Toyota Yaris Hybrid 2017 review
The Toyota Yaris Hybrid is the easiest car to drive in the updated range, but it comes at a price
The Yaris Hybrid is a one of a kind in its class, as it’s the only supermini with a hybrid powertrain. If you don’t want to take the plunge on a full electric car, the Yaris could be a good bet. It’s quiet, easy to drive and has a smooth ride. However once you’ve escaped the traffic it’s fairly dull to drive, and the plasticky interior doesn’t match the premium price point.
A set of updates for the Toyota Yaris range has improved the normal petrol versions of the Japanese supermini, especially as the new 1.5-litre version is easier to drive than its 1.3-litre predecessor.
The Yaris Hybrid is also part of the round of updates, and it also happens to be the easiest car of the lot to drive - though you’ll pay for the privilege. While the standard car starts at £12,495, the Hybrid costs from £15,995 in the same entry-level Active trim.
Still, the economy numbers speak for themselves, and while we’re not sure how they will translate to real-world driving, you can’t really be disappointed with 78.5mpg and emissions of 82g/km.
Some owners will also be tempted by the fact that the Hybrid model is the only Yaris that’s fitted with an automatic gearbox - although be aware that it is a CVT 'box, which is unpleasant unless you’re driving in a very sedate way.
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Put your foot down and the engine revs up - and with 0-62mph taking 11.8 seconds it’s not even a brief moment of noise. At least the electric motor means that performance at low speed, for instance in traffic, is pretty good.
Toyota has made more changes to the Hybrid than any other model, with extra sound-deadening and updates for the chassis to improve the ride and handling. Toyota says that’s because customers are coming from more premium products and expect more of the Hybrid than other Yaris models.
While the flat, straight test route we were sent on meant it was hard to test the new model fully, the Hybrid does, in fact, feel better set-up than the standard car, rolling less in the few corners we encountered while still feeling comfortable and composed.
Anyone coming over from a premium competitor, perhaps from an Audi A1 1.6 TDI S tronic, which costs around the same as our £19,845 Bi-Tone model, will find that while the ride and handling of the two cars is reasonably close, the interior of the Toyota feels incredibly dated in comparison.
The hard-wearing, scratchy plastics you’ll find in the Yaris, as well as the sparse design of the dashboard, don’t feel premium at all. It’s all well built, and seems like it will last, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re in an older car than you actually are.
In particular, the seven-inch infotainment screen looks ancient and is pretty unresponsive, despite having all the features you’d want: sat-nav, DAB radio and even Wi-Fi.
For driving in town, the Yaris is quiet and easy to manoeuvre, partly because the CVT 'box isn’t intrusive and at low speed the car runs on electric power only. It’s certainly much more relaxing than its diesel rivals around town, unless you get hot under the collar looking at that dated interior.