Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Hybrid your only choice
  • Perfect for town drivers
  • Not something for everyone

There's only one option with the Yaris. It's a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine, plus an electrical motor, tied up with a CVT-style automatic gearbox.

Sounds complex. But it isn't. It's a non-plug in hybrid, (or self-charging if you're Toyota) which means you don't need to plug it in to a power source to benefit from electrical assistance. On the flip side, it doesn't really have an electric-only range as such, the idea of the battery is to assist the car in certain situations.

Toyota reckons that the Yaris can operate in pure EV mode for around 80% in typical urban journeys and can be driven up to 80mph before the petrol engine kicks into life – that's 55mph higher than the previous version.

The other headline figure Toyota is keen to point out relates to the improved torque delivery during overtaking speeds of 49-74mph, with a reduction in time of two seconds, down to 8.1secs.

It certainly feels brawny. Total output is 115hp, with the 0-62mph time coming in 10.3seconds. Truth be told, it feels a bit quicker than that time would suggest. Off the line, thanks to the electrical propulsion, it's genuinely energetic. There are no traditional-style gears to go through, so 0-30mph is entertaining. It's perfect for busy towns and cities.

2020 Toyota Yaris engine

Drive modes

There are three drive modes to choose from; EV, Power, and Eco.

EV tries to use electric power as much as possible. Power combines both sources and makes the steering feel just a touch heavier. Eco dulls everything and coasts as much as possible.

Shift the gearlever to its B setting and you'll discover the regenerative braking. This useful feature charges the battery through kinetic energy lost during braking.

It's not strong, like the regenerative braking found in a Nissan Leaf. But it's useful, especially when you're in town, at adding just that little bit of juice into the battery.

e-CVT automatic

This is one of the best CVTs around. It's a huge step up from the outgoing model. There's very little of that elasticity feeling, where it sounds like the revs are rising but you're not actually going any faster.

Toyota Yaris 2020 gear shift

The 1.5-litre engine is remarkably quiet, which goes some way in explaining why acceleration is less tortuous on your eardrums. In fact, you really need to be caning it to notice that it's a CVT.

Double points for not putting useless paddles behind the steering wheel too.

Handling

  • Confidence inspiring grip
  • Harsh ride on bigger wheels
  • Safe, could handle more power

This is one area where previous Yaris owners will notice an improvement almost instantly – this generation of car just feels more confident and grippy. It's even a bite more fun to drive than the old car.

2020 Toyota Yaris handling

Our test car (above) is a model that we don't get in Blighty, and it's on the firmest wheels. It's too firm. At motorway speeds the ride is more than fine, smoothing the road out as it sits in mostly silent. But at town speeds it makes the car seem like it's constantly driving over a teenager's acne riddled T-Zone.

In the UK 80% of cars sold will have 16-inch wheels and these offer a ride that is more liveable day to day.

The upside is that the Yaris really clings on round the corners. Dial in a bit more lock on a tight roundabout and there are heaps of grip before safe understeer takes over.

Toyota reckons the improved handling is due to the new platform it sits on. Essentially the new car is wider and shorter than the old car, which does wonders for dynamics. Still, not quite as fun to drive as a Ford Fiesta.