Only a manufacturer as heavily invested in petrol-electric propulsion as Toyota could launch a car at once so pragmatic and so technologically advanced as the Yaris Hybrid. Toyota counts this car as the world’s first full hybrid supermini.
The existence of Honda’s Jazz Hybrid makes that claim debatable to put it mildly, but this is doubtless one of the very first ‘sub-compact’ hatchbacks we’ve tested that can run on petrol power, battery power, or a combination of both.
Why pragmatic? Because much of the mechanicals of this car have been recycled from the second-generation ‘XW20’ Prius. It’s a tactic that has contributed to Toyota achieving one of its primary objectives: at £16,195, this is the cheapest full hybrid on the market, and by some margin.
Also, building the car at the firm’s factory in Valenciennes, France, means that its price should be immune from the yen-related currency fluctuations that could affect some of its rivals.
The 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder petrol engine, sourced from the XW20 Prius parts bin, has been engineered for less friction, and 70 percent of its components have been redesigned. It now produces slightly less power and torque, but Toyota says its thermal efficiency has improved by six percent.
The Hybrid Synergy Drive is made up of a downsized E-CVT and a smaller electric motor than you’ll find in a current Prius or Auris Hybrid, plus a nickel-metal hydride battery made up of 120 individual cells rather than 168 as before.
The Yaris’s battery is 20 percent smaller (by volume) and 11kg lighter than that in the Auris. It is located entirely beneath the rear seats and barely intrudes into either passenger or boot space.
According to our road test scales, the car weighs just 90kg more than the 1.3-litre Yaris we tested. So far, so quietly impressive.
For 2017, Toyota gave the Yaris range a facelift, and made some mechanical changes to the small hybrid to improve ride and handling, with new anti-roll bars, roll restrictors, front driveshafts and subframe fitted.