Toyota is arguably the world’s leader when it comes to lobbing a hybridised drive-train into cars, and their small car, Yaris, has finally been given the treatment as seen in Camry, Corolla, and luxo-brand Lexus.The Yaris comes in three flavours, being Ascent Sport, SX, and ZR, and in non-hybrid form starts at around $25,500 drive-away. That’s for the Ascent Sport in manual and plain white paint…. Go partly electric and there’s a need to head to the SX. There’s a price difference of $2,100 between the standard and hybrid, with the battery version seeing $32,545 on the sticker. ZR starts from $33,655 for the petrol, and the hybrid $35,715 in white. Our review car came with a red-orange colour known as Coral which takes it to $36,230. It’s worth noting that Toyota hiked the Yaris prices substantially in 2020, with the Ascent Sport copping an increase of $9,500…The engine is a three cylinder petrol jobbie, but unusual in that its a big’un. It’s a 1.5L unit, larger than the more common 1.0L to 1.2L powerplants found elsewhere. On its own it would be a more than respectable engine for Toyota’s smallest automobile. Fuel tank size is 36L, down from 40L, and 91RON is just fine. Economy is quoted as 3.3L/100km (combined cycle) for the Hybrid compared to 4.9L/100km from the standard 1.5L. Our 70/30 cycle saw 5.2L/100km from the 1,130kg (dry) ZR Yaris. Cargo is 270L minimum.As such, partnered with a battery system, the whole shebang delivers a total of 85 kW and 141 Nm to the front wheels via a CVT auto. The standard engine brings 88kW and 145Nm. Drive in the ZR is selected via a simple and straightforward in-line lever, complete with a B for Braking at the end of the selection line. This allows a driver to harness more of the kinetic energy that braking lets loose and channels it to the battery.ZR is ignited via a push-button, and there’s that eerie silence that hybrids and electric cars have, before a gentle accelerator push has the Yaris ZR Hybrid waft away quietly before the petrol engine kicks in. Toyota has configured this to play its part from either around 25kph on a gentle getaway, or, like all hybrids, straight away if the sensors read a heavy right foot. The 1.5L is noticeable but not intrusively so, and those that have drive three cylinder engined cars will appreciate that familiar off-kilter thrum upfront.There’s good initial speed, and the Yaris ZR Hybrid delights in both urban and freeway driving. Its quick, too, in rolling acceleration, with a definitive and solid urge to hustle as an when required. It hangs on nicely, with a finely tuned suspension dialling out all but the worst of the more common irregularities found in roads. A benign handling set-up sees minor understeer at suburban velocities, with long sweeping turns easily controlled by steering input or gentle braking.It’s well specified inside, with a HUD or Head Up Display taking pride of place. Toyota’s familiar and wonderfully user friendly touchscreen with voice recognition, Mobile Assistant, Siri Eyes Free, Miracast and myToyota mans the upper centre of the dash, and a mix of grey shades add a touch of funkiness to the seats. However, it’s still a kind of budget car in a way, as the driver’s seat is fully manual in adjustment, and the cloth trim means no heating or venting. They are, however, bolstered for extra support.The driver’s dash display is a little unusual in look, with the centre recessed in and having only an info screen. The power/charge screen and speed are housed in two separate dials on the binnacle and well forward of the info screen. They’re digital in layout and look, and have a stylised font that’s eyecatching. They need to be as otherwise the dash is remarkably bland and dull. A single thin strand of red breaks up the solid black plastics, and that’s it. The airvent surrounds are a piano black, and contrast with the varying sages of grey on the seats and linings of the roof and doors.Outside it’s a different story, with that Coral colour highlighting the Yaris’ pear shape from roofline to wheelarches as seen from front or rear. The tail tucks in around the prominent lights, with a subtle pair of lines that joins them and the rear door handles. LED headlights show the way at night.
Simple black and machined alloys underpin the Yaris ZR Hybrid, with the 18 inch wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Ecopia rubber at 185/55.No skimping on safety across the range either. Lane Trace Assist, Road Sign Assist, Lane Departure Alert, eight airbags, and Intersection Turn Assistance are across the board. Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are ZR bespoke. Servicing and warranty details are online.
At The End Of The Drive.
It’s a good drive but the price is an eyebrow raiser. Equipment levels are high to make up for it though, including the Head Up Display and eight airbags. Yaris is also heading Toyota’s push to bring sportiness back to the brand with the Gazoo Racing, GR, powerhouse versions. But, for the money, Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Ford, VW, offer bigger vehicles and at not a whole lot worse economy.