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First Drive

Road Test: Toyota Yaris 1.5 VVT-i Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT Auto

£16,960 when new
Published: 01 Sep 2014


  • BHP


  • 0-62


  • CO2


  • Max Speed


  • Insurance


This is the mid-life facelift for the third-generation Toyota Yaris, with the front end subtly influenced by the new Aygo. But the Japanese giant has also ramped up the premium factor inside, simplified its model trim offerings and had a fiddle under the bonnets of the best-selling 1.0-litre three-cylinder and the 1.5-litre Hybrid.

Unusually, for what is classed as a facelift, the dashboard architecture has changed. There are some new plastics and padded areas that are more pleasant to the touch than previously, while the whole console looks a little less button-busy than before.

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With CO2 emissions reduced to 75g/km, the Hybrid is Congestion Charge-exempt in London. Toyota claims it can return 85.6mpg, although it couldn't muster much beyond 55mpg during our steady motorway cruise. However, the switch from EV to hybrid is seamless, and it's very smooth about town.

While it's OK for nipping around a city, out on big roads performance is, at best, leisurely. The Hybrid's case is not helped by a raucous e-CVT gearbox, the transmission bellowing away when you demand all 98bhp, but not adding much forward momentum.

However, when you reach cruising speeds and the CVT calms down, the Yaris adopts a more peaceful demeanour. Road noise, wind buffeting, engine chatter - all of them are well subdued. The ride is largely good, though there is a bobble to the rear end that might degenerate into something worse on UK tarmac. Body roll is limited and the steering clean, if not as interesting as Toyota engineers tried to make out. Still, as no one really buys a Yaris to drive it quickly, this isn't an issue.

Icon is the lowest level at which you can have the hybrid drivetrain, and it starts at £16,195 - a price that offsets the benefits of cheap running costs from the private buyer's perspective. That's a lot of money for a car that's the motoring equivalent of stodgy food: gets the job done, but you can think of finer delicacies you'd rather have. Such as the charismatic 1.0-litre lower down the Yaris tree.

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