Want a stress-free drive? Try Toyota's Yaris Hybrid, says Edward Stephens.
Relaxed, refined, offering more than 80 miles per gallon and with no road tax to pay the new Toyota Yaris Hybrid has all the credentials to make it a best seller.
And while most hybrids – cars running on a combination of a petrol engine and an electric motor – tend to be niche models Toyota sees the new Yaris hybrid as anything but.
The flagship of the new Yaris range the hybrid is expected to account for some 20 per cent of the model’s European sales, which says a lot for the company’s confidence in this ever expanding sector of the market.
In fact, it’s so confident it plans to spend £3 million in the UK advertising this car, which will be in showrooms from the end of June.
Toyota has been associated with hybrids for a long time thanks to the success of the Prius and more recently the Auris hybrid, but the new Yaris version is a totally different animal.
Clever repackaging of the hybrid system and a reduction in the size of the battery pack which powers the electric motor means the new car has exactly the same amount of interior space and boot space as petrol and diesel Yaris models.
Normally the large batteries mean a reduction in luggage space to accommodate them beneath the boot, floor but in this case the batteries and the fuel tank are small enough to sit beneath the rear seat and so don’t encroach on interior space.
The Japanese car company says the new car is so efficient that it is running on the electric motor – and so has zero emissions and zero running costs – for 66 per cent of the average commuter journey length and 58 per cent of the total journey time.
Certainly this is one of the most relaxing and easy to drive cars I have ever experienced. If you want a car to get you from A to B without stress the Yaris hybrid ticks all the right boxes.
All models are fitted with continuously variable automatic transmission so the car purrs along seamlessly and often in complete silence leaving you free to concentrate on the traffic or scenery around you.
It’s agile, easy to manoeuvre and park and just as at home in town and city – running on electric power – as on the motorway running on the petrol engine.
Together the 1.5-litre engine and electric motor develop 98 bhp, which powers the car to 62 miles hour in a very respectable 11.8 seconds with a top speed of 103 miles per hour.
Prices start from £14,595 for the entry level but still very well equipped T3 model. And while this is a hefty premium over the basic petrol model this car comes without a clutch, starter motor, alternator and timing belt found on conventional models so customers won’t have to spend money on maintaining or replacing these parts. And the electronically controlled braking system means the brake pads can last 60,000 miles.
Anyone worried about battery life should be reassured by the fact that the battery warranty is eight years and 100,000 miles, with the overall car warranty being five years.
Ironically changes to the “face” of the hybrid for aerodynamic reasons, make this model cosmetically more appealing than the conventional model.
Inside the hybrid is distinguished by the extensive use of hybrid blue, both in the stitching on the seats, the instrument illumination and the gear shift knob.
So in the case of the eco-friendly Yaris hybrid going blue really means you can boast you re going green.
As well as the entry-level T3 the hybrid is available in T4 spec at £15,895 and top-of-the-range T Spirit spec at £16.995.