Behind the least convincing camouflage we’ve ever seen is the fourth-generation Toyota Yaris. No, it isn’t the GR-Four (it has too many doors for that), but the far more real-world relevant hybrid model that will make up the vast majority of sales.
But this isn’t some heavily facelifted version of the third-gen car; it’s an all-new model from the ground up. For a start, its platform has been switched to a version of the TNGA architecture that underpins the Corolla, bringing a 37% increase in torsional rigidity. Width is up by 50mm, as is the wheelbase, but overall length is down by 5mm. Height has been reduced as well, bringing about a 21mm lower seating position and a 12mm drop in the centre of gravity.
Those changes are all attempts to boost agility and driver appeal, but would have been pointless with the sluggish old hybrid system. Thankfully, there’s a new 1.5-litre three-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine under the bonnet. This long-stroke engine is paired with two electric motors and a lighter, more powerful Li-ion battery pack to give 16% more power, yet brings a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions.
With a combined output of 114bhp, 0-62mph is reduced by two seconds to a perfectly respectable 10.3sec, and the power boost also means the new car’s engine doesn't have to be worked as hard, making it far quieter while delivering useful acceleration. Most of the time, you’ll find the Yaris a quiet partner; its distant engine thrum is more subdued than you'll hear in many rivals. You still occasionally find the revs soaring and staying there – a trait that comes courtesy of the hybrid's CVT automatic gearbox – but the motor doesn’t sound quite so tortured when this happens.
Not that the engine is running much of the time, at least in urban environments. Indeed, Toyota claims that the Yaris can run on electricity 80% of the time, something we can entirely believe. The handover between power sources is virtually imperceptible; there's only a bit of engine noise and a faint vibration through the steering wheel to tell you that the Yaris is sipping petrol. And ‘sipping’ is the right word; on our two-hour test route, which included towns, motorways and even some challenging mountain passes, we averaged 61.4mpg, according to the trip computer.