Toyota have taken a pretty boring looking small five door hatch, that does sell in big numbers around Europe and made it into something very special.
I can just imagine the conversations at Toyota HQ, someone has got their design drawing pad and added a few extra body parts onto a standard Yaris, they’ve then gone into their boss and said “I’ve had a great idea, why don’t we do a ‘pumped-up’ version of the fairly dull Yaris?” I can imagine the initial reaction would be one of, not a chance, it wouldn’t work, and it wouldn’t sell.
But it has gone into production, and it is selling extremely well. It is powered by a 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine coupled to an automatic gearbox and the very clever and frugal Toyota hybrid system.
I had one recently on test, and before it arrived wasn’t sure about it’s design or concept, it just reminded me of what Rover did to the 25 back in 2003. They too took a pretty basic 25 hatch called it the Streetwise and added various bits to it, such as roof rails, plastic wheel arch mouldings and larger bumpers and called it the ‘Urban on-roader’ it was suppose to attract younger buyers to the Rover brand, and in fairness to Rover it didn’t do too badly in the market. But underneath it was still a fairly unreliable 25.
But the Yaris Cross is a cross of two things that Toyota do really well, make great small cars, and produce a fantastic non-plug-in Hybrid System. But the designers have completely transformed the exterior from the Yaris and made it almost unrecognisable from the standard car. Like the Streetwise lots of added body parts, but all very tastefully done, and all up to a very high quality in both materials used, and the fit and finish, not just a bit of glue holding it all together.
It has a higher driving position than the standard Yaris and even higher than its competitors such as the Ford Puma and Skoda Kamiq. In the Cross there are plenty of manual adjustments to the seats and steering wheel, so getting comfy, whatever size you are is really easy.
Rear leg and head room is fairly good for a small car, and the luggage space with its two-piece height adjustable boot floor is adequate.
But the economy on this Toyota is very good, during the week I had the car it achieved over 60mpg (4.7 l/100 km) which I thought was excellent and much of this was just local and short journeys. The hybrid system charges a battery whilst slowing down, braking, coasting or going down hills. The energy it saves, is then used for acceleration, and can run for a few miles purely on electric power, which helps fuel consumption and reduces emissions.
After a week, it was collected by Toyota GB, and I was a bit sad to see it go, as I really enjoyed using the Yaris Cross much more than I thought I was going to.
Prices in the
UK start from £24,840.