Toyota Yaris Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

One hundred and fourteen brake horsepower may not sound like much, but the latest generation Yaris only weighs a little over a ton so will manage a respectable 0-62mph time of 9.7 seconds. Obviously, with a top speed of 109mph it’s by no means rapid, but the hybrid assist means it’ll sprint away from the lights with enough – if not total – abandon.

The bigger battery helps with that, though - the extra capacity means that not only does the Yaris use more electric power when it can and for more of the time, it’s always got a little jolt to get the car moving and allow the CVT to catch up. Not quite Rimac Nevera levels of go, but it’s peppy over 0-30mph. 

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Ah, yes. CVT. The gearbox equivalent of drill-based dentistry…

Not for the first time though, the real hindrance here is the CVT gearbox, which allows the revs to flare under anything more than the gentlest acceleration and fills the cabin with muted-but-noticeable engine noise at the slightest tickle of throttle. It’s certainly not a setup for dynamic driving.

Saying that, it’s a lot better than some of the CVT systems we’ve driven, and a world away from the very first versions, which really were tortuous to use. The hybrid system also does its very best to mitigate the CVT’s need to drone away and seek a torque peak, too - it fills in some of the gaps and bridges a few of the worst moments.

A common theme with the Yaris Hybrid, but the best way to drive it is how most owners might, and that’s gently; possibly making sure you don’t dislocate your new hip. If you do that, it’s one of the nicer ways to potter about in an automatic hatch.

So what’s the trade off for the beige drivetrain, then? 

It’s an obvious one, and particularly relevant when set against the backdrop of expensive petrol and the onslaught of electric; in terms of efficiency it’s mighty. A real-world 70mpg or above is completely achievable and the hybrid system is supremely well integrated.

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In either of its normal or eco modes the Yaris will silently switch to electric-only power whenever you come off the accelerator at any speed up to 70mph, and there’s very little changeover to notice. It’s all good stuff - with the smaller-wheeled car, we managed 71.9mpg, and we weren’t driving in a particularly ‘eco’ manner at all.

What about the rest of it?

The brakes are good too, with a firm pedal and good feel, although the same can’t really be said for the steering, which is light and uncommunicative. That’s useful in town of course, and the Yaris’s turning circle is a tight 5.2 metres, making it a doddle in a multi-storey or tight car park - something that’s probably more relevant than working out whether it’ll trail-brake into a hairpin.

It’s probably worth avoiding those optional 17-inch wheels though, especially if you go for the top-level GR Sport trim with its slightly firmer suspension setup. The ride isn’t overly crashy and the amount of body roll is just about right, but the standard 16-inch wheels with slightly more sidewall would improve things – especially given the car’s character. Go with the Yaris Hybrid’s obvious practical vibe and things are pretty good.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT [Nav]
  • 0-629.7s
  • CO292.0g/km
  • BHP116
  • MPG
  • Price£21,130

the cheapest

Toyota Yaris 1.0 [72] VVT-i Icon 5dr [Nav]
  • 0-6215.3s
  • CO2107.0g/km
  • BHP72
  • MPG61.4
  • Price£15,769

the greenest

Toyota Yaris 1.5 Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT [Nav]
  • 0-629.7s
  • CO292.0g/km
  • BHP116
  • MPG
  • Price£21,130

Variants We Have Tested

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