all of them within the M25 and almost exclusively in the car’s Eco mode. So plenty of urban driving, making best use of the short-term electric-running capacity, has immediately brought this car’s best aspect to the surface. Since getting the Toyota I’ve still not had to fill up with petrol. In fact, there’s still more than half a tank in the Yaris Cross from its delivery in late March. For a hybrid without any plug-in aspect, that’s seriously impressive.
We’ll see how that around-town efficiency holds up as the Yaris Cross goes on some longer journeys this summer. But for now, at least, it’s already leaving an impression on me as a solid urban companion.
Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 VVT-i Design FWD
On fleet since:
1.5-litre 3cyl petrol hybrid, 114bhp
102g/km / £160
Tech Pack including 9.0-inch HD touchscreen, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (£500), Platinum White Pearl paint (£920)
None so far
*Insurance quote for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points