By Steve Nelson

IF you've been tempted to buy a Toyota Yaris but quite fancy something a little taller, then here's a car that may well provide the perfect solution.

The Yaris Cross carries forward the key qualities of the new generation Yaris hatchback - the 2021 Car of the Year in Europe - but brings to the party that higher ride position so beloved of SUV buyers.

Fourth-generation hybrid electric power, the highest safety standards with second generation Toyota Safety Sense and a fun-to-drive character also add to the appeal of the Yaris Cross.

It may well be the perfect hybrid car for the urban motorist, slotting nicely under the compact C-HR and mid-size Rav 4 in Toyota's stable.

With the aim of creating a car that's "easy, fast, smart" and suited to day-to-day use, Toyota used its GA-B small car platform that has proved so successful in the Yaris hatchback.

The Cross is a little longer and wider than the hatchback and enhances its appeal with a series of creases and squared wheel arches.

There's no choice of engine. The Cross comes with a three-cylinder 1.5-litre unit with hybrid electric powertrain that will be familiar to drivers of other Toyota hybrids.

The powertrain is married to e-CVT automatic transmission, which is perfectly acceptable but characteristically rather strained and noisy when pressing on or setting off at speed.

Performance is surprisingly brisk, despite the disappointing 0 to 62mph acceleration time of 11.2 seconds, and there's a sporty feel to its handling.

I achieved an average fuel economy figure of about 63mpg, which is right at the top end of what you might expect. The beauty of these Toyota hybrids is that you leave it all to the powertrain to decide when electric-only mode is all that is needed and when some help from the petrol engine is needed.

Electric mode operates at various speeds up to the legal limit as you ease off the accelerator, cruise or potter around town. Zero emission driving is in fact possible up to speeds of 81mph.

Compared with the hatchback, Yaris Cross is 95mm taller, and although the wheelbase is unchanged there's an increase in ground clearance by 25mm to 170mm to reflect its SUV design. It almost goes without saying that this provides excellent visibility for the driver.

With all seats in place, there's 397 litres of cargo space available. Drop the rear seats and the volume extends to a maximum of 1,097 litres. TheToyota Smart Cargo system, featured on higher grade models, has a two-level 60/40 split deckboard which permits part or all of the floor section to be lowered so larger and taller items can be carried.

The Yaris Cross uses a lithium-ion battery that can produce double the amount of energy under braking and supply 50 per cent more power when accelerating, compared with the nickel-metal hydride battery featured in the previous generation Yaris Hybrid. The increased contribution from the battery helps enable a higher percentage of EV driving on urban journeys.

With a low centre of gravity and precise chassis response to driver inputs, the Yaris Cross is both easy to manoeuvre and nicely weighted for an accomplished ride.

There are four model grades Icon, Design, Excel and Dynamic plus a Premiere launch edition. The Icon grade features 16-inch, 10-spoke silver alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers and smart entry with push-button start. Inside there are front and rear power windows, automatic air conditioning, electronic parking brake, rear-view camera, eight-inch Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system with DAB and six-speaker audio and smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota Safety Sense is also provided as standard.

The Design grade tested here introduces 17-inch wheels, LED projector headlights, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats and aluminium roof rails. Other features include a seven-inch multi-information display in the driver's instrument binnacle, rear privacy glass and light blue ambient cabin lighting.


Toyota Yaris Cross Design

Price: £24,140 (range from £22,515)

Powertrain: 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol hybrid producing 114bhp

Transmission: e-CVT driving front wheels

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 11.2 seconds (11.8 all-wheel drive); top speed 106mph

Economy: 54.6 to 62.8mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 102 to 117.2 g/km


Performance: ***

Economy: *****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ***