28 May 2012 Last Updated: 28 October 2013

Full Toyota Yaris (11 on) Model Review

by Chris Ebbs, News and features editor

  • Japanese firm's supermini gets hybrid treatment
  • Completely revised petrol/electric system in Yaris
  • Road tax exempt, claimed economy of 80.7mpg
Toyota Yaris (11 on) 1.5 VVT-i Hybrid T4 Nav 5d CVT Auto - Road Test
Toyota has continued its hybrid offensive with its new Toyota Yaris 1.5 VVT-i Hybrid.

Toyota has continued its hybrid offensive with its new Toyota Yaris 1.5 VVT-i Hybrid.

Eco warriors concerned that Toyota was neglecting its CO2-busting technologies for fancy sports cars, following the recent introduction of the GT86, will be pleased to see that hybrids are still right at the heart of the company's plans.

Having pioneered hybrids with the Auris HSD and Prius the logical choice was to fit the technology into a small, already economical hatchback. So, the Yaris got the hybrid treatment.

The Yaris Hybrid is powered by a new 73bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine that's coupled to a 25bhp electric motor to create a total output of 98bhp. This new unit is 17kg lighter and 50mm shorter than the 1.8-litre featured in the other Toyota hybrids and that weight-saving inevitably translates into better fuel economy. 

The stats make welcome reading for motorists looking to cut costs: the standard Yaris Hybrid is capable of a claimed 80.7mpg, with the higher-spec T Spirit model achieving 76.3mpg. Of course, getting anywhere near this figure is going to take the right foot of a ballerina, but we got 60mpg on our test, which is not bad considering we were on a mix of roads and weren't attempting to be anywhere near light-footed.

It's not much fun to drive even though performance is relatively decent. The 0-62mph time is officially 11.8 seconds, but in reality the Yaris Hybrid feels much more laboured when you put your foot down. This sluggish acceleration is highlighted by the E-CVT gearbox, which often feels strained under acceleration as it holds on to gears for extra power.

The rather laborious performance is further emphasised by dull handling. There's very little steering feel and a serious lack of engagement on cornering. Thankfully body roll has been well contained, especially considering the added weight of the hybrid system. The car is quite refined, however: wind and road noise are kept to a minimum, with engine noise only apparent once you put your foot down – blame the CVT gearbox.

The majority of Yaris Hybrid owners driving in congested cities are unlikely to be too fazed by the lack of engagement though, as it excels in urban environments. Able to run solely on EV mode at low speeds, its tight turning circle and light steering make it perfect for those in congested areas.

Eco versions of rivals, including the Ford Fiesta Econetic and VW Polo BlueMotion for instance, are probably a better option. Both perform well in busy city centres but they also offer more in terms of performance and engagement.

Toyota can take heart that potential buyers will not have performance and handling at the top of their list of priorities. Instead this is a car bought based on the results of calculators rather than human feelings. With emissions of 79g/km - 85g/km in the bigger-wheeled T Spirit car - the Yaris is exempt from road tax, the London congestion charge and first-year tax.

This impressive CO2 rating is achieved with the help of a number of technologies including stop/start, brake energy regeneration and the fact that the Yaris hybrid can run on electric mode only at low to mid-range speeds. 

As well as the low running costs, the Yaris Hybrid comes with a long list of standard equipment. Our test car, in mid-spec T4, came with dual-zone climate control, front electric windows, seven airbags, 15-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, rear LED lamps, Bluetooth, front fog lights, USB and aux-in connectivity, DAB radio, a rear-view camera, a leather steering wheel and driver's seat height adjustment.

It's pretty practical too. Thankfully, boot space remains the same as that in the standard model at 286 litres because the battery pack is located under the rear passenger seat, unlike the larger Auris Hybrid where luggage room is compromised by the battery under the load bay.

The main gripe surrounds the price. If you want green, you'll pay a premium. The road tax-free T4 version we drove comes in at £15,895 while the standard 1.33 VVT-i TR five-door car, which costs £100 a year to tax, will set you back £13,435.

Other road tax-exempt competitors, such as the Skoda Fabia Greenline II which is claimed to average 83.1mpg, generally cost less than the hybrid Yaris. The Skoda, for example, is priced at £13,875.

So the Yaris Hybrid is not the complete answer for those looking for cheap motoring but it does have its merits. It may not be the most entertaining or engaging supermini, or even the cheapest, but it's still attractive when you do the sums. It's a particularly worthwhile option if you spend the majority of your time driving in city centres at low speeds.

The Yaris Hybrid is available to order now with prices starting at £14,995 for the entry level T3 model, rising to £16,995 for the range-topping T Spirit model.

Read the full Toyota Yaris review, here.

Also consider:

Peugeot 208 1.4 e-HDi EGC

An excellent city car that combines good looks with superb fuel economy and low emissions. Only available as a three-door.

VW Polo BlueMotion

Bulletproof reliability, good to drive and economical. Feels like a premium car, which is impressive given its size.

Ford Fiesta Econetic

Top of the class for looks and driving dynamics. Specific green versions command a high premium compared to standard cars.