Toyota Yaris Cross review

Toyota wades into the ever-growing small crossover segment with the hybrid Yaris Cross. An instant success in waiting?

Pros: smart looks, practicality, frugality, good to drive

Cons: no fully electric model, one engine option only, firm ride

Toyota has played in the small crossover paddling pool before, but only with the Urban Cruiser, a car that basically sank without trace and was not mourned once it was gone. Now, the Japanese titan is back with a compact crossover based on the Yaris packing hybrid power and a surprisingly big boot. Will the new Yaris Cross be an instant hit with Irish buyers?

Toyota Yaris Cross Design

It may be called Yaris Cross, but this compact Toyota actually owes rather more to the RAV4, stylistically. Underneath is the same platform as the Yaris hatchback, but up top you can see clear influences on the styling from Toyota’s RAV4. Would you be surprised to learn that this Yaris Cross is actually fractionally bigger in every dimension than the original genre-busting 1995 RAV4? It is, honest… At the front, the styling is cleaner and simpler than that of the RAV4, with neat lights and grille, and indicators set into fake vents at the outer edges of the bumper. If we say it looks a little cartoon-ish, we mean that in a good way — it’s a very attractive car, the Yaris Cross, especially in specced-up models with the contrast black roof. 

Toyota Yaris Cross Interior

Inside, the Yaris Cross unsurprisingly lifts quite a lot from the Yaris hatch, including its instruments and infotainment package. That said, as soon as you sit in, the whole cabin looks and feels more substantial than that of the Yaris — no mean feat considering how well put together the smaller hatchback is. Basic models come with an eight-inch touchscreen featuring the older Toyota Touch software, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connections. Higher-spec models, though, get a new nine-inch screen with Toyota’s latest, fully-connected software. This makes a huge difference — the screen layout is clearer and more logical, the graphics more expensive to look at and it finally gives Toyota a properly competitive infotainment system. 

In terms of instruments, the base model gets the Yaris’s ‘binocular’ analogue-and-digital instruments, while more expensive versions get all-digital dials, and top models get a head-up display projected onto the windscreen. 

Space is very good up front, and the front seats are hugely comfortable. Space in the back is slightly tighter than you’ll find in some rivals, but the 397-litre boot (complete with a split-level floor and 40:20:40 folding back seats) is way bigger than that of many rivals, and actually bigger than that offered by the more expensive Toyota C-HR.

Toyota Yaris Cross Performance & Drive

There’s only one engine on offer and that’s the same 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol with hybrid electric assistance as you’ll find in the Yaris Hybrid hatchback. The only powertrain option is on the top-spec Adventure model, which can be fitted with an extra electric motor that drives the rear wheels and gives the Yaris Cross four-wheel drive.

Is it disappointing to have only one engine available? Possibly so, but Toyota Ireland points to the runaway demand for hybrid power from Irish buyers, and the good news is that the engine is well-suited to the Yaris Cross. With 116hp on tap, it’s not the fastest thing around, and it gets a little noisy when you accelerate hard (blame the CVT automatic gearbox for that), but it cruises quietly, feels just about perky enough in performance terms and it’s very economical. Around a relatively short and low-speed test route, we averaged 3.7 litres per 100km, which is hugely impressive. We also spent 67 per cent of our driving time in zero-emissions electric mode.

Toyota claims that, in town, the Yaris Cross can hit 80 per cent electric-only running. Does that make it 80 per cent of an electric car? Not really, as all of the Yaris Cross’s electricity is generated by its engine, which isn’t quite as clean, overall, as plugging into the mains, but it’s impressive, nonetheless. CO2 emissions are quoted at 110g/km for the basic model running on 16-inch wheels.

Toyota Yaris Cross Pricing

Prices for the new Yaris Cross start from €27,260, which pegs it at a higher entry point than key rivals such as the Ford Puma (€22,314), Opel Mokka (€23,295), or Renault Captur (€23,270). However, none of those rivals offers hybrid power at that price (the Puma is a mild-hybrid only) and the Yaris undercuts such all-electric rivals as the Opel Mokka-e and Peugeot e-2008 by more than €4,000, plus it’s well-equipped as standard with that eight-inch touchscreen, reversing camera, adaptive cruise control and a bevy of electronic safety aids.

Carzone Verdict: 4/5

It’s kind of hard to see the Toyota Yaris Cross as being anything other than a potential storming success once it arrives at Irish dealerships in October. Not only is it handsome, and not only does it offer in-demand hybrid power, it’s also good to drive, decently practical and reasonably priced. We strongly suspect that Toyota has another hit on its hands, here. 

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