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Toyota Yaris Hybrid
Hybrid cars, although they've been around for a number of years now, traditionally make up a very small percentage of a car maker's model's sales. It has taken a while for customer acceptance of the additional up-front costs and to appease those people that find them over complicated compared to a good diesel that will do the same job.
Unless you're Toyota of course, one of the pioneers of hybrids, whose buyers have taken the technology to their hearts. In 2013, sales of the baby Yaris Hybrid accounted for almost 20 per cent of total Yaris sales, compared to a paltry 5 per cent for the diesel. Keen pricing has helped, with the price differential between the diesel and hybrid just £500 in the former's favour.
And now with a refreshed edition of the car on sale in the UK, Toyota dealers are hoping that figure will increase even more. Adopting a similar 'X' treatment to the front end as the baby Aygo, there's better quality materials in the cabin and a reprofiled rear end, as well as some mechanical changes under the skin.
Best of all, these enhancements have been introduced with just a £100 price rise for the flagship model, compared to before. Revisions to the suspension mean that the ride comfort is now much improved, soaking up potholes really well and delivering a comfortable experience on the motorway.
The retuned power steering delivers a little more feel and is weightier, while body control through the bends is flatter and better controlled. There's decent grip and the while the Yaris is certainly no Fiesta when it comes to smiles per mile, it's altogether more pleasurable to pilot.
Acceleration away from the lights is brisk, especially in electric mode, and the 1.5-litre petrol engine is quiet and refined. That is until you demand extra power quickly, when the CVT transmission struggles to keep up, engine screaming away noisily. To get the best out of this car, you'll need to drive leisurely, and you'll maximise fuel efficiency along the way. It's for this reason that we would recommend the diesel version if you want to drive more sprightly, and you'll still return decent economy figures.
A package of refinements designed to reduce noise entering the cabin has certainly been effective, with the Yaris appearing quieter than before. The dashboard is attractively designed and now features denser plastics for the top, though everywhere else you touch still remains hard.
A new, larger seven-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard, and is easy to operate, with clear, colourful graphics, though it can be slow to initialise. The driving position is pretty good, and there's plenty of available adjustment, while head and legroom up front is decent, even with the panoramic roof. In the back seats, knee room is particularly good, but taller passengers will wish for more headroom, with the glass roof stealing valuable space.
There's 286 litres of luggage room, which is similar to rivals, and that can be opened up further by folding the rear chairs down. There's a flat surface, too, if the adjustable boot floor is in its highest position, leaving handy storage space underneath.
Made in Valenciennes, France
Configuration 5-door hatchback, 5-seats, front-wheel-drive
Drivetrain 1497cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, petrol with electric motor and stop-start
Transmission CVT automatic
Power output (engine) 74bhp @ 4,800rpm
Power output (electric motor) 60bhp
Power output (combined) 99bhp
Maximum torque (engine) 82lb ft @ 3,600-4,400rpm
Maximum torque (electric motor) 125lb ft
Top speed/0-62mph 103mph/11.8 secs
CO2 emissions (tax band) 82g/km (A) Euro 6
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 78.5/85.6/78.5mpg
Fuel tank size/total range 36 litres/622 miles
Insurance group/ BIK rate 11/11%
Size (length/width without mirrors) 3,950/1,695mm
Boot space (minimum/maximum) 286/710 litres
Kerb/max towing weight 1,160/0kg
Euro NCAP safety rating HHHHH
Toyota Yaris Hybrid - image gallery