The key consideration in this section has to be fuel economy. No one who’s driven a Toyota hybrid would expect particularly strong performance from the Yaris – and nor would they get it.

But with an increasingly wide selection of sub-100g, road-tax-free superminis to choose from, this car must at least get close to its 76mpg combined economy claim in order to justify Toyota’s “class-leading efficiency” billing.

A true 65mpg is possible in economy-minded urban driving

And it can’t. Or at least it can’t across the broad mix of driving through which every Autocar road test subject is assessed.

Our average economy result of 51.6mpg would be good for a supermini powered by petrol alone, but you’d hope for a much better return from a car billed as among the most frugal on the road.

You’ll get a much better return, mind, if you spend the majority of your time driving in town – which is exactly where superminis tend to be driven. A true 65mpg is possible in economy-minded, exclusively urban driving, where the battery regenerates kinetic energy with impressive speed. You’d be lucky to get within 10mpg of that in a Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion or Ford Fiesta Econetic.

Another advantage the Yaris has is refinement. Toyota has taken a lot of the high-rev mechanical thrash out of its petrol-electric powerplant, and the car is quite well mannered even at the wide throttle openings necessary for anything approaching a hurry.

But it’s slow – particularly above 50mph, where modest power, plenty of frontal area and an efficiency-biased transmission totally hamstring its performance. On a fairly windy day at MIRA, the Yaris Hybrid failed to record a 90mph two-way average over a standing mile.

There’s only one other car we’ve tested that has failed similarly – and that’s the Renault Twizy.


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